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LondonRascal

Rascal's Learning to Drive

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Nothing to do with boats but today was a bit of a millstone for me, I took my first driving lesson.

I booked with www.drivejohnsons.co.uk - smart website, good prices and felt it might be a good way to go - how wrong I was. All was set for Friday, but half an hour prior t the lesson I was called by the Instructor to say he had to cancel as was not feeling too well.  I then got on to the company and after a lot of holding on and pushing had things rescheduled or Saturday 6:30pm .

The time came and I had a call to say he was lost - I gave him some directions and an old Nissan Micra pulled up - complete with broken front number plate hanging down, but this was nothing compared to the interior. Covered with dirt, old coffee cups and looking very worn and tired - 187,000 miles on the clock - a far cry to the new Corsa or a Fiesta I thought I might have. I did wonder about the Bible on the dash and cross hanging from the rear view mirror meant we may be blessed with divine intervention, but I thought I'd better not ask.

I was asked if I had any experience - no, not really I said I had driven now and there on the farm roads with my dad but even that was a good few years back but I knew the basics.  He asked me to read a number plate, checked it was indeed me in my provisional licence and I handed him £25.00 which he put in an envelope.  He then drove to a quiet area near me and we swapped seats - which reading back does sound a bit dodgy sounding lol.

I used my initiative and adjusted the rear view mirror, wing mirrors and seat to suit me  and having told him what the three pedals did and how the steering wheel worked asked me to 'show what I can do' and that was the first instruction, so off we went - mirror, signal manoeuvre and within 5 minutes he was asking me to step it up and move from the quiet residential streets to busier main roads - complete with buses and three lane junctions.  I was worried my clutch control just was not up to scratch to deal with the quick get away's from the lights or stop start traffic, but somehow I was coping.

Before I knew it we were at a major junction with the North Circular and A10 - first and only stall but quickly recovered and no hooting so can't have held the ever eager rushing Londoners up too much.  Out around buses, cars pulling out without indication, cyclists cutting up on the inside - this was full on London and I was 30 minutes into my first ever lesson behind the wheel of a loose feeling dirty Micra - but I was not too nervous.

It was all over too quickly and I had driven us back to my street.  He was impressed (he also was keen to hear more about boats) but I was not happy with the car or the fact I felt I had not been told what I was good at or needed some improvement on.  I am hooked though so now need to find a better driving school and get some hours in behind the wheel, though I may pop out with Simon who, being a London Bus driver can teach me all the ways not to drive (lol) for some free experience just getting used to the feel of a car.

I've set myself an unusual challenge, once passed my first outing will be a drive to Inverness and to the hotel by the River Ness.  I've left it all these years, I've gotta rack up the hours behind the wheel and make up for lost time. Onwards and upwards :)

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in my experience a lot of driving school cars are a bit tatty and tired, was it a dual control car? (ie brake and clutch over in the passenger side). its been a while since I took my lessons, but the cars take a hammering and its expensive to get them converted for dual control, so they tend to hang on to them for a while.

once you have passed, you will find that long drives- eg to inverness - are no more difficult than a long river trip, motorways are easier as everything is moving in the same direction. and at least you have services to stop off at for rest / comfort breaks.

when I was learning I was told I was always too near the middle of the road and to go tighter, next corner we went round with two wheels up the kerb - funny he never complained I was too far out again.

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It's been a year or three since I passed my test (second attempt) and there was a long waiting list back then. I don't know how it is now. Anyway, although your test may be a while down the line, I do have this suggestion to make.

When you have booked your test and have a date for it, book another one for as soon after your first as is allowed. The logic behind this is that when you take the first, you can treat it like the "mock exams" you did at school. This does two things, It takes some of the pressure off as you know you have a second test booked, and you relax knowing that this is "just for experience". also you will know how long you have to wait before having another bash.

Many tests are failed owing to "exam nerves" having some of that pressure taken away will cause you to concentrate more on the driving and less on it being the test. When you pass first time, cancel the second test and you get the fee back. In the unlikely event that you fail the first one, book up another so again you have one in hand.

Oh and first get on to a better driving school (Not BSM) The cars may be a bit tired but should always look and feel clean and tidy. The examiner won't much enjoy the experience of a scruffy dirty vehicle.

 

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Well done for making the plunge there Robin. It's a crazy motoring world out there. I would be very concerned about the condition of the car tho. I would inform the website about it. And let them know you wasn't happy as you had no feed back at. Personally I would ask for a refund and shop about. Good luck with it all tho.

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Personal recommendation from other people if possible is the best way to find a good instructor or driving school. My daughter did just that and they weren't the cheapest but she booked two or three lessons per week and passed first time within a few months. And that was learning around Birmingham city centre.

Passing your driving test is one of very few things in life that makes an immediate difference. So good luck and I'm sure we'll all be congratulating you very soon.

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Hi Jean good sound advice, ideally everyone should pick a driving instructor by recommendation, and does not include the next pupil sat in the back of the car.

Far too many years since I passed my test and it took me until the third attempt, first was in 3 inches of snow, failed for non progress. Second the clutch was changed in the car the day before and even with 2 hours in the car I could not get used to it. 

These days it is uncanny that you can get into any vehicle and just drive. Mind you driving in any city has got to be the worst experience for any new drivers.

Regards

Alan

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Can't offer much help Robin. My lessons were in a Triumph Herald at I think £12 10 shillings per hour (£12.50 in modern speak) and it was more than fifty years ago. I haven't drivenin London since before the congestion charge, M25 is quite near enough for me.

But good luck with your driving simples really :facepalm:

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Wow £12 10/ back in the days of old money, that was expensive. 

I was only paying £5.00 an hour in the early 80’s and thought that was dear.

I failed my test after I'd been learning in a low powered Ford Fiesta the instructor turned up on the day in a Triumph Dolomite Sprint...... bit of a difference!

One bit of advice my instructor gave me on the day I passed was

you've passed your test........ now you can learn to drive

so true

so often people pass and think they know everything 

 

Good luck Robin 

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dee bee I am well renowned for being rubbish with figures and money, my memory is also

a thing of the past so dont take it as read.

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2 hours ago, grendel said:

when I was learning I was told I was always too near the middle of the road and to go tighter, next corner we went round with two wheels up the kerb - funny he never complained I was too far out again.

Pavement surfing aye Grendel lol.......

Well any advice I could give you robin would be 50 years out dated, as I only ever had two lessons an hour before my test and an hour for the test 7/6d an hour 15/- for the two, in Triumph Herald, I was asked to read him the Paty's driving school car reg when we walk round the corner, so I spurted it out before that, he said that was rather clever, so I came clean that I fitted the number plates on it that morning at work. Any way I passed that very first time. My only advise that is still current and was told tome by the driving instructor, you learn to drive for your test, then after passing the real learning starts. That is still as true today as it was 50 years ago.

Charlie

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Triumph Heralds appear to have been a popular driving instructors car.  I learned in one of them and passed my test on the 2nd attempt on American Independence Day 1975.  Can't remember how much it cost tho.

Funny how small and old fashioned the Herald seems now!

S

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Barry, I heard that you failed your first test for driving too close to the poor guy walking ahead of you with the red flag :) 

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Good on you Robin,my lessons were in a split screen Morris Minor, 12 shillings and 6 pennies ( 62 and half new pence ) in 1958 ,but was a chunk out of £2 07 pence apprentice wage in that time ! On the test I skidded on wet leaves and managed to avoid hitting anything so was pleased to hear I had passed.!  The motor cycle test in 1958 consisted of being sent off round the block and being " Observed. " ,the examiner would jump out somewhere on the route and you would do an emegancy stop !  once passed you could drive any bike even a three wheeler car with no reverse ,never did understand that one ? Good luck !

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Sorry to dissapoint John but I did actally miss him and went on to pass first time.

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Depending on how competent  you feel your abilities are  many driving schools (and indépendants) offer a teach till pass package where you pay a one off fee up front and that entitles you to how ever many lessons you require till you pass (you do pay on top for your exam or exams though) .

both my boys went this route , the elder passed 2nd time after 18 lessons the younger 4th time after many more so was definitely the best route for him .

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I've been looking about today and made some enquiries so some more lessons with a new firm are in the offing next week - just need to confirm times.

The problem with the 'intensive' lesson route is not much of the time is spent actually out on the road. The cost is high and when reading the small print it can be a little uncertain as to your 'free top up lessons' to get you good enough to pass.  I need to book a theory test and get this out the way too - so far on all the tests I have done the worst I have ended up with is 2 wrong answers so I am feeling confident about this being a breeze - the hazard perception part, well I guess you just got to be cautious but not click the button too much or too little but comes down to common sense.

But yeah, if you are get to the local 'intensive centre' (there is one not far from with with 5Day) you begin at 9am on the Monday but spend a few hours in a class room going over rules of the road and basically the high way code.  You are then out driving from about 11am, but stop for a couple of hours back to base for lunch before heading back out until about 5pm.

The problem is wit these is they have a list of essential things and time table to cover - so the moment you do something a couple of times correctly, they can say you've learn this and move on to the next even though you might be thinking 'I'm not sure I have got the hang of that yet'.  Since they have been paid upfront, there is no long term motivation from a financial point of view to keep going and going even if you do fail'.

I'm going to have a word with a friend who has a manual car if he is free to spend some time with - just repetitively going over moving away, stopping and simulating stop start traffic where a lot more clutch control is needed.  We have some really nice long and smooth quiet roads near me which would be ideal. If I feel confident there, I am sure the rest will come easily because even when I was in a lot of traffic and things going on around me I was not nervous at all, it was just when I had to move off initially I got worried.

I'll let you know how things go :)

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With all your boating experience, reversing should be a breeze! cheers

 

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I had 4 official driving lessons and then passed first time. 

But I was taught to drive at 12 years old by my father and by the time I had reached 17 I'd experienced driving cars, vans, tractors and a 4ton Army truck in the evenings sometimes.  It was a lot of fun growing up as a military child! 

They wouldnt ever let me at the controls of a helicopter though but after a hell of a lot of pestering I eventually got a few hours in as a back seat passenger!  

I also took a bus test in my early 20s which did take me 2 attempts to get through.  I can fully relate to the exam nerves MM has mentioned. 

 

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Learning on those London roads should serve you well Robin. You should find other UK roads a breeze! I love driving, even more so since I became a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists. That course gave me more confidence and really taught me what to look for on our busy roads.

Good luck with the lessons Robin, hope you manage to find a good driving school. Excellent advice from MM above, lots of good drivers pass the second time around! :angel:

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On ‎04‎/‎06‎/‎2017 at 5:51 AM, grendel said:

in my experience a lot of driving school cars are a bit tatty and tired, was it a dual control car? (ie brake and clutch over in the passenger side). its been a while since I took my lessons, but the cars take a hammering and its expensive to get them converted for dual control, so they tend to hang on to them for a while.

once you have passed, you will find that long drives- eg to inverness - are no more difficult than a long river trip, motorways are easier as everything is moving in the same direction. and at least you have services to stop off at for rest / comfort breaks.

when I was learning I was told I was always too near the middle of the road and to go tighter, next corner we went round with two wheels up the kerb - funny he never complained I was too far out again.

Yeah - I remember when I was learning trying to get the oil/less worn path you see on the road to go under my seat - that way I was closer to the kerb

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I took my first test in 1976 in an Hillman Avenger, Unfortunately it was not my instructors Hillman Avenger which Had five gears  but another Instructors which was 4 Gears. So I went for 5th during the test and it wasn't there!! added to that it was the first wet day in a long time during the 1976 drought. So the roads were slippery to say the least.  So I failed on the emergency stop as well.

Then on transferring to another area, I was taken for an initial drive by an instructor and he said had that been my test I would have passed.  Unfortunately the waiting list for tests in the area was six months, so it took a lot of weekly practice drives costing me lots of money before the test came up. I passed that one..

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Just a little update, I've booked 5 hours worth of time with AA Driving School.  Not actually that much more expensive than I had paid for the first lesson in the clapped out Micra. I should now enjoy a new Fiesta complete with Air Con :) - So will begin this Sunday and see how things go, if well then I can just log into my account and top up funds and arrange future lessons easily so no cash in hand malarkey.

I've found a this You Tube channel very good run by a driving school based in Bromley.  Especially handy is the filmed mock-tests where you can see how the slightest miss observation can cause a minor fault, or a serious such as being asked to go straight ahead at a roundabout but student indicating to the right on approach.

Anyway I am looking forward to Sunday now.

 

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Good luck Robin. Does this mean, when you pass, we will see you on Top Gear doing car reviews?

Fred

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1 hour ago, trambo said:

Good luck Robin. Does this mean, when you pass, we will see you on Top Gear doing car reviews?

Fred

I think Robin would prefer to be joining the team on Amazon Prime:naughty:

Regards

Alan

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