I thought I would never drive through London. Ever. That changed last summer when I had to get back to driving after a break, due to Chris being out of action. For those who don’t know, he tore his achilles which meant cast and ROM boot for basically ALL of the summer months. Weddings, weekends away, you name it… I had to drive it. Trains were just too much of a faff for someone with one leg out of use.
Was it like riding a bike? Kind of. I knew how to drive. I was lucky that Chris has an automatic, so it was pretty simple. But getting used to a new car, and constantly being on hazard perception is scary and tiring. I forgot how switched on you needed to be, and drivers in London are even worse. Then you have bad weather and darker evenings and things get even scarier. I was so nervous every time I knew I had to get into the driving seat.
In the 2 months, I was driving, I had someone almost go into the side of the car as they tried to merge into my lane without looking. I also had the windscreen absolutely covered with water whilst driving down a busy motorway in a big downpour, on the way back from a wedding. So much water that I couldn’t see. I definitely thought we were going to crash, and even die. Yep, I actually thought that was it. Finito. But we got through it. No one was hurt. Did it make me stronger? Absolutely not. I hated every minute of those situations and would still panic if they happened again. But I do have a little more belief in myself.
You see the key to getting back to driving is practice. That and remembering that everyone around you is probably an idiot.
So keep an eye on what everyone else is doing, expect stupid manoeuvres and people jumping in, so when it happens you’re a little bit ready. Predicting what people are going to do gets easier. I watch Chris do it with what looks like pure ease. But he’s been constantly driving for 13 years. And to be honest. There are even times he gets caught out with some other silly driver trying something ridiculous. You can’t always prepare for these. And that’s OK. As long as you’re ok.
I think the thing which changed the game for me was when Chris said to me that it’s our car and that it’s losing value anyway (so true of every car). But more importantly that a car is a car. It can be replaced if needs be. If something happens which is out of our control, it happens. We deal with it after, but there’s no point worrying about it as it might never come to that.
Chris also reminded me that as long as we’re not hurt then that’s the most important thing.
Getting back into driving after a break is really is all about practice though. So getting back in was the best thing I could have done… even after that scary motorway scenario. I’ve realised how important it is, so much so that we might get me to drive every now and then to keep it up. But even if you’ve taken a short or a long break (I hadn’t driven that much in 6 years), you can still do it. Get back in the driving seat, give it a go. And keep giving it a go. You’ll soon feel more at ease behind the wheel.
I had to drive to Stansted in December, after another few months off. Chris had had a little too much to drink the night before for his birthday and its’ never worth the risk. So planning ahead, I’d stopped drinking and looked into getting our usual temp cover for a few hours. I told Chris he HAD to stay awake for the drive. But it actually was really good. I had so much more confidence than I remembered having in the summer. Even Chris said how much more relaxed I looked. I really do think it was all these things coming together and the summer practice I had!
Have you had a driving break? What worries you about driving?