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It's Never Too Late

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Proving that if at first you don't succeed you should try, try and try again, Carl Ashwin gets back behind the wheel in an effort to pass his driving test.....but will he ever understand roundabouts?

Test Day!

22nd November 2017

Carl AshwinAs I woke up that morning, tired, not having slept well the previous night I thought to myself 'well, today's the day'. It's true that I had kept the whole thing a secret. My colleagues at Wessex FM knew I had booked my test. They also new it was in November but I hadn't told them the date. Even our CEO couldn't get the date out of me. I even went to the lengths of putting two lessons on my calendar followed by a further 'Private Appointment' the following week to throw people off the scent! All of this was because I had not wanted to make a thing out of it being my test day only to then go on and fail. In hindsight, it would have made for better drama.

I resolved to reveal on the show that morning that it was my test day and that I did! I did however add that my result would not be revealed to anybody until the following day.

As we drove from my final lesson toward the test centre, I felt less nervous than I thought I might. Not confident but not frightened either. I'd made a post on the Wessex FM Facebook page that morning and was overwhelmed by the supportive messages I had received and that really helped spur me on. I also wanted to do this to prove to myself that I could do it. Here am I, 39 years into life and still not a qualified driver. I've always resisted being a boring grown up but this was perhaps taking things a bit far.

I sat in the waiting room with Claire, my instructor until eventually my examiner appeared. His name was Nic Philpot and having had me sign my life away we headed out to the car. First up, the number plate test. Thankfully I can see! No problems there so Nic gave me the keys and told me to get comfortable in the car. He walked round the outside with the clipboard-of-justice scribbling things down.

Eventually he got in and talked me through what would happen. He then asked me two questions relating to the operation of the vehicle. I answered by and he gave me instructions to move off.

We drove from the test centre, down through Poundbury and in to Victoria Park. Things get a big foggy in my memory at this point as we somehow made our way to Charlton Down and then onto Charminster. Much of the test was happening and I was doing my best to do a good job. Almost before I knew it we were back at the test centre.

I glanced over at Nics clipboard. He hadn't made a mark. I was worried that he had been saving them up and was about to wield his Pencil-of-Truth and fail me.

"I'm pleased to tell you that you have passed" came the words. I didn't quite know how to react. I think I was shocked. He then went onto explain that there were no minor faults. I shook his hand and thanked him and got out of the car. Everything was a bit surreal at this point. Had I, Carl Ashwin, 39 years old finally passed my driving test?? Something I'd started when I was 19 with a 20 year break in the middle finally seen through to the end? Well, yes! I had!!

I had to however keep it quiet until the following mornings show. I got messages and texts and switched my phone off. It was time for a 'media blackout'.

The following morning I knew I couldn't wait to share the news but I kept listeners waiting for just over 2 hours (sorry about that) before I gave them this.

So there it is. I saw it through to the end. I think I need to go and listen to My Way!

One of the things I will be following up with is in speaking with another person who left it till later in life before passing their test. They do say it gets more difficult as you get older and so I thought, if I can do it, anybody can! That's for another time. For now though, I passed my driving test.

Posted by Carl Ashwin at 3:24pm

Lesson 13 & 14

22nd November 2017

Carl AshwinSo another double whammy blog! Never let it be said I don't give good value for money.

I was very aware that these were my final two lessons before my test. Well, I was aware that I had one complete lesson and one shorter lesson to cram on any bits that were lacking and as you might have guessed, this largely involved reversing!

At the start of Lesson 13 then it was quickly established that we'd be focusing on this. Reversing round things with a few three-point-turns thrown in for good measure. Something seemed to click into place in this lesson that had been absent before. Maybe it was just the number of times I'd done it but I seemed to be doing things OK. They weren't as much of a struggle any longer and this was good news for me!

I had to pick up a point with my instructor Claire. She'd said in a previous lesson of some questions she'd been asking me that these were all questions which would be asked when the new practical test comes into being. Given that this was after the date I had booked, I'd taken that as a suggestion that Claire didn't think I was going to pass my first test. She laughed this off in that relaxed way of hers and explained that they were questions she thought every student should know and therefore had been asking them because they were important, not because she thought I was going to fail my test!

Lesson 14 was the lesson immediately before my test and I knew we'd be focusing on some final reversing practice before whizzing off to the test centre. Only on that morning had I let it slip publicly that this was the day of my test........

Posted by Carl Ashwin at 3:07pm

Lesson 11 & 12

6th November 2017

OK I've been a little bit lazy. I was going to attempt to group these two posts together and offer the excuse that both lessons were similar but actually it's simply that I've been busy and haven't had the time until now!

So, my test date approaches nearer. My Wessex FM colleagues are trying to get the date out of me but I will not budge. It's happening in November and that's about as much as I want to give!

Really much of the focus of my past two lessons has been focussed on going backwards. Reversing round things. Reversing into spaces etc. Sometimes I get it right quickly, sometimes I foul it up badly. My next lesson I already know will be focussed on the business of reversing yet more and I'm OK with that.

My instructor likes asking me questions whilst I'm driving but sometimes it's just not that easy to answer when I'm trying to concentrate on driving to point out the button for the rear windscreen. If the name of the game is demonstrating being in control of the vehicle I'd rather be honest and say "I can't answer that right now because I'm concentrating on the road" than give the wrong answer or get distracted looking for a button on the dashboard.

I find as I approach my test there is less and less that I feel the need to write about. Roundabouts no longer give me nightmares. General driving is not a problem, it really is my focussing on reversing round corners and reverse parking.

Inevitably though, those Driving Test nerves are beginning to niggle a bit so, my song choice for this week....

Posted by Carl Ashwin at 7:26pm

Lesson 10 - Slipping Away

12th October 2017

Carl AshwinBefore I get onto the details of this weeks lesson, I need to let you know that I HAVE BOOKED MY DRIVING TEST!

Now, there are only three people who know the date and time and that is how it will stay for now. None of my colleagues at Wessex FM know when it is and even a visit from our CEO didn't crack me. So, my test date is approaching!

There were two areas of focus for this weeks lesson.

The first was the Dual Carriageway to practice overtaking and entering and exiting on long and short slip roads. I'll be honest, the business of joining the Dual Carriageway from a long slip road does rather feel like a 'put your foot down and hope for the best' situation. My first attempt was a little dodgy with me looking to the right to see what was coming whilst not seeing that the front of the car was about to cross into the right hand lane! After a few more attempts though I was soon making good progress and we eventually made our way into Dorchester and into Fairfield Car Park to attempt some bay parking.

My first attempt was basically flawless. Claire was impressed but me being a curmudgeon in training wrote it off as beginners luck. So we tried it again and it was again fine. At last, we've found a manoeuvre involving reversing that doesn't make me want to go back in time to visit myself in a former life and have a few words about my behaviour coming back to haunt me later on down the line (that bit makes perfect sense to me but you may not fare so well!).

Until next Tuesday then when I think we might be trying to reverse round corners again!

And so to my song choice for this lesson. I have to thank Andrew in the Wessex FM office for suggesting this one!

Posted by Carl Ashwin at 3:04pm

Lesson 9 - It's Behind You!

14th September 2017

Carl AshwinI'd started my lessons dreading roundabouts. Having done quite a few of those by this point they have become much less of a worry. I've been using public transport for many years and one way you can have some virtual practice at roundabouts when you're sat on the back of the bus is deciding when you would go at a roundabout. Considerations for busses are a little different I'm sure but the basic rules must be much the same.

Now though the focus has to go on manoeuvres. The business of turning in the road (or the three point turn) as it is more commonly known doesn't give me any cause for concern but when it comes to reverse parallel parking or reversing round a corner, my blood runs cold. And so it was that this would be the focus for this lesson. I'd also asked to visit Victoria Park in Dorchester which has some cracking blind junctions....if you like that kind of thing!

So we started in Vic Park and it was all about dropping down into first gear on the approach to pretty much all of those junctions, edging out slowly and then going when I felt safe enough to do so. All went well here. Claire then took us down Coburg Road towards the junction with Maud Road, passing my old school (DMS) along the way. I already knew about the STOP sign that was waiting for me having previously failed my mock test with Instructor Man on this one junction so no problems here. This was as far as my luck would hold for this lesson however as we then went on our way to start practicing the reverse manoeuvres.

Claire has a system for reverse parallel parking which actually makes perfect sense but applying that to the practical element is not so easy. For starters I instinctively look to my mirrors for guidance, rather than out of the back window. You might think that looking out the back window is a little hit and miss (less unfortunate turns of phrase are available) but Claire had proven that my results were better when doing it this way. My first couple of attempts were hopeless.....and frustrating. My third however was much better. I believe that as with roundabouts, further practice will improve my results and my mindset.

We also stopped on Castle Park to practice some reversing round corners. Again my temptation is to use mirrors and again, my results are better when physically looking out the back window so my first attempt or two were poor but then things improved.

For my next lesson we'll be taking on Dual Carriageways which I did a little with Instructor Man so hopefully won't be too much of a newb on this.

And so to my song choice for today, well, finding a song about reversing in a car isn't the easiest task so I've gone lateral and gone for a song about me (or my life) in reverse.

 

Posted by Carl Ashwin at 9:34am

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2017 (13)

Recent Posts

Test Day!

Posted by Carl Ashwin

22nd November 2017 3:24pm

Lesson 13 & 14

Posted by Carl Ashwin

22nd November 2017 3:07pm

Lesson 11 & 12

Posted by Carl Ashwin

6th November 2017 7:26pm

Lesson 10 - Slipping Away

Posted by Carl Ashwin

12th October 2017 3:04pm

Lesson 9 - It's Behind You!

Posted by Carl Ashwin

14th September 2017 9:34am

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