Blogs > November 2017

November 2017

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

Danceathon and Colossal 10 - DONE!

6th November 2017

It may have been bonfire night but I was ending Matt’s Colossal 10 with a bang, taking on the final challenge, the 10 Hour Dance-a-thon.

Joined by family, colleagues and supporters of Weldmar, we started stepping at 9.00am at our in-patient unit, Joseph Weld Hospice.

The first few hours went quickly but we soon realised how long ten hours was and our muscles and joints were also feeling the strain!

With supporters dropping in throughout the day and handfuls of jelly babies to keep us going, spirits were high throughout as each hour passed closer to the end of Challenge number 10.

At the clock approached 7.00pm, the party tunes were in full swing and we had realised that we hadn’t just completed a full 10 hours of dancing.

We also had covered 28 miles in distance, burnt over 4,000 calories and stepped over 65,000 times.

It was certainly tougher than anticipated but an incredibly rewarding challenge and a fantastic one to end my 12 months of challenges for Weldmar Hospicecare.



I am still currently in quite a bit of pain however I will be spending the next couple of weeks looking back at the 10 challenges I have taken on this year to raise money for our local hospice.

I will be sharing those memories as well as videos from all 10 challenges on Saturday 18th November, when I will be joined by Carl Ashwin from Wessex FM as we talk through the past 12 months.

There will also be live entertainment throughout the evening from just some of the acts who have been involved with Weldmar in the past 10 years of my time with the charity.

It is sure to be a fantastic evening and we really hope you are able to join us.

Tickets are available from or by phoning 01305 261800

Posted by Matt Smith at 5:48pm


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