Officially, I learnt to drive when I was 17. Unofficially, I was 12.
I should probably explain. My Dad built our last family home and when he sold it, he decided to keep hold of the main plot of land to the rear of the house – a field and an orchard. He still grows veg there and you may remember me mentioning that it’s somewhere we get together as a family for Bonfire Night.
We used to spend a lot of time there growing up and it holds so many fond memories for me. I remember my one and only attempt at sleeping out at night ending in misery though when I tried to sleep under the fig tree with a friend, only to be over-run by earwigs! We were back in my bedroom by midnight.
Dad was always an adventurer. He thought nothing more of letting me fly kites with him on the roof of our house as a young girl and, as much as I might not like to always admit it, I’m probably a lot like him. Stubborn as hell too! With my brother being five years older than me, I always wanted to do all the exciting things he was allowed to do but of course, I sometimes had to be more patient than I liked.
For some reason, Dad always kept an assortment of old cars down the land. He wasn’t a car nut but you could always bank on one at least two cars being down there. I don’t think his initial intention was so that he could teach my brother and I to drive down there, but that’s what ended up happening. Dad made a track in the orchard by driving an old Mini in and out of the trees and, always a kid at heart, I think he was in his element. My brother learnt to drive first, with my Dad sat patiently in the passenger seat. We weren’t allowed, nor were we able, to go higher than second gear but it gave us both much needed confidence behind the wheel.
Our other favourite thing to do? Lay on top of the car roof whilst the other one drove through the orchard! Told you we were daredevils at heart!
We both had official driving lessons aged 17 and my opinion is that the best drivers pass second time around … that’s all I’m saying. My brother wholeheartedly disagrees of course.
My eldest son has had a few lessons but has no real need to drive right now whilst he’s at Uni and so it’s been put on the back burner until he’s older. Dexter on the other hand, is already asking me how long he has to wait until he can drive. Unfortunately, as access to the land is now restricted, Dad can no longer take cars down there so I’ll be unable to teach Dexter to drive in the same way that I learnt. I’ll be honest though, I’m kinda relieved!
It was so much fun though – we even took it in turns to drive Dad’s sit on lawnmower whenever we could. I had THE best childhood.
Did anyone else learn to drive in an unconventional way?