Driving progress

After 23 lessons, I’ve reached the stage with driving that I reached with horse riding: I can get it to move, do basic steering and make it go faster.

The more advanced procedures still allude me however.

And also I can’t get the car to eat carrots.


Over the last few weeks, I’ve been learning to drive, belly-dance and crochet. Not at the same time, mind you.

The driving thing came about because I’d said in, ooh, 2002 that I’d get around to driving one day. In July, Katherine thought six years was long enough for me to arrange my own “one day” and very nicely bought me some lessons with her driving instructor neighbour to force me into it.

Now the thing about driving lessons is this: it turns out it involves piloting a tonne of metal around the roads surrounded by other tonnes of metal. It’s SCARY. Speeds feel a helluva lot faster when I’m behind the wheel. 30mph feels like I’m about to break the sound barrier, which at least would distort the sound of my own screaming.

I’ve had four hours of lessons so far (got another one tomorrow morning) and about an hour going around in circles in an empty car park with John to practise my steering. It’s going … ok. I’m not a natural but given I had nothing except the vaguest idea about driving before (“a brake is for stopping, you say?”), I think it’s going ok. I’m looking forward to being a bit better on the roads so I can practise just tootling around with John instead of fannying around in a circle on an industrial estate.

Katherine is to blame for the belly dancing too. Well, partially to blame. We decided we were going to do a course together this year and after drawing up a spreadsheet listing all the possibilities (location/day/requirement of no fish involved), we ended up with belly dancing. It’s also going … ok. Again, we’re not naturals; in fact, we’re considerably less coordinated than we ever thought and it’s scary showing off that lack of coordination in front of a room full of people – but most important, to ourselves in giant mirrors. Gah. But it’s something new and it’s exercise, and my my, some of the pelvic circle and shifts feel nice on my rather stiff lower back.

Crochet is much easier than driving or belly dancing, and involved far less clutch control and jigging about. I wanted to learn how to do it after the wirework workshop in Liverpool last month – I thought it was a really nice technique for use with wire so thought I’d try it out on yarn first. In my first week, I made a large number of circles using the double crochet and triple crochet stitches (which instantly became cat hats) to practise but then found some dishcloth cotton in a great green colour at the wool place in the market for 70p a ball and that inspired me to stretch myself and make a cotton shopping bag.

I kinda improvised around a random pattern I found. I started off with a square base rather than a round one, had 28 stitches/holes rather than 36 and did more rows – but the handle and finishing off instructions were great – very neat. (I reinforced the spots where the handles join the bag though. It didn’t feel strong enough to me.)

I’m very happy with the finished bag – it’s very stretchy and feels strong – and I’m delighted to have figured out how to do the holey/net stuff too. Double and triple crochet didn’t produce something different enough from knitting for me to be interested pursuing it but I like the idea of being able to do different things with it, like that net or granny squares.

On the knitting front though, I knitted two super chunky scarves for me and John yesterday (John’s is the orangey thing at the bottom of the string bag). Both scarves would have been better with a third ball of wool (I like them extra long) but are both fine – neat – with just the two balls I used. Each scarf took about two hours to knit (while I was listening to Joanna Bourke’s ‘Eyewitness: A History of Twentieth Century Britain’ – some of the accounts are a bit waffly but otherwise bloody excellent stuff) and is super snuggy. Bring on the cold winter.