Monthly Archives: February 2012

“10mph… SECOND GEAR!”: Lesson 2

“10mph… SECOND GEAR!”

So screamed my driving instructor numerous times over our lesson. Actually screamed is unfair. He was very patient. Everything was fine when changing gear after starting, but ask me to indicate, turn at a junction then speed up and I would forget the speedometer, whizzing off at 20mph while the engine rattled around like teaspoons in a biscuit tin.

Also what is with the clutch? Sometimes you bring it up slowly, sometimes fast. What’s up with that? As far as I can remember you bring it up slowly for first gear but can bring it up faster in second. It’s so confusing!

At least I can remember how to change into first before stopping behind another car at the lights*:

“Break slightly… DON’T STOP THE CAR!

Clutch all the way down

Into first


Bring the clutch up slowly – find the biting point



I’ll get there eventually.

*ps if I’ve got this bit wrong and you churn your gearbox to bits/bash into the next car/infuriate your instructor don’t sue me!


1 Comment

Filed under accelerator, brake, clutch, Driving, gears, Lessons, pedals

Driving Theory Apps

To spend, or not to spend. That is the question. Actually if you want to pass the theory test first time, you will probably have to spend a bit to swot up, either on a book or DVD.

After my driving instructor told me my 2002 book was out of date (surprise surprise), I thought I’d better get 2.0 on the Theory Test’s arse.

But how much to spend? The Official DSA DVD is pretty expensive – £13.89

So I plumped instead for the Driving Theory Test Lite by Deep River Development, a free app with 2 of the 14 test topics: Accidents and Alertness. I figured if it was good, I’d buy the full app for £4.99.

I did appallingly on accidents at first. I would have moved people with neck injuries unnecessarily and caused fires in tunnels. Luckily, the multiple choice means you can go over it again (you can choose to drop questions you’ve previously answered correctly) and once you get your test result, you can go back and look at useful hints and explanations for each question..

However, I noticed the latest update to the full app was 2011 and the most up-to-date DSA one is 2012. So eventually I bought the official one anyway. It’s just arrived – I’ll let you know how I get on!

Leave a comment

Filed under Driving, software, Theory Test

Elephants, bumper cars and £1 coins: my first driving lesson

What do zoo animals, bumper cars and pound coins have in common?




They all formed part of my first driving lesson.

Everyone else, apparently, just sat in a quiet side road. Not me. Terrifyingly, I actually drove round the block, which was very exciting. My first thought was “this is nothing like the bumper cars at fairgrounds!”

Ridiculous, sure, but it’s surprising how easily the pedals respond, particularly the accelerator.

Steering, however, is another matter and I found myself turning the wheel endlessly to make a right turn.

Here are my favourite insights from lesson 1.

1. The accelerator should be put down ‘the thickness of a pound coin’ at a time.

2. Gears are like animals in the zoo:

First gear = elephant (can carry the most dead weight but can only go 10mph)
Second gear = donkey (not as strong as the elephant, but faster)
Third gear = zebra (slightly weaker and faster than a donkey)
Forth gear = gazelle (fast but has to have the momentum to help carry the car)

1 Comment

Filed under Driving, gears, Lessons, pedals

2 videos to put you off learning to drive forever

1. Happy Go Lucky

With his own obscure jargon of En Ra Ha, Scott from Mike Leigh’s Happy Go Lucky is a frustrated, lonely control freak and hardly the ideal person to spend an hour alone with in a confined space.


2. Peep Show

So, your estranged wife goes into labour. Your mate is supposed to drive you to hospital but is too drunk so it’s up to new driver Mark to find his biting point while the others scream at him. Only in Peep Show!

Leave a comment

Filed under Driving, Lessons