It is fair to say that this is the most I have ever spent on Ebay. I mean scary money. Money that when it was counted out at the bank I thought...hmm...that's the most money I have ever seen in my life...I'm sure I could buy nicer things with that money than a car...Why don't I just do a runner now? And then dh very sensibly put it in an envelope and hid it out of my view.
But, we need something for our month's trip round Scotland and car+trailer just wasn't going to do it. Have you tried packing a small trailer with camping gear and belongings for 5 people who think minimalist is leaving the kitchen sink at home, but taking the bath instead? Trust me, it don't fit.
So all is fine and dandy. We have a van. It has 6 seats. 6 nice big comfortable seats (that's 5 for us and one for the spaniel that thinks it's one of us).
Only one problem. It's a manual. I haven't driven a geared car since I passed my driving test 6 years ago. And I passed my test after only 26 or so lessons. So that's 26 x 2 hours. Which, for the mathematical among you is 52 hours in a geared car. So we're not talking experienced here. I've had more hot dinners than that.
Dh and well meaning friends have been telling 'oh you'll be fine' and 'it'll come back to you'. But I'm not so sure. I am a person who learns to the test. I can pass pretty much ANY exam (including a driving test) and then promptly forget everything I learned. It is nature's way of getting me through life without cluttering up my brain with useless information.
And let's be honest, all information is useless until you need it. Keeping information in your head is a bit like keeping all the loo roll inners for a lifetime on the offchance that you'll one day be required to create a 'sculpture of how many loo rolls a family uses in a life time' for the Tate Modern. I mean, unless you're Tracy Emin then what's the point? Seeing as the council doesn't call round once a fortnight to collect and recycle your unwanted information (unlike loo roll inners), it is best disposed of. Quickly. And if you need it again, surely you can use Google. Except I'm not sure if that works for driving a car.
So, having driven what can only be described as a hippo-shaped-smoke-propelled-people-carrying-go-kart for the past 6 years I don't remember anything about gear changes. Or using the clutch. Or hill starts. Or starting. (and I forgot about parallel parking about week 2 after my test). I know what brakes are for and I can (or can on my current car) open the bonnet and go 'tut tut' (though I can never get the stick thing to stick up long enough to hold the bonnet up so I have to stand there holding it with my hand). I can use the squirty thingy for the windscreen and the flippy flappy things that move the water around. This is the extent of my car knowledge.
But I do remember that I was very good at accidently doing block gear changes from 1st to 5th and back again. My driving instructor thought it was rather novel. Sometimes he turned quite white and went very quiet.
And I do remember the nightmare of hurtling down the slip road onto the ring road (when I say 'hurtle' I mean anything over 20mph - whoah! I can't go any faster or I'll have to change gear!) saying over and over 'please don't let there be a car...please don't let there be a car...please don't let there be a car...oh christ! There's a car!' and then screeching to a halt at the end of the slip road while the other car hurtled (i.e. proper hurtled) past. Those weekly driving lessons were almost enough for me to become religious. But no. I turned to drink instead (not while driving of course) to ease the fear of the road.
And then I passed. Because I can pass exams. It's what I do best. Don't let anyone tell you that exams indicate evidence of knowledge in any form. Having 5 A levels, 9 o levels, an honours degree and a driving licence, I am living proof that exams are a complete pile of pants. I am able to drive a geared car in the same way as I am able to make use of differential equations or recite the facts about the storming of the Bastille (whatever that was)from my learned years at school.
Anyway, problem number two with this van. It has no rear windscreen, only solid doors.
Which is kinda quirky because it means that
a) you can't see what you're about to hit when reversing
b) you can't even see what you just hit when you reversed into it and
c) because of b there's a very strong chance that you'll run over whatever unfortunate item you hit because you'll need to turn the van around to look at what you just hit.
I'd say that's a hit-hit situation. It's safe to say that I don't plan to do any reversing. At all. Ever.
So, all you sympathetic readers, please spare a thought for me tomorrow. There I'll be bunny-hopping and crunching my way down our road, letting the whole world know that White Van Woman has arrived.