I am slightly obsessed with cars just now. After the excitement of being allowed to drive an automatic and then getting the go-ahead from the Driver Assessment Centre it was time to decide on a car. I decided I needed a small car rather than the estate car I had been driving. So, it was time to look about. My husband is more gripped by cars than me so he keenly looked for the best small automatic cars.
So, a few weeks ago, on a Friday, we tried a Ford Fiesta which had lovely light steering but I loathed the steering wheel. It is difficult to describe why if you haven’t problems with your hands but it was far too chunky for me. My husband was disappointed but keen to have a look at the next car on his list. So the next Tuesday we test drove a Volkswagen Golf. This has no handbrake. Yippee. I struggle to take handbrakes off now. Better still, I really enjoy driving it. So that is the car for me and we got it on the 30th of November. It is so very exciting to have a car I can drive again.
This has all made me think of cars I have known. I started learning to drive in a landrover. My father patiently took me out in it. You certainly couldn’t go fast, and excitingly you were also higher up than most cars on the road. I remember overtaking something. Staggering in a landrover. Just how slow was the other car going? I could see there was nothing coming but my father was still telling me something was wrong. I carried on overtaking happily. Sadly it turned out I had been far to close to the other car. Whoops. I was lucky not to hit it. Fortunately I have far more spatial awareness now.
Let’s go back further. I can’t remember how old I was but probably about six. My father drove to local paper shop for the Sunday papers. Very exciting as we were also allowed to choose something sweet on a Sunday. It had to be no more expensive than a Mars Bar which was my father’s sweet thing of choice. We used to go for the longest lasting thing we could find. We drove down, got the sweet stuff, and the paper, and set off home.
I was strapped in the back with snazzy blue straps but my father wasn’t wearing a seat belt (it wasn’t compulsory then and we were driving a very short way). We had stopped and indicated for our right turn when a car going the other way overtook and ran straight into us. I was fine but my father was really badly hurt. There was a phone box on the corner and someone called for an ambulance. This was long long before mobile phones.
A sweet little old couple drove me home. I hadn’t ever met them before and wasn’t sure they weren’t kidnapping me. They weren’t. It must have been a huge shock for my mother when she heard what had happened but at that age I was just glad to be home and sure my father would be alright. He was, after all his wounds had healed.
When we first got married we lived in Germany for a couple of years. I drove a very old and vast Mercedes. It was fast but took a long time to get going. We had a hill early on in the drive out of the village and I would find several cars overtaking me as I negotiated the hill. I was faster than a lot of them when my car got going, it just took a long time. It was a fabulous car to drive despite it’s age. Sadly we had to sell the car when we moved back to the UK but we were in our twenties and had a great time in Germany. I love autobahns!
We had several quite boring cars though I must tell you another crash story. I had taken the children to the Black Isle Show. If you read that you will realise it is an agricultural show but I loved it as a child so went back. My children loved it too. We were happily driving home when the cars in front of us stopped abruptly. I did too. But the car behind hit our car and pushed us into the car in front. I think it was so busy with everyone returning from the Show. The man behind was horrified and kept saying, including to the police who came along ‘I only drank orange juice at the show’.
The police tested him all the same. He was fine. Once everything had been sorted he asked if we would go to the Highland Field Sports at Moy. We thought we would. At which point he said ‘I might see you there’. As he had run into the back of us I really hoped we wouldn’t see him. We didn’t. Phew.
At one point, still in the UK, my husband fancied a Volvo C70. It was a brief relationship as none of the rest of us liked it. We may have had it for a year. Half the family felt sick in it and no one liked sitting in the back with the roof down as it was seriously windy. Nevertheless I think it calls for a picture of our disappointing car. It is a shame as my husband loved it.
It was certainly sleek.
My absolute favourite car was bought when we moved back to Germany at the end of 2000. In June 2001 we bought a Volvo V70. It had two child seats in the boot. Absolutely perfect for when people with children came to stay. Children adored being strapped into the seats in the boot and enjoyed waving to people. I suspect they pulled funny faces too but I am not totally sure. It was a gorgeous car that we only sold when we got my lovely new Golf. So we got over 15 years of use with it. I hope it has gone to a good home. Volvos seem to go on and on. It was such fun. Admittedly children squabbling in the boot was not ideal. But at least I couldn’t see their faces to know how furious they were.
I thought of ending with a song about cars. But I heard something far more fun, and not at all Christmas related. Who recalls ‘Remember you’re a Womble’? I don’t think I remember them on Top of the Pops but how fantastic they were. And look at all the people dancing and singing along. I was happily following a few links and discovered the Wombles were at Glastonbury in 2011. I won’t give you that link too but just amazing they were there. The link I have given you was from 1974 and you have a chance to look at Noel Edmond’s medallion. Luckily we were far too young to consider such a thing but I am guessing it was all the rage in the early 1970s.