It’s been a bit of a crazy rush catching up with all the posts for my #30daywritingchallenge. Once again for Day 11 I’ve chosen to change the subject of my post. Today was meant to be on thinking about life and those “What if?” moments. I personally don’t like to think about those at all and prefer to focus on what has happened to make my life in the way it is today. Of course we all have regrets and wish we had done things in other ways but as I’ve grown older I’ve learned to move on and embrace the future.
So today’s topic is about cars. I chose to write about cars as I have been spending the Easter holidays trying to sort out our spare room and the office upstairs as they are in bad need of redecoration. I took lots of books to the charity shop yesterday and this morning have been looking through old photos and trying my best to tidy them up. As I was looking through the photos I noticed there were quite a few with cars on it. Mr SmartCookieSam is a petrolhead and loves his cars. Any excuse to get a photo with a car on it, even when the photo is meant to be of our house or our front garden! In our photo stash was a picture of our very first house together complete with our cars at the time on the drive! How dated the picture looks now and how much cars have changed in the last 30 years! It got me thinking about all the cars I have had over the years.
I first had driving lessons when I was in the 6th form and learned in a Nissan Micra. It was ok but from what I remember it only had 4 gears and it felt like it was going to fall apart if you got up to 70mph on the dual carriageway between our village and Nottingham city centre. I got my test date but it fell on one of my A level exam dates. I never took my test before going off to uni as there was no point. I couldn’t afford to run a car while I was studying. When I first started teaching, I lived in Gravesend in Kent but really struggled to get around. My school was on a bus route but buses were few and far between so I relied on taxis and a couple of colleagues helped me out enormously. My grandad had just died and my Nana Margaret hadn’t driven for years. Probably as well as she had taken her test back in the 1960s and apparently she was a liability on the road! Nana offered me Grandad’s car when I passed my test which to this day I am eternally grateful to her for as it got me up and running in more ways than one! By this time I had decided I was going to have to move back up North as there was no way I could continue to run a car and live in the South East on my teacher’s pay. I ended up having a course of refresher lessons which were great. Unfortunately in hindsight I made the mistake of taking my test in the instructor’s automatic car being as Grandad’s car was an automatic. Although I know how to drive a manual car, my driving licence says I can’t.
My first car- a Ford Sierra.
Grandad’s old car had actually been my Dad’s car previously which he had bought from new. He ran it for about 3 years until he got a new job which came with a company car. Of course at that time I wasn’t driving so he sold the car to my Grandad. Grandad was a terrible driver and my cousins, brother and I would hate going in the car with him and Nana. Once, he realised he needed to be off at a certain junction on the M2 near where my cousins lived and shot across right in front of someone who had chosen to leave the motorway in the right way. He didn’t really like driving and once my Dad and uncles could drive I think he used to let them get on with it but he would never let my Nana drive. Another time my grandad crawled down the A1 in Yorkshire for about 10 miles doing 50mph. Me being a cheeky madam asked him why he was going so slowly. He said he didn’t want to miss the Ferrybridge turn off! I bet all the drivers behind him were glad when he finally reached it! Grandad had the Ford Sierra for about a year or so before he sadly died of a stroke. On the day I was due to collect it, it began to snow. Nana and Grandad lived in Kent and I lived just outside Leeds. I asked my Dad if he would come down to Kent with me to collect the car. We went on the train from Doncaster, leaving Dad’s car in the station car park and I drove back up to Yorkshire that night as it started snowing. What a baptism to driving. My first ever long distance drive, with my Nana sat there in the back, Dad in the front and using the M25 as well! I had had a couple of motorway lessons with my instructor when I passed my test which helped but I was still nervous. When we got to Doncaster station, I was on my own. Dad followed me up the A1 and home as it was my first time driving alone. I was ok but I was glad to be home.
My Sierra and I had lots of adventures. I soon got used to long distance driving and went to see friends all over the country. When I met Mr SmartCookieSam he said he used to have a Sierra almost identical but in black. I loved that car and although it was a little bit too big for a first car, it helped transform my life to get me to work. When I moved in with Mr SmartCookieSam I ended up commuting 30 miles to work so the Sierra ended up with a lot of miles on the clock. Finally in April 1998 the Sierra ended up being traded in for something a bit more practical, economical and easier to drive.
I loved my Hyundai, it was about 6 months old when we bought it. One of Mr SmartCookieSam’s clients was a Hyundai dealer and he let me test drive one for the weekend. It was much more practical as by this time we had our daughter and it was easier to get her pram in and out of the boot. I had also started childminding and wanted something easier to get the children in and out of their car seats as well as the double buggy I used when I was looking after other babies. Unfortunately red wasn’t a very lucky colour for me as I had 2 prangs in this car. One was caused by me, the other by someone else.
Mr SmartCookieSam had always wanted a Discovery and in March 2000, 2 months before our son was born, we got one. He had a bronze coloured Discovery as his car for the first year we had it, then it became mine. He thought he was doing too much mileage in it. I ended up having two Discoveries, as in 2003 we traded the bronze one in and got a green one. Both were perfect for where we lived and were comfortable for long distance driving, as well as for taking abroad when we went to France on holiday. I had to remember about height clearance in multi-storey car parks though, which could be a nuisance but I loved those cars. The green one had an integral DVD player in the back which was perfect for the children when we went on holiday. The Discoveries were obvious gas guzzlers, though and I found that once I was back at work I was going through so much diesel. The school I worked at was 15 miles away along country roads so it wasn’t very economical.
Mr SmartCookieSam saw an XC90 in our local Volvo dealer. I fell in love with it instantly and it was more economical than the Discovery was. Our second Discovery had had 7 seats which was useful if I had the children’s friends back for tea or I was doing the school run. The only thing was, was as the children grew the little seats at the back were not designed for older children. On newer 7 seater Discoveries, this isn’t an issue but it was with this model. The XC90 had proper seats in the back and they were also leather. The front seats could be warm which was perfect in the very cold winter of 2010 when we had the car.
Unfortunately, due to the recession I wanted something that was going to be cheaper to run so Mr SmartCookieSam found me a lovely silver Golf. It was perfect for driving to and from work, ferrying the kids about, doing the food shop and travelling long distance. I loved my little Golf and it was so easy to drive and was comfortable to be in. We had it at the same time as the XC90 though, so if the weather was bad I would use the XC90 for the four wheel drive. After I had skidded on ice in the Golf (thankfully nobody or the car was damaged) I was nervous about going out in it in bad weather.
We sold both the Golf and the XC90 so we could have one car doing both jobs. I needed a 4 wheel drive because of where I worked at the time. I had to drive on ungritted roads and needed something a bit bigger as we wanted to get a dog. So Mr SmartCookieSam and I went to a Kia dealer and test drove a Sportage. I was really impressed and felt that it was like a Landrover Freelander but at a fraction of the price. Unfort unately, I found it far too thirsty even though I loved driving it. Also, the voice activated Bluetooth was really difficult to use and the phone just wouldn’t connect half the time. I don’t normally give my cars names but my Kia’s registration ended with the letters MGE, so I called her Madge. I enjoyed driving Madge apart from the time I managed to reverse her into my gate which swung shut in the wind as I was going out of the drive. That was so embarrassing as my children kept teasing me about it.
Mr SmartCookieSam and I ended up in the local VW dealer in January 2014 looking at new cars to replace the Kia. He had been trying to persuade me to have a Skoda Yeti but I said no. I just thought they were ugly and boxy cars. I have nothing against Skodas, but the Yeti looked awful. The same with their Roomster model, they’re awful! I then persuaded him to take me to the VW garage and we got such a great deal on a brand new Golf. I was so impressed with my blue Golf and had it for nearly 3 years. I did a lot of mileage in it, including several long distance road trips. I also changed jobs and was amazed at how economical it was. It was comfortable to drive, it had a great Bluetooth system so I could use my phone. I also loved the music system in it. The only thing that let it down was that it ended up in the garage three times. For a car less than three years old having things go wrong on it is not that good.
BMW 1 series
When we were thinking of replacing the Golf I was more than happy to have another one as I love them. But one Saturday afternoon we went to have a look at other similar size vehicles. As I do a lot of driving I need something reliable so we went to the local BMW dealer. Mr SmartCookieSam has had about 4 or 5 BMWs and is always impressed with the level of service there. When we walked into the showroom there was a gleaming white 1 Series. It immediately caught our eye and we took it out for a test drive. That was it, I had been well and truly spoilt and I fell in love with the car. It was perfect. I’ve had my 1 series for about 18 months now and I love it. It’s my pride and joy and apart from it getting dirty from all the muck on the roads I look after it. So last year I was so upset when I’d parked it on the side of the road outside a school I had been teaching in that day, only to come out and find a little dent in the driver’s side door. Looked like a bike had done it! Then only last week a pheasant ran out in front of me and damaged one of the grills! Luckily it was fixed straight away.
Please note, I have used photos of the cars as examples from Google images with registration plates blacked out to protect identity.
So there you have it, all the cars I have owned in the last twenty odd years.