Falling in love again…

(or giggly Monday, images (1)exhilarating Tuesday)

Be warned.  This post will let you in on some of my darkest secrets; my dark side.  Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

  1.  When I was younger I was a boy racer.  I slowed up and starting thinking slightly more carefully about my driving around the time I became pregnant with Child no. 1.  I even did my Advanced Test.  But perhaps it’s a case of once a boy racer always, at heart, a boy racer.
  2.  I’m a closet white van or truck driver.  As Rebecka at Enterprise said yesterday when I picked up a Jeep, that feeling of being higher up and of ‘my car will squash yours’ is rather a good one… I think the feeling is even better in something more stable and sturdy than a white van (or minibus – I’ve driven both), as I like performance and style as well as being higher up and bigger.
  3. I am dying to try out off-roading.  I always fancied being a rally driver.
  4. I’ve fallen in love again.  It happened yesterday.

I thought my boy racer days were over.  I thought I was far more bothered about fuel economy and carrying my children and lots of clutter around than what a car looked like, or drove like.  But I’ve never quite got over the fact that I like the feeling of acceleration and of power, and I like a car with good road-holding.  I was incredibly proud of the fact that when I did a race day at Castle Coombe circuit, the instructor wrote ‘egscellent’ on my assessment form (he was a racing driver, not a literary genius).

My first dream car was my Peugeot 205 GTi.  When I had some spare money and a secure job and decent salary, I didn’t buy a flat: I bought my dream car.  I sold it 4 years later after a lot of fun and when I decided to chuck in the secure job and decent salary to go abroad to work as a holiday rep. where I drove all sorts of things – including a minibus into a snow drift.

Eventually, having come back home, I climbed – or perhaps jumped would be more accurate – up the career ladder, springing from job to job: without wanting to sound big-headed, it felt at times as if I only needed to apply for a more senior job to get it.  I ended up at British Waterways, where I got a company car: and chose a Golf TDi.  We weren’t allowed the GT TDi, but I loved my TDi.  It was the perfect car for a (then) free and single triathlete – it had plenty of get up and go and also room for my bike in the boot.

As a holiday rep. I drove minibuses and that iconic first ever (?) people carrier, the Renault Espace, carting client’s luggage all over France.  I raced a friend up and down a winding mountain road in the south of France, both of us quite often bare-footed and overtaking more nervous drivers who were probably new to the area, or only visited once a year.  When my sister came to stay she shut her eyes and prayed while I went zooming up and down mountain roads, a sheer drop to one side or the other.

I have always loved trying out different cars; I still have a yen to be a presenter on a car TV programme such as Top Gear (I could be the ‘mature mother’ who assesses cars for safety, sturdiness and child-carrying capabilities…).

But perhaps the vehicle I have enjoyed driving the most in recent months is a friend’s Isuzu Trooper.  It’s that being high up and feeling powerful thing again.  So imagine how I felt when, having had my Volvo towed away for repairs yesterday, I was picked up in a Vauxhall Corsa by Enterprise rent-a-car.


It had been an increasingly Giggly Monday.  Having yelled at Alex as he almost missed the school bus, the day got better.  I went to see the waves crashing against the harbour wall at lunchtime; chatted to Adriana on the train; found I had the same friendly breakdown guy to pick up the car as I had before Christmas when it broke down; and then had a great chat with Rebecka, a Geordie girl who works at Enterprise.

She promised me the Corsa wasn’t the car I was getting but that I’d definitely get an estate car.  As I was only due a hire car for a few days while mine was being repaired I wasn’t too fussed – all I needed was something to get me to Whitehaven for work, or at the very least the railway station.

When I got a Jeep Renegade any thoughts of getting the train to work in the morning vanished.  For a few days I was going to have my own jeep!  Immediately my brain spun into overdrive… could I drive cross country all the way to Whitehaven in the morning?  Where could I take it off road?  Could I perhaps not go to work at all but just spend all day driving around on off road routes?

I did of course go to work.  On the way there’s a field where some work is being carried out – I nearly drove up to the workmen to ask if I could try the Renegade out there.  Then I suddenly noticed that the bypass between Distington and Whitehaven has nothing to stop you driving on the verge… could I slam the jeep into 4WD mode and just try out the verge?  I didn’t quite dare but I have the vehicle for a couple more days yet (please, let my car need LOTS of work done to it…) so I haven’t given up hope of finding an off-roading opportunity.  Or perhaps it might snow…

I love the big wing mirrors and the wide windscreen.  I like the fact that it tells me which direction I’m heading in; the 6 gears; the fact that it doesn’t bleep madly at me when I’m reversing.  I’m looking forward to discovering all its (apparently) thoughtful storage compartments.  I’m not sure about the parking brake; and I’m not fussed about SatNat, which is for idiots who are too stupid to read maps – though having said that I would love a SatNat system which got really upset when you didn’t go where it told you to.  And I don’t like the fact that there’s no CD player.  But otherwise I’m well on the way to having a bit of a crush on this car – or at least on the idea of having a small SUV.  I’ve even started looking up reviews, fuel consumption, prices…

So, do I go for a vehicle which is sensible and practical with good fuel consumption which will last a long time… or something rather more exciting…  well, life’s short isn’t it… and the Jeep Renegade advertisement is tempting:

We’ve all got a renegade within us. A maverick spark, a bit of us that wants to cross the line, not toe it. 

David’s the calm, sensible parent – so I don’t have to be.  I remember years ago a friend saying, about a guy I was in love with at the time, that despite his seeming to be a ‘bad boy’, I was the one who was probably going to lead the children astray more… but perhaps that’s to flatter myself too much.  I’m really quite normal and sensible…

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