In my second hour lesson I learnt equally as much as I did in my first. To begin with I learnt about POM: prepare, observe, move. I already knew how to prepare the vehicle and move. However Matt had been observing me in the previous lesson and told me when it was safe. It was now my turn to do this. When parked on the side of the road there are 6 spots that you have to look at to check it is safe around you. These include the 2 blind spots either side of the car, all 3 mirrors and the front window.

When pulling off at T-junctions I had to look for myself to see when it was safe for me to go. For the first half of my lesson, Matt released the handbrake for me so that I could just concentrate on the observations. Later once I was used to it I was again responsible for the handbrake. Whilst I was at a T-Junction trying to get out, an impatient driver behind me continuously beeped me. I thought that if this happened I would be really embarrassed but honestly I was concentrating too much to take much notice.

After I had been driving for around 10 minutes Matt asked me to stop, I was partially covering someone’s drive as I keep pressing the brake too fast. Anyway we discussed SCALP; safe, convenient and legal parking while we were parked up. This is basically just common sense such as do not park over someone’s drive, on double yellow lines, in bus stops, opposite junctions, near junctions, on corners, in keep clear zones etc. Matt then told me that next time he asked me to stop, he would expect me to find the next appropriate place to stop and not immediately stop as I may have previously thought.

When he asked me to stop after that I drove along the road until I found a bit of high pavement that was long enough so that I wouldn’t be blocking anyone’s drive. This was my theory however I again braked too soon and was again partially over the drive but my idea of that being the best place to be was right. Further along I did exactly the same thing which was a bit annoying as I had learnt from the first time but just pressed a bit hard on the brakes again. I’m hoping that in time I will know how much pressure to put on the brakes in certain situations.

It was also in this lesson that Matt introduced gears. The first hour was spent driving around in 1st gear and I could completely tell the difference when I was in second. I understand what people mean now when they say they know when to change gear because the car talks to them. Matt showed me the gearstick when he showed me the controls of the car. The Mini has 6 gears and reverse which is to the left of 1st gear on the gearstick, and although I struggled to get the gearstick to reverse position when practicing, I somehow accidently managed it when I was driving along. Other than that I found changing gears fairly easy compared to other things I had learnt.

The first time Matt told me when to change from 1st to 2nd. However after I’d stopped and put the car back into first gear Matt just told me how far down the road to change it, so the decision of when to change was down to me.

To change gear you take your foot off the accelerator, put the clutch fully down, change gear then release the clutch and push the accelerator down again. I think I find this easier because there isn’t as much footwork and isn’t really any opportunity to get your feet mixed up. Doing left turns in second gear is so much easier as when you release the accelerator you glide towards the road unlike in 1st gear when you worry you won’t quite make it to the road.

After I’d learnt all this we spent the rest of the lesson going around a different loop of roads which were longer with some downhill sections. One left turn was at the bottom of a hill and to help me Matt put the brakes on for me using his dual controls so that I could make a more controlled turn into the road. I’ve booked 2 lessons a week to begin with as I think this will ensure I don’t forget things between lessons and so that it hopefully takes less time to get started again each lesson.

The driving school that I’m with have given me a little book which my instructor uses to check off when certain manoeuvres have been done and how well. There are 5 columns for each manoeuvre; introduced, guided, prompted, seldom prompted and independent. There are 40 items on the list including the more basic things such as stopping and moving off as well as things that will be introduced much later in my lessons such as night driving and dual carriageways. It also has a section for the instructor to write in more detail what was taught in the lesson and also what they plan to do in the next lesson. As well as that it also acts as a diary and a way to record all of the lessons that I’ve booked. I think this will be a great way to track my progress as well as seeing what I have done in past lessons.

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