Well, hopefully today represents a breaking point in the cabin fever. Sue got me insured on her car on Tuesday, and this evening I managed to drive all the way to Cork and back (about a half hour drive up the motorway) for a meeting. This is an achievement. Believe me, its an achievement. The car is a manual, and Dad taught me how to drive a manual in about 8 lessons over the course of 4 days in the week before I left. I then didn’t drive a manual again until last Saturday – a gap of about 4 weeks. On top of this, there are no lights, like NO lights along the roads here, the roads are also thin and windy, and little rocky walls line the streets, meaning its impossible to have parked cars and two lanes of traffic. In fact, usually its even impossible to have two lanes of traffic, unless both cars drive in the gutter. Its like Newtown, but all over Ireland and at 80km/h.
SO, the fact that I’m alive, and that the car is alive, and that all the people and animals that I passed along the way are alive is really a major achievement. I probably deserve some kind of award. Even if I did stall the car twice on one hill, change in to 2nd a couple of times when I meant to change in to 4th and went backwards at a few traffic lights due to a lack of accelerator action (whilst driving the girls around the other day, the eldest asks dubiously, ‘Are you sure you know how to drive?’ ‘Yes, I’ve been driving since before you were born, its just a new car and I’m getting used to it.’ Silence. ‘You need to go faster here.’ ‘Thanks.’ Silence. ‘You need to reverse now.’ ‘Thanks.’ ‘Do you know where the reverse button is?’ Silence. ‘That’s a really bad park.’ ‘Thanks.’ Silence. ‘What are you doing now???’ *through gritted teeth* ‘I’m doing a better park’).
In fact, I also deserve an award for driving to Cork and managing to find one out of the two places I was trying to get to. Not a huge award, I admit, considering I missed my first appointment, but I should get something. Admittedly, it took me 1 and a half hours to get somewhere it should have taken me half an hour to get to, got lost in a place called Blackpool (I thought that was in England???) and ended up having to buy a street map (on which there was no Blackpool, so the map was totally useless anyway, and, all things considered, I probably was in the Blackpool in England after all, what with the amount of driving I did, and hence why I was so GODDAMN LOST), but I got there. I even managed to keep my cool (at least compared to the first time I drove in Sydney, where after 45 mins of ‘no right turns’ and ‘one way streets’ and ‘no entry’ signs, I was sobbing, hitting the wheel and terrifying pedestrians by screaming at the traffic lights), even when there was nowhere to pull over to check the map, and no street signs up anyway, so even if I could check the map, I wouldn’t have been any wiser as to where I was located, whereabouts I wanted to get to, and, most importantly, how to get there.
I’m still amazed the mother actually insured me on the car after driving around with me on Saturday, but, hey, its her car, her insurance, her money, I guess. The family, and, really, the Irish people in general, seem to have a very ‘C’est la Vie’ attitude to a lot of things. I mean, there was no concern about me taking out the car tonight, and no directions offered, they just sort of assumed I’d work it out. Which I did, I guess. Its probably why Blackpool isn’t on the map and there are no street signs. Its an attitude I’d like to adopt. Apart from being good for my health, I think it would add to my whole ‘manual-car’ driving image. I’m totes country. I’m wearing jeans and a red-checked shirt and boots and apart from bunny-hopping the car down the road every 20 metres, I look really authentic. By the time I get home I’ll be driving tractors and milking cows and growing my own lettuces.