A quick update and teaching Jack to drive


Ali's weekend with the girls Do hope the May Bank Holiday was a good one and you didn’t have the perishing cold winds we had up our way, so to speak!! 

Hard to believe the weekend before we’d been out in our shirtsleeves, and the one before that I’d been away with my girlfriends, sitting in the sunshine enjoying a Harvey Wallbanger – or two! But enough about the weather…

How are you? Seems a while since I wrote to you and I have to apologise straight away to those of you who attended our recent Gems Event, particularly a young lady called Lucy whose photograph I took and promised to put it on my blog! 

She was enjoying her last day of the Easter Holidays with her mum and won an aquamarine pendant, and she posed very prettily for our picture. Stupidly I hadn’t checked my battery so when my camera died I borrowed one and put my memory card in it. It wasn’t until I tried to download them that I realised not a single one had been stored! So sorry – I think that’s what my children would call a Fail!!

Driving lessons

I’ve had a couple of days off to try and catch up on some things in and outside the house that needed doing. I also had time to take Jack out driving a couple of times. Hard to believe my youngest is now old enough to take to the road, and although I’m obviously biased, he’s not bad at all. I’ve got him another 10 lessons and then his instructor reckons he’ll be ready to take his test! 

Just listening to him talking about hill starts, reversing and ‘feeding the wheel’ took me back to 1978 when I was learning to drive. I can’t remember the name of my instructor, but he wasn’t the friendliest of souls – well to me at least!.

My hour-long lesson invariably consisted of him pointing out various pubs he’d taken his latest flame to, and then houses on our route in which his previous girlfriends lived. When one is trying to concentrate on ‘mirror signal manoeuvre’, remembering which matchstick in the back window you were supposed to line up when reversing, and the difference between the brake and accelerator, the last piece of information you need to add to this already long list is your instructor's latest conquest!! 

Passing my test

I think the ‘piece de resistance’ was when I was nervously trying to navigate my way down a particularly narrow road with cars parked either side, and toying with just closing my eyes and going for it, when suddenly my instructor leant across me, beeped the horn and waved at some leggy brunette he’d spotted on the pavement! 

“Taught her how to drive I did,” he said somewhat smugly as I slammed on the brake and stalled the car.   “Don’t reckon you’ll pass first time though,” he added. Mercifully I did, with an examiner called Mr. Flower, and as I climbed out of the shiny yellow Nissan Sunny and headed towards my instructor gripping my pass certificate he was completely oblivious, having spotted a willowy blonde sashaying towards the test centre… not sure who was most jubilant – me, him or her!

I didn’t have a car initially but saved up and my first purchase was literally a death trap! It cost £245, was a white convertible Triumph Herald, and the license plate had the letters NMY on it. 'Enemy', my Mum said, when my Dad came out for a drive with me and noting the rather strange rattling noise it made when I changed gear, took it away to be checked over. Basically a write off, but luckily for me, Dad got my money back and my next car was a VW Beetle ERD 537D. 

Do you remember your first car? Or how much you paid for it?!! I’d love to hear from you and look forward to catching up on all your news.

Love Ali x x


  1. Julie May 5, 2010 at 6:06 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    I remember learning to drive-I hated every lesson. My 1st Driving Instructor told me I’d never pass-“you can’t reverse” he said-nothing changed there then has it or driving around roundabouts-I still have kittens! I changed the Instructor and passed straight away. I immediately went out on my own and parked on double yellow lines-I’d passed so thought I could do anything!I even taught Rebecca to drive.
    Will be in touch soon-everything well and God willing!!
    Take care
    Julie xx

  2. Magda Chetty May 5, 2010 at 7:39 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    Great blog as always, you do make me lough. I was laways nervous about taking the driving test, that I failed it 3 times, the first time I couldn”t stop shaken that they had to cancel the test just after 10 minute. Near the time of my 3rd test my husband bought me a car ( VW Beetle, white) and said if I get used to it, I can use it for the test, but I faild again and sold it, and more or less gave up.
    Then 2 years later, i thought I have to do this pass or not, and thank God I did. It is impossible to live here in mallorca if you can”t drive, where our house is you need to drive to get even some bread.
    I”m arriving to London on Monday 10th of May, and can”t wait to see you and Julia. Hope to hear from one of you about what is the best day and time to get to QVC to meet you both.
    Much love.

  3. Julie Williams May 5, 2010 at 7:53 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison,
    I failed my first test but passed on my second attempt, rushed out to buy my first car and managed to find a little blue mini that cost me £80 ( it was a lot of money back then ). I have no idea what the number plate was but it was blue like the Focus I know drive I also don’t know the number of this, as long as it gets me from A to B and is a lovely colour I’m happy.
    I love to hear about your Family and Friends, I also go away with 5 Girl Friends twice a year I think of them as my Sisters,
    we support each other through happy and sad times.
    Looking forward to reading your blog!
    Love Julie xx

  4. Rosalyn Harrop May 5, 2010 at 8:39 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, yes many memories came flooding back reading about you learning to drive and teaching Jack. My driving instructor was called Mr Potter and I still can here his voice in my head, “mirror signal, manoeuvre,” “turn off the time bomb,” by which he meant the indicators because back in those days they did not automatically cancel themselves when you straightened the wheel and ” come on, you could get a double decker bus through there”.
    Teaching my eldest daughter to drive was hopeless, we started off in a deserted car park and ended up in hysterics as she couldn’t get the hang of which side the indicators were on and kept getting the windscreen wipers instead.
    One of my first cars had a number plate which read F245 ART, needles to say I named her “Windy”
    I wish Jack success with his driving. It is always good to catch up on all your news.
    Love Roz

  5. Chris Claydon May 5, 2010 at 9:00 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali,
    My first car was a Cortina Mark 2. It was white and pretty shabby so I thought I would do it up. Starting from the inside, I put one inch foam on the doors dash and ceiling and the proceeded to cover and button in bright orange crushed velvet which I got cheap from work. The problem being one night on my way to play squash with my brother-in-law, we were at a set of traffic lights and suddenly the roof became unstuck and landed on our heads. We took evasive action in the event of an emergency and duly held up the ceiling with two squash rackets, one in each hand. Even worse one Sunday lunch time, whilst dinner was being cooked, I found a role of masking tape and black spray paint and thought it would be a good idea to paint the car. So stuck tape all over the car in a chequered design then sprayed black paint over the lines. I did this painting in the road outside our flat with parked cars all around and it was windy so I think I decorated a few other cars at the same time. Having removed the tape I was very impressed with my creation, for some reason my wife was not. Even worse every time my wife’s Nan got in the car she ducked down so her neighbours couldn’t see her.
    Good to hear your news. take care
    Love Chris

  6. Jenny Meckiffe May 5, 2010 at 9:15 pm -  Reply

    Do I rmember MY first car?… Well yes but I think I rmember yours more!! Driving around in dear ERDOBs, as we called him, travelling at speed on the main road between the resevoirs near to Walton on Thames with you checking your mascara in your ‘Snoopy looking good’ mirror which was fixed in the drivers sun visor!! I didn’t think we’d make it to adulthood!! Still, many happy memories too, like travelling the wrong way for miles up the M3 on our waty to Dad’s with Peter telling us ‘not to sweat it,’ and then, several years later in a different car, spending a lovely day going to Walton on the Naze, when you were pregnant with Lucy!
    It certainly doesn’t seem possible to think we both have children now either driving, or capable of it,at least! Great to have a bit of time in London, particularly being driven through the centre of town and seeing such beautiful architecture, and then such fabulous jewls at the V&A, nearly as good as the ones you sell!!
    Hope to catch up soon, keep up the good work
    All love Jenny xxxx

  7. Kathleen Kape May 5, 2010 at 9:24 pm -  Reply

    Sorry dear Alison but the gent you mention was the 2nd person who set out to teach you to drive!!! I gave it my best, I know only as a Mum but there you go and at least it was for free!! Trouble was that you kept an eye out for nice dresses in shop windows and we didn’t see eye to eye about when to brake, your choice was to see how near the back of the bus you could get without actually ramming it!!! Enough said!
    I can only say you have improved enormously as has your choice of cars (I hope this is true?) Just take care and remember its all the other drivers who are idiots.
    Love Mum

  8. Amy May 5, 2010 at 9:51 pm -  Reply

    Wow what a lovely picture. Looks like you had fabulous weather for your weekend away, and Harvey Wallbanger too, sounds perfect!
    Are your friends as much fun as they look?

  9. Sue Hawkins May 5, 2010 at 10:39 pm -  Reply

    I learned to drive in a a very old cortina estate that had a bench seat and column gear change and an eight track cassette player.No! I am not eighty five years old but an almost sprightly forty six year old! I wonder if any of these vehicles are still about or playing the only eight track we had (The Eagles) on that big forecourt in the sky!!
    Fondest Wishes, Alison. Love Sue. x

  10. Dorothy May 6, 2010 at 5:58 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison
    Hope you have better luck with Jack than i had with laura, i only did it a couple of times i was bundle nerves so Davy took over. When she started to have lessons the lollipop lady was in middle off road and she went round her, Michael was shouting you had to stop (she just said they was plenty room mow you know why i could’nt do it so good luck.)Davy and i bought a Dolmite car its was gorgeous it just purred like a kitten, a week before going on honeymoon a tractor went into the side of it i was GUTTED.We then bought Avenger car i was trying to park MAM was screaming at me to stop too late hit a wall right down the side, i told Davy someone did it with a shoppiny trolly that got me off the hook. Hope Sam is doing ok and good luck to Jack.
    love best wishes.
    Dorothy xxxx

  11. Dorothy May 6, 2010 at 6:20 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison
    JUST seen you on beauty show can you tell me what self tan you use it looked natural.
    lOVE Dorothy xxx

  12. alison keenan May 6, 2010 at 10:23 pm -  Reply

    Ah Julie, clearly the lack of matchsticks in the back window and unsympathetic driving instructor worked against you in the reversing stakes! So glad you changed instructor and thank heavens you didn’t get a ticket when parking on the double yellows!! I remember the first thing i did when I passed was to go and practice my three point turns – how sad is that?! Well done for teaching Rebecca….if you read down the page you’ll see the comment from my mum… she must have been a lot easier than I 🙂 Love Ali xx

  13. alison keenan May 7, 2010 at 8:29 am -  Reply

    Magda, you make me laugh!! I do remember that business of shaking with nerves while learning though very difficult to hold the ‘bite point’ on the clutch when your legs wobbling about! 🙂 So sorry your husband sold the Beetle, cos they’re lovely cars, but clearly third time lucky was the one for you, and as you say, a car’s an essential in Mallorca for you. I am sadly not scheduled to be at QVC on either Monday or Tuesday, but will be in on Wednesday, so if you write to Julia, then she and I can liaise. It would be lovely to meet you after all this time of writing. Enjoy your weekend. Love Alison x

  14. alison keenan May 7, 2010 at 8:35 am -  Reply

    Julie, it’s great to hear we have the same criteria when it comes to buying a car – has to be a nice colour! 🙂 Your girlfriends sound just as lovely as mine, and there’s nothing like having that kind of support network there when you need it. 🙂 Have a lovely weekend driving round in your Focus, and thanks very much for taking the time out to write. love Ali xx

  15. alison keenan May 7, 2010 at 8:50 am -  Reply

    Ros, I would have paid money for a number plate like that!! 🙂 Awesome. It reminded me that whenever I needed to accelerate my instructor used to bard “more gas!” at me….very tempting but I’m far too much of a lady 🙂 The windscreen wiper/indicator problem is one that happened last year when I was driving in Greece. Complicated enough remembering which side of the car to get into, let alone where the indicators are! Thank you for writing, and I’ll keep you in touch with Jack’s progress. Love Ali xx

  16. alison keenan May 7, 2010 at 8:58 am -  Reply

    Chris, you made me laugh out loud with your interior decoration story and although I love crushed velvet, orange???? Thank heavens you had the squash rackets handy although I did worry how you were able to drive with a racket in each hand…… Only joking 🙂 Sam’s just got an old range rover so he can go off roading with his mates and he was rather taken with the spray paint and sticky tape idea…although i suggested he did it somewhere other than a car park – hilarious 🙂 Lovely to hear from you, and thanks for writing. Have a great weekend, Love Ali xx

  17. alison keenan May 7, 2010 at 9:07 am -  Reply

    I too remember the ‘Snoopy’ mirror Jenny, and luckily for me every car I’ve had since does tend to have a mirror on the drivers visor! Needless to say I don’t do my make up in it now, cos it’s far too small for me to see 🙂 I found a photo of me on the beach that day at Walton on the Naze in an aubergine coloured bikini – thank heavens it was early on in the pregnancy then! Do you remember mum’s Ford Anglia, or the lime green escort she had? I can’t remember which car you learned to drive in but I do know your sense of direction was occasionally a little strange…. driving towards Colchester to see Aunty Hilda “is the way we normally go to Bognor??” We should have adopted Dad’s foolproof method of learning routes using the various hostelries he’d visited on the way… “left at the White Hart, right at the Queen’s Head and keep straight on past the Cricketers” 🙂 Have a lovely weekend, all love, Ali xxxx

  18. alison keenan May 7, 2010 at 9:11 am -  Reply

    Ooooops Mum!! Sorry. Maybe the trauma of those near misses has caused me to block the memory of you trying to teach me to drive, from my brain 🙂 I do remember that you let me head off in to the sunset and Island Farm Road in your green Escort after I’d passed though, which gave me a wild feeling of freedom! And I have never forgotten your theory that all other drivers are idiots, along with “people value their own cars far too much to hit me”….. after you’d negotiated a double roundabout without using your indicators once 🙂 Happy days. Have a great weekend and thanks for writing – quite a family affair! Love Ali xx

  19. alison keenan May 7, 2010 at 9:13 am -  Reply

    Amy the weather, the company and of course the Harvey Wallbangers were perfect, and yes my friends are the best fun to be with. Our only problem is remembering just how much fun we have, as the old memory is starting to falter 🙂 Lovely to hear from you, Ali xxx

  20. alison keenan May 7, 2010 at 9:21 am -  Reply

    ‘Almost sprightly’ – you sound a lot fitter than me in my dotage Sue! Your old Cortina Estate reminds me of my Dad’s Zodiac and then Zephyr cars that he had, with the bench seat across the front. I think I was the only one allowed to sit in the front on mum’s lap, ‘cos I suffered with car sickness, but it was great fun in the back ‘cos it was so wide and we could zoom up and down! I too also remember the old 8 track cartridge players and the song we seemed to play over and over again was Rhinestone Cowboy by Glenn Campbell – good times 🙂 Lovely to hear from you, and thanks for writing, love Ali xx

  21. alison keenan May 7, 2010 at 10:58 am -  Reply

    Dorothy, you should write for a sit com!! Your stories are so much funnier than anything I ever see on TV 🙂 Good for Laura – at least show didn’t mow the lollipop lady down! I remember those Dolomites – Triumph weren’t they? I hope your Davy isn’t going to read this blog otherwise the cat will be out of the bag! I remember Lucy reversing the large Audi Estate I had into the wall at my ex’s sister. We were so scared he’d be furious I fibbed and said it must have happened on the ferry! Sadly he didn’t believe me or Lucy, and we were right he was livid…..! Trying to placate him by saying at least it wasn’t his car didn’t help 🙂 Sam’s a little better now and the sore has healed so he’s walking so much better. This old car we’ve got him we had it adapted and he’s as happy as Larry – which makes me happy 🙂 Have a great weekend and thanks as always for writing. Lovely to hear from you, Love Ali xx

  22. alison keenan May 7, 2010 at 11:02 am -  Reply

    Sorry Dorothy just seen your question. Yes the fake tan I use is Beau Bronz and it’s item no 225339. I LOVE it 🙂 For me, it works perfectly, has never streaked, and doesn’t smell horrid. Try and see what you think. ali xxx

  23. Diane Reeves May 7, 2010 at 4:38 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison,
    I passed my test first time. To this day I’m not sure how! Think it was because I stalled at the first junction and thought “well that’s it” and relaxed! My first car was a little red metro and I loved it. Unfortunately it was stolen from Sainsbury’s car park and I was heartbroken. I’ve recently treated myself to a brand new Ka and although I do miss my old corsa that I had for 12 years I just had to take advantage of the scrapage deal!
    Love watching you, you always cheer my day.

  24. Julie May 7, 2010 at 10:00 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    What’s this about matchsticks to help you reverse-never heard of it-but definitley need them! Do they work on roundabouts too!!
    I totally agree with your Mum it’s the other idiots on the road you have to worry about.I took Rebecca out the day before her test it was fine when we left the house,went over a mountain(surprise,surprise in Wales)and the fog was unbelievable,she didn’t even flinch-I thought if you can cope in this you can do anything!!
    How’s Sam? send him my love(and Lucy and Jack)
    Will be in touch soon(I’ll say no more!!!)
    Take care,much love
    Julie xx

  25. Sheila Stokes May 8, 2010 at 12:50 am -  Reply

    Hi Ally. My first car of my very own was also a Triumph Herald. A little beauty, deep wine with chrome trim a sun roof and souped up engine. She was imaculate and cost £125. Her registration number was COM 2 C. Had her for years and you could park her on a sixpence. She went to a young lad posted at Yeovilton and I suspect had a lot more fun than ferring three kids to school and shopping trips etc. My husband ( bless him ) taught me to drive, usually with three children in the back. The omments usually went along the lines of Mom is driving put your crash hats on. I passed first time thank goodness. Now one of my grandsons is taking leasons and has a new respect for us drivers saying he doesn’t know how you manage everything all at once. I told him to be thankful he does not have to stick his hand out of the window to give hand singnals ( which he could not beleive) still it was 1969.Still driving today it gives me such independance. Love your shows

  26. Gail May 9, 2010 at 5:08 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, your blog brought back memories, some good and some bad. My driving instructor use to shout; it use to frighten the life out of me. It was 1978 and I was quite young so I never use to say anything. He was very good though (use to teach the Police) and I passed first time. It was a lovely feeling. My first car was a green Renault 6, quite old but with very low mileage. I paid £500 in the 1980s. It was in lovely condition and I loved it. The car though, not long after, came to a sticky end and so nearly did I. A car coming out of a tyre garage hit me on the side and threw my car into the oncoming traffic. This was a very busy road, usually full of buses and cars. At this particular moment the road of oncoming traffic was empty and I ended up outside a bus stop. It was a miracle. An off duty policeman helped me out of the car as I was in a state of shock, but without a scratch. Policemen seemed to have played a part in my life because not long after I went on to work for the police. It truly was a miracle that the usually very, very busy road was empty. Looking back I still can’t believe it. Nice that your mum blogged, hello Ali’s mum. Everyone likes to write to you Ali because you are such a nice, genuine lady. Take care, with love from Gail xxx

  27. Debbie Marsh May 10, 2010 at 12:42 pm -  Reply

    Dear Ali
    I passed my test second time around. I learnt to drive in an NSU, I know I’d never heard of them either. When my sons wanted someone to go with them whilst they were learning to drive I was most definately not available, there a no pedals in the passenger seat and as a control freak (or so my friends say)this wouldn’t do. I love driving, especially on holiday. Keep up the good work.
    Love Debbie x

  28. alison keenan May 10, 2010 at 1:31 pm -  Reply

    Crikey Gail, that’s what I call a very lucky escape! Thank heavens the road was empty and I’m so glad it didn’t put you off driving, although I would have fully understood if it had have done. Somebody clearly was looking out for you I feel…. Very lucky too that a policeman was there to help you too. The day of Sam’s accident, there was a police car just one vehicle behind the lorry that slammed into him. He called the ambulance and it was there within 8 minutes. He was also very kind when he called to tell me what had happened. You took your test the same year as me, so I’m guessing we’re much the same age 🙂 Thank you for your lovely comments, and yes, it was good to hear from mum too. Enjoy your week and do keep in touch, and I should have a bit of a surprise for you next blog! Love Ali xx

  29. alison keenan May 10, 2010 at 1:37 pm -  Reply

    Hi Diane, lovely to hear from you and well done you for passing first time 🙂 How awful to have a car stolen! I’m not surprised you were heartbroken. Your new car sounds lovely though, but it is a wrench when you have to say goodbye after all those years of faithful service 🙁 My mum had an old mini that was stolen years ago, but the police found it three weeks later and everything had been stripped out with the exception of threepenny bit and an orange! Thanks for writing, and do keep in touch, it’s always lovely to catch up on your news too 🙂 Love Ali xx

  30. alison keenan May 10, 2010 at 1:48 pm -  Reply

    Sheila you paint a lovely picture of learning to drive – very much a family affair, and well done too for passing first time. I can’t imagine it was that easy to concentrate with three small children in the back either! I too remember the hand signals we used to have to give if approaching a zebra crossing. I also remember smacking my hand against the glass once as I’d forgotten to wind the window down first!! 🙂 It’s great to know you’re still driving and I completely agree about it giving you independence. Must be lovely to be able to get into the car and visit your grandchildren whenever you choose, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that your grandson does as well as you did when it comes to his test. So glad you enjoy the shows and hope you’ll be able to watch this weekend when it’ll be very much a family affair for me! Love Ali x

  31. alison keenan May 10, 2010 at 3:00 pm -  Reply

    Debbie I still don’t know what an NSU is?!! Is it even a car? 🙂 I know the feeling of not having control when in a car with a learner…. the carpet on the passenger side was somewhat worn from all my ‘pretend’ braking! Driving on holiday is always so much more fun that the usual A to B journeys – even more so if you’re with your friends and not driving alone 🙂 thanks for writing and let’s hope someone can shed light on what and NSU actually is. Have a good week, and keep in touch, Love Ali xx

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