Some of you may have seen my #30day wild posts and the magical mystery tour I went on for my birthday.
I know some people may think it strange that I spent my birthday on my own, but for me it wasn't. I was in Wendy, my Landrover Defender (technically my husbands, but he uses my car for work so I use Wendy). I know, not the most Eco-friendly vehicle, but for where I like to travel the lanes aren't really passable in any other vehicle, I do so few miles now and she is easy to fix. We do plan on converting her to electric once we've figured out how to do it.
Cars for me are freedom. They are where I can go and get peace and quiet, and not have to interact with other people. I find I get my best ideas and sort out my thoughts when I drive. Its also where I feel safe.
I can sing at the top of my voice to my music, I can listen to an audio book, I can have peace and quiet.
My cars are my escape. Cars are really important to me. My husband understands this and knows my passion on my birthday he passed a vintage VW Beetle and so wanted to buy it me as my birthday present, alas we don't have the finances just yet.
Growing up on a farm in rural Shropshire I had to rely on my parents to take me everywhere, which ultimatley means my parents also, unwittingly, dictated what I did, who I saw and where I went. Hence, I had no boyfriends in senior school.
Fortunately, there was a pub within walking distance of the farm, so from age 14 to 18 I worked in this pub. Otherwise, I would not have been able to get a job.
My nearest bus stop was 2 - 3 miles away, along a very busy road, with no footpaths and lots of heavy good vehicles.
Also, walking and cycling on my own virtually came to a halt when I was 14.
A friend in my school went missing, and was later found murdered.
Quite rightly, my parents became very protective, but of course for a teenage girl I felt trapped.
But it wasn't a safe world.
I remember 1 day walking from the farm to the pub. It was the first time my parents didn't watch me from the end of the driveway, or the owners of the pub didn't watch from the car-park. A car came around the corner full of men, probably in their 20's. It slammed on its brakes as it saw me and it crawled past me, all these men staring at me. I felt uncomfortable, they drove past and then I heard the squealing of tyres. Looking round they were doing a hand brake turn further down the road, and were now driving at full speed towards me. I have never run so fast in my life just writing this I can feel the terror and fear. The front of the pub wasn't open, so I had to race up to the back entrance and dived in through the back gate as the car came speeding up the car-park towards me. My parents reported it to the police, but many people dismissed me as making a drama, that it was probably a prank.
I remember talking to a counsellor about this a few years ago, she asked "what did you sense they were going to do, how were they looking at you?" I replied "like a piece of meat, I think they'd have abducted me and raped me..." I remember her words "trust your instincts, never let anyone dismiss them, you have them for a reason and you were probably right". yet as women often we're told to dismiss these instincts. I advise you don't.
So there I was probably about 14/15 and my freedom halted yet again.
As soon as I hit 17, I got my provisional license and started taking driving lessons. My mom could drive then and always insisted that her children learn to drive in all conditions, so it was over a year before I took my driving test.
On the day I got my A-level results, I failed them all, 3 U's, I also failed my driving test. It felt like the end of the world for me. I remember friends telling me it wasn't a big deal, but they lived in villages, they could get buses to places.
Shortly afterwards I became ill with Glandular Fever, my hopes of University dashed (I'd still got a place even though I'd failed my A-levels) and no hope of getting a job away from home.
After a few months I was recovered enough and re-sat my driving test, passing was the golden ticket to freedom.
After that my cars became my home, my identity and my escape.
All my cars have had names Jeanie, Half pint, Minx, Romeo, Gypsy, Gug, Minx 2, Silver, Vov or violet, Red Velvet, Wendy and Silver (Silver was sold to my dad and has now come back to us, which is why she's on the list twice). Every one of them has seen me cry, seen me laugh, been part of my special moments - my wedding, amazing holidays and the magical mystery tours I've been on so many times.
As soon as I had by first car, I would just get in her and drive and see where I went. Sometimes in the early hours of the morning, sometimes out for the day. I would often do a full tour of Mid Wales and around North Wales in a day. And even now when I go on magical mystery tours, I'm never really somewhere I don't know, and never lost as I know this area so well.
As I progressed in my career, went back to University and then followed my new career path in packaging, I got company cars. I had a couple of jobs where I had to drive to factories in the UK. For an introvert these jobs were bliss. I'd spend 7 hours driving and 1-2 hours interacting with people and it was always wonderful when you got there and they had to cancel so you'd got to drive 3.5hrs back home. And I was always in a no mobile phone signal zone when anyone phone! Ok, I didn't like answering the phone whilst driving but was expected to (you have a hands free kit) but I never liked talking and driving its too dangerous even on hands free.
My last couple of jobs I didn't have the same freedom to be out and about, and there was a need for me to spend more time in London or overseas so using public transport was a necessity. I do not like travelling by train, plane or bus. Being in a confined space with other people I find draining, I always feel a little travel sick and I don't feel safe. However, it's a necessity I put up with for the times I need to do it.
I now still love a good long drive, like going up to Largs for the Mindfulness retreat with Catherine Brannan. Or just going on a magical mystery tour like on my birthday.
I can honestly say I've owned most of my dream cars - Nova 1.5 TD, various Golf GT diesels, various Audi A3 S-lines, an MGB GT and my lovely Wendy a Landrover Defender. I was a bit of a girl racer most of my cars red, with alloy wheels and blacked out windows. But now I have Wendy. We can explore roads that most cars can't go down and the height gives me a new perspective on places I've visited in the past.
So when I'm down, or feeling stuck I just hop in and we go off and see where we end up. I see things that most people never see and go to places others cannot. Driving is my own private therapy, my cheap entertainment and my Landrover is a shared passion that my husband and I enjoy together.
I no longer crave the speed and the flash cars. I love driving Wendy, it's a slower pace of life that I adore. Everyone is nicer to me, they let me out at junctions, theres a Landrover thing where other proper Landrover drivers all wave at each other and that feeling of being part of a tribe is lovely. Also, it seems to make lots of people smile when they see this 5ft 4in magpie haired woman in her DM's and flower dresses hopping out of such a "beast of a vehicle".
Wendy gives me a new freedom to explore in a different way and to be me. She's my best friend, my solace, my quiet place for reflection, where I go to have fun. She may be a car (though technically a van), but like all my cars, they listen really well and never judge me.
If you want to try a magical mystery tour it's really quite simple. I leave the house and then look for signs. Not road signs but signs in nature - a buzzard flying overhead going to the left, take the next left. A slow vehicle in front take the next turning left or right. Keep going until you find what you didn't know you were looking for.
PS you can do this on foot and on public transport too.
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