I spend much of my life trying to avoid going out in the car.
|Driving down the Mile End Road in East London, 2007|
The more I walk around London, the more I enjoy walking, and it is slowly dawning on me that everything is closer together than the tube network would lead me to believe. I drive O the three and a half miles to school in the mornings, but pick her up by tube and on foot in the afternoons. I am counting down the days (years in reality) until she joins her brother at secondary school and I don't have to use the car every day.
|C on the way to primary school, 2008. He has to walk to secondary school now, and moans constantly about it.|
And yet...I really love driving and I love my car. Just as long as it's not in London. I relish long road trips, and the sense of adventure that comes with them. It dawned on me this weekend, as I was zooming up the M11 to spend the day with my sister, that this is largely due to the fact that I treat the car as my own personal karaoke machine.
|Vivid yellow rapeseed fields in Cambridgeshire, seen from the M11|
|A long, straight autoroute somewhere in central France|
In our family we have the rule that whoever is driving gets to choose the music. The children can listen to their iPods in the back if they don't like what we've got on. Which, yes, these days is pretty much all the time.
|O tires of my singing, 2005|
Yesterday I had the windows open (air-con off to preserve petrol) and I was singing at the top of my voice to Lady Antebellum and Caro Emerald. I was travelling alone, otherwise I would have sung at a more moderate volume. But I must sing. Good iPod playlists for the car are ones that have plenty of tunes and not too many high notes.
Conventional cars are not good for the environment. They are pointless and annoying in big cities, where public transport is almost always a much better option. They are beocming eye-wateringly expensive to maintain. But the convenience, and the sheer delight, of being able to take youself wherever you want to go the minute you decide you want to; and the exhilaration of singing with the windows open (or the top down if you are really lucky) as you bowl down an empty road, means that I am still a long way from falling out of love with my car.
|C and O by the car, in a field somewhere in Wales, 2006|
|Waiting at a level crossing, in a mountain pass in Switzerland last year. I drove (and navigated) there and back by myself.|
How about you? Do you have a car you love? Do you hate to drive? Do you have driving playlists on your iPod? Do you avoid long drives or drives in the dark, or do you dream of taking early retirement and taking a road trip across America for a few months in a motorhome? I'm saving up already.