Between airport runs to catch a plane to a car launch where I drive something new, road trips to UK shoot locations where I drive some more, and trips to see my widely-scattered family members, clocking up big mileage is part of my life.
But circumstances are no longer normal. Lockdown conditions to halt the spread of Covid-19 in the UK put all of that on pause. Over a period of a month and a half, I’ve travelled 15 miles by car, going no further than our nearest supermarket a couple of miles away. And on a few occasions, I went two weeks without driving at all…
When restrictions were eased slightly, I drove a little further for exercise, and have also been able to ease back into low-scale shoots and driving opportunities. So, having effectively taken a two-month hiatus from driving, here’s what I’ve discovered on my gradual return.
People who know me will know that I have a short temper. Whether it’s an electronic appliance that’s not working, a painful toe-stub or someone on the road who seems to have no clue how to safely operate a motor vehicle, I love to lose my rag.
After my ‘break’, however, I have much more patience. Perhaps I’m happy to give people the benefit of the doubt, given that everyone is going to be a little rusty right now, or it could be down to the fact the roads are still much quieter than usual. All I know is I’m much calmer behind the wheel than I was. Hopefully it’ll last…
Get into the routine of taking long journeys by road, and they start to pass a lot faster. The longer stints I’ve done over the last few days, however, felt like they lasted an eternity.
In fact, I find myself glancing back at the sat-nav more often than before, expecting huge chunks of miles to have evaporated, only to find I’ve covered only a handful. Thank God traffic jams are - for now at least - a rarity.
If you spend a lot of time with powerful cars, mega acceleration soon becomes less shocking. After the ‘break’ though, everything felt quick, including my ~180bhp R53 Mini Cooper S. Meanwhile, ‘my’ BMW 840d Gran Coupe felt like a rocketship.
That being said, an afternoon with the brutally fast 992 Porsche 911 Turbo S has shifted me back towards being desensitised to speed once again.
I’ve pined after a lot of things over the last few weeks. The chance to see my extended family. Outings to the pub with mates. Gnarly mountain bike trails. Five Guys burgers. But weirdly, not driving (probably because I needed a bit of a break from it).
But now, I’m being reminded what a joy driving can be; it puts great things within easy reach - be that friends, family or amazing places - and, depending on the car, it’ll make sure the bit in between is a whole lot of fun.
Of course, we’re not out of the woods yet, so a lot of the things we use cars for still aren’t possible or at least not advisable. But when life returns to some semblance of normality, the loyal car will be ready and waiting. And I can’t wait.