Two weeks ago:
Of course, the downside to having driven the Alfa at the weekend is that I now have to get used to driving the Ford again. And probably the most significant difference between the two is the Ford's turbo and the resulting lag. Unlike the Alfa, it needs to think about things for a moment between you putting your foot down and actually trying to go anywhere. If you don't give it that moment, then it just stalls.
Which it did about 5 minutes into the lesson. Sigh. As a consolation though, at the end of the lesson I was 2nd in a queue of cars at some lights, and as the lights changed to green the car in front failed at hill starting and stalled. See, it's not just learners who stall (I've even seen a police car grind to a halt half-way round a junction)!
Anyway, the rest of the lesson consisted of yet more reversing practice - parallel parking (which I confused with bay parking and steered too much for), left reverse round a corner (which I turned too late on), and turning in the road (which went swimmingly). That said none of those were major issues, and I checked off another box on the checklist for the first two.
This was a properly wet day - in fact, I think it's the first lesson I've had with rain throughout. Except, that is, for one moment where we turned up along I think Military Road at which point the rain suddenly stopped, until we headed south again.
I had yet more practice at reversing - there was a go at parallel parking into a lay-by, with a noticeable bump between it and the road (the surface there was formed of concrete slabs which presumably have shifted over time), which confused me into thinking I'd hit the kerb. Later on I had another go at turning in the narrowest road on the test (easy enough with the Ford's size and turning circle), and I think there was a left reverse round a corner somewhere in there as well.
And, of course, yet more work on anticipation and planning. Really, that's the only major area I'm still lacking in, and improving my skills there comes more from hours on the road than anything else. I'm slowly improving though, and getting less timid about moving out to look past parked cars and at approaching junctions.
Since I'd now passed my theory test, at the end of this lesson we started covering the "show me, tell me" part of the practical. This is where (as the name suggests) the examiner will ask you a couple of safety-related questions - on one you will have to show him how you check something, while on the other you merely tell him what you'd do. These cover things like checking fluid levels (oil, coolant, brake fluid, screenwash), checking lights, checking tyres, and so on. As always there's a few gotchas involved - for example, on the Ford there is no level mark or warning light for the screenwash running out, and so you just have to remember to top it up regularly. And the controls are always slightly different just to make things interesting - on this particular Ford, pulling the right stick towards you does indeed activate the screenwash, but for the rear window only (leading to the puzzle of "I can hear the windscreen washer going, but why is it not washing the windscreen")! The other questions we went over are demisting the windows (set fan and temperature to full blast, press demist button), checking tyre pressure (using either the values in the manual or on the information plate that in this car is in the passenger's doorframe), and checking tread depth. For this last one the GNU gave me a helpful tip - in the grooves there's little ridges that are wear markers. These are 2mm high, and the legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, so as long as the tread is above the wear markers (for three-quarters of the width and over the entire circumference) you're fine.