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Yet more driving [Thursday 7th August 2014 at 8:32 pm]

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A writeup on time (more or less) for a change!

The lesson started with a different route: we took the A27 out of Whiteley as usual, but then went up Highlands Road, along Oak Road, and then down Gudge Heath Lane. Then I went all the way round the station roundabout, turned into Redlands Lane, zig-zagged through St Michael's Grove and a couple more streets, and finally picked up the road to Stubbington. I messed up a couple of major-to-minor right turns a bit - in the first case, I misjudged the speed of the oncoming traffic and so ended up turning in late (as it took longer than expected for an oncoming car to pass), while on the second I didn't turn in despite the gap being long enough to do so.

After that we headed east out of Stubbington and picked up the main road again past Daedalus airfield, turning off into one of the few twisty turny country roads near Gosport. Then it was a tour of Gosport including a selection of manoeuvres, though no emergency stop practice (we carefully made sure there was nothing loose in the back right at the start of the lesson, then completely forgot about it!). We also worked out what's been going wrong with my parking at the side of the road. What I should be doing is picking something at the side of the road as a marker to park by, steering towards it, and when my marker is about half-way across the windscreen straightening up. But what I've actually been doing is steering towards the kerb edge as a line and so sort of slowly drifting towards the side.

Another thing that was touched on in the lesson was holding the car on the clutch at a junction. I don't think this has been covered so far in my lessons - usually I either use the handbrake, or (more often) keep my foot on the brake and use the hill assist to cover moving from the brake to the accelerator (which I really should stop relying on, especially as the Alfa doesn't have hill assist). But there's a third option, which is to hold the clutch on the biting point and let that keep the car still. Doing so does require some fancy footwork, but speeds things up as there's no need to reach for the handbrake and doesn't rely on non-existent hill assist. Clutch control is certainly an area where I know there's still room for improvement, but I am getting better (the Gnu's commented that my gear changes in the Alfa are a lot smoother than when I first drove it).

What else... I had a few more goes at parking in the Lee-on-Solent car park. I can never quite remember where my reference point should be for it, but it's easy enough to correct if I'm not quite going into the space. Correcting for being too far forward at the start is simple: just straighten up if you spot that you're cutting across the corner of the space before yours, continue back a bit, then turn in again. Correcting for going to far is trickier but if you catch it early enough, you can continue past the point at which you'd normally straighten up and so curve back on yourself. Then when you're in the space you can quickly turn the other way and then straighten up. Alternatively if you don't spot it soon enough then once in the space you can head forwards out and then reverse back in (each time moving over to the side a bit), but doing so will cost you a minor fault.
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