Lorry Lessons for Ladies – Day 2

My instructor, Ray, was waiting when I arrived at 7 a.m. sharp, but no fellow student Ollie.

“There could be traffic, he’s coming from Chobham,” I said.

Fifteen minutes passed with still no sign, so Ray rang the office, who said give him until 07:30.  

A bit of reversing practice in Grumpy while we waited for Ollie

By then, all the other students had driven out of the training facility, so I asked if I could use the wait to practise some manoeuvring. Ray set up the reversing course again, and I had a play around with my truck, Grumpy, experimenting with different angles and sharper turns. At half past, there was still no Ollie, so off we went, with me on my lonesome. One-2-one private tuition. I couldn’t complain! 

The focus for the day was spatial awareness and left hand turns. I had clipped a few kerbs the previous day. The cause was not slowing down to the bare crawl required to get me through narrow chicanes, and not using my left mirror enough to check the position of Grumpy’s ample derriere.

We drove through housing estates, country lanes, Guildford and Aldershot town centres, and many tiny villages. My ‘Eureka!’ moment came after we stopped for a much-needed coffee at the café on the Hog’s Back.

(Image – looking east along the Hog’s Back towards Guildford, Surrey. davidhc, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons)

In the car park, there was a space I could have driven into, but Ray asked,

“Do you want to do a reverse park?”

“Definitely!” I replied, and he showed me how to keep the rear parallel to the kerb. Then, he made me pull forwards until Grumpy’s nose had all but mounted the bumper of the car in front.

“That’s how close they’d park you on a ferry,” Ray said.

The lay by where we parked for the cafe on the Hog’s Back. Robin Webster, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

The Eureka! happened when we departed. I was so close to the car in front that, left to my own devices, I would have reversed to give myself more room to pull out.

“No. Go from here,” Ray said. “Full lock.”

“I’ll never get out without touching that car!”

“Use your mirror.”

As I turned sharply, the forward mirror, which is directed towards the front bumper, showed that I had plenty of room.

And that’s what gave me confidence to get very close to obstacles on my right-hand side, knowing that I would not hit them. Which meant I could take left hand corners wide, and thus prevent my rear wheels from mounting the kerb when manoeuvring in tight spots.

After our stop at the Hog’s Back, I didn’t clip any kerbs until we got to a snaky lane in my previous home town of Old Woking, which Ray told me is a test route. There, I needed to use the opposite carriageway to get around a narrow, right-angled corner. I had asked to go that way because I saw it was tricky when Ollie was driving yesterday. I was so disappointed with myself when I clipped the kerb, knowing what I faced, and with Ray shouting in my ear to check my mirrors.

Old Woking. You can see the brake lights on the left hand corner of doom. Believe me, it’s tricky in a truck, and impossible without using the opposite carriageway!
Old Woking Road at junction of A247 by David Howard, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

“Even with me TELLING you to do it, you still didn’t!” he said.

“I know,” I said sheepishly. “You’re right. No excuses.”

As a car driver, it just feels so counter intuitive to allow the front of the vehicle to cross the centre line, even though it’s the only way a long vehicle can corner on a tight bend without mounting the kerb.

Tight blind bends in Shere, Surrey. Image by George Piskov, Pexels

When I chose the correct speed and position in tight spots, the driving went like a dream. I had plenty of room and like anything done well, it just felt right!

We stopped for a couple of short breaks when I said I needed a coffee, but I was surprised that I didn’t feel tired at the end of a full eight-hour shift of driving a large vehicle. I think I was high on adrenaline. I learned that my ‘mate’, Ollie, was not coming back, so lucky for me, I’ve got private tuition for the rest of the week.

I just hope I can keep up the progress and don’t have a ‘mare tomorrow! 

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Published by Jacqueline Lambert @WorldWideWalkies

AD (After Dogs) - We retired early to tour Europe in a caravan with four dogs. "To boldly go where no van has gone before". Since 2021, we've been at large in a 24.5-tonne self-converted ex-army truck called The Beast. BC (Before Canines) - we had adventures on every continent other than Antarctica!

13 thoughts on “Lorry Lessons for Ladies – Day 2

    1. Can you see a mirror pointing down on the top right of Grumpy as you look at her? That is the forward mirror, which points down at the front bumper.
      With The Beast, which has a long bull nose, we’ve considered putting cameras on. We have to approach junctions very cautiously, because a few feet of truck has to go through before we can actually see! I always wondered what the antennae on her wings were for. (You can see the antenna on the cover photo.) They are markers to show the driver where her wings are, because you can’t see her sides from the cab. They also indicate how wide she is. If the antennaes touch the sides of anything, you can’t go through.
      Unfortunately, though, they fell off in Albania, as you can see from the bottom photo!


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