The day before Steve left for Denmark (2 days after arriving in Switzerland) it was time for me to have a go at driving the new car. Ok. Doesn’t sound like a problem does it? In fact sounds pretty exciting. Then I realised that an Audi Q3 was a little bit bigger than a Renault Clio. And then it dawned on me that in Switzerland we drive on the ‘wrong’ side. This means the handbrake is on the right, the ignition is on the right, the oncoming traffic is on the left. Just wrong. Now, you understand my reluctance to get behind the wheel…
So, first trip was planned deliberately short, just 2 miles down the road to the buzzing mall that is Zugerland, a quick stop to do the recycling then back home. We all pile in, yep kids too – after all no one to look after them right, everyone’s in the UK. First trick, the ignition key must be turned with the foot on the clutch. Then, there’s no handbrake. Well there is but it’s a button which has to pressed (or is it pulled?) at the same time as depressing the foot brake. Then once that has been done off we go. Easy. Except for me I became the woman who suddenly lost all ability to drive. It was awful. Really awful.
First hazard turning from our road onto the main road, but on the ‘wrong’ side. Next, 100 yards away a roundabout, approaching from the ‘wrong’ way and going round it anti-clockwise. I have to change gear, with the right (wrong) hand! Crap stalled the car half way round the roundabout. Ohh, getting nasty looks from the other road users – don’t blame them but do make a mental note to be much nicer to others when I’m whizzing about in 6 months time . The kids meanwhile are asking why we have stopped and are we there already and Steve is, like, “don’t worry, just put it into gear and start again.” Only I can’t because I haven’t pressed the clutch (or is it the brake) while turning the key. With a queue of traffic rapidly building behind me I manage to get going again and exit the roundabout.
Sarah! The wheels, watch the wheels.
I have no concept yet of the width of this vehicle, I’m driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road for pity’s sake and so yes, I have scraped the curb. I over compensate the road position and now I really am on the wrong ‘wrong’ side of the road. We’re ok, the other car didn’t hit us. Next a couple of sets of traffic lights, no probs, then into the Zugerland car park. Crap. Too far away from the ticket machine but not far enough to open the door to get it. Wind the window down, seat belt off, lean out the window and yep, got the ticket. Barrier opens, stall car, forgot to change gear down when I stopped for the ticket. Start car and find a parking space, crap on wrong side of car park lane, s’ok we’ve got a space and we’ve arrived. *breathe*
I never thought driving on the right (wrong) would throw me quite as much as it has. We went for a walk around the mall to recover before doing the recycling and heading back. Steve makes me drive again. Not too bad this time. Still don’t remember the handbrake button, foot brake combo, but we’re off. “The wheels Sarah. Watch the wheels.” Pants have hit the curb again. Back to the roundabout, remember how to change gear, manage not to stall. Again a plaintive cry from Steve, “Sarah, the wheels.” Honestly, I can hear the resignation in his voice, but if he says it one more time he’ll have more than the bloody alloys to worry about.
I make it home, I even manage to reverse the Q3 into our space, which appears to have shrunk. The engine goes quiet. All is quiet. Steve turns and looks at me, “you’ll be alright while I’m away won’t you?!?” The doubt and fear is palpable.