New Tricks

30 Aug 2022

My seventeen-year-old daughter is learning to drive. While she is having lessons with the estimable Jay, whose patience should nominate him for sainthood, she must also practise with us. In fact, as I write, she is manoeuvring around Cambridge, muttering to herself, while her father has quiet palpitations in the passenger seat.

Last Thursday, it was my turn. I got off lightly, as she said she wished to practice parallel parking and bay parking. She drove me competently enough, deftly negotiating the medieval town bridge across the river, to a deserted carpark. There we drove into and out of parking bays, backed for two car lengths, and drew up parallel to the right kerb and to the left.

And I learned something completely new!

Now, when I learned to drive, some - mumble, mumble but more than forty mumble – years ago, I don’t think I had to do any bay parking in my test. I do, however, remember not quite hitting the cyclist who appeared out of nowhere, and then pulling up neatly outside the test centre where the examiner said, in a tone of deep reservation, “Well, you’ve passed – just.” I don’t think he was quite happy about signing me off.

There is an exact science to bay parking, it appears.

My daughter positioned herself – and the car – opposite her chosen bay, lining up her wing mirrors with the white line. She engaged full lock, drove into the bay, straightened up at what I considered the last minute and drew forward far further than I thought wise. This is my car; surely I know where my front bumper is!

“Mummy,” she explained, in accents of exasperated condescension, “You wait until the front line of the bay is just below your wing mirror and then you stop.”

I got out and inspected her parking. She was exactly in the centre of the bay and completely straight, with the bumper a precise foot away from the front white line.

Then she did it again. And again. This method actually works!

So, now I’m using it too. It’s such a simple way to park but it’s something I didn’t know. And that I didn’t know I didn’t know.

We all have these moments of illumination in our lives. We discover, or are taught something so simple, yet transformational, and an area of our lives is relieved from frustration.

Sometimes these are little things and sometimes more significant. One of my most significant discoveries of recent years was finding I am extremely gluten intolerant. Having just spent the whole of the bank holiday weekend miserably incapacitated by a four-day migraine courtesy of a stock cube and a handful of cheesy corn chips, I’m so grateful this is now a rarity. I read the labels on everything now – except when I don’t – and then suffer.

What simple discoveries have you made which have transformed an area of previous frustration? I’d love you to share with us. We might learn something new too.


A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

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Aug. 31, 2022, 5:07 a.m.

Thank you for your inspiring, thought-provoking blog Mary. Hope that your daughter passes her test first time around. I wish her well.


Mary Wednesday

Aug. 31, 2022, 3:09 p.m.

Thank you. She is keen to pass first time as her big sister did.


Aug. 31, 2022, 5:08 a.m.

Ah, this is where a picture or video is worth a few words! I think you're describing driving in front first. I prefer to reverse into a bay. Again, there's a method and it works. My gf doesn't have a method and she's fine with larger spaces but can't manage tighter ones. My simple discovery: how to fold a t-shirt really quickly. Must have learned this about 15 years ago. I couldn't find the original video but here's a super quick one (albeit with irritating music). Such a simple method and so fast. Thanks for the blog Mary!



Aug. 31, 2022, 6:28 a.m.

Loved this Oli - seen it before and have used it many many times! Especially when packing suitcases!! Thanks!


Aug. 31, 2022, 8 a.m.

Wow that is fantastic tip


Aug. 31, 2022, 12:37 p.m.

Wow have never seen that before Oli - I am sending to my kid toot sweet who needs to pick up his room. xo

Mary Wednesday

Aug. 31, 2022, 5:52 p.m.

I thought I was good at packing and folding, but have not seen that trick. I am going to try it.


Aug. 31, 2022, 5:16 a.m.

Morning Mary! Very interesting! Mine is very simple…I’ve always had trouble with left and right. When my son went to school they taught him by opening his left hand, fingers outstretched, palm facing away, thumb down - making an L for left! Brilliant! Looking forward to reading more gems! X


Mary Wednesday

Aug. 31, 2022, 3:10 p.m.

Always a good one for left and right!


Aug. 31, 2022, 6:55 a.m.

Mother Mary learning new tricks! As you might know, more than fifty years ago no form of parking was part of the driving test. Your experience shows it is never to late to learn something new . I have certainly learnt a lot about all matters affecting MH during the last 30 months. As far as new activities are concerned then starting crown green bowling is probably my greatest recent achievement. Somebody once said" A day without learning is a day wasted." Have a good day and look for more learning opportunities. Txx


The Gardener

Aug. 31, 2022, 9:25 a.m.

Teg, three-point turns and handbrake starts my betes-noires. And speed restrictions. Cannot think how I have only been fined four times in my driving career. In France if I went over limiit my GPS beeped at me and husband and grand-son just said '75 euros'. xx

Mary Wednesday

Aug. 31, 2022, 3:11 p.m.

I honestly believe that embracing life-long learning is what keeps us young.


Aug. 31, 2022, 7:13 a.m.

Wow I never knew that. I'm going to try it! My achievement is I am now book free! All remaining books went yesterday to the charity shop. We have raised another £100 for the charity. Onwards to the next job! XX


Mary Wednesday

Aug. 31, 2022, 3:13 p.m.

Fantastic news about the books! I think every car is very slightly different, so you may need a particular point on your wing mirror, but once you've got it....

Tutti Frutti

Aug. 31, 2022, 7:35 a.m.

Hi Mary An off subject comment. Last week you were really worried that you might be going manic or at least hypermanic. How are you now? Is no mention in your blog good news? I am probably not alone in wanting to know 1) how you are and 2) if you have headed off a manic episode, what it was that worked. And on a really fussy note, if you were/ are elevated are you sure that you should be supervising a learner driver? Can't think of any tips I have picked up on simple ways of doing things. Love TF x


Mary Wednesday

Aug. 31, 2022, 3:22 p.m.

First, yes, if I was manic (or depressed) I absolutely would not be okay superving a learner driver. I was definitely okay although my daughter said I was a bit grumpy. In answer to your overall question, the energy has dissipated. I spent the whole of the Bank Holiday weekend terrified the depression had come back, but I am fairly sure it was a gluten-induced five day migraine. The non-headache symptoms are very similar, and equally incapacitating. I meditated and was disciplined with my sleep. Owing to the weekend, I have not yet however had a chance to contact my GP. Most of all, sharing my concerns with you here, and receiving so much good advice, was immensely reassuring.

Tutti Frutti

Sept. 1, 2022, 7:05 a.m.

Glad things have improved - though the migraine sounds pretty horrible!


Aug. 31, 2022, 7:59 a.m.

Hi Mary I learnt recently on the dashboard of car- where the symbol for petrol tank is there is a little arrow- the arrow shows which side of tank it is Thanks for blog


Mary Wednesday

Aug. 31, 2022, 3:23 p.m.

That was something I recently learned too! Illuminating. (Ha, ha!)

The Gardener

Aug. 31, 2022, 9:22 a.m.

Parking! Old supermarket carparks were made for cars 30 years ago, Chelsea tractors do not fit. I have driven something since I was 13, 74 years. I dared not take my test (at 17) on our 'personal' vehichle, a 1935 Torquay co-op bread van. My father let me use his Standard Vanguard. Mr G made me back uphill and through a gateway, just clipped a wing. Pappa banned the car. His then mistress leant me her Ford 10, miasing first gear, had to 'jump' into second. I swear the examiner only passed me because he was scared if I failed he might face the horror of driving with me again. At question and answer on Highway Code asked what you do if somebody comes other way with headlines full on. I replied 'flash back'. No, you must not retaliate. Classic backing into space now bedevilled by arthritis in left shoulder, know can be done by mirrors, but Not very adept, just find bigger parking space.


Mary Wednesday

Aug. 31, 2022, 3:24 p.m.

Oh they are very keen on non-retaliational driving, aren't they!


Aug. 31, 2022, 12:54 p.m.

I've started doing jigsaw puzzles again with my daughter - thanks Teg! - and she taught me that if you flip all the pieces over on the back side that it's much easier to figure out the end pieces. I never knew lol xo


Mary Wednesday

Aug. 31, 2022, 3:25 p.m.

I suppose there are fewer cllour distractions so the straight edges are easier to identify. Seems like cheating to me though. ;)


Aug. 31, 2022, 1:32 p.m.

There seems to be a lot of speculation and research about the role played by gut bacteria in a wide range of conditions,including mental illnesses such as depression. I used to know a woman who was slim,but had very large swollen legs. I assumed it was a circulatory condition.She was diagnosed eventually as having severe gluten intolerance.Within weeks on a change of diet her legs were transformed. x


Mary Wednesday

Aug. 31, 2022, 3:28 p.m.

A friend of mine had tried every diet and exercised religiously, yet her face was puffy and she always carried excess weight. She cut out gluten and within 12 weeks had lost 30lbs and had cheekbones. She says she eats now more than she ever did, but no longer has a weight problem.


Sept. 2, 2022, 7:44 a.m.

Very interesting those two last comments re the gluten. My thing I learned from my 14 year old friend with curly hair recently is that if I leave conditioner in my hair after washing my curls don’t turn to frizz anymore, the holy grail solution for me now found.


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