I get in the van, wiggle the driver’s seat - because today I am the driver. I check, I can reach the pedals. Note: headlight controller here, wipers there, horn may be employed by a palm strike, brake is the one in the middle - it is very much like a car, only longer and higher. And all we are doing is rolling merrily down the A30 to visit family, no stress of punctuality, no test to be passed.
Emerge from drive, take the corner, no troubles.
Take deep breath: it’s only a dual carriageway, not even a motorway, and there’s nothing exactly to be nervous of, not when you address the vagary. Tis only new, tis only the healthy worry of stepping into a new phase, of becoming Van Driving Me.
Admittedly, when the window trim came swiftly loose and smacked the side window I was unnerved. But after we stopped and checked and it would not pull free, and we fixed it back with electric tape (all that was available) it was bearable. It might come loose again but would not be flying off and busting windscreens.
The tape came loose. The trim slipped out. Again, nipped off to a side road, re-fixed. Rain came, washed the tape away. This time we found a town and a store and duct tape. This time worked.
The extra practice, nipping off and on the main road, through traffic and lights and roundabouts and roadworks, was a bonus. Van Driver Me was fine.
So we went to the woods on foot, stomped in mud so Little Niece could test her new boots, so she could make friends with Dog and Dog could do that trick with a stick balanced on her nose, and we could find our first bluebells of this year and let stream water run over our feet, and look up through the spring-green leaves.
We came back via the van, to show it off. What adventures you will have, my mother says. It has begun, I say.
Mr drives back, we are sharing.
I take pictures from our roaming vista.
There’s work to be done, to make a home of it.
We feel at home though; that has happened with minimal bump.