Last weekend was Veitchfest (for those not quite in the know, Veitchfest translates as a trip to visit, and warm the flat of, our friend [and band-mate] John in his new home in the Midlands). This involved a jaunt down to Birmingham - unfortunately it wasn't a jaunt in the Alfred Bester sense - but required me to drive for several hours across vast swathes of the UK. I can't recount what happened at Veitchfest (what happen's at Veitchfest stays at Veitchfest), but I'll tell part of the story.
I was the designated driver for the trip, being the only person who could drive and of an age for getting insured by a hire car company. We hired an MPV, in the form of a Kia Sedona ("heavenly luxury and a down-to-earth price"), which provided ample space for our group. I'd asked for an automatic transmission car, being as the last time I'd driven a manual was in my driving test over three and a half years previously. It wasn't to be though and I got a manual car. I thought it would be pretty hard to get to learn the car, but it proved not too bad - mainly because it was a diesel which are far harder to stall than petrol cars. I felt quite at home to start with and was driving around Glasgow quite confidently. The next thing to do was go on the motorway - I'd never been on the motorway before. The motorway is in fact a piece of piss to negotiate. It's three lanes all going in the same direction! That wasn't my main problem. On going onto the motorway I got into 5th gear, but the car was making a fairly high pitched noise, the rev counter was in the red and the speed wouldn't go over 70 mph. I found this quite odd, but just assumed that diesel's were a bit weird and the car had a speed limiter on it. After a while of driving, and with the music on, I forgot about these problems. It wasn't until after a break in a service station, and re-entering the motorway that I realised that the car would go above 70mph and didn't have to make a whiny sound. We realised that prior to the stop I'd been in 3rd gear the whole time! I don't think the engine/gear box/clutch will have particularly liked it, but we made it the rest of the way to Birmingham and back in the car, so it can't have done too much damage.
The rest of the car trip was fairly uneventful although I did manage some fairly close shaves with cars, bollards, walls, multi-storey cars parks, etc.