From Irresponsible "Boy Racer" to Professional Chauffeur

During my travels and I am sure you all do, I notice varying skills of driving. It sometimes still shocks me at how some people can be when they squeeze their car into gaps when travelling at often excessive speeds even over and above the speed limit.

We have seen on YouTube clips of people overtaking and only just making it avoiding a collision by a whisker - but to be on the receiving end of this in real life ourselves is something quite different.


Thankfully I have not been involved in a massive accident myself, but I have been a victim of a lorry driver falling asleep at the same moment as I was overtaking him at 1:30am on the M25 at 70 mph! Again thankfully, the damage was not severe, although inconvenient, and amazingly my car held straight and no one was actually hurt.

In my younger days, I did have quite a number of accidents, that I can now look back and say that I could and should have avoided. My father was so patient with me in those days, even when I wrote off a vehicle that he loaned me. So, yes, I am ashamed to admit that I have been the cause of accidents in the past and I even drove much in excess of the speed limit when returning from Cheddar, Somerset to our home at Dauntsey Lock, near Lyneham, Wiltshire - indeed, I used that route as a time trial to beat my last time in my Mini 1000.

So, from my experiences and observing other driving standards, I thought I would write a further  blog that attempts to explain what is going through my mind as currently, I drive in excess of 1,000 miles per week for clients.

I P S G A the System of Car Control

This can be best explained by considering what is know as I P S G A, the System of Car Control as taught by IAM Roadsmart and the Police Federation Roadcraft. It was first devised at the Police College at Hendon over 60 years ago and has formed the core of the Police Rider’s Handbook or Roadcraft since then.

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The 'System' is a systematic method of driving which, if used correctly, will substantially reduce the risk of a driver being the cause of an accident. A detailed explanation of the System is given in Roadcraft, the police driver's manual, and it is to this book you must refer if you want a thorough understanding. 

There are five phases of the System which must be considered on the approach to any hazard. A hazard can be the presence and/or movement of any vehicle or pedestrian, a road feature such as a roundabout or a climatic feature such as a sudden downpour of rain.

The five features are:

  • Information
  • Position
  • Speed
  • Gear
  • Acceleration

The Information phase overlaps every other phase of the System.

In the description of the Information phase Roadcraft adds the sub-acronym T.U.G or Take-Use-Give as an indication that we have to do something with all that information.

Take in information by looking at traffic signs and looking at the position and movement of vehicles and pedestrians. Be aware of observation links i.e. the hazards associated with what can be seen e.g. parked vehicles, a pedestrian flagging a taxi, a garage forecourt, a pedestrian walking to the front of a bus or roadside telephone poles formed into a curved line in the distance. Use your mirrors at any point in the System but particularly before changing position, before slowing or after changing gear i.e. a final check behind before the hazard is reached.

Use the information you have gathered by making a plan to deal with the identified hazards and making contingency plans for dealing with the unexpected e.g. car doors opening, a taxi suddenly stopping, a car shooting out of a roadside garage, a bus suddenly stopping or a car coming fast out of a bend ahead.

Give information to other road users e.g. using your indicators to inform them that you are going to change position, using your horn or flashing your headlights to let them know of your presence. 

Position your vehicle to re-enforce any other form of signal.

Position yourself so that you can pass hazards safely and smoothly. Give a good clearance when passing parked vehicles, cyclists or when overtaking moving vehicles. Follow the advice given in the Highway Code for positioning on the approach to roundabouts. Position yourself when approaching bends in national speed limit areas so as to maximise your view of the road ahead - taking account of oncoming/following vehicles and nearside hazards. Good observation will allow you to make the most effective use of available (legal) road space e.g. taking a clear lane at traffic lights on a dual carriageway. Good positioning smoothes progress.


Obtain a safe speed to negotiate the hazard. Reduce speed, if need be, by either easing the pressure on the accelerator pedal (deceleration) or by braking. Whatever method is used it is essential to lose speed smoothly.


Once you have the right speed for the hazard, engage the correct gear for that speed. The aim, almost all of the time, is to have a clean separation between braking and changing gear i.e. no overlapping. Slight overlapping when going downhill into a corner or a bend is acceptable PROVIDED you do the gear change when most of the braking has already been done.


Consider accelerating away from the hazard after taking account of your speed and the position/movement of other road users. The accelerator pedal is NOT an on/off switch to be suddenly pressed to the floor when a hazard has been negotiated. Use the pedal smoothly. 

Summing Up

The emphasis I personally place on driving in each of the above phases, is making the experience smooth, so I plan ahead and aim to slow down gradually, so as to maximise the comfort for my passengers and minimise the stress that can be caused by sudden or erratic movements of my car.

Obviously when necessary I can brake suddenly in an emergency and I am always prepared to do that, but that would be the exception, as planning ahead can mostly avoid those times.

I became a qualified Advanced Driver though IAM Roadsmart in February 2013 and qualified as  Master with them in November 2017 ensuring that I maintain the same high standard after then 4 years.

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To continue to be qualified as a Master, I now need to retake regularly which I am committed to do. In fact when we are able to explain and take on professional chauffeurs, they also will need to become a Master Driver - we are intent on making sure that the same high driving standards are maintained, which is now become part of our branding.

Is there more to learn?

For those interested, I plan to write a few more blogs focussed on driving safely and how to prepare - do watch out for those in the coming weeks/months ahead. Life is all about learning, no matter what sphere we are in - we can always be a better version of who we are and what we do. Onwards and upwards they say!

Its all in the Preparation

One of the many questions I get asked is how do I manage to clean my car after a journey in such a short time, and when on a client job?


So, before I answer that one, I thought I would first explain the preparation work that goes into ensuring our big cats have a protective cover over them that helps to reduce the amount of dirt that actually sticks to the body work.

I make no apology that all the products I use are from one supplier who have proved to be so reliable in their customer service, and supply great products that ‘do what it says on the tin’ so to speak - shout out to The Clay Cloth Company.

When a Deep Clean is Needed

When our cars are covered in heavy dirt, they are treated to snow foam using a lance and jet wash. This is the first treatment when the dirt is softened without any physical contact to the car at all.

Jaguar XFS under snow foam

After leaving for 10 minutes, acting as a pre-soak, the car is then jet washed again.

Micro fibre drying towel

Now its time to use shampoo, and a wash mitt, to wash the car normally. I use a woollen mitt as it is gentle on the car’s paintwork, and then, after another jet wash, dry the car with a micro fibre towel, which is much more efficient than using a leather chamois.

Wash Mitt

Just to confirm I only use snow foam when the car is extremely dirty. The above process is repeated except the snow foam for every wash when back at our base.

Preparing for a deep polish and wax

Clay Cloth

After doing the above process except the drying part, I use a clay cloth when I am preparing the car for a deep polish and wax. This I only do when the weather is planned to be fine for the day, as polish and wax are essential after using the clay cloth, which has the below functions:

  • Removes bonded contaminants
  • Before polishing provides a clean canvas
  • Prevents dragging particles across the panel

After claying, I then dry using the micro fibre drying towel.

Polish and Wax - why both?

Car polish is a product that uses fine amounts of abrasive compounds in order to remove very very fine layers of the top coat to flatten out the surface to ensure an equal reflection of the light, thus producing a highly polished look. The polish I use is ‘Killerwaxx No 1 Moon Shine’


Wax in its natural form can come as vegetable waxes, carnauba, animal and bees wax to name a few. It's these natural properties of some of these waxes that make them ideal for use in car waxes, with the most popular for use in the automotive industry being carnauba wax. The wax I use is 'Killerwaxx Carnauba Paste Wax’.

Wax Paste

Wax can be referred to the product that provides a seal to protect the shine produced by the polish.

Both are applied using micro fibre clothes and are very easy to use compared to the products I used when polishing my fathers cars!


Currently I use Killerwaxx Extreme Window Cleaner. Glass gets very warm in the sun and the real added bonus with this product is that you can spray it on a hot window and it will not evaporate, steam away or streak like all others on the market.

Window cleaner

Alloys & Tyres

CCC Devil's Mist Fallout Remover & Wheel Cleaner  is really great for providing the sparkle on those alloys and turns red due to the chemical reaction during use which will indicate contamination!

Devil's Mist wheel cleaner

Killerwaxx Tyre Gel produces a rich, long lasting, high gloss on rubber. vinyl and plastic.

Tyre Gloss


Killerwaxx Premium Leather Cleaner cleans and lifts away dirt and oil build up on all types of leather. Cleaner will not dissolve the natural oils found in leather.

Killerwaxx Premium Leather Conditioner seals and protects the surface from wear and tear and will bring the original luster look and feel back.

Leather cleaner

So above is the process and products that I currently use in preparation for making sure our cars are well protected. The whole above process is only done about 2 or 3 times a year. I will leave the process I perform on each client job for another blog.

Delayed for a Honeymoon!

Some of the airport transfers I do for clients are to take them on the first leg of their journey to their honeymoon having just got married.

It just so happened that recently, I took a couple to Gatwick the night before they were flying. They stayed at the Hilton, South Terminal.

This reminded me of the time nearly 36 years ago, when after our wedding that same evening, we too were taken to Gatwick to stay at the Hilton ready for our flight the morning after.

First of all though, we travelled a short distance to my parents in law’s house, where my wife and I were waiting for my brother who kindly agreed to drive us to Gatwick.

So, after we had made a grand departure from our wedding reception, complete with tin cars trailing behind our car (it was allowed back in 1981!), we arrived at Sonie’s parents house.

We waited just a few moments for my brother whilst having a cup of tea. He arrived and we prepared to leave with him, loading up our suitcases into his boot, complete with our passports and wallet and all that we needed to travel overseas.

Adrian my brother, shut the boot of his Ford Cortina (library photo - not the actual car), and that is when we had a problem!

Ford Cortina

The key was in the boot lock and as the boot was closed, it snapped in half. The ‘other’ half dropped into the lock mechanism, and the boot was secure!

We tried fruitlessly to get the boot open and even the back seats in those days did not fold back, so we couldn’t get access any way to our luggage.

There was only one option, so Adrian called the AA, who came out later that evening to assist.

While we waited, we spent much more time that evening on our wedding day at my in-laws that we have planned. My parents arrived and so along with my brother, I guess we had a post wedding party, opening several wedding cards and gifts.

It was a pleasant evening, but really, we would much rather have been on our way to the hotel.

Eventually the AA arrived and after a while, we were on our way.

Once we arrived at Hilton, Gatwick, we were too late to order a meal, so we had to make do with a few sandwiches.

The next morning, we were up early for some breakfast which we enjoyed. It was then that we realised that we had missed the bus transfer to the terminal itself.

I had to order a taxi which arrived eventually, and we were soon preparing for our flight.


So, even in those early days I experienced taxi service, and to be honest, I do not actually remember what that experience was like.

My brother though, was brilliant - he never lost his cool, and drove us safely.

Help, I'm lost, do your magic!

One of the most essential pieces of information given me for every single job is the full postal address including post code, of where I am to collect my clients.

Many years ago, in the days when I used to travel with my father on long journeys (see one of my earliest blogs), we used such objects as a compass and a road map as large as the Financial Times, which seemed at first equally as complicated.


These times with my father teaching me how to use them were invaluable to me throughout my earlier years travelling in my previous jobs when I was travelling on my own or on family holidays with my wife and children.

Nowadays, technology is so useful in that all we do, is plug the post code into the car satnav and off we go. How rarely do we actually look at the map now?

Map Reading

As most of the weddings we do are fairly local to us, we make sure that within the week before every wedding, we do a test run of the complete route we will be doing on the actual day itself. We do this to make sure we have the correct timings, especially where we do relays in the same car back and forth to pick up more people, but also, to check out the route and to know for certain that we can locate each of the places where we are picking people up. 

One of our key focusses on the day is to make the journeys completely stress free for the bridal party.

This has proved to be so important on many occasion.

But, there is always one, whether for a wedding or an executive travel job, sometimes the post code does not exist in the sat nav, or indeed the actual road.

This means that the software needs to be updated, but to be fair even if I purchased the updated software (DVD) every year, it would not be enough. To do this would make the expense too much which would have to passed onto our clients - this is not necessary, although we do renew the DVD software after a few years.

So, when the post code is not recognised, we revert to our backup. This is google maps on the phone, as long as the phone is not touch while driving the car . This has helped us out sometimes.

But, yes there is another one! What happens when we are en route to pick up the client and we have no 4G signal?


When this has happened in the past, I make the phone call (handsfree, using the car system) to our office and I speak to my daughter Hannah, who as she was growing up, would read maps on our family journeys and the compass and follow the journey. Before long she would actually guide me on the route to take. 

Hannah is now very technically able, and uses the computer and magic, she tells me. Using google maps and something else to locate the pick up location, along with my phone signal to locate my phone!

With this information, she skilfully guides me to the pick up location, street by street, until I am close enough and then I arrive in good time once again to proceed with the client job. This is especially useful when the location is on a very new housing estate when my car satnav has been located in a field. Thankfully, Hannah sees something quite different.

I mention this because I am mostly the only face our clients see, and also our backup wedding chauffeurs of course. Like most other businesses,  I have a supporting team at my office, who are play such a key role to the success of the business and ensuring clients have the service they require.

There are many other tasks not only Hannah does but also my wife Sonie, to whom I am very grateful.

Snow Driving

So, while I write this blog I am in my office looking out upon the incredible snow fall we in the UK are having right now. We are based at Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire and the snow that has fallen in the past couple of days is more than we have seen for more than 10 years in this area, so it is making quite an impact.

Jaguar XFS

While out walking our dog, I have also noticed a few cars out and about but I have to ask how urgent is their journey?

I have every admiration for the emergency services and how they attend desperate people when they become stuck in snow and worse, when accidents happen which they will.

As a professional chauffeur, I have to make the decision every day we have weather like this, whether to drive or not to drive - thankfully, this is not very often. The decision I make, is all about safety and I never want to let any client of mine down, but safety must come first, even if I have to say to a client that I am not travelling today because of the road conditions.


To make that decision, I know my clients would understand, as I also know that they value their safety let alone their life.

Accidents happen and it is not always about ourselves, but can be caused by others too. 

This leads me onto my tips for driving in the snow which I have done and do, depending upon how bad and deep it is. There are actual courses to teach drivers how to do this and books have been written, so the advice I now give, is by all means not the A-Z knowledge.

  1. If your journey is not absolutely necessary and/or life and death that you do it, then quite simply - DON’T
  2. It is well known that 4 wheel drive cars are best in these conditions, followed by front wheel drive, so if like mine, your car is rear wheel drive, think carefully before going out
  3. Before setting off, ensure all windows are clear and all snow is cleared off your vehicle - it is illegal and dangerous to other road users to drive when there is a load of snow on your roof, that can blow off into the path of other road users
  4. Your lights must be clean and number plate clearly visible
  5. If you do venture out in very bad conditions, then make sure you have inside the car, an emergency kit of de-icer and ice scraper, torch, snow shovel, warm blankets, boots, as well as first aid kit, water & food supply and your mobile phone is fully charged. 
  6. It is best that your car has a full tank of fuel as well, so make that your first stop should you have to go out
  7. Onto driving - drive with care, even if the roads are treated
  8. Keep well back from other road users
  9. The advice on stopping distances is quite simply in the rain allow twice the normal distance, but in icy conditions, this can be ten times greater than on dry roads, so plan accordingly
  10. So, what are the normal stopping distances:
    1. 20 mph - 12 metres
    2. 20 mph - 23 metres
    3. 40 mph - 36 metres
    4. 50 mph - 53 metres
    5. 60 mph - 73 metres
    6. 70 mph - 96 metres
  11. Use the technical helps on your car, like 
    1. Winter Mode, which optimises stability of the vehicle to suit slippery conditions, when grip is reduced. 
    2. Dynamic Stability Control controls the vehicle stability in critical driving conditions - helps to correct understeer or oversteer
    3. and others - know your car
  12. So, it is important to know your car and drive accordingly. Most cars have ABS now, but you should drive taking care without relying on ABS, but good to know it is there to help braking in an emergency
  13. When approaching a junction or bend, plan well before, so as to avoid sharp braking
  14. Do not accelerate quickly when moving away, but pull away in a higher gear like second or third instead of first, gradually, when safe to do so
  15. Finally patience - do not rush any part of driving when in icy and snowy conditions and respect all other road users

I hope the above is helpful, it all comes down to valuing your life and others - too many accidents happen on unfit roads and I have heard so many stories of what people call a necessary journey, when the truth is, the journey can more often than not, wait.

Safe travelling all.

Matchsticks or Burning?

Sometimes I am asked how do I stay alert when driving at night time. Many of us have probably seen images of Mr Bean using various means to stay awake when driving a long distance through France through the night. These include using match sticks to keep his eyes open as well as putting his fingers into the cigar lighter to evoke pain to keep him alert.

I can honestly say that I have not tried either of those methods and neither do I intend to!

So, joking aside, how can this be done, when your body is naturally closing down at night time and wanting rest?

I have to say that those of us who work at night as well as day, need to find times to get the rest and sleep that our bodies need before we take to the road. So for me, preparation is key when I know in advance that I am going to be driving at night. My family also help me with this and keep reminding me to get the rest I need.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists, now call IAM Roadsmart, we have what we call a cockpit drill, P O W D E R Y, which is a check list to be used to ensure the car is ready for a journey but also ourselves. It checks the following:

P - Propulsion, is there enough diesel or petrol for the journey?

O - are the Oil levels correct?

W - do the Water levels need topping up?

D - is there any Damage on the body work of the car that needs fixing?

E - are the Electrics working correctly?

R - checking the Rubbers, so, tyres and wipers.

Y - You - so am I fit to drive?

Of the above, the last one mentioned is ourselves - we must only drive when fit to do so. So given this, my top tips that seem to work for me, knowing that these and, or others, work for different people, are the following. When passengers/clients are onboard, the temperature is often set for their comfort and not my own, so the below are the ones that work for me:

  • I give myself a running commentary of what I am observing on the route ahead, so that I am prepared for a change in road circumstances. I do not speak this out loud!
  • Extra strong mints and Fishermans Friends, help me to sharpen my mind
  • My seat is positioned so that it is not too comfortable - often very close to the dashboard
  • I alternate my air vents near me so that are focussed on my face or hands
Night time driving

Once I have delivered my clients and I am on my own in the car, I take a break as soon as I can, grab a coffee and then set myself up for the journey back to our base. Then, I do not have to keep the car cosy and warm and I can revert to whatever my body needs, so that can include the following:

  • Keeping my fluids up
  • Music
  • Make the car cool and open windows if needs be
  • Take appropriate breaks and rest

I hope the above helps anyone else, but the overriding rule, is that we should only drive when safe to do so. 

No more match sticks and burning fingers!!

From Proms to Sally Army!

As well as exhibiting at some wedding shows, we have been exhibiting at School Prom Shows and I would like to tell you about a very long day at the McArthur Glen Outlet Centre, Swindon when we joined with Prom Day and many other exhibitors.

The day was earlier in February 2018, and was a very cold day indeed.

The position we were given to display our licensed silver Jaguar XFS was just outside the main north entrance to the centre along with KevsKampers, who provide self drive camper vans for both weddings and self drive hire holidays.

One of the great things about these shows is that even though, they and us were both looking to find clients for school proms, there is always a great deal of respect for each other and a willing spirit to help each other.

I was very pleased that I had my travel mug of coffee full, but that soon went down, and this was not missed by Kevin and his team who were very quick to offer me a fresh coffee from their camper van - how kind!

We arrived at the centre at 8am along with others, to ensure we were all set up ready for when the public arrived around 10am. We were not due to leave until after 6pm, so a long day ahead of us.

In addition, we had a table in the main display area inside where our slide presentation was on a loop[ displaying the whole time. The table was manned by 2 of our reserve wedding car chauffeurs swopping over after midday.

Table Display

Our stand was also shared with Kate Southall from KE Southall Photography who went around the show during the day taking provisional photographs of the events during the day, whom we can fully recommend!

So, now to a few of the funny stories that happened during the day - never a dull moment.

Meeting the public of all ages and backgrounds is usually quite eventful. 

Bearing in mind how cold the day was, I was dressed in my full chauffeur suit along with my cap and overcoat, prepared for the temperature. At one particular moment I was holding my travel coffee mug and handing out leaflets and business cards, catching people’s attention, when a gentleman came over to me, placed a pound coin on top of my mug saying ‘Oh I thought you were the Salvation Army’, and then very quickly took the coin away.

I’m not sure what he thought about the Salvation Army going up market with an executive Jaguar by the side of me!

On another occasion, some older teenage lads came over to me and asked whether I also took escorts in my car. I played it cool and asked him what he meant. He was fumbling around trying to work out what to say when his mate said that he meant prostitutes, to which I replied ‘I don’t think so’

His response then was, ‘Why are you dressed like an undertaker?’, to which I replied ‘because its cold out here all day!’

At that time, I also had my black fleece on under my jacket as well as my black overcoat on top.

I guess a full chauffeurs uniform can look very similar to a funeral director, especially when I wear a black tie!