Over the last year I've become rather familiar with central London. Numerous events have taken me on the quick train from Peterborough right into the heart of the capital, and I'm even starting to get the hang of knowing what tube trains go where.
However, despite having been a driver for almost seven years now, I've never driven any further into London than the North Circular. Mainly because it's never really been necessary for me to do so and, let's be honest, it's not somewhere you'd go for a drive just for the hell of it.
So it was with a slight sense of dread that I set off from our office on Thursday evening bound for the Royal Society of Arts, just off The Strand. I'd decided, since it's fairly unlikely that I'll need to do it often, to go for it and just drive straight in rather than chicken out, ditch the car somewhere and get on a train.
I needn't have worried. London is like any other city, it's choked with traffic and pedestrians are spilling off the pavement in the busiest areas but it's not half as stressful as people make out. In fact, slumped into the heated leather seats of a Mazda CX-7, safe in the knowledge that I wasn't in a tearing rush, it barely raised my pulse.
Better still, the trip turned out to be surprisingly cheap. I arrived in the congestion charging zone after 6pm, and in doing so avoided parting ways with £8 of my hard earned cash. Even better, the traffic held me up for long enough that I got to my parking space right outside the front doors of the RSA after 6.30pm, so I didn't pay for that either.
Cheaper, more comfortable and less crowded than the tube. I even found my way back out of London without using my sat nav. I'll be a little less nervous when I set off next time.