And the next minute you're in trouble. You and a car are approaching a T-junction from opposite directions. You can see the car approaching you, it is indicating to turn right and is slowing down, but just as you reach the junction, it speeds up and turns right....right into your path. You have no time to react, all you can see is the car in front of you and you know immediately that you will hit it. You are aware of several bumps and jolts, you want it to stop, it is hurting you and your headlights focus on a road sign and you ready yourself for what must be a large impact but the final impact comes seconds sooner as your car is halted by the steep grassy bank.
The seat belt has you rooted to your seat, the air bag has exploded and the car is full of smoke and the smell of burning. Caro Emerald is still singing wildly, inappropriately for the moment. You can't breathe, the pain in your chest is too great but you must get out of the car. You can't move your left arm to unclip the seat belt and you try to open the car door but your right arm feels weak. The door is jammed. You see people on the road, you can smell smoke and you call feebly for help, you don't want to burn, you want Caro to stop but you don't know what to do, you are helpless.
And then a lady is urgently tugging and tugging at the driver's door, she is frantic and as soon as it opens you feel relief as she gently takes control. Her voice is soothing and she tells you it will be OK, she stops Caro and phones your husband. You can't move your neck or your chest and you can't see what's going on around you. The lady's husband comes to help and supports your neck until the ambulance arrives because you can't hold your head up any longer. You want to vomit, but you can't move. The kindness of these strangers is overwhelming and a river of tears runs soundlessly down your face. Everywhere hurts, you want to go home and your husband arrives, and the ambulance and the police and you are looked after and feel safe but your eyes won't stop streaming, you're not crying, not sobbing, but the tears won't stop.
Miraculously no-one was seriously hurt - the driver and passenger of the other car were checked out by the paramedics and taken home. I was taken to hospital, thoroughly checked out, left leg stitched up and home again in time for bed. A month on and I'm well on the mend - I still have aches and bruises but I will be fine.
Sadly, my little Mini has been written-off. I'm still so thankful that my injuries weren't more serious but I miss my Chicken Eve. She was a fabulous gift from my husband some eleven years ago, and he has put so much love and care into keeping her lovely for me during that time.
So will I get another Mini? I'm not sure. Nothing can replace Chicken Eve and I have yet to return to work. I am still trying to adjust - I had a horrid accident, but I will never forget how kind everyone has been to me....how brave that lady was to wrench open the car door (she said that she, too, thought the car was on fire but apparently the smoke was simply the air bag chemicals), her husband, the ambulance team, the police, hospital staff, insurance companies, DVLA, the garage, physiotherapist, GP........and my family and friends who have sent me cards and flowers and affirmed my joy in life.
The outcome of that one moment, that small lapse in concentration of a complete stranger could've been so much worse and my life changed irrevocably (or even ended). I know it sounds dramatic, but I've had a month to ponder how such seemingly small acts can have such life-changing consequences. The memory of the accident will stay with me for a long time, but I was incredibly lucky that day, and I was cared for by some beautiful people......and that's what I'm going to hang on to.