Playing sat-nav roulette
Rather than risk a bawling-out from the back seat James gambles on the sat-nav to keep things moving
LAST Saturday I found myself sitting in my car at the end of a country lane somewhere in rural Norfolk. I say ‘lane’, It looked more like a farm track, with mud spilling onto to it from the bordering fields and tufts of wild grass growing in a narrow strip down the centre.
“Well, the sat-nav definitely says down here.” My wife leaned over from the passenger seat and pointed at the left turn on the screen. “Let’s just go for it.”
It’s a situation we’ve often found ourselves in over the last few months. Having a baby on the back seat who decided very early in life that he’s not a fan of being stationary for more than about four seconds means that long car journeys have to be meticulously planned.
Traffic websites are rapidly refreshed and radio bulletins closely monitored for any reports of potential accidents or delays on our county’s road network. The prospect of sitting motionless on the tarmac for any length of time simply can’t be entertained.
And whilst the ‘re-route’ button is a wonderful feature on modern sat-navs, it’s also a dangerous one in Norfolk. Streetlights and houses can quickly vanish, roads narrow and before you know it you’re turning down a single-track road unsure of what’s around the next blind bend or when you’re going to emerge into civilisation again.
With the tricks that sat-navs love to play on us, I’ve found myself having to perform many a three-point turn (and occasionally the odd seven-point) when Norfolk’s innocuous country lanes turn into dead ends, private farms, or on one particularly foggy evening, the River Yare. I’m afraid that, unlike the previous generation who studied their trusty road atlas before setting off on a lengthy journey and kept a watchful eye on the road signs they passed, I’ve become far too reliant on the little yellow arrow on the screen in front of me.
So you can understand my trepidation as we sat at the end of this particular rural lane. With reports of long tail-backs on the A11, and after a thorough minute-by-minute assessment of the situation, we’d decided to once again traverse the back roads of Norfolk.
We were still meandering tentatively along the winding single-track road 20 minutes later, fearful of meeting an oncoming vehicle and having to reverse half a mile at any moment. But eventually we made our way back onto the dual carriageway and after three hours we’d made it to our destination in the Midlands.
The sat-nav said we were only ten minutes behind our original arrival time. This time we’d won the ‘sat-nav game’ – avoiding sitting in long queues of traffic while a six-month old screamed at us in disapproval.
I’m sure there’ll be just as many occasions when we lose. It’s good fun though.
The prospect of sitting motionless on the tarmac for any length of time simply can’t be entertained
Road to nowhere: sat -navs can lead you through some of the less well-travelled parts of Norfolk