There’s nothing like pawing over a map, marker pen in hand, circling magical place names. My next adventure forming stepping stones across a country.
So with such a love of maps, is there a place for a sat-nav in my adventures?
Sat-navs offer a concise and reliable route to your desired destination. I could be neatly bounced from one stepping stone to the next by the most efficient route. No surprises, very efficient. Taking away the very essence of exploration.
What about the town with an interesting name, a winding road, a clutch of thatched roofs. I would need to check out bunting in the distance. But, sat-nav’s don’t have a sense of adventure and they don’t have a bunting mode. They can’t sniff out street food. So why would this disembodied, bossy voice be invited along for the ride, snatching all the chances to get lost and approach locals for directions. It’s like taking a sensible friend on holiday.
For example, I would never have popped into the bar/ hunting shop, map in hand for directions and wound up staying at the bar man’s sisters farm house if my sat-nav had efficiently delivered me to a campsite.
Sadly, it doesn’t always work out so nicely. I hunt out little towns with alluring markets and rejuvenating coffee shops. And, because I have checked the map, this particular town had a neat winding road through it. Finding the town centre is easy. Parking poses no problem. Sampling local produce comes naturally.
Nightmares begin when it’s time to leave. Where is the neat road the map promised me? Where have all the sign posts gone? That diversion wasn’t there half an hour ago! Lap 4 of the town and I wonder if there was only a one way road in? Maybe there is no road out? After the seventh lap of the town. Was I in the The Truman Show?
So I admit it, occasionally a sat-nav comes to its own. A perfect tool for getting out of sticky situations and mysterious French one way systems. But, a last resort. Never for driving mindlessly under its instruction.
I’m not keen on being told what to do at the best of times. Bossy instruction makes me do the opposite. I want to be engaged with the ride and that includes being aware of where I am and making choices. I notice more. I disagree that a sat-nav allows more time to take in the view. I can read a sign in a flash, so can do both. The mental stimulation and decision making is part of the enjoyment.
Watching an isolated snippet of landscape on my phone screen gives the impression that there is a vast wilderness outside the screen in a ‘Don’t go on the moors’ type way. A wide view and it’s not possible to see the detail of the map, a closer view and I lose the ability to relate my location to other towns. Shouldn’t I be watching the actual roads and landscapes not the digital ones?
Most frightening of all, I’m relying on sat-nav and if the sat-nav breaks without knowledge I’m stuffed. And lost. Maps don’t malfunction but they do go soggy if you spill a pint on them.
The only adventures are enjoyed with a map. But, if I didn’t have a sat-nav to ensure I reached the ferry in time, I would still be on the Continent. Or, making laps of French towns.