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Friday, 13 June 2014

Cultural stuff

Satnav got five members of our group from Hereford to Autignac and is presently guiding us round  the Languedoc. But the relationship is much more adult these days and it is the front passenger's job to force satnav to do what it doesn't care to do.

Roadworks to the south of the nearest big town, Beziers, had already proved a pain yet they lay en route to the airport where we picked up the remaining duo of our party. Satnav had to be fooled into  creating a non-intuitive detour and I can't pretend this was achieved faultlessly.

One problem with such techno-domination is that we can end up on very small roads - notably those whose only function is to provide access to vineyards. These can be very rough, a penance in our Skoda with its tyres inflated 15% more than normal to compensate for the heavy loads often carried.

One hideously deep pothole jarred the whole car and caused the running light (the lower of the two in the pic) to detach itself partially from the the front-end bodywork. Hence a visit to the Skoda dealer.

Although resident in the Czech Republic Skoda is owned by Volkswagen and has long since lost its unreliable image. For twenty minutes or so I was able to glance around the large showroom and note how German style (especially typography) mated uneasily with the French way of doing things. How French marketing phrases like A saisir! (ie, Grab it!) looked out of place in this cathedral of seriousness. Like wearing flip-flops to a funeral.

Not that I'm complaining. Long before I'd completed my sociological research the job was done and at no charge. And I had a headlock on satnav all the way home.


  1. Perhaps if satnav insists on taking you down roads that lead to vineyards you should just give in gracefully and follow it...

  2. Oui, Lucy, I was thinking that too! We put full faith in the Garmond on our first trip around Ireland and was treated to many a cow path (or sheep path) raising skepticism bordering on hysteria at many junctures. The kindly Irish lad at Hertz had mentioned that the softwear "may" be outdated and if that were the case, "pop intae enny Hertz dealer" for an update. Of course there was never any Hertz dealer other than himself. It wasn't until the next trip, a year later, that we realized there were actual paved highways in Ulster.

  3. Lucy: Problem is one vineyard looks very much like any other and is no guide to what may eventuate. Except, of course, in Bordeaux where the lines of vines are marked by rose-trees and ceramic plates announcing I know not what.

    Stella: I have owned five satnavs (one of them built into the car - a Lexus) and that is a significant fact. Their maps are quickly out of the date and the price of renewing them is roughly the cost of a new satnav. I too have suffered from misdirection but I have devoted time to finding out just why this happened - in almost all cases it was due to GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). I have been showered by anecdotes from others who have ended up in quick-sands and cemeteries but who seem to have forgotten the other occasions when the satnav worked. And who have also ignored similar cock-ups when relying on road atlases and driver/passenger arguments. Especially when crossing complex urban expanses.

    I determined to master satnavs and in general I have. They are particularly valuable in France where new roads are created at the drop of a hat. Apart from anything else they are a psychological aid on wearisome motorway journeys, indicating how one may improve on the ETA by exceeding the speed limit.

    I am sorry to sound so minatory but this in this instance - unlike most others - I march to the beat of a different TomTom from you.

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