1 EAGLETON NOTES: Getting There

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Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Getting There

YP wrote a review recently of a book written by a map obsessive. It was interesting and most who commented (I read it after YP's next post had been published so didn't bother commenting) were, like me, very much lovers of maps. Indeed if it hadn't been for my love of maps and my knowledge of glaciation I would not have done so well in my Geography GCE 'O' Level back in the dark ages. 

The author was also obsessive in his hatred of satnavs. I have never quite understood why  so many people think that it is a virtue not to use satnavs in the same way that they feel superior to us mortals who use smart-phones. I have even been told satnavs are dangerous. They are not. The  chap I caught driving down the M6 in the middle lane with his road atlas on his steering wheel however was, I would suggest, exceptionally dangerous. 

My brother and a late friend who lived part-time in France both have/had a remarkable talent. A talent that I very much coveted. They could look at a map and memorise their chosen route. Put the map away and in the case of my late friend, drive all the way from Scotland to wherever he was going in France. I, on the other hand, have aphantasia. I cannot memorise images. In the 'old days' before satnavs I used to spend ages making flip boards so that I could get into my car on Lewis and navigate myself to the Poitou-Charante. Now I set an address into my satnav and relax. I have been using one since the early 2000s.

I have, of course, heard of them taking people down unsuitable roads and software used does vary. I have driven all over the UK, through and France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy with never a blip that I can recall.

36 comments:

  1. I do depend on my satnav, even if I do talk back to her on occasion. However, there are many signs in this area to make it clear to drivers when not to rely upon them. Many have found themselves in difficult situations before.

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    1. Jules, I have been known to contradict my SatNav because I want to go a detour or a different way. I often keep it on without the voice on routes I know well because it tells me if there are hold-ups on, for example, the A9 in the Highlands where an accident can mean a hundred mile detour in places. The earlier one knows about it the more prepared one is.

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  2. Luckily, as we no longer drive anywhere "off-island" we have no need of satnav. When trying to find our way around overseas we tend to look at paper maps, but then we are usually on foot.
    Your comment about visualising images reminded me of the technique I used when revising for exams, back in the dark ages as you called it. I would write out a list of, say dates and events for my history exam, then look at it for several moments and commit the image to memory. During the exam I could then recall that image and extract the correct dates, and get all those pesky kings and queens in the right order.

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    1. JayCee, you have the big advantage that there are two of you. I am invariably travelling alone and using a map when driving isn't so easy. When I was reading law we had to know all the regnal years etc. I never ever managed to learn them and keep them in my mind for long.

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  3. Sometimes people rely on satnavs too much, not even heeding clear signs that point to a detour because of roadworks or other such situations. As in most things in life, it's down to balance, isn't it - a satnav can be very helpful, making for a relaxed trip (as in your case), as long as the person behind the wheel still keeps an open mind (and two open eyes!) on the road for signs that may not agree with what the satnav says.
    By the way, one of the presents I gave O.K. last Christmas was a Tom-Tom... we'll use it for the first time when we'll be driving to the Allgäu (mountains) region for a week-long hiking holiday.

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    1. Yes, Meike, as always you have a balanced, rational view of the matter. My very first satnav was a TomTom.

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  4. I love maps and have a big collection. I also draw my own maps of the places I visit or write about. I have been drawing maps since I was about 10 years old and was involved in route planning - we had a transport business. I am not anti satnav but have never had one. I can also look and remember.

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    1. Rachel, I'm with you on the love of maps and drawing maps as a youngster. However, as I said, I just cannot remember images so am lost without a route committed to words or a satnav.

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  5. One of my brothers uses a satnav when they visit a new area. I rely on Google Maps on my phone and it always seems to get me where I want to go.

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    1. Margaret, I, too use Google Maps and Apple Maps for all sorts of things. When I was in Florence a few years ago I could not find the rail station and I used its 'walk me there' guidance which was excellent. They are also very good at saying when there are traffic jams or accidents. However, my car has an integral satnav with a much larger display which I find easier to use.

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  6. Before I had sat nav or a smart phone I would use google maps to print out a list of directions and before that I just had to read maps. I'm not a fast map reader and I have to turn it so I'm going up the map but I've managed to get myself around.
    Sometimes when I am relying on a device to navigate for me I wish I had a broad understanding of the route but trying to see it on the phone is never easy so I just trust google and it does work

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    1. Kykie, I agree absolutely that it's much easier to see the overall route of a paper map. However I've not been let down by my satnav yet.

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  7. It depends where I want to go. Sometimes I just want to know how to get there and love the satnav for that but for trips that are for pleasure I want the whole picture and then I need a paper map. Do you remember satnavs have a funny way of directing people to where I live?

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    1. Absolutely, Pauline. You and I would never have found some of the places we ended up at if we'd been on the 'straight and narrow path' dictated by a satnav. I seem to remember that the satnav took me right up into the wilds and off the main road far too early. I had set it for the shortest route instead of the fastest route so I missed dozens of miles of the State Highway.

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  8. I always prided myself for being able to remember the road or street map. I can't do that anymore.

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  9. I have neither a sat-nav, nor a mobile phone, but I'm not 'proud' of the fact; it's just that I have no need for either. I like maps too, and have a small collection of John Speeds; I really should frame some of them.

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    1. Cro, my need for one gets less and less as I drive fewer journeys into unknown territory. I still drive about 12,000 miles a year but that's a fraction of the amount I used to drive (and I never drove much for business).

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  10. I think the system is wonderful. I used to have to use a sextant and that was a bit ambiguous. The sense of achievement I got from a successful landfall is missing with GPS but life got so much easier and safer.

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    1. Adrian, I found standing on the bonnet in a lay-by got me some very odd looks. Apart from that I like the comfort of the cockpit of my car.

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  11. Oh dear. The first time I came across Sat Nav was some ten years ago when I hired a car at the airport. The disembodied voice drove me nuts. Turned it off. Am I stupid or something? I can bloody read a map. What fun it is to get lost, take a detour.

    Anyway, the other day, I stepped out of the house when a man approached me in search of "the surgery". Told him he was on the wrong road, then proceeded (more fool me) to describe to him (in detail - you know, like, right, left, bla bla bla bla, even offered to walk with him since I was going in the same direction) when he kept saying he's got Sat Nav in his car. He had to say it about three times before my penny dropped. Felt a little bit silly with all my enthusiasm to show him the way. Manually as it were. Never mind. The streets are now peopled with people talking to people who aren't at their side. There was a time when people talking to "themselves" was considered a sign of encroaching madness. Myself? I sometimes wonder what's so urgent at all times that can't wait. Do people actually still have time to themselves or are we expected to be "on call" at all times?

    U

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    1. I was talking to a friend this morning about close contact. We both thought of ourselves as pretty remote targets for the virus until we realised just how many people we both know who spend a lot of time travelling. Indeed, Island folk tend to travel a lot by virtue of being in a remote place and, in the case of many youngsters, working all over the country and, indeed, the world. The world now is a very small place.

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  12. In contrast I have driven all over California, New England, Old England, France, Ireland, Spain, Malta, Cyprus, Sardinia and New Zealand without any satnav assistance whatsoever. But I do accept that they can be useful to many drivers - if used sensibly.

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    1. YP, I've driven over much of Europe, Australia, New Zealand and California without a satnav. Much of the time (except Australia and New Zealand where on the whole they are unnecessary outside the big cities) I had a companion. In Europe I made up flip boards. There is no way I could navigate without one of those two aids if it meant memorising a map. I very much doubt if you have the disadvantage of aphantasia. I wish that I did not.

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  13. My daughter's family visited Ireland last year, Used GPS to get to places and were sent down country roads curving around. they made it their destination which was the back gate of the place. Could not get in. Local farmer said that happened all the time.

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    1. Yes, Susan, I've heard of similar problems particularly when using post codes.

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  14. "Aphantasia"... I thought that was an aversion to Disney films...

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  15. I don't have/use satnav...but then I don't travel far. My little car knows its way blindfolded to its regular destination, as do I. But I've not put that into practice, of course! :)

    The times, in the past (when I did travel far afield by car), and the few times in the present that I've travelled further afield than my normal short footstep...I've just used commonsense and street/road signs for directions. I've not yet become lost.

    Many of my friends use satnavs...but then they are out and about and going further afield than I am and I do. That is their, and their right to make those choices.

    As you say...trying to read a map that's placed on the passenger seat, or held in front of you on the steer wheel is a sure-fire way of falling into trouble!

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    1. Lee, I think that we see eye to eye on this one just as we do on many other issues.

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  16. We love our satnav (Tom Tom ) and have enjoyed driving in England, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Austria, France and Norway where we could take in the scenery as we drove along as we were not staring down at our laps trying to work out where to turn next. No arguments, often round a roundabout a couple of times , and sometimes turning too late or too early but in the end always reaching our destination. Would not have liked to attempt these trips without it. I love the way it gets you in the correct lane especially when you are attempting an airport drop off of your hire car in places like Heathrow, Paris and Oslo which we have done with a minimum of stress to all.

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    1. Helsie, I'm glad that you've found the satnav an advantage too. You have reminded me of a holiday in Italy many moons ago when we discovered that Italian maps are definitely not to the standard of the Ordnance Survey that we are used to. We spent one jolly few moments, I remember, trying to work out a particular series of roads in one country area where the map bore little resemblance to what we could see in reality.

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  17. I remember the days of my parents using the old map and how they found their way around, these days I find our satnav a pain in the you know what sometimes but then again it is funny hearing the voice trying to say NZ maori place names.

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    1. I didn't use my satnav all that often in New Zealand unless I was going to places I didn't know but I'd occasionally put it on around Napier just to hear what she made of the place names. I lived in Rhotowhenua in Poraiti so you can imagine that I'd have never got home if I'd relied on her pronunciation.

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