The certificate above states that Arabella Sock has successfully completed the 'Beginner's Guide to Natural Navigation Course' and is now one of the few people in the world to have undergone training in this rare art!!!
By now you will have gathered that the Sock's 'Day out with a Difference' was a course at the lovely West Dean College (pictured below) run by Tristan Gooley.
The Bedsock had decided this was the course for us after hearing Tristan on Radio 4 enthusing about finding your way by reference to natural clues.
The Sock has always loved maps, particularly Ordnance Survey ones with all their exciting little lines and symbols conveying things like the location of the church spire we can see above the trees in the distance and more importantly where the pub is at the end of our walk. But maps are no good if you don't know which direction you are heading in. The Sock always carries a compass and likes to know her orientation, not just in the countryside but in cities or even in an aeroplane.
So enter Natural Navigation where you can put aside your hi-tech GPS, your maps and compass and use all your senses to find the natural clues you are given. We learned how it is possible to tell time and direction by movements of the sun, moon and stars; how looking at the growth of trees, bushes, lichens even the placement of erosion on a track can guide you to the right path; how the touch of the wind on your face, the smell in the air and even the way a house and garden are facing can provide us with clue to navigating our surroundings.
Tristan is an excellent and enthusiastic communicator engaging the Socks so that the day passed too quickly and left us wanting more.
The only slightly bum note in the day was that we were given one 'competitive' question where we were shown a landscape photograph of Chichester harbour and asked to write down the time of day, the season and the direction the camera was pointed in. The Sock got it right straight away but unfortunately cheated by reading the Bedsock's answer and changed hers to the same. To her chagrin it turned out she had been right in the first place and that by the time Tristan checked the answers the Bedsock had changed his to the right one without telling her!!!!
The Sock is still recovering from the biggest revelation of the day! The sun does not rise in the East and set in the West!!!!!!!
It varies but in England at this time of year it is north-west and in six months time it will be south-west. This explains why, when the Sock believed she has a due west facing garden, the evening sun has been hitting it at an odd angle for years! The Sock hasn't been so shocked since Toby Buckland was announced as GWs next head gardener! Why was she never taught this at school instead of a load of useless rubbish like the Van de Graaff generator - now only ever remembered as a rock band? Even Blue Peter never mentioned that the sun didn't sink in the west.
A great and imaginative birthday present from the Bedsock.. although for his birthday the Sock is planning a day out at a Chocolate Orgy..
NB: Tristan Gooley will be on BBC1 Country Ways this evening (Sunday May 3rd at 7.30)