Sunday, 3 May 2009

Navigation, Navigation, Navigation..

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)


Fat Rascal said...

That sounds right up Even Fatter Rascal's street!

He's already quite good at finding his way but tends to disregard obstacles like barbed wire fences and thigh high stingers -if he wants to go west, we go west!

I hope a nice lunch/dinner was included in your birthday treat!

Crusty Bedsocks said...

What an interesting and unusual day! Well done Bedsock! Much as I would love to do it it would be totally wasted on me as I have no sense of direction at all and have been known to get lost in John Lewis!

Arabella Sock said...

Ah now Crusty - this is exactly why you need to be in touch with your 'Natural Navigator' self.

In shops like John Lewis the perfume counters are always at the front - the food is always at the back. Just have a quick sniff and you'll know which way to go!!!

I'm with Even Fatter Rascal - if I know the general direction I want to go in I am quite happy to take shortcuts that usually involve barbed wire, mud, herds of narsty violent looking cows and irate landowners. Lunch was pretty good (included in the course) I didn't dare have pudding in case I fell asleep in the afternoon!

Crusty Bedsocks said...

That won't work in my JL - the food is on the 2nd floor! Now sniffing out a Lush shop is something I can do 3 streets away! :o)

HappyMouffetard said...

What a great-sounding day. I'm watching Countryfile at the mo, mostly because they are in Malvern, my home town so will look forward to the natural navigation chap.

SomeBeans is keen on natural navigation, particularly when pointing out that cows have passed this way. Apparently he can tell because of the delicate bends in the grasses and herbs. I thought it was something to do with the huge lakes of dung littering the field.

The Black Fingernail said...

Obviously a (rather splendid I might add) course aimed at females.

Us males of course have a natural ability of navigating.

Anyway, better go, the old couple that have taken pity on me and invited me in seem somewhat nervous!

And I only left the house for a Daily Mail in order to see how Princess Di was getting along....


Frances said...

Hi Arabella, happy birthday to you. Hope it was a joyful day, and you did not tangle with barbed wire or cow paddies as you followed your natural navigation. How delightful!


Arabella Sock said...

Hi Frances thanks for the birthday wishes. I'm eager to test out our new found skills and am thinking of blindfolding the Bedsock, driving around the countryside in circles to disorientate him and then dumping him in the middle of nowhere without a map and seeing if he can find his way home!!

This will make up for all the times he has criticised my map reading (which I am actually good at) without having the first clue himself. LOL!

HappyMouffetard said...

Happy Birthday Arabella! (you said in your previous post it was midweek, so I'm assuming it's around now).

LittleGreenFingers said...

What an ingenious present. I'm tempted to steal the idea for my other half - provided it has a module on how to tell his a**e from his elbow.

Juliet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juliet said...

Happy birthday, Arabella!

Your card is here.

And here is your cake.

VP said...

Happy birthday Arabella - I think I'm a day late tho'? :(

I love the URL for Juliet's cake!

Hope you had a great time, lots of cake and other good things.

Sue (aka Trillium) said...

Happy birthday from a former Sock lurker... Love the full stories, especially the Matt/Lillian theme.

You might find inspiration for another series from a photo I took today at Malvern show. It's on the blog.....