In a week when two Swedish tourists mistyped Capri into the GPS system and ended up in Carpi a rather forlorn Italian town 400 miles from their destination, Fat Rascal has also had Satnav on her mind as she guest blogs from France..
Let me take you back in time to Christmas 2005......
EFR is a man who loves maps, enjoys making flight plans (will not go in an aeroplane however) always wants to know his altitude and most importantly, is never happier than behind the wheel of his car.
This has led me to believe that a GPS would be the ideal present for him. Oh no! He was not thrilled, his manhood was threatened and the GPS was disappeared before the sprouts had been boiled to mush.
Fast forward to 2009 and the trip to the UK for Chelsea.....
We were going to break the journey by staying with the Rascally Scot near Paris. The RS lives in a very nice leafy suburb which is definitely on the map! EFR had been there before but never coming from the same direction twice. It's so desirable I think the residents have taken down any signposts which would show foreigners the way there!
I had driven up to stay with RS on my own, equipped with my printout from Mappy but I got hopelessly lost as soon as I hit the big city and once I realised I was heading to Orly and that was WRONG I stopped and rang RS in tears (I was hot and over tired). She said that she had often been lost in Paris but never in the exact same place I'd got lost so couldn't help. Oh, and I should have a Satnav!
Anyway, not having been able to find the right way myself I couldn't help EFR when he too got lost. To make the situation worse we didn't have a single map of any part of France in the car.
With a bit of mobile phone assistance we did find the Rascally Scot's and were soon revived by a wee dram of single malt.
On our way home from Chelsea we again got lost trying to find Tesco in Ashford (as you do). Once again, the lack of a GPS was felt and even the most detailed OS map does not show the nearest Marmite mountain or PG Tips lake.
Last week we were going to Geneva and the hotel we had stayed in before was fully booked as the drug addicts on bikes - er, Tour de France - had decided to visit the exact same part of Europe at the exact same time. So I suggested EFR get the GPS out, I would do all the fiddling needed to get it operational and we wouldn't get lost ever again, especially in Switzerland where it's probably illegal to do so.
The first hiccup came when I downloaded the CD with user instructions. I could predict a "RTFM" being launched at me by the Satnav refusenik the minute I made an error in programming so thought I'd better be able say I had RTFM. Our model can do all sorts of things, play music, show photos, speak Bulgarian etc. but the manual was very vague when it came to explaining how to use it to get from A to B. I realised that having all the instructions on my laptop at home wasn't going to be very helpful on the journey. The PDF contained 88 pages so EFR printed it with 4 pages per side, Rector-Verso. I was having doubts. I might be better off with a map after all but I'm a hopeless map reader and get carsick when I have to look at the small print on the move.
Nevertheless I worked out how to put in our home address but hit the usual problem of not having enough of an address to satisfy a website and now apparently a GPS. Still, it recognised the commune so we were off.
The morning of our departure EFR grudgingly agreed to install the windscreen holder but the journey started with huffs and puffs and sighs. I decided to baptise the device Gladys mainly to make EFR love her but when she started to speak that's what she sounded like. It took her a while to pick up satellite signals and it took me a while to realise that every time I pressed the "home" button she wanted to take us home and not back to the home screen.
Over the next couple of days Gladys showed her mettle. She was handicapped by new one way systems and a series of tunnels on the "périphérique" of Lyon but was certainly much quicker at finding out where we were and how to get out of there than EFR's habitual mapreader. She took us straight to our hotel in a town we'd never been to before and I would have liked to have credited her with choosing the lovely Indian restaurant nearby but that was me!
She took us in and out of Switzerland several times, found me a Garden Centre to visit and by the end of the trip EFR was firmly in love with her! He changed from saying "what's it saying now?" to "ask Gladys where we go next" in 24 hours! I think he even got a bit excited when she said "louder, louder" when I turned up her volume!
Last Saturday while I was repotting and taking cuttings from plants which had been blown over by a freak windstorm, EFR was sitting in the car on the drive playing with Gladys. He was going over to his brother's in the Dordogne the next day, a route he knows off by heart but he asked if he could take Glad with him - aaaah!
My story would have a happy ending but now we've decided we do like having a GPS, Gladys is already obsolete and they no longer do map updates for her. Pffft!!!!
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