The Sorcerer, Ghost Valley

The Sorcerer, Ghost Valley

Monday, 23 December 2013

Don't forget your map!

Even with modern day technology don’t forget the basics of being able to read a map!

I click on the Nokia ‘HERE Drive+’ tile on my new Nokia Windows phone and waited as it looked for a GPS, loaded the road maps and located us to within metres of where we were. I knew how accurate it was as we were sitting in the car outside our house in Kendal!

Set Destination – search. Drive to – click yes. Finding your route……………and START – click yes.

Only 113miles and 2:52hours. 5mph and a voice tells me ‘after 255yrds turn right’ and we’re away.

My son asks for the phone in the back and starts giving directions as we exit Kendal and head towards the M6. No need for him to ask questions anymore like ‘how much further now Dad?’ or ‘you said it was only 1 hour to go half an hour ago! ’He’s got it all there in front of him.

Then he shouts out that we need to ‘get in the left lane’ and ‘take the next junction’.

I’m in the outside lane on the M6 and have taken this journey hundreds of times over the last 25years, but have never exited at the next junction!

Foot off the accelerator as my mind computes all the information which my phone, clutched by my 7 year old son, has already done, as I decide what route I should take. 25 years of experience or follow the GPS? I play the game and let him navigate. 
Why not I tell myself? It’ll be interesting to see which way the GPS takes us
‘In 1 mile keep left and take the next junction’ ‘In 500 yards keep left and take the next junction’. ‘Take the junction Dad and turn left’. ‘Keep right Dad and turn right in 260yrds’……….and so it goes on. 

We’re now in beautiful English countryside, rolling green fields, villages, village greens, corners shops, pubs by the name of ‘The Jolly Angler’ and ‘The Hare and Hounds’. 

We continue on, enjoying the new parts of England we’ve never explored before. A shout from the back ‘50miles to go till we get there’

Great I tell myself, this might be a quicker way, amazing after all these years……….I try to mentally think back over the route to remember it for next time. Impossible, no map or bearings, I’ve just been enjoying the scenery and being told whether to turn left or right or to just go straight on! 

My son knows more about where we are than I do and I read maps for a living! No bother though we’ve got the GPS – amazing technology, works within 2 metres of accuracy.

Then it all goes quiet in the back, a junction’s coming up and I wait for some directions.

‘Dad, the battery’s run out’ and my son leans over to the front and passes the phone back to me. 


I’m now on the junction, a line of cars waiting behind. I get the horn and a gesticulation from the M-series BMW up my arse.

I hazard a guess and turn left, then pull off the road next to a gate and farmers field. I look up and bales of hay wrapped in black plastic are stacked up next to the gate, someone’s graffitied the bails by writing in white paint ‘arsehole’ onto the end of one of them!

I turn around to look at my son in the back but it was no good, yes the phone had actually run out, and no Dad, ‘you didn’t say let me know when the phones about to run out and I’ll plug it back into the charger’. Anyway he wasn’t bothered, he was just looking out of the window.

I plug the phone into the cigarette lighter, click ‘HERE Drive+’ but nothing. The phone seems to need a certain amount of charge to reboot the GPS as the phone keeps shutting down. Blast!

‘Asshol’ Monty shouts from the back seat! I look in the rear view mirror and he’s looking back at me. ‘What does that mean Dad?’

I open the driver’s door, go around to the boot, open it up and under a boot full of kid’s stuff, I rummage for a dog-eared map which I thought I’d never need again. As I pull out the map its cover catches on the peddle of my sons bike and is ripped off!

‘Arsehole’ I hear Monty shout, ‘what does it mean Dad?’

I slam the boot, get back into the car, slam the door and thumb the map pages to try and find out roughly where we might be.

Minutes tick by, ‘Dad, how much longer will it be until we get there, I’m hungry?’

I orientate the map, work out some land marks, make a mental note of some features that I can tick off as we pass them to make sure we’re heading in the right direction - the next village, town, ‘A’ road and make some rough timings. I do a ‘U’ turn and we head off.

This is more like it I tell myself, I actually know where I am now, have a feel for the direction even without looking to see if it’s left or right, I know which way we’re heading. This is the fabric to navigation. This is the joy of it, the learning, and I could come this way again, and I’d remember it for next time.

I’m enjoying the feeling of navigating through this unknown English landscape and in part by intuition, which only comes from being able to read a map.

Relying on the navigation system seems to actually ebb away your confidence as you end up waiting for confirmation on where to go even though you know it’s correct – Crazy!

Known landmarks, villages, ‘A’ roads and we’re back on track
I re-boot the phone – bingo. I click on the ‘HERE Drive+’ tile and wait while it finds the GPS again. Set Destination – search. Drive to – click yes. Finding your route……………And START – click yes. ‘After 50rds turn left and do a ‘U’ turn!’

Not likely I thought and pull the plug. I sit back and just enjoy the beauty of being able to switch off and just drive.

‘Dad, how much further is it now?’

Safe driving!

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