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April, 2013 | Janice Scott's Blog

The delights of sat-nav

I had a phone call last night asking me to play in a golf match, as two people had dropped out. From this you will deduce that I’m not the best golfer in the world. It’ll take me another week or two to measure up to Tiger Woods. Still, I was pleased to accept, as the weather promised to be good and it was an away match at a course which was unfamiliar to me.

The problem was, I didn’t know the route. But we recently invested in a new sat-nav, so this was the ideal opportunity to try it out. Yes, I know. All of you have been using sat-navs for years and are thoroughly blase about them, but I’m not. This was a new experience for me.

I should explain. We have had two previous sat-navs, neither  of which were completely satisfactory. The earliest one – OK, it was probably a prototype – gave new instructions the moment you’d completed the last instruction, even though the next move might be anything up to eleven miles away. So  you’d hear, ‘Turn left’, with no indication whatsoever of when you were to turn left. We had some fun with that one, as you can imagine. The next sat-nav was a lot better, but only recognised about half the country’s postcodes, very few of which were in Norfolk. And if you had the temerity to change route half way, the sat-nav went into an unnecessary sulk,  refusing to function again.

Not good, and hence my trepidation when I set off today. However, clearly sat-navs have moved in the last few years, for this one was perfect. A lovely, calm lady gave me explicit instructions in plenty of time in a beautifully modulated voice, didn’t get rattled by the traffic (or my driving) and deposited me exactly at my destination just as required.

The match was great, and we won (even greater!) It was a friendly so we all had a good time.

Unfortunately, as I started the journey home  heaving the car over exaggerated speed bumps in the golf club access road, the sat-nav fell off the dashboard, utterly scrambling the display.  Needless to say, I didn’t know how to get the display back, but bless her! The dear lady within continued with her clear instructions just as though nothing had happened. The display never recovered, but she got me home with no trouble at all.

That’s it – I’m a convert. I shall never worry again about getting to my destination, but rely entirely on the sat-nav.

Treasure hunting…

The advantage of having your youngest daughter home for the Easter holidays is that she drags you out to all sorts of unexpected and novel experiences.

The latest is geo-caching. For the uninitiated, this is a sort of glorified and occasionally sophisticated, treasure hunt. The aim is to find hidden caches, using map co-ordinates and clues.  When you find the cache, you fill in a logbook and maybe exchange a small treasure – a coin, or a badge or some other tiny token. If your knees are already buckling at the thought of co-ordinates and maps, don’t despair. It isn’t as difficult as it sounds, thanks to the delights of smart phones which do most of the work for you.

From the geo-caching webpage, you decide which caches are near you and which you would like to visit. This is a world-wide movement  so there are geo-caches everywhere, and this area of Norfolk is no exception. There are literally hundreds within a few miles.

We started on Tuesday. Downloaded the information into the smart phone and set off. The first cache, near Hemblington Church, took us several minutes to find, but the next cache, near Panxworth (ruined) Church was very easy.

Encouraged and cock-a-hoop, we ventured forth again yesterday morning, this time to Blofield. There’s a group of geo-caches in the vicinity named after Dad’s Army characters, so we thought we’d hunt for them.  This is where it all started to go horribly wrong. We couldn’t find the first two, and the wind was so bitterly cold we gave up and went home for coffee. But not to be outdone, we had another attempt in the afternoon, this time different caches within a few hundred yards of home. Should be easy, right? Wrong!

One was a ‘puzzle’ cache, where you had to work out quite a challenging puzzle to find the cache. We managed the puzzle – at least, I think we did, but who knows? – but couldn’t find the cache, so we moved on to the next one which should have been easier. It wasn’t. On the other hand,  had we  known our north from our south we might have had more success. Again the weather was bitterly cold, and for some reason, home with a mug of hot tea was more inviting than scrabbling about in the undergrowth searching for a micro-cache.

I’m afraid the sum total of our joint success so far is two miserable caches, but never fear! We’re merely waiting for warmer weather before setting off again, fired with renewed enthusiasm. Watch this space, for as you know, where your treasure is, there is your heart also. Or something like that.