Satnav systems have always been numbered amongst our friends. We like their friendly voices and enjoy the feeling of superiority as they mispronounce place names.
Over the years, they have guided us through France, Italy, Spain and chunks of the UK. Okay, there have been moments of confusion: we spent an hour in a repeating circle of some back streets of Naples which certainly got inside our heads. We took an unusual but interesting deviation below a French aqueduct that engendered surprised glances from some goat shepherds. And there is a sumptuous Parador near Granada which defeated our guide probably because it knew we were out of our financial comfort zone.
Mostly though, things have gone well… until last week. Emboldened by the June heatwave, we decided to drive and visit a relative in Glasgow's Cathcart. An hour-long journey at best especially on a route we could do in our sleep. Note the words 'could do'. Two Covid years have kept us village bound and memory decay accelerates with age.
Within 30 minutes, we were deep into unknown Renfrewshire territory on roads that were not so much unfamiliar but unfathomable. Sadly, we stopped in a lay-by and fired up the Satnav on the car console. Two minutes later, we remembered it had been hopelessly out of date and impossibly expensive to update. We gave up on a jumble of images and confusing commands.
Out came the trusty TomTom which fortunately was still in the glove compartment. Plugged in and charged, it quickly calculated a route and began vocal instructions. As we pulled away from the kerb, it told me to turn right at the next junction. As the traffic lights loomed, another voice told me to turn left and make a U-turn as soon as possible. I had not turned off the first out of date system and I had no idea how so to do. With busy Sunday traffic all around, we were now being guided by competing Satnavs.
There must be a lot of kind and patient car drivers near Renfrew, and many more on the way to Cathcart. They were out in force on Sunday and not one blew a horn nor flashed a light as a bewildered octogenarian lurched his misguided way through the suburbs en route to his destination. It is said that every experience is beneficial but coping with Greta on TomTom and Doris on her built in comrade, is not one I can recommend. There is, definitely, no safety in numbers.
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