Tag Archives: satnav

Ooops!

Nearly forgot to post.

There were just four minutes before midnight when I realised I hadn’t posted and leapt into action. It takes three minutes to write a short title, five words and hit the publish button. Well, it takes about 20 seconds, but the whirring and grinding and slowness of an ancient netbook takes two minutes and forty seconds.

Still, I got it done with a minute to spare and now have time to write a few more words in a more leisurely manner.

I was stitched up by my satnav this morning.

Having checked up on Google on Saturday and found that it takes just under two hours to drive to Ely,  I sat in the car this morning with two hours and ten minutes to make the journey.

We switched the satnav on, put in the postcode for Ely station and set off. The figures started with 88.5 miles, which was about the same as Google showed. About 400 metres later it had recalculated and was showing 106 miles and two hours 15 minutes. It got worse when we hit roadworks near Cambridge.

The trouble seems to be that the satnav doesn’t do minor roads.

The moral is to prepare better, enter the destination the night before to check it, and, if necessary, write a route down using Google and a map. It used to work in the days before satnav.

The station, when we arrived, was choked with buses. Buses in my way, buses stuck in gaps and buses being helped to reverse. It was chaos.

It was a hectic day, but it doesn’t seem so bad now it’s over.

More Grumbling

After we decided not to risk more garden centres we decided to drop down through the Peak District. This involved use of the satnav, and I have to say it didn’t cover itself in glory. For one thing, it kept interrupting our conversation with it’s constant chanting of taking second exits at roundabouts and turning left in 700 yards. No, I don’t know why 700 is seen as significant, that’s why it sticks in my mind. I’d be much more boring if I was designing a sat nav – 800 and 500 would do for me.

That, unfortunately, wasn’t the main problem. The infernal machine insists on using main roads, and is quite prepared to make a substantial detour to use dual carriageways and motorways, despite the map and common sense. That was how we found ourselves travelling through various unattractive industrial areas on dual carriageways, rather than the drama of the High Peak.

When we eventually got into the countryside we had an entertaining drive with some breathtaking views and impressive viaducts. Unfortunately these weren’t matched by equally impressive viewpoints, so there are no photos. I could have taken several photos of the back ends of traffic queues too, but I didn’t. Once you’ve seen the back of one car for twenty minutes, you’ve seen all you need for a lifetime.

We did manage some photos of the heather and snow fences  on the A628, just before we got to the really good scenery. Isn’t that always the way?

The good news is that we reached the bookshop in time to top up the cheese toasties with a restorative cup of tea and a good chunk of date and walnut cake. Dates and Walnuts are healthy aren’t they? Made into cake they are even better.

I do have some misgivings about the shop now the cafe is proving more popular. It’s difficult to put my finger on it, and even more difficult to defend my position, It has got to be good that the shop is more profitable, and I’m resigned to putting up with the inane chatter of customers and staff (who seem to spend more time yacking than serving) but I am concerned about the number of books, and the fact it’s getting more difficult to find books that I want to read.

We’d nearly finished the cake before the tea arrived, and struggled to find books. That, to me, means that a top class bookshop has now been replaced by a less good bookshop and a cafe that needs someone to get a grip.

Menus on clipboards, lamps made from vintage petrol cans (I shudder at the thought of the desecration) and mix-and-match crockery is all very well, but good tea, good cake and good service is essential. Two out of three isn’t good enough in this context. And the man in the kitchen needs to get some work done instead of loafing about chatting up the female staff.

If I was an anthropologist, or if he was a wild bird, I might find his courtship behavior interesting. But as a thirsty book-buyer, I really don’t need him droning on when he’d be better employed loading the dishwasher.

 

A Visit to Ely

My first mistake on this trip was trusting the satnav. A year ago you wouldn’t have heard me say that, because I simply wouldn’t have used it. Since then I have gradually found myself starting to not only use it, but to trust it. This has proved to be a mistake as it has recently tried to take me up a couple of one-way streets, got me lost in Leeds twice and taken us on several strange routes, including a tour of B-road Lincolnshire.

On Friday it tried to take us to Ely by driving past and looping back,  so I switched off and asked Julia to do some map reading.

Married men reading this will probably be experiencing a chilly feeling of deja vu. In addition they will probably be watching, mesmerised, as I flirt with disaster. Fear not. I will admit that there was a touch of domestic discord surrounding navigation, but I am not stupid enough to discuss it in greater depth than that.

Anyway, I like mystery tours, and it gave us the chance to see Fen Drayton Lakes. I was hoping there would be a toilet there, and possibly a Kingfisher. Both hopes were doomed. There are feeders and viewpoints, and lots of water. Unfortunately there was too much for us to do it justice, even after I made a quick stop in a hedge to rectify the lack of toilets. Unfortunately I couldn’t rectify the lack of leaves on the hedge. Ah well…

As we were driving along the roadway to the reserve we crossed the track of the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway. I’d never heard of it until I crossed it, despite it being the longest one in the world. In fact I’d never even heard of a guided busway. My sister, on the other hand, tells me not only has she heard of it, but has actually used it.

In Ely, we found a free car park with toilets. “Free” is a quality I admire in a car park, and “with toilets” is also an excellent quality. This is the Barton Road Car Park, which was in a reasonable walking distance of the Cathedral. There are others, which you can see here.

The Russian Cannon was captured in the Crimean War and presented by Queen Victoria in 1860 on the formation of the Ely Rifle Volunteers.

We decided, for various reasons (which included the price) just to  go to the Stained Glass Museum. We’ve been to the Cathedral in the past, but not to the Stained Glass Museum, and we’re on a budget. I’m thinking of posting something on this subject later. I will also post separately on the Stained Glass Museum, which was so good I want to go back to see it all again.

After the museum we wandered round town for a while, had coffee, checked out some charity shops, tried to buy some pork and took more photographs. Things weren’t great for photographs, as narrow streets and low sun cast many shadows.

The butcher’s shop is Edis of Ely, a fine old-fashioned shop with a great range of products and two walls of award certificates. The two people in the shop were more concerned with talking to a regular customer, who was obviously more interesting than I was. After waiting patiently for some time I decide enough was enough and left, so I can’t tell you if everything was as good as it looked. As they didn’t seem to notice as I left, I can only assume I was either invisible or unwelcome.

As I’ve never been there before I can’t see why I should have been unwelcome so I can only assume my diet has been effective to the point of rendering me difficult to see.

However, one of the charity shops produced an unread copy of The Cat’s Pyjamas (The Penguin Book of Cliches)for £1.50, so I’m over the moon about that.

Oliver Cromwell and his family lived here from 1636-46, though I suspect he wasn’t home much from 1642 0nwards.  What with the size of the entrance fees to the Cathedral and the spirit of Cromwell I’m beginning to feel a bit iconoclastic…

 

 

Ambushed by salad

We had a late lunch at Carsington Water after a dropping off Number Two son in Sheffield and taking a trip through the misty Peak District. There weren’t any decent photo opportunities, and when I did stop to try I ended up depressed by the fly-tipping in the lay-by.

Lunch would have been a bit earlier but the satnav disgraced itself by taking us into an Industrial  Estate and trying to send us up a cul-de-sac. It’s not the first time.

I may have to rethink my newly found confidence in technology…

The meal, supposedly cheese and pickle sandwiches with a side order of chips, came with an unexpected extra – salad. It was excellent salad (better than the sandwiches if the truth is told)  and to my surprise I quite enjoyed it. However, I can’t help thinking that there should have been more warning that the salad element was going to be more than a symbolic garnish. You have warnings for allergies and for Vegetarian and Vegan foods, why not a big green “H” for “Healthy”?

I appreciate that healthy is good, and that I have to alter my diet, but you can’t just spring it on me. The shock isn’t good for a man of my age.

The salad was crisp and full of flavour and the chips were crisp and tasty. There was plenty of tea in the pot. The sandwiches fell slightly short – the rocket garnish was good, the onion relish was good (though without the promised bite of chilli) and the cheese was OK, though it could have been a bit stronger without overpowering things. It was just a little disappointing that the bread was slightly dried out on the surface.

As for the birdwatching, we managed to avoid all the interesting birds that were listed on the board in the RSPB shop and I also missed a good photo of a male Reed Bunting.

Here are some I did get.

 

More on Oatcakes and Urban Decay

Stoke on Trent Part 2

By lunchtime it had been a moderate day. We had bought a few pots and photographed a bottle kiln, but the choice was poor and the cafes at two of the shops had closed down.

The success of the day trip was in the balance. Would we have to write it off as a wasted day, or could I, with the help of the trusty tourist map, pull something out of the bag?

Not far away was a group of potteries/shops that we hadn’t visited before, so now was obviously the time to change our habits. After all, we couldn’t make things worse and with satnav, what could possibly go wrong? (Note how I have swung from scepticism to over-confidence in just a few months).

The clue, I feel, is in my use of the word “over-confidence”.

Do you realise that there are still parts of the UK that aren’t accurately served by satnav. I do, because for several years navigating the new course of the A46 near the farm was as tricky as getting out of the Bermuda triangle.

If you ever enter  ST6 3PF into your satnav leave your diary free for a few days and take sandwiches. The route was populated by phantom roundabouts and one-way streets that had not been there when the satnav was programmed. I say that charitably, as the signs on the one way streets looked as if they had been there since before satnav was invented. Maybe it’s a hard life being a street sign in Stoke.

Finally, after photographing some bottle kilns, we found the William Edwards factory shop. This is a small shop on the edge of the factory. It specialises in high quality goods, and is a touch cramped for a fat man. We bought a few mugs for presents and spoke to the excellent lady who ran the shop, who told us that Middleton Pottery was just along the street, and that they had a tea room. See Pies and Prejudice for a fuller account of what happened there. Food was good, there are plenty of activities on site and I’d quite like to work there. However, the shop was even more cramped and pottery was unexciting.

We’ve been to the Gladstone Pottery Museum with the kids before. It was good, with exhibitions on toilets, a model sewer and drawers full of encaustic tiles. I’m not a great one for fine china (as if that’s a surprise to anyone who reads this blog) and if there are two things I love it’s historical toilets and encaustic tiles. I’m not sure if they are still there, and the website doesn’t seem to say, so check before visiting if that’s where your interests lie. The Middleton Pottery offers a factory tour and Victorian office but also has a few wildlife and sustainability tips. It also has a derelict factory at the end of the street.

Finally, thinking we could miss the traffic on the way home, we set off, found another deficiency in the satnav and found ourselves passing the Dudson shop. I nearly carried on, but Julia thought she’d like to look round a shop full of odds and ends of hotel ware. So, U-turn and waste time as traffic builds up…

I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s actually got loads of great (brightly coloured) stuff and it’s cheap. It also had plenty of room for fat people and a cheery woman on the till. I bought more there than we bought anywhere else (as you will see when I start photographing food seriously). No tea room, but they do have a museum on another site. They are also in sight of the Moorcroft shop (I managed to keep her out of that one!) and just round the corner from the Moorcroft museum.

The Moorcroft Museum used to be free, and I see from the website that it still is, which I find an admirable quality in a museum. We will be going back to Dudson, and will doubtless fit a Moorcroft visit in, despite the fact I needed oxygen and a bank loan last time we went to the shop.

All that and we still managed to sneak home before the traffic built up too badly.

 

Wet, wet, wet

When we got to Sheffield we made sure Number Two son had groceries and then I hauled out the map to look for Wigtwizzle. It wasn’t there. It may be very small, it may be like Brigadoon, or it may only appear on maps that weren’t purchased from discount book shops. So we decided on Plan B and zipped up the M1 to Wakefield for an hour at Hampsons Garden Centre.

It was, as usual, over-staffed and manic, with a car park full of plants on trollies and a cafe full of staff impersonating zombies. Despite this the hot beef sandwiches were excellent, and we escaped after buying books, bird feeders, meal worms, pies and cheap tat. No plants – we are suffering from gardening overload. Despite the generally unwelcoming air in the cafe (including notices about not eating your own food and not abusing staff on pain of being reported to the police) it’s always a decent meal. I’d give it 4 stars as the home-made pies, occasional cheery service and reasonable prices (especially breakfast) make up for a lot.

After that it was off to the Peak District, where it started raining as we crossed the boundary into the National Park and continued until we arrived home. Sometimes it was so loud we had to turn the satnav up to hear directions. Yes, I hate it but I used it, as the route from Glossop to the bookshop was not exactly direct.

Waiting for a group of 20 Guides now so will finish with a few photos and continue later.

Just discovered that the Guides cancelled yesterday by email. We got back late and I didn’t check my mail. Am still going to go as I need to feed chickens and stop swearing.

Will be back later with a more positive attitude.