Archive for July 2nd, 2009

Finding my way round.

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

My sense of direction has never been very good. I’m good at reading a map though, and I don’t need to turn it upsidedown!

Science tells us that mens brains work differently from womens and the average man has better spacial awareness than the average woman. A man is usually capable of looking at a map and then holding a 3D image of it in his mind while he drives the journey without needing to consult the map again! I wish I skills like that! It would make travelling so much easier. I see a journey as a ribbon. Even though I’m turning left and right, the journey imprints itself on my memory in a long straight strip. That means that I have no idea which direction I’m travelling in.

Before a journey I study the map and make a list of the main towns that I want to go through together with the road numbers and which motorway exits I need. This works well until the signeage lets me down. Many times I’ve been following signs to a particular town when I come to a roundabout and find that town is completely missing from any of the signs. Which way do I go? In an area I’m not familliar with, I don’t know instantly while going round a roundabout which town is the right direction. It’s a nightmare. It’s hard not to panic and once I’ve taken the wrong direction I can quickly get lost.

Since I bought a satnav a couple of years ago journeys have been a lot easier and much more fun. Satnavs get a lot of bad press, but it’s not their fault, it’s the way people use them. It’s a tool to be used with intelligence. They are definately not infallible, and not to be followed blindly, otherwise you will end up in a narrow lane that you can’t turn round in.

I use mine as a moving map. I still have my list and my map on the front seat, and I put the satnav out of the way on the windscreen so that I can check it quickly if I need to. It will tell me the name of the road I’m on so that I always know that I’m going the right way, and on the notorious roundabouts that won’t tell me which exit to take, it’s invaluable because my journey is highlighted in purple. All I have to do is take a quick glance at the screen and it tells me which exit to take because it’s purple. It’s taken such a lot of stress out of journeys and enabled me to go to places that I’d never have had the confidence to try without it.

It’s brilliant locally too. If I’m visiting someone whose house I’ve never been to before, instead of asking for detailed directions as I used to, I just get the address and the postcode. The satnav will take me straight to the door! No more wandering up and down the road in the dark and rain looking for a house in a street where the residents don’t believe in numbers. It’s also invaluable when people leave me stranded – but that’s another story for another day!