Travels with Satnav


As part of my birthday present, Hannah bought me a satnav. I had thought it would be a good idea with the upcoming trip to Dublin. The model acquired at the beginning of August was a Garmin C550.

I had decided to give it a real go by making the drive to Holyhead, for the ferry, cross-country, not using motorways. This rather foxed the unit, even chosing to avoid highways came up with a route that used the M6 for the first part of our journey to a village near Much Wenlock, where we stayed overnight on the Saturday. Therefore the route we used came from Google Maps, and we had repeated calls from the satnav saying “recalculating” as we deviated from its route. We stuck with our pre-printed plan until near Kidderminster, when I caved in and decided to follow the satnav. It took us a very scenic route along B-roads through some impressive Shropshire towns to Much Wenlock. Once there I took a wrong turn, and was astonished to see the new route it calculated take 20 minutes longer than the previous (when we were 5 minutes from our destination). In an effort to avoid highways and U-turns the unit had come up with an enormous circuit to get to the B&B. A U-turn sorted that out!

The second day’s trip was more straightforward as the only route from our overnight B&B to Holyhead is along the historic A5 through Snowdonia. The scenery was impressive, the occasional traffic-jam frustrating, and slow drivers annoying. We got to the ferry in plenty of time anyway.

The first real engagement for the satnav was to get us from the port of Dun Laighoire to the hotel. On paper this seems simple, out of Dun Laighoire to the M50 Dublin bypass, then onto the N4, and pop off that into Leixlip where the hotel was. As I’d foolishly left the satnav on ‘shortest route’ it instead took us through Dublin. Oops. A nice sightseeing tour, though.

Further use was made of the satnav to visit Aidy’s flat and for the trips in and out of Dublin. Unfortunately the traffic info updates for the unit don’t have data from Ireland, so it couldn’t avoid the gridlock of Dublin.

I was finding a few problems with making the right turn. I often missed it. I eventually worked out this was because of they way the screen zooms in as you approach the junction, which meant it seemed further away that it really was, unless you paid attention to the zoom function. I think I had got the hang of it now. It is useful that it does this. One other mishap was on that turn in Much Wenlock, when I though ‘she’ (the female voice of the satnav) said ‘turn left to A458’. In fact, I think what she did say was ‘turn left to road to A458’. So I was looking for a large junction onto a main road, but in fact it was a left turn onto a small road that would lead to the A458. Ouch.

The trips across England back again and around Lincolnshire were large okay. The satnav navigated us off the M1 on the way home to avoid a traffic jam around Luton. This did mean some interesting roads through the middle of the conurbations of Buckinghamshire, but we didn’t get stuck in a jam for ages.

All-in-all, it got us wherever we were going. I didn’t have an arguement with Hannah over directions. So it did its job, even though I kept misunderstanding.

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