Sunday, 23 September 2012

Garmin develops bad attitude

I took a break from virus hunting yesterday to go for a walk. I found a lovely walk on The Chilterns AONB site and set off for Christmas Common in the van. The Garmin Sat Nav seemed confident it knew where it was and off we went.

This looks more viable in the photo than it did in real life
On the left is a picture of Hollandridge Lane. It is a restricted byway which runs for 3 miles between Stonor and Christmas Common. Incidentally, it is a Saxon sunken lane.

So I'm not saying it's not interesting. I'm just questioning whether it is really the most efficient route to Christmas Common in an ancient and tall campervan.

"Turn RIGHT on Hollandridge Lane" the Garmin said very firmly as we approached the Stonor  end of this rutted track.
I obediently put on my winker, but rebelled when I saw what it meant. "No!" I replied "It's a footpath!".
I now had no clue how to get Christmas Common. It soon became clear that the Garmin wasn't letting go of its original plan. It suggested I did a "sharp left" down other footpaths so we could bump through the woods and arrive again at the Stonor end of Hollandridge Lane, minus some bodywork.

After I refused several of these suggestions, the Garmin let go of the window and slumped face-first onto the dashboard. I am not making that up.

In the end, I just drove around for half an hour on proper roads till I saw a sign that said Christmas Common.

I would be prepared to overlook this, but it has happened before.

When I was in the Cotswolds, I naively followed the Garmin's instructions and turned into a lane so narrow that I held my breath for the full four miles. If I had met something coming the other way I would still be there. For one and half of those miles I had to herd a flock of mysterious flightless birds (kind of a cross between chickens and pheasants - anyone know what they were? They didn't seem very intelligent.) There obviously had been a motor vehicle down this lane before, probably a fellow Garmin owner. I know this because I passed four birds that had been run over. Squashed, they looked like those comic rubber chickens.

It seems to me that the Garmin only chooses ridiculous routes when you have annoyed it by going your own way earlier in the route. Yesterday, for example, it wanted me to start out on Henley Road. Locals will know that you don't go down Henley Road to get to the Watlington area. No, you go down the Peppard Road.

So I did, and I was punished for it. I am claiming that the Garmin is capable of huffing and being sarky.


  1. A friend on Facebook suggests that the mysterious flightless birds might be grouse. Now I've seen the picture I think so too.

  2. My suggestion is you leave the Garmin face down on the dashboard and invest in a Tom Tom. I have one and it has yet to let me down (except for that one time when it refused to acknowledge the existence of the Henley one way system) and John Lewis have them in their entire fleet of trucks and they need as reliable a system as they can get. On the other hand, for the adventurer, the Garmin sounds more fun !!!


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