Believe it or not, I almost always set my Garmin when going out from my cottage to anywhere but the most common destinations. There are a myriad of tiny roads around here going off in all directions. Many of my most usual destinations, typically Pubs in small villages, are saved in the Garmin.
But I am getting cocky, and Mr. Garmin is getting his revenge!
Usually there is one “Garmin” way. For those who don’t know Garmin, it is a stand-alone GPS system for cars without built-in navigation (SatNav in “English”). However, Mr. Garmin has some limitations in this land where the definition of “road” can be quite wide (or conversely, quite narrow). Mr. Garmin sees all roads as equals. True, you can set it to avoid highways, toll roads, ferries, etc. But you can’t set it to avoid dirt tracks, goat paths, foot paths, etc. If they are on some obscure English map, they are roads.
Actually, I have become quite enamored with some of these “other” roads. Sometimes turning off before or after the designated route takes you on a very pleasant and scenic back road that you otherwise might never have seen.
Tonight I decided on dinner at the Hare in Milton-under-Wychwood (aren’t these English names great?). Milton isn’t under anything. It’s right on top of the earth, like everything else. Go figure.
Anyway, the Hare has the best seafood in the area. So off we go.
I am expecting the turns (I have been there several times), but this time, Mr. Garmin unexpectedly says “turn right”. Ok, it’s a small road, but not a “single track”, yet. Shortly it becomes a single track. That means one lane wide, but traffic in both directions. If you meet an oncoming car, the guy going uphill is supposed to back down to the nearest wide spot and let the other guy by. The nearest wide spot can be 500 yards back! I am not sure what you do if the road is level, I guess you flash our lights at each other and pretend to be two angry stags until one backs down.
But, I am a veteran by now, so no worries. Then the pavement ends. Mr. Garmin says, “right turn in 3/4 mile”. It’s not too bad…. yet. Then it is too bad. I am dodging and weaving like an NFL halfback to avoid foot deep potholes. Even the gnomes can’t fill these (you have to have been reading my past blogs to get this reference). Only 3/4 of a mile to go!
Then the road starts to descend. Descent in England means only one thing…. water. Towns were built at the bottom of valleys because that’s where the river or stream ran. Why live on the hill and carry water up every day when you can live by the water source?
Mind you it hasn’t rained for two weeks (an English record?) so why be concerned? Over the hump and DOWN into the abyss. OK, I could see it was going to be rough, rutted and a little muddy. The Jag can handle it. One ford completed.
Oh, ONE ford? Yes, that was “baby ford”. The next one is still flowing with water, all the tire tracks look like they belong to Humvee’s or giant tractors, and I am at least a mile from the nearest road sign, forget about civilization!
A logical man would try a U turn. Except the “road” is 4’6″ wide and the car is 4″ wide. That does not make for an elegant three-point turn. What to do? Hunger and bravado win out. GO FOR IT! Put it in granny low, use your momentum, spin your Vredstiens, and…….ohhhh just make it out, with “xxxx” flying everywhere!
After that things gradually return to acceptable (dirt, then potholes, then 4’ of asphalt, then a road).
The monkfish is outstanding!
On the way home Mr. Garmin says to turn right on that same “road”. Mr. Garmin doesn’t know I have the ultimate weapon……the OFF button.
The pictures do not do justice to the mess. The mud was thick and sticky. The wheel wells all had a pound of mud. The calipers and suspension were coated, There was mud along the sides of the car, inside the rear bumper, everywhere. Our little garden hose worked and worked for half an hour. Suffice to say that the gemütlich induced by the monk fish and two glasses of pinot grigio was wasted. Fortunately tomorrow was going to be car wash day anyway before my departure to Amsterdam.