Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Travels with TomTom

I like my Sat Nav system; it’s become a good friend while navigating me round France. I bought it in the UK before I came house hunting here and some people thought I was a bit crazy when I used it to go to the supermarket or on other local trips that I knew by heart. It was by using it for known journeys that made me aware that it wasn’t always right and that I also had to know where I was going so that I could check I’d keyed in the right place.

I’ve also begun to get to grips with some of its little quirks too; the turn right in 50 metres or occasionally turn left in 80 meters that it spurts out when it’s lost. It did that to me for the first time on a very windy road with a vertiginous drop on the right. Needless to say I didn’t follow the instruction. You also learn very quickly not to use ‘shortest route’ well not unless you really want to be sent along dead end roads, Ridgeway’s, twittens and fairy paths but the alternative ‘fastest route’ isn’t always the best option. It assumes that you will be travelling at the speed limit plus a half for the entire journey and therefore will route you via any motorway in a hundred kilometre radius of where you are. The result is a journey that adds kilometres after kilometres onto your journey (and fuel cost) and may only get you to your destination a few minutes earlier than if you’d gone by the direct route.

Over time, I’ve begun to work my way through the options and tried to gain some control over what is really a very simple algorithm used to calculate the route. I think I’ve just about got it now by using the limited speed option, somewhere around 60 – 70 kph for local routes and 80 kph for longer distances seems to give me a direct but generally fast route and I usually get there ahead of the arrival time it states as well.

So what got me thinking about the Sat Nav then, well as I said yesterday, I had to go back to Agen today and I really didn’t want to hammer up and down the main road dodging all the ‘convoy exceptionalles’ of boats and holiday chalets that storm up and down the road. This was the route it came up with, barely a car in sight and it took 50 mins instead of 45.

The car park was full as expected but there is usually a turnover of people so it didn’t take long to find a place and it’s free too. Outside the Ag dept was packed with cars today and just as last year there was a queue of farmers out the door all waiting to either deposit their documents or be seen by someone. It didn’t take too long to get through, around half an hour queuing and 20 minutes with one of the officials who went through what I’d prepared, measured out the relevant land areas and filled in the required forms for me. Most importantly she gave me the receipt for the submission showing that it had all been submitted before the deadline of Thursday. A successful morning.

The afternoon was spent starting to break up the ploughed vegetable area and the potager area. This was reasonably successful in parts but the waterlogged areas that gave problems when ploughing were still a problem with the cultivator. Unfortunately there are more thunderstorms forecast for this week so I don’t know when the soil will finally dry out. Still it’s beginning to look a bit more cultivated.

I then set off for the grass area that I eventually want to include as garden. I want to create a flower drift in the grass and someone suggested using the cultivator to brake up the soil. Well 2 passes later and I realised that it was a big mistake; it took about an hour to put all the sods back in place. The ground is broken up a bit so the seeds will go in tomorrow.

Last picture is the peony by the front of the house.


The Lehners in France said...

Hi Deborah. I'm really pleased you got to the Ag Dept and received your receipt. I bet you wouldn't have thought it possible 18 months ago. Well done! Debs x

dND said...

Hi Debs,

Thanks, I was beginning to fret over it but the people at the Ag Dept have been so helpful both years. I think it helped being able to explain in French, even if it was very simple French and I'd put stickies on the forms in French where I didn't understand, which meant I'd looked up some of the words I didn't know before.
I'm sure you find the same, if you make an effort in French, you get so much more help.

Breezy said...

So it was your go at the red tape too! You have obviously got the hang of it sorting things out in a morning