The “get lost” game

Run this video clip and you’ll hear the essential soundtrack to our lives here in Great Britain:

Today the temperature hit 50 degrees and the sun was out. Ooh, what a little tease for spring that was! Especially because here in southern England the grass stays green and many of the hedges and plantings have green leaves. If you ignore the leafless trees it almost looks like it isn’t winter.

A day like this one demands an excursion, so I loaded up the Boyz and set out on what I have named the “get lost” game. Critical to this game is the SATNAV, a Garmin GPS navigator. As soon as Paul got here he noticed that many of his coworkers had one of these and swore by them. And he quickly learned that a SatNav is something you practically can’t live without over here. Because the roads are so narrow, so busy, so overcrowded with parked cars and delivery vehicles, tons of excessive “road furniture” and street signage and markings, and last but not least the roundabouts. It is difficult to impossible to find a place to pull over if you get lost, because there is almost never any shoulder on the roads, and in the country you can drive a long way before you even come to a side street or a driveway to turn around in. Also people drive excessively fast on these too-small roads. For all these reasons, following a map when you are the driver is really perilous. You need every bit of your concentration just to watch the road.

Enter the SatNav. I never thought about owning one of these in Boulder, but I LOVE having it here. It literally talks to you and tells you what turns to make, and which exit out of the roundabout to take. And you can check the map on the little screen for verification. The UK is a small country, and because of that you can pinpoint an address pretty accurately if you just know the postcode (zip code). Just type in that postcode and the SatNav will take you there. It is fantastic! It has enabled us to travel all over the country really easily. It’s pretty funny when you make a wrong turn but it will help you get back on the route. Plus there are plenty of stories of SatNav’s leading people to the wrong place, but so far that hasn’t happened to us.

Back to the “get lost” game. It is simply heading out for a drive on whatever roads and turnings look interesting. Stopping in villages or other places I happen upon. Then, when I’ve gone far enough, I just tell the SatNav to “Go Home”, and it will direct me home from where ever I am. Totally fun! Now that I’ve pretty much discovered most of the Big Sights within about an hour or so of our house, it is a fun way to maybe get lucky and stumble on some small place under the tourist radar.

Today I headed into the next county north (Buckinghamshire) to a ridge of hills called the Chilterns. There are supposedly some good long walking trails along the Chiltern ridge, that we will get around to hiking this spring when it gets warmer.
A pretty long view in the Chilterns

I stopped in the town of Beaconsfield and walked the Boyz around, which was another market town with a pretty church and this very cool-looking row of buildings:

I love wandering towns here especially when I see little old bits of crumbly architecture like the gate in this wall, above. Everything is tinted green with lichen and many structures have vines or other growing stuff on them too, which just adds to the aged charm. This is the sort of thing that I will not find in Colorado, and I am trying to soak up as much of it as I can while I’m here. (Though I will absolutely not miss the perpetual damp, which is responsible for that green tinge on everything!)

Above is an example of a very very typical town center I drove through today. I don’t recall the name of the town but it was built up a hill with the train station at the top. (A good example of all the “road furniture” to navigate, too.) The look of this little main shopping street is so very common in my area of Berkshire/Buckinghamshire. It is surprisingly hard to find distinctive or unusual architecture; it seems like every parish has used the exact same planning requirements for housing and retail. The really older buildings end up being what you watch out for.

Next sunny day I’ll be out on another Get Lost adventure!