This afternoon we ventured abroad, heading for a retail park in Plymouth at B’s request. Such a trip wasn’t quite what my romantic soul had imagined as our first joint expedition from our new home, but of course there are many practicalities to deal with at this time: B needed a different box to get the tv working properly; and we wanted to look at fridge/freezers and dishwashers – very essential kit on my list.
(A brief digression to introduce Dora. Dora is the sat nav. The sat nav figures so large in our lives at the moment that I feel she’s a part of the family and therefore ought to have a proper introduction.)
We knew roughly where the retail park was: head east and it’s off the A38 in Plymouth – about 20 miles. But from the start Dora instructed us to go in the opposite direction. I overruled her. We battled back and forth, she and I; she seemingly determined to take us west, then North, when Plymouth is directly to the east of us. Eventually B opted to go with her directions. We weren’t far from the county border by now, but we turned away and headed north, towards Tavistock – an area I knew quite well.
Then Dora took us off piste. The roads got smaller and narrower, steeper and more winding. Very pretty, but … why? Dora seemed determined to keep us away from the dual carriageway. We entered unknown territory, finding hamlets and settlements we’d never heard of. There was no reason to be here. The drive was very beautiful but the air was crackling with tension. Cross words were exchanged. I proclaimed I now had no interest in looking for white goods; B very gently suggested that he let me out of the car and said he’d come back for me when he’d collected his tv box. What did he think I was going to do for heaven knows how long – standing on a tiny lane in the back of beyond? I suspect he would never have found me again. I suspect that was part of his plan….
We arrived in Gunnislake, a place we knew. Totally exasperated, B gave up on Dora, and consulted the roadmap trying to establish where on earth we were in relation to where we wanted to be. B announced he was refusing to travel along any more byways. Back on a main road in Gunnislake, he turned west – retracing the miles we had just covered. But we could at least travel at a reasonable speed and B resolutely overruled Dora’s every command. And suddenly she relented: her estimated journey time went from sixty to fifteen minutes! Only then did we realise: Dora was set to avoid toll roads. For the sake of avoiding a £1.50 charge, she had been forcing us to give the main access into Plymouth a very wide berth and sending us off to use some insignificant bridge across the Tamar, miles to the north. We had travelled for more than twice as long as we needed to. On the plus side, B bought his tv box, we did some useful research for white goods, and we discovered how easy it is to get to the nearest major hospital. Mum & Dad will be delighted. I’m thinking of their anxious warning: “there are no hospitals in Cornwall”, and their helpful reminder: “you’re not getting any younger, you know”!
By the time we set off for home, via a more direct route and with Freesat box stashed in the boot, good humour was fully restored.