Several years ago, during the winter, I was trying to get back from Hull and many of the roads were so flooded they were impassable. It was just before this journey that we as a family decided to get a SatNav, thankfully before and not after! As I approached one road after another but still heading South, the roads were blocked so I had to divert and take another route, causing the SatNav to recalculate the route and we tried again. The total journey that usually took between 4-5 hours actually took 10 hours!
The SatNav managed to save me many hours on my business travels, but also on family holidays. As with most inanimate objects used by our family, SatNav was quickly given a name, Jane. We had many adventures with her, but a few have stuck with me - the ones that caused the most stress mostly!
I recall one particular holiday in Pembrokeshire with my wife, our youngest daughter and our German Shepherd Beulah. We found a beautiful beach, Cwm-Yr-Eglwys, and as it was quite late in the day, we decided to have Jane save the location as a ‘favourite’, meaning that no matter what angle we were approaching on another day, we would be able to find it again - perfect!
A few days later we decided to make a day of going to Cwm-Yr-Eglwys. As we were getting closer to the beach, Jane took us down a road that looked like a nice little shortcut through the pretty Welsh countryside. Living in rural Wiltshire, we were quite used to narrow lanes that usually open up into larger lanes, however I was a little concerned when we came across grass growing in the middle of the road. As we headed further along it, the trees got thicker overhead and the verges were closing in on us with rocks sticking out in places - not just soft grass and ferns! After coming so far, I decided it was best to keep going forwards slowly rather than risk attempting to reverse all the way back up to the main road.
The only way forward was for us to each open our windows, the road was too narrow to open the doors, and check a couple of feet ahead to see if the S Type would be able to move forward without causing damage. When I received the all clear, I moved the car another 2 feet, then we each checked again and continued until we were past that stretch.
The next hurdle was a hairpin bend which, when I was negotiating it we noticed some walkers who seemed to watch us with disbelief. As I continued to work my way round the bend so to speak, I called out to them that we were on a ‘Top Gear’ challenge!
Amazingly, we came across a house with a nice couple who told us the best form of transport in that area was, surprise surprise, boat or a very small car! They explained that Cwm-Yr-Eglwys was in fact not reachable on that road. It would come to a dead end just before the beach! Thankfully, before the dead end, there was a turning onto another road that would get us back to the main road and we could get to the beach on the original road we'd used a few days earlier. No need to reverse up that road!
We did eventually reach Cwm-Yr-Eglwys, which Beulah enjoyed enormously after being cooped up on the back seat of the Jaguar next to our daughter for a long time.
After many family holidays with a few similar, though not quite as bad, experiences and a German Shepherd, our S Type survived and has since been lovingly cleaned, polished and thoroughly vacuumed throughout. She is now enjoying her retirement as a wedding car!