We have been successfully motoring around Britain for the last 15 months under the faithful guidance of our TomTom SatNav without which we would have been quite lost. It is very reassuring to know that when you enter a destination – and here in the UK just a postcode is all you need – that TomTom will take you there, even if, sometimes, it can be a bit of a magical mystery tour as it takes you diving off onto single track country lanes from which one wonders if one will ever emerge. Up until very recently the answer has always been, yes, despite seemingly impossible burrowings into the English countryside.
Finally, however, TomTom let us down on our recent trip in Devon and Cornwall. It was partly our own fault as there was a handmade sign saying no vehicle access to whatever place it was next on the route but so lulled into a strong sense of belief in the impossibility of failure by previous experience we boldly went where no Citroen C4 should be asked to go and ended up on a single track lane at an unfordable river with a steep mud track emerging from the other side leading into a forbidding wood. Thus was demonstrated that Black Swan routes do exist in the world of the TomTom. After much desperate reversing in very confined spaces we managed to backtrack and TomTom found us an alternative route with not much harm done.
That incident occurred between Bude and Tintagel. The following day we were on a spectacular coast road between Minnack and Mousehole – yes, there really is such a place but it is pronounced “mowsle” – when Kate suddenly exclaimed that there seemed to be a stone circle in a field by whose gate we had just sped. On turning back and stopping we found to our amazement that that was exactly what it was and that all there was to mark this Neolithic monument was a small marker stone at the gate. The English landscape has been deeply marked by human culture for millennia yet it seems extraordinary that one can still simply stumble across evidence of human culture of such ancient provenance embedded in a common and garden field.
The wind as usual was blowing really fiercely but it was well worth the quick stop to record such an unexpected monument to the human yearning for the unknown.