Are we nearly there yet? The plaintive cry I’m sure we’ve all heard (and probably said).
With modern-day sat-navs the answer to this can be given to the precise nano-second; when you had a series of Esso road maps, a compass which was originally in the heel of your shoe and an old London A-Z, those ETA predictions became harder to determine.
We struggled whenever we drove anywhere outside of Balham High Street – our A-Z was so old it only had Watling Street and Offa’s Dyke marked on the pages – if friends or relatives lived in Roman villas we’d get there, otherwise it was very hit and miss.
Travelling abroad was trickier – the countries were physically bigger; so, it seemed, were the road maps.
It’s tricky enough going round the Paris Périphérique, let alone trying to navigate it with a map larger than the windscreen in front of you flanked by irate Parisians. It’s no fun playing pub cricket driving through the Loire Valley either.
I thought, having begun to study map-reading preparing for Geography O-level, that I’d could be more useful. However, driving from Balham to Dawlish (not quite Paris to Dakar), my dad needed to know how to get to the A303; me pointing out, using my school Ordnance Survey map, slag heaps, narrow gauge railways and coppices, added several days to our journey.
Are we nearly there yet? No, but I think we’re near an area with non-coniferous trees. Handy for logs, but not if you want a cream tea.