Saturday 7 March 2009

The Captain's Can-Nav

The Captain's Can-Nav
7th March 2009

I confess to being a late adopter of technology in nearly every field, preferring to wait and see which gizmo's and gadgets stand the test of time , and which are quickly consigned to the electrical equivalent of Room 101. This approach also saves me money because as a successful innovation becomes mainstream the price inevitably falls.

I have been holding out against Sat Nav because although I can see its obvious advantages (especially abroad), I have a very good pictorial memory and have always coped well with my trusty A-Z of Birmingham. Sure, sometimes I have to stop and figure out where I am but otherwise it's just an additional bit of technology to come to terms with, another thing to break down, another toy to be stolen and another amazing technical marvel which will let me down just when I need it most.

So, I still find myself navigating around Birmingham devoid of technical support with the only intervention from on high being answers to prayer. You will therefore often find me circling some Godforsaken Black Country industrial estate with only a vague idea of my location. But I have a secret weapon - the BCN.

The face of Birmingham may change from year to year but its feet are firmly planted on the unchanging layout of the BCN. If you look at a map of the area from 1800 and overlay it with the modern A-Z and the ribbons of blue are a perfect match, save the 60 miles of abandoned arms. Whilst my knowledge of my adopted city is far from encyclopedic, I have travelled virtually every mile of the city's canals. The waterways therefore give me a basic framework of the area and if I get lost I keep an eye out for a canal bridge or other watery landmarks and Bob's your uncle, I know where I am. Take yesterday for example. I was out doing some community work in Acocks Green and got lost on my way there. But It was OK, I had passed Waterlinks on the Digbeth Arm, the gas holders on the Saltley Cut were to my left oh, and there's Garrison Street - that must be beside Garrison Locks so I am heading in the right direction. I think you can see where I am going... And so it went on. I headed out of the City keeping the Grand Union to my right and on reaching Ackers Trust (who use the GU for canoeing) its only a mile or so till I take a left into the Wildlife Trust's Eco Gardens.

I don't suppose that there are too many people employing my Can Nav system, but it works for me. But what do I do in strange cities where there are no canal? That's easy - I borrow Belle's trusty Tom Tom!


D Baynham said...

The art of map reading is a dying thing. I love looking maps and working off them. Mrs EB always prefers a Map to Sat Nav, she had a free one come with her last phone and uses it rarely. I do like your BCNav ...

Andy Tidy said...

Thanks EB - it actually works (providing you are in a canalised area of course!)