Tag Archive: GPS


It was a fine sunny morning that started innocently enough with us managing to get all packed up and the bikes loaded quite quickly. Things started to go wrong when I decided to finish off a pork chop left over from the BBQ the previous night. As I bit into it there was a load crack! I very soon realised that it wasn’t a bit of pork bone that I had crunched but that I had damaged my tooth. It felt a bit strange but I wasn’t in any real pain, so I kept my fingers crossed and just ignored it.

We said our goodbyes to Rob and Martina, who set off heading north, as they were intending to overnight in Sarlat in the Dordogne.

Sarah had been having problems with her bike to bike communications so before we set off I fitted a new Push To Talk (PTT) button to her bike which cured the problems. Unfortunately, by the time that we were ready to leave my tooth was hurting a fair bit so I had to resort to some pain killers before we got going.

Within half an hour it was so painful that my riding was being affected. I tried to tell Sarah over the Comms system that I needed to stop but got no reply. When I got a chance I rode alongside her and, after some good old fashioned sign language, she pulled over in the beautiful little village of Saint-Hilaire. It turned out that we had stopped outside the abbey where, in 1531, Benedictine monks had created a sparkling white wine called Blanquette de Limoux, long before the Champagne region became world renowned for their sparkling wine.

After a bit of digging I traced the Comms problem to a broken wire in the power lead  on Sarah’s bike, which I was fortunately able to repair.

Unfortunately by now though I was in agony with my tooth and asked at a nearby bar cafe where the local dentist was. They were very helpful and gave us directions, but when we eventually found the surgery it was shut. As we were not too far from the town of Limoux, we decided to look there for another dentist and found Sandrine RIBES surgery on the road into town. Luckily she was able to fit me in as an emergency at 4pm that day.

We went off and found a little hotel nearby called Les Arcades which was situated at one corner of the town square, La Place de la République. They had secure garage parking nearby where we were happy to leave the bikes and gear.

Sarah spoke with our travel insurers who confirmed that I was covered for emergency dental treatment and at the alloted time I presented myself for treatment. The dentist was very pleasant and told me that I had broken my tooth. She treated it and advised me that as there was some bruising beneath the tooth I would need to take some pain killers for three or four days. All for only 20 Euros.

After a walk around the town we went to a bar in La Place de la République and had an Irish Coffee for purely medicinal reasons.

The bar was full of pictures and framed photographs obviously taken in the town square outside the bar of lots of people in white clown make up and outfits. We found out that The Carnival of Limoux is an Audois festival which takes place in the Place de la République every weekend from mid-January to late March, and is characterized by bands in Pierrot costumes that are known as ‘les fécos’.

Fountain in La Place de La Republique

Art or Graffiti?

We went back to the hotel to discover that MIP the SatNav was dead and would not charge up. Ever hopeful, we left her plugged in and went to sleep hoping that she would be okay in the morning.

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It’s a funny old thing – Tony’s been looking into these magic gizmos that you can get that have a GPS built in, and they track your journey and automatically plot it on a map. Sounds like a great idea to keep folk updated with what we’re up to, but it really got me thinking… You see, I travelled quite a bit when I was younger – on and off for around 5 years in fact. Now this was only 20 years ago, but way back then in the Dark Ages, there wasn’t any GPS. There was no internet, or at least nothing in common usage, no mobile phones, no email, no twitter, facebook or any of that malarky. I travelled without a single electrical item in my luggage, unless you count my film-based point and shoot camera that ran on batteries. I sailed across the Atlantic in a 46 foot yacht, and we navigated by sextant for heavens sake (though that is something I’m rather proud of, it has to be said)! SatNav was around at the time, but we didn’t have it – the skipper thought he’d bought a SatNav system and swears it was in the wrong box, as when he tried to set it up it turned out to be Decca, a system that’s now redundant and at the time was only good for navigating around coastal regions. Not much good for an ocean crossing then. So, sextant it was. No batteries required. Except the ones in the rather nifty little calculator that meant I still didn’t need to master the art of log tables.

Back then I used to ‘phone home once every two or three months as it was a faff to do so, and was prohibitively expensive. On odd occasions I would write postcards and letters home, and if I had an idea of where my path was likely to take me (which most of the time I didn’t, except in a very general sense), folk from home could write to me care of a town’s poste restante – see article here if you have no idea what that is, as Tony didn’t!

Blimey how things have changed! Now the list includes such absolute essentials as the ubiquitous mobile phone, a laptop or netbook, digital stills camera, video camera, GPS, GPS tracking gizmo (which may or may not be needed as the cameras have GPS built in these days!), iPod, and possibly my electric toothbrush (I’m older and my teeth need more care, OK?!). Oh, and a hair trimmer for Tony so we can keep his under control (hair, that is!). I’m sure there’s more that we could add that I just haven’t thought of yet, and I’m a little concerned that our entire luggage is going to be taken up  with various chargers at this rate… Tent? Nah, no room for it, got to fit the speakers for the iPod in, sorry!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking all this, I actually think it’s all rather wonderful. After all, without it all, how would we be able to run this blog, and keep in touch with all you lovely people? It is a completely different world though, and my mind is just boggled with the sheer speed with which it has all changed. One of the things that I found most noticeable when I re-visited Sydney a few years ago was how every other place in Kings Cross (backpacker central) was an internet cafe. I suspect that’s changed again with the advent of netbooks, iPhones and wireless. Maybe it’s an age thing, does every generation reach a point when they’re awestruck by the speed at which things change?

Or maybe it’s just me…

Welcome to the Digital Age!