Our visit to Troyes led us to explore the area some more, having decided to stay an extra day or so. A key interest was the wooden churches that are a speciality of the area. It is heavily wooded so no surprise on one level but it seems the last ten churches and on chapel in all of France made of wood are right here. So we went to see and were enchanted by two of them. They are not old – late 6th and 17th centuries and some have been heavily rebuilt after the inevitable fires. The second we saw had added a d stone tower but the church was original. They look like typical black and white timbered Tubo9r f=houses – although usually in cream and brown around here. Very pretty outside but rather dull inside as they seem to cover the roof structure in with panelling. Sad since complex roofing is a joy to behold. Now seen our lake in toto including the inevitable sailing centre with marina. But no power is allowed so this is the haunt of real sailors and proper paddlers.
The next door lake is much more the reservoir that they really are – controlling the unruly Seine which flooded Paris right up to 1942 while virtually vanishing each autumn as it was drained by excess consumption. We have read more info boards and now know that each headwater of the Seine and its tributaries are provided with these reservoirs. All are huge, all restrain the winter rains but offset the summer drought. The water is also consumed of course. The Aubes set of lakes is the biggest but the Marne, the Seine itself and another of which I do not know the name all have huge capacity basins. Our lake is the Orient, next door is the Lac Du Temple -no reason given and it is more or less invisible behind its extensive dam structures. Huge and unused for leisure apart from a foot and cycle way around its entire girth.
It has been dull for two days and very cold again with the wind in the north. Just like home! Went to a local market on Sunday – one cheese stall very good. One lame veg stall not. That was it! France c'est mal?
But today was terrific and sadly I had agreed to a retail day in Troyes – or rather in Macarthurglen – one of three ludicrous 'factory outlet' centres which besmirch the fair city. We went to the biggest rip off of the lot, full of shops of brands I have never heard of selling good I do not want at prices I would not pay even if I could afford them. The stitching on a 1,100 euro leather jacket was markedly worse than the one in a Naf Naf (heard of them) for less than a quarter the price. A few did use fabrics that were visually unique and so probably worth the cash – if you liked them. Even Janet was not much moved and ended with a couple of items from Body Shop!
On the way home we visited a nice little village with a fantastic windmill on top of a significant hill – this is flat land so the views were disproportionately amazing. The mill is made of wood and rotates with a big stepped tail. It was re-built only in 2006, along with a sensational grange and further smaller barn. All amazing and set off by a brilliant little herb and medicaments garden with loads of clever touch, smell and see stuff. Loved it – sometimes the French excel themselves.
Bought little fishes for supper and wrecked the first tranche by not heating the Bahai hot enough. Second lot better. When will I learn.
Knock down day tomorrow ready for the off to Macon on Wednesday. Hope the site matches expectations – it is on the banks of the Saone, 20 k north of Macon.
A BTW about Tinkerbell. Sat Nav makes a mockery of the French language which is OK but it insists on using the names of roads rather than their numbers. She cannot pronounce anything well so we are constantly mishearing – in fact we realise we speak better French than she does and so are listening for FRENCH names. Wrong – we need to listen for very bad AMERICAN-FRENCH names. God example today was General somebody. In French it is printed and is on her map Ge(acute)ne(acute)eral. So Tink tries Gay-nay-eral. Fortunately we already knew which way to go. Later she failed again to warn us of a STOP junction – it just showed as a change of direction. Earlier she failed to do the same with the result that we detoured for about 20k!
I persevere because it saves Janet travelling with her head stuck in a heavy map on her lap. But....
Aha! I think I am now sure what is wrong with Tinkerbell and it may not extend to more expensive and therefore more sophisticated systems. Garmin may not be using actual maps to drive its system. Sound odd? Read on.
GPS may be a wonderful thing but in fact the satellite positioning is only the start of the story. All that does is let the device receiving the signals (three usually) to know where it is ON THE PLANET. The reason the Us decided to make the system free to users was simple – the users have to do all the hard work and it costs. And my making the service free the US taxpayer was less inclined to argue about the huge cost – this was after all a military system in the first instance.
Here is how it works. The device gets the signals and knows where it is. The software then compares this with the software data stored in the device – expensive programming. The data is in the form of 'maps' but maps come in many forms and how much detail they contain is highly variable and subject to high copyright costs. Now comes the risk/problem/danger. ONLY if the map contains information can the device tell you about it.
If you use, for reasons of cost, relatively inexpensive 'maps' they will be more like atlases, with limited detail and scale. When it come to towns then the detail reduces still further. So here is what can and does happen.
Tinkerbell tells us the route and may give us the road number. The road is subject to priority variations determined for traffic safety and management reasons. What looks like the 'main' road may not be. So we drive along for X kilometres and Tinks is silent. But twice we have to halt because ours is the minor road. Nothing fromTink. Then she tell us (driving on the right) to 'keep lefrt on the D43'. No we cannot because we are dricving on the right and this is actually a left turn across oncoming traffic. Again the system is blind to the priorities on the road. Then we arrive in our destination: 'Turn right at Rue de la Repulique' stumble Tink. No such road name is to be seen. We have been on the D43 and she said so. Now we are turning on trust. Our destination is not on the boards, and not on Tink's screen. We turn and she tell us to travel '9kilometres on Rue de la Republique'. Oh dear, I don't think so. The road is the D79 and not once do we see a sign telling us it is any sort of Rue. Suddenly she tells us to keep right on the D79. Hooray but hang on, its just a bend in the road not a junction.
I shall not go on but I shall be writing to Garmin and the AA/RAC. Because get this – if we had followed Tink's actual words to the letter we would almost certainly have collided with oncoming traffic at least once. Keep left when driving on the right is like keeping right while driving on the left in the UK – it doesn't work too well!