South London Photographer: taking photographs outside London

I like leaving London sometimes.  Gives me a chance to take photographs of different places and I take my camera everywhere with me.  Getting out of London can be tricky of course, but on my most recent journey getting back in was the problem.

Rather unhelpfully, there is something not quite right with my SATNAV. I say not quite right. What I mean is, I think my SATNAV is a psychopathic monster sent from Hades to confuse, torment and wreck my mind. Which is odd when you consider that a SATNAV is meant to guide you from A to B, prevent you from getting lost and save you the hassle of looking at maps while you’re driving, so in essence, keep you safe.

For a while, I thought it was just me being daft but I had a witness to the SATNAV’s murderous tendencies when it told me repeatedly to turn right as I drove up a dual carriageway. Had I listened to the digital voice in my car that time I would have driven through a crash barrier, across a stream of traffic coming the other way, over some pedestrianised paving – mowing down several innocent bystanders in the process – several times, and still not arrived at the place I was aiming for.

So, you may well ask why during half term I chose to rely on the faulty software once more (my own fault, I know – I need to do something about this). Heading out of London with too many Wotsits, digestive biscuits, bottles of Lucozade and some cursory apples to make us feel better about our less healthy travelling snacks was fine. There were really only a few moments where it told me to turn left or right in 100 meters only to say immediately afterwards, “turn left NOW”. So, I’m a lot of things but a fast and dangerous driver I am not, and there is no way I could have driven 100 meters within a second. Whether I turn or not the SATNAV frequently says “recalculating route” in as monotone and dispassionate a voice as you can imagine, and I can’t help but begin to hear the unspoken ‘Turn left now, NOW, NOW, like I told you, you stupid cow!’ or “Oh, OK, dumbass, I’ll recalculate once again, shall I?” Good grief, I wonder as I obediently swerve just in time or incorrectly as it turns out, twitching only ever so slightly, what on earth have I done to warrant this? (Not updated the software, indeedy, you may well say.)

On the way back from our little half-term break, the SATNAV took a pun-worthy turn for the worse. Sometimes it suggests an alternative route due to a ‘traffic event’. I’ve learnt to ignore these moments as it either doesn’t take us anywhere different even if I’ve said, OK, reroute us, or it guides us straight into an actual traffic event that we can’t escape from. So I’m not sure why the machine suggested we come off the road we were on and head into London along one of the most circuitous routes you can possibly imagine (little fingers perhaps) but it was during this most bizarre detour that I begun to believe that my SATNAV wasn’t just a little out of date but actually demented and that it may even hate me with all its little mechanical heart. Yes, you’re right, I hear you – it has no heart, of course.  “Turn left now, recalculating route, turn left now, recalculating route” – oh my god, we’ve just been here, haven’t we, again and again and again at one point….

As we went round and round and in and out of roads I have never been on nor hope to ever visit again I began to unravel. Our journey which should have taken 3 hours was getting longer and longer. My oldest passenger, just 10, fed up plus feeling slightly guilty perhaps for accepting the SATNAV’s alternative route suggestion began to hate me almost as much as the SATNAV does. I can’t quite remember why he yelled he never ever wanted to speak to me again, ever, and that he wished I were dead, but driving alongside him in the dark and in the pouring rain I began to see that I really, really, really need to do something about that SATNAV before we head out on our next journey. Otherwise I might be driven to a place of complete insanity. I mean, I just don’t want to share my travels with something that seems so determined to send me running down the motorway being chased by men or women (of course) in white coats, crushed Wotsits in my hair, gibbering about the SATNAV that my delusional mind has turned to Beelzebub.  Why does it hate me so much, I’d ask them plaintively. Why???

Anyway, we had a nice time away and I am sort of refreshed for the next half of the Spring term, I think, and I’m sure I’ll get over the sense of feeling utterly frazzled by our journey home. I will get that SATNAV sorted, because of course, it’s just madness not too, isn’t it? And I love to take photographs of places other than London so it would be a shame not to venture out of the city again soon.  Perhaps I should listen to Son No 1s pleas and just get the train next time.  Hope everyone else had a good half term and is raring and ready to go now that the kids are firmly ensconced back at school.  I’ll tell you all about the amazing Dede next week, whose 70th birthday party I photographed this weekend – she’s incredible!

Images (c)Sarah-Jane Field 2015

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I love taking photographs in the rain. Don’t let anyone tell you you shouldn’t or can’t – rain offers all sorts of possibilities like this shiny road and the pretty reflections. (c)Sarah-Jane Field 2015
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