Saturday, 26 September 2009

Yesterday, the tube station was so far away!

I soon realised the folly of not having any breakfast or lunch on a day when I was to embark on a small adventure with Radio 4's techie programme Click On and Jon Bryan of Retrieva and his dog Oscar the Cocker Spaniel. We were looking at a new GPS device for dogs.
First of all I had to find my way to the rendez-vous.
The exit at Highgate Tube.
First of all I couldn't find my London A-z, didn't have any pound coins for the parking machine, was running late, couldn't get a parking space near Woking Station in any case and there was a massive queue for rail tickets.
Then the train was late and packed so I had to stand up.
When I got to Highgate tube there were three exits to choose between, not one. I texted Peter the producer but he was obviously still underground so I plumped for exit one and at the top of the escalator realised it wouldn't let me back in again if I was wrong!
I had a look at a map on the wall of the station and decided that another of the exits would have been nearest the park, so I walked around to get back in exit 3 that was also an entrance and came out of exit number 2. I texted Peter the Producer to tell him where I was. I had already done a fair few hilly miles at this point.
Peter arrives and he's got a clever phone that shows him where he is and he thinks one of the other exits is better for the park. Jon and Oscar arrive and we set off again emerging from exit 3 and climbing up the hill past the first exit I'd come out of!
A brisk walk later we still aren't seeing the park that the BBC have paid for permission to record in. Eventually we see some park gates on the right and in we go.
Peter has concerns as he thinks the licence is for a different local authority to the one on the park notice board! He phones the park ranger as advertised on the board.
When he arrives he looks a little like Robin Hood, although he's on a little truck and wearing full camouflage gear and holding a walkie talkie.
We are definitely in the wrong park.
He will walk us to the right park.
The lone park ranger is incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about trees and he tells us that all the trees in his forest have GPS. We can see the BBC producer starting to wish he was doing a feature on the trees for his GPS item.
We don't really notice where he is leading us as we are all mesmerised by his story telling. Apparently Dick Turpin used to rob people in the very woods we were walking through.
We go through a gate and then over the road we see the correct park that Peter has permission to record in and our guide bids us farewell.
We start recording the item. I am given lovely Oscar and I have to walk off and hide with him.
I am feeling a bit weary so we walk a little way along the path until we're out of sight, I spy off-road to the left a clearing with some comfortable seats and decide that's a really great place to hide.
Peter starts walking along interviewing Jon about how he can track Oscar via his mobile phone. It's impressive stuff. I was given a collar to look at earlier and it's surprisingly light.
I see Jon talking to Peter with a big microphone and realise he's so deep in concentration he's not yet looking at his phone, guess they'd thought I was going to be walking a bit further for this test!
Oscar and I watch them go off into the distance and the little dog gives a sad little whine!
We wait.
Doesn't take long, and we see Jon and Peter coming back and we're soon discovered. How easy was that? Most people tracking a lost dog won't be being interviewed for Radio 4 at the same time!
So a few more sound bites and it's a wrap.
We retrace our steps and come out of the park. Left or right? We think it's right as the first park we entered was on the right hand side. We start walking but nothing much looks familiar. Peter now doesn't trust his phone sat nav as it hadn't found the right park earlier and as he had flown down from Glasgow that morning he had no local knowledge.
After a while we see a lady to ask.
"Are you lost?" she asks before we admit it.
We say we are looking for Highgate Tube.
"Oh dear, you're going the wrong way," she sympathises. "It's two stops on the bus in the other direction and it's all up hill."
Peter had earlier admitted he used to be a guide in the Alps. The bus is obviously for softies so off we hike.
Getting lost doing an item on GPS tracking was kind of ironic.
Oscar's collar did have a panic button on it though should any of us have lost it big time.
We made it home but find I still have the spare Retrieva collar in my handbag. I am tempted to set Jon the task of tracking my handbag to retrieve it, but will probably just post it back to him on Monday unless he'd like our serial fence jumper Tess to trial it.
We should have asked Oscar to take us back to the tube, dogs know this sort of stuff. Earlier in the day I had been totally unable to find a button to switch off my mobile while we were recording. I could make it go silent, but switch it off - I didn't have a clue.
If you think that's bad for being techo-rubbish. The day before I was sent a link for a survey that all those attending the Woman of the Year lunch were being asked to complete, (I know I'm as surprised as you that I got an invite!). Guess what, I couldn't make it work so emailed the organiser assuming the web site was broken.
Apparently I wasn't the only one.
Lots of us were baffled by it.
With some instructions it became obvious how it worked, but it did make me wonder if we needed to pass some sort of competency test before we got our posh lunches as I certainly wasn't feeling like Woman of the Year material and yesterday's performance wasn't great either!

Just got this email!
Hi Beverley
Great to meet you yesterday - an interesting but enjoyable few hours! I see from your blog that you have my spare collar! I did wonder if I had left it in the woods, but it tells me that your handbag was at Lat 51.3538695, Long -0.5575310 at 9.50am this morning! - I have attached an image which gives you the detail! (There is a feature on the collar that allows you to locate the collar once a day even if it is unlatched (and therefore switched off) as it would be a bit ironic to lose a tracking collar!)

I look forward to catching up again soon.
Kind regards


Julia said...

LOL! I find that funny - getting lost when you are reporting on a GPS system!

The system itself sounds good. I was wondering about it for Jez (when she decides she doesn't want to end her walk and runs off into the woods). Then I looked up the price. A little out my range unfortunately.

Chapstaff said...

Hilarious! PMSL! (I'm at that age you know)

Anonymous said...

I love that he can track your handbag/. Now THAT really would be useful - if you could put such a device on your car keys, so you'd never lose them; or your handbag, in case of theft; or your teenagers...

Anonymous said...

I got a RoamEO GPS Dog Tracking and Locator System and love it!

Mark said...

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