Are we, by any chance, lost?

With the traffic in and around London as heavy as anywhere else in the world, the field trip scheduled late last month by a school in Fareham, England, for 60 8- and 9-year-olds already figured to be a challenge. It was that, all right – and a whole lot more. They and their teachers were headed for Hampton Court Palace, home of legendary King Henry VIII, aboard two buses hired from Zenith Coach Travel, a local company. Eight hours later, they were back where they started – tired, hungry, and without having had a single peek at the place. Their only stops, as it turned out, were for a restroom break and so that one of the teachers could get off and buy a map. How could this have happened? Well, the drivers used the satellite navigation system but made the mistake of asking it to guide them simply to Hampton Court. The latter is an alley in the London borough of Islington not much wider than the buses – and 18 miles from their destination. Ultimately, the exasperated teachers ordered the party back to Fareham. Zenith Coach apologized, pledged a reimbursement, and offered another trip – for free. It also has ordered its drivers to go back to using maps.

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