Geograph Blog ::

Mission almost complete

By David Howard

Having begun my project to spread my presence as far and wide across the personal map early last year, I began with myriads (as you would), and then went for the compass points. The combination of very frequent stops (unavoidable in these cases) and a little economical car mean I can't eat up the motorway as I did in my ancient Proton, but potter around on the A roads (if I'm lucky) and get stuck at every non-bypassed town, from Luton TL0923 : View from Stockingstone Road, Luton by David Howard (never changes), Hertford (now found a way round the almost constant gridlock), Southend Arterial Road TQ7790 : The A127 going over the A1245 roundabout, North Benfleet by David Howard (that never used to be bad but another casualty of our overpopulation), St Albans (a river of traffic squeezed into a maze of capillaries) and the series of traffic lights known as Dunstable TL0221 : High Street South, Dunstable by David Howard. That meant theoretically simple journeys often took twice as long as the old days, and just allowed all day to complete wherever I was going, except when the major dual carriageway previously able to transport all motorised traffic designed for roads to Colchester in less than an hour from Ilford became a car park. Undaunted I had two more attempts to get to TM via Wickford TQ7493 : Roundabout on Golden Jubilee Way, Wickford by David Howard, the first thwarted by not purchasing a local map and turning off yards too early, and then finally mopped up all the adjoining myriads (TW is only a hypothesis as the south coast stops before it would have).

Since then I've managed around one per week into each new green space on the map, learning along the way the A10 is now permanently jammed as far as Broxbourne and to use the country roads to reach it just beyond. I've also satisfied my other photographic hobby as there are pre-Worboys road signs scattered around the countryside, such as this absolute classic in Pampisford TL4948 : Pre-Worboys road junction sign, Brewery Road, Pampisford by David Howard so as well as following the map have also fitted in wherever these happen to be, including a large set of direction signs around west Kent. I saw the road from Pampisford was a short run to Newmarket after getting the sign there, and a very nice easy one too, so got my first digital photos in Suffolk TL6161 : Welcome to Suffolk by David Howard as a result of going there, and also keep a note of my compass point records and that was my furthest north posted here. My last yawning gap was NW in SP quadrant, and that was pretty much only reachable by the motorway, one I used to use every week going back to London at weekends after working near Oxford. Those were the days of cheap petrol and insurance, and before someone made it into a Mazda sandwich while it was parked outside my house had a very nice two litre car which took it without really noticing I was moving. But being a motorway meant I got the whole way to Bourton on the Hill in much less time than Northampton SP7560 : Bridge Street at the junction of St Peter's Way by David Howard or Southend TQ8885 : Multi-storey car park by Queensway, Southend by David Howard simply as it was dual carriageway all the way from Hanger Lane to around Woodstock.

I always like to put a wiggle or blob in the line you get on a long road, but the caveat being (I would never use a satnav as I used to drive a van and know how to find anywhere in the British Isles using paper) without a large scale map of the area if I go too far off piste I may easily get lost and waste ages going round in circles regardless of the extra red squares. I usually get lost at least once per trip anyhow, with corresponding red islands, so try and avoid it happening on purpose. This time each town and village was too small to potter around and get a few more squares anyway, so instead because the road crossed Warwickshire SP2331 : The A44 on the Oxfordshire/Warwickshire border by David Howard for a few miles turned off on the way back for a mile or so just to add more as I put them in county sets on Flickr and wasn't expecting to go back there in the foreseeable future, and just turned out to be the complete diagonal of a single square so won't show up on the map.

Knowing Oxford was no longer a car friendly zone (last time I couldn't even see if there was a way from Summertown SP4910 : Sunderland Avenue, Wolvercote by David Howard to Headington SP5407 : London Road Headington by David Howard by taking the left turn at St Giles) so may well have got thoroughly stuck again (I'd never seen anything like it last year having lived there myself in the 80s for a short time) so didn't fall in the trap of 'just ducking into Woodstock Road and coming back along the High Street to add a few more squares there. You can always try a bit too hard and wreck an otherwise smooth journey. So now all compass points are complete. I then got six squares to complete my second hectad TQ18 yesterday, TQ1088 : St Lawrence Drive, Eastcote by David Howard and need seven to complete TQ28 TQ2980 : Shaftesbury Avenue at the junction of Denman Street by David Howard in a week or so, having suddenly realised I could avoid the congestion charge by going after it's ended for the day. I hope to get near Hastings next for the alternative reason of road signs, one I haven't got and one I have, but as in a corner I haven't yet covered will be just as useful even if it's mysteriously vanished on arrival. And soon the nights will be drawing in and I'll return (as I did today) to taking Hampstead Heath TQ2587 : Where the gardener keeps his tools by David Howard, Golders Green and Mill Hill until the next spring and see what ideas come to me between then. Mersea Island is an old haunt from childhood, and another corner not quite covered short of Colchester, and there's always another myriad. But not in 2012 I think.

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Fri, 24 Aug 2012 at 01:52
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