Geograph Blog ::

Working in the dark

By David Howard

2011 began my first year making Geograph trips. Prior to that it was either scenic views or pre-Worboys road signs, but as both were pretty much done to a reasonable distance besides random new arrivals I began working on my personal map. The long days allowed 50-60 mile trips, which normally take less time but if you stop to take photos every so often does spin them out a lot longer, but added a few extra myriads which completed the 2011 ideal mission target. When the clocks went back I went into withdrawal. As each week passed the distances possible shrunk, but not wanting to stop the addiction (I've collected all my life, from model cars and number plate spotting and coins to rocks and train tickets) I made a list of new red squares in the gaps between them for the dark months and so far been filling in a couple of times a week regardless, preferably on sunny days as adds half an hour to the available light.

I'm already straining in the stalls to get out further again. I've made a new list for 2012 and also crossing my fingers the work on the North Circular Road is finally complete then so I can get to Essex in less than an hour as I did till they made it unpassable and with the river Lea only being crossed a few times east of what used to be Middlesex all the other traffic joined me trying the few either side and doubled the journey time for all. It didn't stop me altogether (god forbid!) but just the distance extended east as all I did was use the slow traffic to take photos closer to home and give up and turn back as had to do the same thing all the way in the opposite direction again. Previously my local football team Barnet were relegated from the league, and as I prefer to watch league matches used the years they were down below to ground hop, and tried to visit as many as possible. I came home with a programme, souvenir from the team shop, and as only Brentford previously actually allowed cameras where I went regularly no photos except from Brentford. Otherwise I had a ring around London from Southend, Cambridge (although I took a few there already), Luton (I have been since as not that far from me), Oxford (also finally made it again), Wycombe (also been since), Reading and then south to Dulwich Hamlet (v Millwall, a pretty useful team at the time) and Crystal Palace. I also had a large saloon car at the time which ate up motorways at any gradient, and after it gave in after about 160,000 miles had to watch the pennies and buy something that gave 45mpg as petrol had doubled or more since I got the Proton. The new car is very comfortable but at 60 decides unless there's a slope it's pretty well had enough. One solution is my father likes long trips so often volunteers to take me in his car, meaning I am free to open the side window and shoot every time he stops at the lights. The number of hedges, garden walls and worst of all grass verges on A roads is quite embarrassing, especially if blurred, but will only use now if nothing else in the square. I don't like doing them but as long as in focus at least does represent exactly what every other driver will see from the car or someone walking past would without having to go there.

On the Streetviewing front, I can still find places they haven't, paths and the like especially, and unless they cover all of those on foot as well (which will take far longer than the cars) we are still way ahead, and also on most of the private roads they were banned from covering when asked for permission. Someone has a pre-Worboys sign on a level crossing here on a road they don't, and another on a footpath warning walkers of the overhead cables (unless they use giraffes then the 17' headroom is unlikely to be a concern, but the sign is there) and no one will ever find them trying to use Streetview.

I've also been surprised how many 2nd geographs remain north of London. Go south and even the fields seem to have a good number of images, but an A road in Herts or Middlesex often has one or two, including a good few T points to have. I just aim to get them within reach and the fringe of Herts is nearly all point territory, and the next aim is to get my first hectad, TQ 29, which I think needs about 15 around Enfield now to complete. That may be one which has an OS map on board although besides the traffic getting the whole corner in one go is probably almost impossible as the equivalent of a few hundred paper rounds. TQ 19 needs about 17 but a bit more remote or need to cross the river Colne, which on at least two occasions has halted me in my tracks as the only two bridges east of the centre of Watford (without going round the north part) were backed up for ages and gave up. Go north and it's fine as more spread out and suburban and not nearly as congested, but Oxhey or Croxley from the east are pretty much verboten nowadays. I will go sideways though, from Rickmansworth back to Croxley and then double back to Batchworth which is an easy route barring a jam somewhere heading towards Watford. I am also aiming to get to Ilford in the next few weeks, not just because I haven't but because I spent 15 years going there and back to my grandma while she was alive, and did the whole journey on video in 2002. The day was when you could get to Woodford in under half an hour from here on the North Circular and then free to head along Eastern Avenue at will till you ran out of steam. This time will be the south route we usually took as we took her home in the evening more often than not, and was an easy run back then, I also remember the blue pre-Worboys directions that were at many of the lights from Fortis Green to Blackhorse Road, and wish I'd taken photos of them while I could, but they were just the signs I'd never seen change until they gradually were removed, some not to be replaced at all. When I took to the roads in 1976 there was one each end of East End Road (A504) which were very useful to allow me to aim in the right directions, most of all the no right turn allowing me to use the middle lane (actually compelling, the left lane was to turn only, and still is). Before then I remember the huge yellow sign at Aylmer Road (A1) eastbound heading for my grandparents in Highgate on my mother's side, Holloway and The City straight on, local traffic to the right and various other places round the little one way triangle at the start of Archway Road. One still remains just off North Hill at a split junction going left and right, and still the original one in Muswell Hill a mile north. Having a photographic memory I can picture many of these scenes to some detail, plus the roundabout at the junction of the A1 and A406 at Henlys Corner which went in the late 60s. We moved from Kingsbury to East Finchley in 1965 and knew every single part of the North Circular from Southgate to Chiswick, and still use the west part every week now I've returned to Kingsbury (mainly a financial decision).

I have a few books of local photos from the 50s and 60s, and one of Staples Corner as it was, traffic lights and all the pre-Worboys signs including a yellow arrow to the North Circular Rd from the left. One still remains further along on the barrier, sadly covered by a new higher one which put it behind bars but still quite visible. That was a lucky break, but the one stuck to the back not covered by a barrier had fallen off long before I found it leaving an empty frame. I also found a photo of the parallel arrow on an old picture of the South Circular in Forest Hill. If only they'd had digital in the 70s I'd have taken many more photos back then no doubt including a few of the signs even by accident. I never did, I caught a good few new ones as you can't really help it and just one red triangle sign on my block so far in the background you can just see the symbol at a 4X enlargement. I also caught a blue direction on video also so far away it was illegible on the largest blowup possible in 2002, but that was it. I also only took two trips to get Routemaster photos, which by then had gone from the suburbs and had a terrible time finding anywhere closer in to catch many, I got a couple as near as they went in Willesden, and then stood in Notting Hill Gate and got plenty but all 94s as that's all there were. The 13 went to Golders Green but although I used to stand outside the station and film them going in and out a few times for some reason I forgot the still camera. I can get a few made from the video but have probably called in my favours from the film editor I know long since.

So the winter (not even officially here till the shortest day) has not clipped my wings altogether, but still pretty much ready for the long days again as I have a lot more ground to cover. But will be very happy to get to Ilford before then.

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Sat, 17 Dec 2011 at 01:17
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geotagged! TQ2197
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