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23 Dec 2013

Streets of sunshine

It’s amazing.  I can see the view Rita took every morning as she watched the great ships come in, go out, from the hill in Queenstown.  The countryside around north Wales is beautiful but as I cycled through – in the rain – there was no time to stop for pictures.  No problem – I can follow my route along the walled lanes and rousing bends on StreetView.  I’m still looking for a beautiful farm I saw for sale -  in a marvellous location.
Once you start you just can’t stop.  I found where my grandparents lived in Guildford – looks still the same, and tried to follow the walk we talk to the nearby park.  All those questions about places and I no longer need to drive there, or to ‘walk’ the route.  I can do it all on my tiny laptop.  I also checked out our old holiday cottage in Swanage, which I have to say looks a million times better.  It used to have tonnes of buddleia out front, which became one of my favourite plants, but it’s almost impossible to strip out.

I genuinely am amazed they’ve covered all the villages.  I wanted a photo – random I know – of where my prize Haine relative ran to from South Africa, having been the hardest to find ever on that branch.  This was in Marnhull in Dorset.  I ‘drove’ up and down the street looking for Anvil Cottage and found it (with the help of a local authority local plan).  You can zoom in on house numbers – though I don’t think you’re supposed to.

I was mooching around Bargoed which doesn’t look like one of the most deprived communities in the UK (well, that’s Aberbargoed across the way).  A couple of lads in trackie bottoms take pictures of the Googlebot.  Somebody waves at ‘me’ as I scour out our old Airey family grocery in Windermere (now with ugly red windows).  Then they wave into the camera, which is a bit less friendly.

I spent ages on geograph looking for photos of rural Crowan.  It’s a massive parish in Cornwall with several distinct settlements and our relatives lived near-ish to Leedstown.  With StreetView I can take hundreds of photos and follow the route to Pendarves Mill where Mary Rodda courted her husband (or vice versa).  I missed the public footpath that shows where her brother mined ‘Wheal Crowder’.  I wasn’t sure if I could plug in grid references into StreetView.

Moving into Camborne I saw a car reverse down the hill, and then continue reversing for half-a-mile.  I realised I was going the opposite way to the Googlebot and I was observing its rear-view mirror.
I think it’s like the culmination of the Doomsday project of 1986 which some imaginative schools held.  A supreme photographic archive of early 21st century Britain.  The very last thing I did was check out a county I’ve never visited – Norfolk and the two Ilketshalls where my son of Norfolk, Henry, later lived.  The church of St Lawrence rises splendidly above the fens.  What a shock for my Cornishman relative to come here to marry his bride.  Dull they may be, but our neighbours the Dutch gave us them for free.  And did you know smugglers reported worked the area (coming in off the Waveney at Bungay or Beccles).

I also like the way Google gives out both parish boundaries and postal boundaries on its regular maps.  The maps are not a patch on Ordnance Survey – with far too much tundra-like mass unaccounted for.

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