Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Trig Points and Spot Heights

Actually, there is still another party I've not mentioned, mainly because I didn't go.  Bill got together with his friends from the Long Distance Walkers' Association at a pub in Gosforth.  It sounds like it was pretty informal, just a few pints and a quiz about trig points.  It seems one of the ladies in the LDWA collects the things - pictures of them anyhow.

Bill had to explain to me about trig points.  They are markers, generally concrete things on hills, that are used by surveyors to make maps (you know, those old fashioned paper things people used before GPS came along).  I've never seen one, but then I'm not fond of walking to the top of hills like loads of people here are.  I had to laugh that she collected these things (but I'm in awe at her fitness that she can). 

First I learned about 'train spotting' and then 'plane spotting' and now trig point collection.  Actually, it was quite useful to read the train spotting link, as I'd no idea that our local Tyne & Wear Metro prohibits all photography unless one has written permission from the operators, Nexus.  There are a number of photos on this blog that I took on the Metro.    You won't tell on me, will you? 

Although loads of children who grew up along side of Bill aspired to be train drivers, trainspotters are now spoken of in faintly derisory terms that include 'anoraks' ('nerds').  An anorak is the British term for those plastic jackets that in the US we would call 'windbreakers'.  Just you try using that term here in Britain; people will roll on the floor shrieking.  Back to train spotting, I've always found it fascinating how so many Brits can become obsessed with what seems mundane to most of us.  Mind, under that woolen hat his mother knitted, lurks a brain that knows the ins and outs of how a train works, the intricacies of the schedule and the track changes and probably the history of the invention of most things train-related. 

I've decided that growing up and living in a very small place, such as Britain is, it must seem more feasible to know everything there is to know about a subject, because one grows up in a place that is so finite that one can become quite intimate.  Another thing about these hobbies of course is that they don't have to cost much.   There is a sub-set of the population here that is not fighting to keep up with the Jones's, not buying the latest bling, not chasing the bigger and better job.  They are living quiet little lives of relative contentment and they have quirky little hobbies about which they are quite excited.  I've come to admire this.

Bill and I were walking about the other day and noticed a sad old ramshackle house had been sold; I'd never seen it was on offer.  I took all sort of photos of its shabbiness in hopes of eventually being able to share with you some 'after' photos as well.  Whilst waiting for me to finish, Bill spotted noticed a spot height on the stone wall across the road from the house.  A spot height is another surveying tool.  It is a measure of feet or meters above sea level and such marks also appear on maps.  When I googled this term, the top listing has to do with navigation in road rally driving, Bill's former hobby, so it's no surprise he knew about them.  Of course I took a photo to share with you, having learned something new.

Now, I'm world famous around these parts for being a terrible navigator.  I eventually get where I want to be, but rarely by the most direct route.  I'm still a north south east west kinda girl and Brits just don't think in those terms, so that skill is of limited use here where the road maps look like snarled yarn.  What I'm saying here is just because I took ONE photo of a spot height, it doesn't mean I'm going to collect them or navigate by them.  If I do, you'll be the first to know.

Besides that, I'm not nearly clever enough to come up with a quiz question like 'What is a fund's aspiration?'  Answer:  Hedgehope


Suburban Princess said...

Hmmm and I have been hoping to find a railway historian in the UK.

We did some trainspotting a few weeks ago...didn't find it all that enjoyable but then I wasn't hopped up on heroin. Or with Ewan McGregor.

Shelley said...

Oh Gosh - I think you just were waiting for a special train, not wanting to write down it's number or anything. No idea why the movie has the same name other than it's the total opposite sort of lifestyle???

Not interested in either sort of train spotting!!!

malcolm said...

The arrow head with a bar is called a bench mark usually given to two decimal places used by surveyors. A spot level is an elevation in the middle of a road marked on a map to the nearest metre. Just keeping you Yanks right

Shelley said...


I stand corrected. Re-reading this post I'm not sure it makes much sense anyhow...

Your sketches and paintings are great. Thanks for dropping in!