Thursday, 2 February 2012

Trig point


I love this crisp weather - or, in up to date parlance, 'I'm loving this crisp weather'. The view from our kitchen window this morning: Solsbury Hill. Yes, the same hill made famous by local resident, Peter Gabriel, who was credible right up until he claimed to see an eagle flying out of the night. Also in modern parlance, "SHU' UP!!!"

It was massive, Iron Age hill-forts like this one which the invading Romans had to overcome before they could get down to building the Baths, straightening and mettling roads, plus all the other little day to day details which made our lives so much more bearable than it was before they arrived and pummelled us into submission. 'What have the Romans done for us?' Well....

A friend of mine took his girlfriend up there last weekend, and asked me if I knew what the funny, obelisk-shaped lump of concrete with a metal mount set into the top of it was on it's highest point. He's about 12 years younger than me, so I suppose he can be forgiven for not knowing. "It's an O.S. trig-point" I told him. You can guess what the next question was.

Just about every useful thing that has been invented in the last 150 years has been designed for military use, and trig-points are no exception. This computer was designed for military use, as was the internet which supports it. That hill-fort was designed for military use as well, but not as well designed as the Roman machine which overcame it.

All the best invaders have good intelligence, and the best intelligence often involves accurate maps. O.S. stands for Ordnance Survey, and the reason for the topographical surveys was so that artillery could be aimed more accurately, and these concrete mounts on the high points of hills were to put theodolites on to take triangulated readings from another two points within sighting distance. (Stop me if you know all this).

It's always best to get as high as you can to find out where you are going, and before aircraft were invented, hills were the highest. You can't get much higher than the window of an orbiting satellite, so now these posts are pretty much useless and O.S. maps are used by retired ramblers more than anyone else. I use O.S. maps for armchair exploration - don't you love doing that? I use Google Earth for flying too - don't you love doing that as well? These days, I use Google Streets for spying on myself and others - don't you love doing that too?

Alright, Peter, you could see the city lights, but from thereon after I don't believe you. It must have been a buzzard.



21 comments:

  1. I'm loving this post, Tom, but how do you spy on yourself? Is it that you like to look back with nostalgia once in a while on your streetscape the day the Google car came round? Oh look, there's Mrs Blake's car with the numberplate blanked out! And is that a glimpse of no. 7's dustbin?!? That sort of thing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I was the bloke who saw the Google camera-car coming down the street and dropped his trousers in time to have his bare arse hanging out of the window for all the world to see in perpetuity - that's quick thinking with advanced intelligence!

      Delete
  2. Well Tom, I thought the view from my kitchen window was brilliant but if I had that view I would never get the washing up done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had to lean out and use a 30x zoom to see it, Weaver, but I still don't get the washing up done.

      Delete
  3. A nearby friend had an erstwhile Gabriel type visitor recently. He arrived complete with bird book, and ticked off all the birds he's 'spotted'. My friend noticed he'd included a Golden Eagle; we don't have Golden Eagles here. Just another Buzzard.

    Why is it that the non-bird-watchers, need to explain to the bird-watchers, which birds are what!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think Mr Gabriel was using 'poetic license', Cro.

      Delete
  4. I'm one of the nosy google map viewers. I've been passed by the Google camera car in two different countries, but I'm still waiting to see myself online. I did think that I spied you walking down a side street in Bath, but I must have gotten ahead of myself. You were probably safely at home, contemplaiting the washing up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am on goodle map,( in the field) my mother in law has been captured in her front garden and my brother in law can be seen outside his shop!

      Delete
    2. Is your arse hanging out of a window, John? (Same goes for mother in law and B.I.L)

      Delete
  5. I AM lovin the view from your kitchen window! who knew?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. who knew you had a view....but I guess you were stretching.

      Delete
  6. Replies
    1. You should se the Google Street view from the hill, Suzanne - you can just make out my bare arse hanging out of the window, with 30x zoom.

      Delete
    2. I ve just had a look
      I think I will go straight

      Delete
    3. your arse has sent me straight!

      Delete
    4. Thank God for that - I thought you were coming straight round to our compact but adorable city apartment.

      Delete
  7. I've just posted a photo (15x zoom) taken whilst leaning out of our back window at an angle of 80%, just in case anyone gets the idea I am living in a rural idyl.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Where is the photo of said "arse"?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Framed, and hanging over John's fire-place Iris.

      Delete