It’s been a weekend filled with local violence, the occasional threat against Cape Town schoolchildren, more of the usual disinformation and misinformation and more of the usual hyperbole and histrionics.

Unsurprisingly, social media has been a particularly unpleasant place to be, with a complete lack of tolerance throughout, and no willingness or effort to listen to anything that anyone on “the other side” has to say.
Ebola has nothing on the replies and threads that follow just about any article of comment on the situation in Israel and Gaza.

If there were such a thing as Biohazard Level 5, this would be it.

Reasonably, I wanted away from real life for a few minutes. I thought that I would find solace in the Daily Challenge on Geoguessr. And indeed, I seemed to have found it when I was unceremoniously – but happily – dumped in some semi-rural backwater in Pennsylvania. Peace. Tranquility. Half a world away from all those problems.

And then I turned myself around and found a glorious metaphor for the world at the moment:

Could it have been put any better? Sadly not.

Anyway, once we were done with that, I was popped into a forest in South East Latvia, which was much less telling about the general worldwide state of things.

And thus, much nicer.

Not a nerd. Well, not that much of a nerd.

Yeah. Halfway through the title, I realised that my opening line was going to be “Yes, I play Geoguessr…”, and that is quite a nerdy thing to do. So I had to add the second bit.
To be fair, I was going to follow it up with a “but”, but actually, it’s still quite a nerdy thing to do.

Not that I have a problem with that.

Nor do I have a problem with what follows, but it does rather put my nerdiness in perspective.

You see, I might be nerdy, but there are levels to nerdiness. In this case, there’s playing the game, there’s knowing some of the vagaries and giveaways for identifying which country you are in, there’s being aware that the roadside bollards might be one of those vagaries (you’ll find me here); then there’s identifying each design of each roadside bollard and assigning them a country, and finally(?) there’s knocking up vector images of each of the most common bollards for each country, making a 14-page long document and sharing it on Reddit.

No matter how much I play, and no matter how much I want to learn and win, I think it’s unlikely that I will ever take it to that level.

Although you never say never.

Perfect Detective

I’m back on Geoguessr, playing on a really enjoyable map with (allegedly, at least) just enough clues at your starting point to work out exactly where you are in the world. And yes, it’s just the right amount of a challenge to get me back into things after a bit of a break.

It’s still worth mentioning that sometimes, more clues aren’t exactly helpful. Initially, I was a little overloaded by this particular spot:

Although, I came right in the end:

And now I know all about Highway 278 and it’s (mostly) east-west route from South Carolina through to Arkansas. Especially this bit in back of beyondville, Alabama.
Will I ever use this information for anything useful? No. Probably not, but that’s not the point.

I’ve done the Brazilian/Peruvian border, a bit of St Petersburg (booooo!) and some downtown Tunis already this morning, and I’m having some fun and getting the old grey matter working a bit.

Happy memories

Just the other day, while happily playing the first round of my Geoguessr Daily Challenge, I got dropped here:

And while that won’t mean much to a lot (any?) of you, I was immediately transported back n years to my childhood, when my brother and I spent many happy hours playing under and around this little bridge.

It’s in Grenaby in the Isle of Man. My great auntie used to live in the old house right alongside the river: the one with the bright red Victorian postbox built into the hefty gatepost.

It’s a place that has since fallen into near ruin, but one which is regular photographed, commented upon and dreamt about on Isle of Man-based social media.

That boarded-up front window was Auntie Lorna’s front room, and when the window was there, it was invariably open all day, unless it was really wet and windy. A bird table fashioned from an old margarine tub and a branch from a nearby tree allowed for blue tits, great tits (I remember she had one called Zippy who would visit, so called because the black stripe up the front of his breast looked like a zip), robins and chaffinches to come a visit, and the latter would happily come inside and eat crumbs from your plate or hand.

And there would always be crumbs available, because Auntie Lorna would always have freshly homemade scones and fudge at the ready for any visitor, from the tiny kitchen at the back of the house.

Auntie Lorna loved nature. There was a story of her calling in the pest control guy to get rid of the rats (known as ‘long-tails’ on the island), and while the gentleman enjoyed a cup of tea in the front room, her feeding a shrew which had run onto her lap.

Often, while the adults were talking about important stuff inside, we’d get bored and head off to play in the Silverburn River that runs through the hamlet. Many happy hours were spent underneath the bridge, building dams, floating boats and – more often than not – overtopping our wellies, much to our mum’s dismay.

But we weren’t to be left out of the goodies. Regularly, Auntie Lorna would lower down a handkerchief-lined wicker basket from the bridge, full of treats for us to enjoy. Of course, she could have just called us the 20 metres up to the house, or walked down that gentle slope you see on the image above, but where’s the adventure in that for a couple of young boys?

Grenaby House is in the process of being sold (for somewhere around half a million quid, in case you are interested) and has planning permission granted for… well… for this:

I actually like it. It’s absolutely not in keeping with the surroundings, but it is mostly hidden behind the house, and I do get it. The place, such as it is (even after the necessary renovations) just isn’t suitable for modern living, and so it needs something added. And so we (and here I mean society, not us: I’m not selling it!) are left with the difficult choice of accepting a modern addition to an old family hideaway, or losing that hideaway completely and many of the special memories that go with it.

As with so many of the comments on social media: if I won the lottery, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. (And yes, I’d probably stick the extension on.) But even though I haven’t managed that just yet, I still have the many happy memories brought back by that Geoguessr round.

And 5,000 points, obviously. Bonus.

Photos: Sue Jones, Liz Lillis-Ingram, Bill Callow via Facebook

Day 607 – Duel Winner

Tried my first Duel on Geoguessr last night. Won it, thanks to a quick spot of a 0141 phone code on an Estate Agents sign in… well… in Glasgow, obviously.

You can kind of see the helpful sign on the right there, through my VICTORY! screen overlay.

I still haven’t quite worked out the rules of the Duel mode, but whoever gets closest to the mark seems to knock points off the other one until someone has none left. Ironically, you seem to start with 6000 points. Which is nice.
The timing is odd though: 15 seconds to make a guess sometimes, as long as you want on others. Weird.

Still, I’m all for more ways to play. Keeps what’s left of the brain going.