2010-01-19 51 0
Today's hashpoint was doubly convenient. Not only did it fall in a car-park at London's Stansted Airport, and was therefore probably accessible, but it was within a short distance of Benjw's first geohash, and within a few days of the first anniversary of that expedition. The opportunity was not to be missed!
Benjw -- by car, making a detour on the way home from work.
My list of things to do at work was agreeably short, and was laid to rest at about 1pm. My domestic list of things to do was much longer, but also more avoidable, so I went geohashing instead. However, I picked up a parcel and did some grocery shopping on the way, so it wasn't as if I avoided it completely.
Stansted Airport itself is easy to find; just a short trip down the motorway. The hashpoint was harder. First I tried driving along the road through the airport, which seemed to work -- I got within 500m of the hashpoint. I found somewhere I could leave the car for a while and ventured forth on foot, but didn't get very far. I came upon a tall fence with barbed wire on the top after a couple of hundred metres. Clearly, these are not just car-parks you can walk into and out of. So if the geohash is in a car-park, I am going to have to park in it. (Maybe even on it.)
I went back and found the car-park entrance. But wait -- next to that there was a "car-park customer service centre" (whatever that is) with free parking available. Splendid. I parked there and ventured forth on foot (again). I could have taken the car in and tried for a speed-racer geohash, but I'm too stingy.
These car-parks are not designed to be walked through either, let alone into and out of. Access for airport users is by bus -- you drive in, park your car and wait for a bus to transport you the half-mile to the airport. I ignored all that and walked. Various sections of the car-park had been shut off by traffic cones -- I guess this is off-season and for some reason they want everyone to park all together -- but the section I wanted was open and full of cars. Happily, there was a pedestrian walk-way through the middle of it which led me to within a couple of metres of the geohash. Ground zero itself was next to the rear end of a parked car, but not underneath one. Photos were taken.
I then started to walk back, but as I left that section of the car-park I noticed a sign displaying a 15 mph speed limit through the car-parks. This made me stop and think. Fifteen miles an hour is the pace of Roger Bannister's famous four-minute-mile, which is a bit quick for me. But then, I wouldn't need to run a mile, just a few meters through the hashpoint. Perhaps I could get the speed racer after all.
I went back and carefully checked. Good -- the car-park was full of cars, but empty of people. I walked a few tens of metres away. Quick check -- GPSr displaying "maximum speed" and reset to zero. On your marks... get set... Like a streak of greased lightning (well, lightning that's not very fit and doesn't like running) I zoomed through the hashpoint. Moment of truth -- what did the GPSr say? Hurrah -- a mighty (well, nearly) 25.9 km/h, which in old money is 16.2mph. I'd actually broken the speed limit, on foot. Now, the million-dollar question is... does that get me the speed racer achievement, or not?
After all that excitement, I walked back through the car-park to my car and put new coordinates into the GPSr. My first ever geohash was very near here, and as it was just over a year since that fateful day, I wanted to revisit. On I went... to 2009-01-15 51 0.
I haven't gone hashing much for ages, but if they're all like this I ought to go more often. This was fun.