The Cottage Smallholder

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Hurray for Google Street View


Photo: Chelsea house

Photo: Chelsea house

When I heard that Google Street View had been updated to include 95% of the UK, I immediately fired up the computer. I spent the day visiting all the houses that I’ve lived in, the schools and colleges I’ve attended. I also took a virtual tour of the places where I have worked and the towns where I’ve lived.

It’s incredible how much extra one remembers just by looking at a photograph of a place. As Google Street View only goes on roads I was only able to see [art of the park where I played as a child.  There was the long grey path that we used to run along, late for school. There were the trees where we used to hang out with boys playing Dare Do Kiss or Promise.

I followed the road from Newton Abbot to my boarding school and glanced through the gate. Suddenly I was a teenager again. The road familiar yet forgotten.

I searched a long time looking for our house in Ascot.  There was the famous oak tree at the end of Kennel Drive – our house was just round the corner – second but one. Then I realised that it had been knocked down and replaced with a much bigger house. Our house had overlooked one of the Crown nursery gardens – a fascinating view – there was always something different going on. That had also gone and was now a housing estate. It was quite a shock to see how things had moved on. A whole part of my life had vanished.

I visited the houses where my parents had been born. And peered up at the windows of my very first flat – a large attic in Clapham. I flew on Google wings to Torquay to look at our old house there. This house was built in the 1930’s with high door handles that always made me feel very small. I used to climb over the back wall and race across the meadow into the soft silence of the pine woods – the perfect place for spy games. Would they still be there? Google satellite confirmed that they still existed.

It was a strange experience almost like being in a dream. I was an invisible time traveller but journeying in the present to see how the old places had changed.

I know that lots of people object to Google photographing their houses. I don’t mind at all. The photo above is Google’s of Smart Wife’s and Kind Husband’s Chelsea house where I lived for 6 years. They died years ago and the front door has been moved back but I’m sure that it’s their house. My flat was in the basement.

Why not give Google Street View a go. I can almost guarantee that you will be entertained.

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Jo

    Your comment is interesting especially in the light of today’s revelations re the SAS.

    You make some good points that I hadn’t really considered. I think that you are right about the military installations and the possibility of farm machinery thefts.

    I haven’t used it to travel abroad yet. Can’t wait to give that a go.

    Your thesis sounds fascinating.

    Hi Bobquail

    I’m all for nostalgic returns!

    Hello Brightsprite

    How disappointing ?

    Hi Lesley

    Great Idea. I’m going to try this with my mum (aged 90).

    Hello Matt

    What fun!

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