Thursday, March 11, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I love Google Street View and have used it over and over to explore many places around the world at street level from my armchair. It's also been invaluable for getting previews of places I'm going to, even to the point of knowing what a new friends house looks like before I get there !

The UK now is pretty much covered by Street View, 96% road coverage I think, but part of the missing coverage were always large parts of Northern Ireland, the country of my birth and where I solidly spent the first 18 years of my life, returning often until 2003.

I went looking again the other day and was delighted to find that things had moved on and N.I. is mostly available for Street View access. Even my little home town of Ballymoney is well covered and I can zoom along the streets and roads that are still so familiar to me while sitting with a cool drink in my armchair in mid Florida.

Gotta love the internet.

Sadly the part of the famous Antrim Coast Road that goes past my old boarding school is still not available and I wonder why coverage just stopped so abruptly along a main road - maybe the camera van ran out of petrol ! Hopefully it will be available soon.

Anyway back to Ballymoney. My parents moved into their first real house there together just before I was born, a rented council house on the north west side of the town. That would've been around 1950 and as the house only changed hands when my mother died in 2003, it had been my "family home" for 53 years !

I've just travelled it's length via Street View and to be honest, when I got to our house, it brought a tear to my eye. The outside hasn't changed a bit since I last saw it back when I was over for mum's funeral and in fact it hasn't changed much since 1952 when it first became my home. Understandably, I just can't think of anyone else living there and all of my family would think the same.

As I headed back down the street, which for any years now has had a mix of council and private houses on it, I had a few major nostalgic moments. The tune of an ice cream van coming along the street will always take me back to my childhood as my brother and I would listen for it and then charge outside to join the small band of other eager kids lining up by the van to pick a cold treat on a warm summer's day. If the money was available and we'd been good, we could look forward to a 99, locally produced ice cream in a cone with a chocolate flake stuck into it. The awesome version in this photo would've been unknown to us and the stuff of dreams for a 10 year old.

As you can hopefully see from the interactive Street View image below, someone now owns an ice cream van on the street and actually parks it on his short driveway close to my old house. You may have to move the image to the left to see it. (X out the white address panel and move around inside the image using cursor keys).

What I would've given for that about 45 years ago !! A neighbour with an ice cream van business. OMG.


View Larger Map


Accessing Street View can be a 5 minute process if you just have a specific location you'd like to explore at the closest level possible or, as is usually the case with me, it becomes an all day process taking me to different streets, different towns, different countries.

Or as happened today, different memories.

3 comments:

punctuation said...

Yay!

Just checked and they've *finally* enabled Street View for Milton Keynes now too. They had to get legal clearance after a load of luddites blocked in the Street View driver and burnt crosses on Google's doorstep about invasion of privacy.

I can see my old offices and everything. My old apartment block appears to have been deemed too ugly to include on Street View - a wise choice. :-)

jay said...

I checked too, and there seems precious little street viewing going on around here. Poot.

I wanna see my house! I wanna see my road!!

Oh. Wait .. I can do that by walking outside, can't I? LOL!

I took a look at an old address in London, and it's all still there! I can see my lounge window! Yikes. Enough to make your skin crawl.

Katie said...

My mums village has been done too! Its great!

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