We meet where?

Just three words, but it is an important question when we are organising a meeting-point for a walk or such.

On Lynne’s recent Sunday walk along the River Lea Navigation the instructions were to “Meet Stratford Station near cafe on ground floor”. So some of us met at the ground floor cafe within the station barriers, perhaps "near the Jubilee Line platforms", and others outside the barriers at theground floor cafe near "the stairs leading up to the bridge across to Westfield".

Maybe we should have said “Meet at O.S. Grid Reference TQ 38622 84388” rather than TQ 38627 84478. After all – as an outdoor group, with walking and hence map-reading being somewhat fundamental – that would have been a more appropriate and concise reference, wouldn’t it?

Well, of course, no. Some of us don't even have maps - and I know a lot of us can't really read them! I am not bad with maps and grid references, but to distinguish between those two cafes on a standard OS Landranger, 1:50 000 Series, map is on the edge of my capabilities. And if we’d used the International Latitude and Longtitude system – however precise it may be – we would have been advised to meet at – something like – 51º32´28.9´´N. 0º0´06.8´´W. I even had trouble finding the special characters for that, let alone trying to work it out on a map!

What about, though, “Meet at Stratford Station, at  “shapes.soft.grows” ? That would have saved some of us going to “hang.orbit.saving”. That would have got us all together pretty well right where the cafe is near the Jubilee Lines. At the very least, within a few metres.

This system – called “what3words” - can pinpoint a location to a 3m x 3m square. Anywhere. That’s pretty impressive. Increasingly, emergency services such as police, fire and ambulance are using the system to locate people trying to contact them. Epping Forest is also encouraging members of the public to use the system, to say where they are in the Forest if they have an issue. It is dependent on a mobile phone signal, though – but then an emergency call from the heart of the Forest is, anyway - and a G.P.S. signal.

The app is available for iOS as well as Android phones, is free, easy to download and easy to use. It incorporates an aerial view as well as a map view, so can be used for map-purposes as well.

I really do advise mobile phone users to download it. Hope to see you at dozen.cling.holly on a Thursday evening.

Paul Ferris. 19th September 2019

ps. I have just realied that three characters in a well-known play could have made use of this. I have just re-read the quote, and the suggestion is "Upon the heath". That's really not very explicit, is it?