Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Vague ramblings of a distracted Surveyor!

Odds & Sods - the ideas which haven't (or haven't yet) evolved into blogs!


The Law of Diminshing Returns - Many months ago I started a list of possible blog subjects, and this was one of them.  Unfortunately I have no idea what this might have meant.  Clearly a moment of clarity, or inspiration, whilst waiting from my daughter to come out of ballet listening to the inane chatting of mothers waiting for their daughters.  However on Friday I was back sitting in the cloakroom listening to the chatter when inspiration hit again..... The law of diminishing returns - at what point will the level of detail you are providing out weigh the time spent in obtaining that information.  Case in point, we spent hours breaking out way into this site, and gained the grand total of 15 points - was it really worth it?  The client seemed impressed so I guess it was worth it, but in hindsight a level top and bottom would have given the same result - but you never know what you might find buried in undergrowth.


All in a name - having spent an excessive amount of time on construction sites over the years you hear a wide variety of terms to connect to different industries.  Carpenters generally respond to Chippie, Electricians are Sparkies, Bricklayers are the Brickies, Plasterers are Spreads.  Now I'm stumped any ideas for Plumbers, Engineers or Surveyors??  Try and kept it polite.


Then & Now - When I first started in this career a mobile phone was something the MD had but no one else could get close to, life was so much quieter and days were more productive.  Now everyone has a mobile phone, and are willing to use it far to easily.  I may be getting old but there was a time when you have to solve your own problems on site, now the first step is to phone the office!.....this might turn into a full on moaning blog one day about changes in the industry since my first day!  This idea only came as a result of a day in Petham (Canterbury) which appears to be a mobile phone black spot or heaven.

Surveyors Claim to Fame - Surely there must be more references to Surveyors in popular culture through the music, movies, TV & books.  I can think of only a few, and some of those are only passing moments:-


  1. The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill (Hugh Grant) - OK they were Cartographers but lets not split hairs here!  Haven't seem it myself though, but perhaps I should have!
  2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Harrison Ford) - There was even an earlier theodolite in the hands of Indiana Jones, but again not a Surveyor.
  3. Seven Years in Tibet (Brad Pitt) - Again that early theodolite was out again
  4. The English Patient (Ralph Finnes)
  5. Far & Away (Tom Cruise) - land prospecting in America
  6. The Great Escape (Nigel Stock) - Wouldn't have got far in that tunnel without one!
  7. The X-Files (David Duchovney) - Vague recollections of an episode from my youth, ok very vague!
I'm sure there are more films, but perhaps people could enlighten me!

Please stay in touch with R L Surveys though the wonders of social media at FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.  Alternatively we are always at the end of the phone line on 01233 800109.







Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Thames Path Challenge 2014


A bright crisp Saturday morning, and thousands of nutters are descending onto a small park just north of Putney Bridge, the reason..........they have all given up their weekend to walk, run or jog for charity.  Walking on behalf of the Alzheimers Society, in a moment of weakness I had signed up for the 100km (approximately 80km further than I had walked previously in any one go!).  In the months leading up to the event I had managed to build up my walking to 40km in one go (although never made it home without a lift - due to time not fatigue!), but this was a completely different scale!


We set off into the sunshine at 7:20 in the morning after the worlds most expensive taxi ride from Wandsworth to Putney Bridge (we must have been wearing our 'mug' look!).  The walk was going to take in some of the sights of London - obviously the Thames, but Kew Gardens, Hampton Court, Staines (ok might be stretch this a little now), Runnymede, & finally Henley-On-Thames (very steep High Street here!).  ALl this doe mean that people looking to sell their houses in Henley-On-Thames can say they are within walking distance of central London!


The Relief
The Anticipation
So what were the highs (& lows).  The biggest high was rounding the last corner to see the finish & a well deserved drink/sit down!  Although somewhat of an anticlimax as we were finishing at around 2am in the pitch dark so there was hardly anyone around, we had not really seen another walk for the best part of 2-3 hours at this time.  For the previous half hour the finish line had been in sight, but the menaders of the river had kept it just out of reach!  By far the lowest low was around 77km when ever part of the body ached, the blister on the feet we starting to appear, and sitting down was not an option!  Once sitting there was no chance of getting back up.  There was also the moment I walked into an electric fence in the dark to avoid climbing over a stile - that will serve me right!

The Reward
 Over the course of 100km (yes I know it only says 99.83km!!!) you rack up a fair few stats but the main one was 18hrs 58 mins 21secs of walking time in a 22 hour period is not bad going

What next?  Well that was almost a year ago now so time to start thinking about the next stupid thing to do!!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

15 Not Out

T1300 - Robust & reliable
Well Almost 15 Years not out!

28th June 1999 - my first day as a qualified Land Surveyor.  I was sent up to the Three Rivers Project in Staines with a Principle Surveyor and Assistant to learn the ropes, with all the kit crammed into an old Toyota Corolla plus the three of us we were off travelling round the M25 in the hammering rain, with the traffic getting heavier, and the rain unrelenting.  We never did get to site!

Cutting Edge at the time
29th June 1999 - my second day as a qualified Land Surveyor, back to Staines with some success this time, although the rain was still hammering down all day.  Spirits undampened I took to the role of setting up the instrument and logging the observations, recording the point code in my yellow book, head down hard at work.  I think we achieved the grand total of about 200 points all day which was probably not helped by me kicking the tripod at least twice and having to re-set up!

DOS!!!!!
Fifteen years is less than half my life (yes you'll be shocked to hear I am over 30), but a lot has changed in that time.  During my first years of surveying we only got a mobile phone if we were above a certain level of seniority, the Internet was very much in its infancy and certainly not a constant distraction at work. Instruments needed an Assistant to work, we couldn't log data very quickly, and the data we did log was just a mass of numbers with very limited ability to add information about the point.  Then once back in the office downloading took long enough to boil the kettle, make the tea and drink it!  We didn't have the wonders of colourful graphics (unless you count the black & blue of dos!).  It was a DOS based processing system comprising of typed commands to get the data into a workable format.  Even at this point we didn't know if the survey was going to work, or if you'd have half the road survey pointing the wrong way because you typed in your opening bearing wrong!

TS Series - All gizmos & gadgets
 Fast forward 15 years, and look where we are now, mobile phones are an essential (albeit annoying) part of every day life - we long for the day our site is down in valley away from mobile phone signal.
 The age of the Survey Assistant is fast dying as instruments are increasingly robotic for one man operation.  Instead of the 200 points in a day, we can now easily top 1500 points in full colour with a mass of information associated with every point, and a plan of the site as you go so you know the survey works before you even reach the office.  Transfer of data from the instrument takes seconds, and within minutes you can have a drawing of the site in front of you which is ready to be tidied and sent to the client!  But then why mess about on site coding points when you can laser scan and get the information in a 3D model of a building in seconds, and it is not just buildings the development of airborne UAV's and drones means you can scan the ground equally as quickly without even leaving the office!
UAV Drone for Aerial Scanning

Was it better 15 years ago, or will it be better in 15 years time......................

Check back in 15 years I might be able to pass comment.  Right now I'm off to watch Back to the Future see if I can work out how that capacitor works, and get the answers sooner!

Please stay in touch with R L Surveys though the wonders of social media at Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  Alternatively we are always at the end of the phone line on 01233 800109.