What is there likely to be 15 to 50 of within thirty miles of me?
August 12, 2018 5:20 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a project in which I can visit all of the things in a category. For instance, all the libraries in my local area. I'd like to find out a bit about them, take pictures, maybe review them in some way. So far I can only think of libraries (fine, but would like some other ideas) and listed buildings, churches, and blue plaques, of all of which there are too many to make it practicable in the sort of timescale I'm thinking of (around a year).

Looking for things connected with social history, sociology, literature, art. Locations need to be reasonably accessible by public transport, so eg nature reserves are out. The thirty mile limit is not fixed, but that sort of area.

Might consider something needing some research up front, but want it to be a category that can definitively be closed off. So something like visiting the places associated with a particular person probably wouldn't work, whilst the addresses of all the people called Barbara in a particular parish in the 1911 census would (but would be likely to be dull).

I'm in the south-east of the UK, but not looking for something necessarily specific to my locality. Not National Trust or English Heritage sites, I've been to most of those locally already.
posted by paduasoy to Grab Bag (28 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite


Public swimming pools? Victorian (or older) baths, Art Deco venues, modern establishments, etc may be rich in social history and also architecturally interesting.
posted by sueinnyc at 5:36 AM on August 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Windmills? I did a quick search around where I live and it looks like there would be roughly the right number.
posted by bored_now_flay at 5:38 AM on August 12, 2018

Lighthouses? Not sure about distances.
posted by eirias at 5:43 AM on August 12, 2018

George V playing fields?
posted by StephenB at 5:48 AM on August 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Geocaches or letterboxes would work.
posted by bbqturtle at 6:09 AM on August 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Depending on your location, coal hole covers, ghost signs, or some other kind of street furniture.
posted by penguin pie at 6:28 AM on August 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, or Martello Towers.
posted by penguin pie at 6:31 AM on August 12, 2018

Fountains, bridges
posted by BibiRose at 6:32 AM on August 12, 2018

Playgrounds, water slides, amusement park/carnival rides
posted by samthemander at 7:23 AM on August 12, 2018

posted by nathaole at 7:53 AM on August 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Public clocks.
posted by moonmilk at 7:57 AM on August 12, 2018

Historical markers? In Texas there were an almighty ton of them, so that would be a very big project.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 8:53 AM on August 12, 2018

Sensory and accessible gardens? Accessible playgrounds?
posted by Soliloquy at 8:57 AM on August 12, 2018

Beaches and lakes?
posted by ellieBOA at 9:06 AM on August 12, 2018

I think you could work with subsets of some of the categories you felt were too broad.

So, instead of churches, try Gothic Revival churches, churches with pre-Cromwell stained glass, churches with Lych gates, or some other specific feature.

Instead of blue plaques, look for scientist blue plaques, or artist blue plaques, or author blue plaques.

Other ideas: Victorian town halls; pubs with a specific name;

Or instead of a geographic circle, do a linear route: all the locks and lock-keepers cottages along a particular stretch of canal, all the weirs or bridges along a particular stretch of river, all the tollhouses or old coaching inns along one of the older (pre-bypass) roads.
posted by Azara at 9:36 AM on August 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by Mouse Army at 10:50 AM on August 12, 2018

Maybe all places, or a thematic subset of places based on your interest, noted in the Domesday Book of 1088. This shows some which are close to Canterbury, for example. Lots of scope for doing some social historical research for each place.

(Perhaps less suitable given your interests, but: maybe ancient or heritage trees. SE Britain.
Tree Register
(joining looks like it gives you access to a database).
posted by Rumple at 11:01 AM on August 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I like to visit post offices in the small villages around my state. Some are in odd old buildings, they aren't usually very busy and I can buy stamps in order not to feel weird.
posted by Botanizer at 12:07 PM on August 12, 2018

Just for some slightly wacky inspiration: Joe Frank told a story on his radio show about a man who had to make long boring drives along the interstate and, to keep things interesting, undertook to steal a brownie from the countertop at every Howard Johnson's he passed.
posted by aws17576 at 3:48 PM on August 12, 2018

Community Gardens?
posted by fancyoats at 3:51 PM on August 12, 2018

All the train stations on a particular line. Easy to get to using public transport, trains play a huge social in town/city development, easy to check off a list...
posted by trialex at 10:46 PM on August 12, 2018

See what shows up on Wikipedia Nearby?
posted by yeahlikethat at 6:54 AM on August 13, 2018

Oh, I love the post office idea because you could buy and mail a postcard to your self from every post office, and end with a neat little record/collection of your trips.
posted by DSime at 8:34 AM on August 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

Public stairs?
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:27 PM on August 15, 2018

Local museums and archives. Conservatories.
posted by Enid Lareg at 2:10 PM on August 27, 2018

Thanks, everyone, for the answers. I'm still thinking about this. It's surprisingly difficult to find something with the right number of items within the distance I'm looking at. Either there are hundreds or only one or two.

At the moment my working list is:

* Trees - narrowed down to County Champion oaks, of which there are 20ish in my county. (From Rumple's second link - I joined the Tree Register to see their database.)
* George V Playing Fields.
* Telephone box book swaps (similar to Little Free Libraries, I think, but not registered as such).
* Quaker burial grounds, if I can find enough of them.
* town halls, possibly.
* may also look at narrowing down churches or chapels to a particular period or type, as Azara suggests.

Hope to make a start on expeditions tomorrow. Many thanks again.
posted by paduasoy at 2:02 PM on September 7, 2018

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