In the eye of the beholder
ScenicOrNot is a clever new game from mysociety. Random photos of England, Scotland and Wales are presented for rating on a scale of 1 to 10 according to their attractiveness. The photos, from geograph (itself, pretty compelling), cover 95% of the British Isles. Going by the ones I saw it's mostly shrubbery and a knacker's yard (above). It's all feeding into a secret project which will be revealed as soon as they have enough ratings - so get in there.
At first I found it difficult to judge the place, not the photograph. It quickly throws up all kinds of questions about what is 'scenic'. It's easy to judge what is conventionally beautiful (rolling hills, cute cottages) but harder to take a step back and rate something on whether or not it tickles your fancy. I find this whole thing fascinating - the way there's an accepted version of what's attractive. Our holidays often feel like hacking through the tourist board's view of what's important, to find the reality underneath.
Coincidentally, I was looking at a nice new Boring postcards blog (found in the excellent Boring Postcards Flickr group). It starts with this wonderful postcard of the Lyttleton Road Tunnel in New Zealand. I love this sort of thing - a reminder that these places were remarkable once and beautiful in their own way. You don't get curves like that in the countryside now, do you?