Friday, May 01, 2009

1 May: LOL

No, really, I laughed out loud.

One of the pleasures of a live bookshop, as opposed to an online one, is the small treasures that fall serendipitously into your hand while you're trying to find a worthy tome on, say, Red Tape Concerning Buying a House Abroad.

Thus it was that I chanced upon Mike Parker's "Map Addict", and, being one myself, had to have it. Very readable, informative, and highly amusing; I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in maps.

I was slightly surprised to find that a man so hooked on maps seems never to have become obsessed by orienteering (then he'd know why people turn the map round to point in the same direction as they're going) - is it too late for him to discover the delights of not only the competition but also the hours spent afterwards tracing the exact route taken on the map, and comparing it with the route that should have been taken?

In fact, now my mind is focused on maps, I have only to pick up the map of the 1993 British Orienteering Championships at Brown Clee to remember the echo features, the awful moorland, the boggy bits where the next control was, naturally, over that nasty hill up there; and read my notes on the back, and see that I came 65th out of a class of 70 (rather unfit after a year on the sick).

And the album of photographs from the walking holiday in the Auvergne, with all the maps of the area tucked inside the cover, unfold the sheets, and remember the heat that had us moving from one patch of shade to the next, the spots where we stopped to eat our lunch on different days, the little chapel in the woods, the wonderful place we stayed in Orcival, the politeness of strangers on the train, exactly where I tripped and fell, lacerating both knees and blacking my eye...

Even the family history research is peppered with maps, both old ones of the places where forebears lived, and current ones, to see how it's all changed. Like the family tree charts themselves, it's all so much easier to follow on a map. One of my own earliest memories is of poring over a map of the Festival of Britain site.

Beside the computer here is a small pile of new maps, preparation for the next holiday. The position of the cottage has been pinpointed, the terrain examined, routes for walks and bike rides discussed. What memories, joys and disasters will attach themselves to these sheets?


Granny J said...

I didn't realize that you, too, were a map freak! My delight is in the 7" topo quads produced by our US Geological Service, which guided me and the LH on many wonderful excursions in our Arizona mountain outback. We always felt naked if we didn't have a topo map on an outing.

stitchwort said...

Yes, the UK Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 for general use, and the 1:25,000 for walking. Then of course, there are the online maps, aerial photos that sometimes show your car parked outside - more hours wasted!