Saturday, 16 November 2013


There are a lot of maps in this house.

For a start there's a magnetic map of the world in our hall with name magnets that we push around as friends and family go on travels like military planners. We really value friends who disappear to interesting destinations for months at a time for their magnet value. The small matter of not having them around to chat to matters not a jot in comparison. P and L who have spent the last five years in first Pakistan, then Zambia and now Burma get the gold star in this respect. We sponsor a child in South America solely for the benefit of that map really.

Then there are Eddie's beloved bus maps which wallpaper his room and are spread over his floor, doubling as Total Wipeout course obstacles when he's not studying their intricate poetry. As I type this I am readying myself for today's treat of travelling the entirety of the 102 whilst his brother is at a party. "I'm so excited!" says Eddie.

There is a substantial collection of books of maps too; both of the entirely practical variety- Pah I say to your Satellite Navigation Devices; I LIKE driving with an open book on my lap giving frantic glances down to where I should be going- and of the ancient and decorative. Basically, whenever I can't think of a present to buy the husband, which happens increasingly frequently as the years pass and I have given him everything, I buy him a mappy-type book. And it never fails to make him happy. He is happy with the mappy.

But best of all is this one which he has painted and is a work in progress on Bill's wall. It was supposed to be covered in 'things' by now. Alas an RSI-type collapse put a dramatic halt to is completion in the last few years but the husband's caterpillar slow recovery is marked by the new addition of St Basil's cathedral last week. The big red balls of the Total Wipeout course are set to adorn Argentina next...
Which brings me to 'Maps', a book of simply astonishing loveliness by Polish author/artists Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski and which formed part of Eddie's birthday book haul last month.

It's like Bill's wall but turned up to 11. Each double spread is devoted to a different country and crammed with illustrations incorporating not only the sights, but also the people, stories, food, animals and history of the place. All hand drawn with dizzying gorgeousness. It's LUSH this book is. Lush. Not a word I've used for a a good few years that but exactly what's required here. It's also big and thick papered and Proper. A coffee table book or rather in Eddie's case; a hot chocolate table book.

Just look at it-

See? SEE? Loveliness. (and excuse the photography which is extra specially poor today)

I like the 'facts' on the UK page which include 'The British are famous for their luxury cars' and 'Afternoon tea is a British tradition'. One rings truer to me than the other.

Have to admit it's the husband that has been appreciating this book even more than Eddie since it arrived; if in a slightly wistful I-would-like-to-be-fit-to-paint that way, poor lamb. But Eddie will get round to it. He's just rather hung up on another birthday book at the moment- his absolute best present that he would recommend to you ALL. It's the 2013 edition of 'The London Bus Guide- the routes, the buses, the garages, the companies' by Ken Carr.

I am fairly confident that it's 'Maps' you should be putting on your Christmas list though. Unless you prefer buses.

'Maps' by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski, published by Big Picture Press, isbn 978-1-84877-301-1


  1. Ah yes, this is a lovely book indeed. Stanfords is my idea of heaven. I have a particular thing for nautical maps (though I don't sail). Maybe it's the idea that I could be a pirate in an alternative world.

    1. pleasure of nautical maps in all they don't/can't show perhaps Pirate Zoe? Here be dragons...