23 Sep 2009

Beautiful Images of Obscure World Heritage Sites

Stunning images of twenty extraordinary UNESCO World Heritage Sites – which you have probably never heard of, are now on the Telegraph.co.uk Picture Galleries.

..Białowieża Forest, Belarus ..........Megalithic temples of Malta

These have been taken from our new Collins The World's Heritage book.

22 Sep 2009

Map of the Month Sep 09 - Great Polish Map of Scotland

Previous Maps of the Month have covered a wide range of forms and formats. There have been the standard paper maps from old atlases to present day orienteering maps, the now common-place digital maps displaying electronic data and just roads, the more unusual embroidery, marquetry and jigsaw maps as well as the literal wall map (as drawn in Roger’s kitchen). This time I have come across another new map format which I’ve put in the class of ‘large outdoor maps, visible from the air’.

The Map of the Month for September 2009 is
General Maczek’s Great Polish Map of Scotland, which lies in the grounds of Barony Castle Hotel, near Peebles.

General Maczek’s Great Polish Map of Scotland, image from MultiMap

During the Second World War, Barony Castle and grounds were in use by Polish military forces based in Scotland. They used an earlier, flat outdoor outline map (built 1940-41) to help plan the defence of the Scottish coastline, which was under threat of invasion. Deprived of Polish citizenship after the war, General Maczek spent his long years of exile in Scotland. The hotel later came into the hands of a member of the Polish community who had been billeted there in wartime. He was a great friend of the General, gave the Maczeks the use of a suite in the hotel, and set about restoring and enhancing some of its water features.

General Maczek had once been shown an impressive outdoor map of land and water in the Netherlands demonstrating the working of the waterways (which had been an obstacle to the Polish forces progress in 1944). This had inspired Maczek and his companions to create The Great Polish Map of Scotland as a permanent three-dimensional reminder of Scotland’s hospitality to his compatriots.

In 1975, the coastline and relief of Scotland were laid out by Kazimierz Trafas, a Polish student geographer-planner, based on existing Bartholomew Half-Inch map sheets. Engineering infrastructure was put in place to surround it with a sea of water and at the General’s request some of the main rivers were even arranged to flow from headwaters pumped into the mountains.

Panoramic photo by Adam Ward

Why a Map of the Month?
This very unusual and unique map of Scotland gives an incredible visual representation of the country’s topology. I’d never heard of it before and I suspect very few other people know about it either, it has the potential to become quite a tourist attraction.

After long years of dereliction, Roger Kelly and David Cameron instigated the creation of a group to restore the map to its original condition. The Great Map has recently been drained and cleared of undergrowth. This month (September) the group met at the hotel to discuss progress. They are contacting various people who have had some connection with it historically, and those who might be able to offer support.

For further details on the Restoration Group campaign see www.makers.org.uk/place/Maczek, contact Keith Burns coordinator and secretary for the project via the website.

The map is open to the public, within the grounds of the Barony Castle Hotel at Eddleston, near Peebles.
My thanks to James Barton for alerting me to this map and project and assistance with this post.

If you have any comments on this map and restoration project or know of any similar large open air mapping, let me know using the comment link below.

21 Sep 2009

Belfast Rat Race 2009 uses Collins Streetfinder mapping

I’ve just seen a Channel 4 program on the Belfast Rat Race 2009, where teams compete in and out of the streets of the city, facing a series of tough and offbeat challenges from athletics to white water rafting and ten-pin bowling.

The teams were using our latest Collins Belfast Streetfinder Colour Maps and Atlases to navigate around the city.

4oD (4 on demand) broadcast 20 Sep 09 of 8.05 am
Rat Race website Belfast 2009
Belfast Rat Race 2009 on You Tube

9 Sep 2009

Journey of a Lifetime: The Sinking Islands

Journalist, Dan Box was the 2009 winner of the BBC/Royal Geographical Society's annual competition for the best dream travel idea. His ‘Journey of a Lifetime’ took him to the Carteret islands in the South Pacific, where the inhabitants, faced with worsening environmental conditions are undergoing an organised relocation.

The low-lying islands (we use the traditional local name - Kilinailau islands), with a population of just over 1500 people are becoming more uninhabitable due to the rising sea level, storms and high tides (an estimate gives their submersion by 2015). The Papua New Guinea government have organised the mass evacuation to the nearby Bougainville Island.

Kilinailau (Carteret) Islands [centre] from the new Times Concise Atlas of the World

Listen to Dan’s personal take on the reality of climate change, via the BBC podcast, first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Fri 4 Sep 2009

Related links:
Kilinailau on Oceandots.com the island encyclopedia
Dan Box's Blog - Journey to the Sinking Lands
Tom Heap's on Radio 4: The Carteret Islands - Sharks In The Garden

8 Sep 2009

The £75,000 question: 'Which European Union capital city is furthest south?'

This morning a correspondent remarked on the correct answer given to this question on last night's BBC Two Eggheads quiz programme. The options were: Lisbon, Valletta or Nicosia.

Their right answer was Nicosia. The correspondent wasn’t convinced, so they looked up our Collins World Atlas (2008 edition) which stated that Valletta was the most southerly capital in Europe. It certainly provoked some discussion here in the office.

Portugal (Lisbon), Malta (Valletta) and Cyprus (Nicosia) are all EU members. However, we consider Cyprus geographically to be part of Asia due to its proximity to mainland Asia; it is closer to Turkey than to mainland Europe. The UN (geographical sub-regions) have Cyprus in Western Asia and the CIA (World Factbook) has it in the Middle East. Therefore, the correct answer depends on the specific question!

Question on
Eggheads BBC iPlayer (fast forward to 24 minutes).

See the
Collins World Atlas range at Amazon.

Elizabeth Donald, Information Editor, Collins Geo Newsroom.

4 Sep 2009

“You can’t beat a good map”

On BBC1’s New Tricks drama the other day, there is a scene where the main characters are trying to find a remote house in Kent. While driving along the dual carriageway the Sat Nav goes mad telling them to ‘turn right’, off the main road, but Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong) in the backseat is reading a map and shouting ‘left’. He gets them to the right location. Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman) completes the scene by saying "You can’t beat a good map".

And the map? A Collins Road Atlas of Britain of course.

To watch for yourself using the BBC iPlayer click on the link below:
New Tricks ‘Blood Is Thicker Than Water’ Thu 27 Aug 09 (fast forward to 52.30 minutes).

New Irish Times Desktop Atlas of the World

Published this week The Irish Times Desktop Atlas of the World is a complete world reference atlas in a convenient and easy to use format. An excellent world atlas for every day look-up at home or work - broad coverage at a great price.

This atlas provides essential reference information on Ireland and the World in a convenient and compact size.
As with the larger award winning Irish Times Universal Atlas of the World it offers great authority, outstanding quality and attention to detail.

• Irish section with detailed maps of each of the provinces
• Geographical reference section with flags, statistics and facts for the world’s states and territories
• Wide range of topics covered in the world facts and figures section
• Index to over 25,000 place names.

The Irish Times Desktop Atlas of the World Ireland Ulster pages (click to enlarge)

See also the multi award winning
Times Universal Atlas of the World