14 Dec 2011
13 Dec 2011
The true Scot's insider's guide to the very best Scotland has to offer.
Whether you live in Scotland or are visiting, why settle for anything second-rate when you can be guided to so much that is superb? Peter Irvine's personal guide points you towards the best places to stay (whatever your budget), the best beaches, the best ice-cream, the best hill walks, the best bakers, the best spooky places, the best seafood, the best places for kids, the best ceildhs, and so the list goes on.
|Scotland the Best|
5 Dec 2011
|Mapping the Railways|
2 Dec 2011
Since that day when I dug my first snow hole as a schoolboy in the Cairngorm Mountains, Scotland, I became absolutely fascinated by human survival. How human beings can survive in harsh climates, how lost explorers would travel for days without food and water. I avidly read and collected every account I could. This was easy because my father, as a history teacher, had a vast collection of old books, and amongst these were epic tales of survival at sea, in war and captivity.
Like the journey of the James Caird by Shackleton's Expedition from Antarctica to the Island of South Georgia - an incredible feat of seamanship. Had the 3 man crew not taken turns to chip away frozen lumps of sea water from the boat every few hours during the 24 hour trip, it would have sunk. There were other stories as well, for example, the Mutiny on the Bounty is well documented from the mutineers' standpoint, but the fact that Captain Bligh sailed 4000 miles without charts and instruments is incredible.
One key thing that I felt would complement these stories would be an accurate map of the journeys that these survivors made. Surely I was not the only person who was curious about where the young Lt Farrah Hockley actually escaped after the battle of the Imjin River, and how far he travelled on foot behind enemy lines? What route did he take? Why did he decide to abandon travelling at night?
And the famous Cockleshell Heroes - what aspects of their escape contributed to the survival of Blondie Hasler and Bill Sparks? Could it have been small details like the fact that they never looked at any of their sketch maps in public, but kept them concealed in the palms of their hands, memorizing portions of their journey so to a casual observer they would just seem to be local labourers going about their business?
So this idea of a book that “mapped out” these extreme survivals was born, indeed a book of maps of each amazing survival. It certainly was difficult to decide on which stories to include - we think we selected some of the most gripping accounts, both modern and historic, but only you, as the reader can judge.
A review of The Times Atlas of London from John Davies, writer for Sheetlines, the Journal of the Charles Close Society.
Lovers of London and maps have been treated to several excellent publications in recent times. Simon Foxall’s Mapping London and Peter Whitfield’s London: A life in maps have been particularly well received. Now Times Books has produced yet another treat with this magnificent volume, the latest title in the prestigious Times Atlas series.
Unlike Foxall’s and Whitfield’s books, this is indeed an atlas, with 1:65,000 maps of greater London and 1:10,000 street maps of inner London. But hardly an atlas for every day navigation – and certainly not one for carrying around. The large page size (12½ inches by 10 inches), heavy paper and substantial binding create a sturdy tome weighing some 2.5 kilos. But resting securely on the coffee-table, this is a book that will be referred to and pored over with delight for years to come.
The modern mapping is by Collins Bartholomew, another part of the HarperColllins empire, and, oddly, is the only less-than-totally-satisfactory feature of the book. Given the wealth of colour and detail on other pages, the outer London maps, in shades of pale grey, pale green and white, lack impact and, worse, lack any indication of terrain or land form.
The book is arranged in sections, starting with reproductions of famous historic maps such as Ogilby’s Britannia, Snow’s Cholera map, Booth’s Poverty map, Beck’s tube map and many others. London in Context, the next section, looks at the physical geography – with maps, old and new, charting such features as flood risk, geology and climate – and social and economic affairs, illustrated with statistics, photographs and charts. Successive sections deal with the growth of London, reproductions of historical views, a comprehensive chronology and a gazetteer of place-names and their meanings.
The main part of the book is organised geographically by borough, interspersed (slightly confusingly) with thematic features. Thus we get, for example, the sequence Croydon, Public transport, Ealing, Universities, Enfield, Roads and so on. However, the borough chapters are a delight, each a double-page spread with statistics and stories of famous residents, notable buildings and interesting events, lavishly illustrated with maps and photographs. Particularly fascinating are the series of ‘then and now’ maps and views.
A book such as this is inevitably out of date almost as soon as it appears, but care has been taken to include the very latest developments (such as Stratford City, opened just a week before publication date!) whilst a chapter on Future London describes buildings and transport links still to appear.
The Times Atlas of London, Times Books, 2011, 304 pages royal quarto, hardback in slip case, ISBN 978-0-00-743422-0, £50
1 Dec 2011
Know Your World with these accessible ebooks full of facts and stats, available on the Amazon Kindle store and iTunes.
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