Google has opened up its mapping software for certain areas. It can be a little clunky at times (the list of edits I've made isn't exhaustive, if something is awaiting moderation it cannot be tweaked easily and so on). It's not always clear what the road classifications are supposed to be - but I'm working on the basis that if I put in a best guess, it can always be tweaked if not quite right. Nevertheless, it can be fun, as well as useful (I've been mapping Iceland, I've done a lake, Klerfarvatn, a glacier, and lots of roads concentrating around the Blue Lagoon and Grindav&iaciute;k in the south west). Some of my changes have been accepted immediately, some depend on other changes, and so are pending, and some are in moderation awaiting checking.

Maps are currently editable in a few areas, probably selected for the lack of existing map features, so if the mapping experiment fails, google can delete the mapping info and be back to where they started.

The areas editable right now are: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Grenada, Iceland, Jamaica, Netherlands Antilles, Pakistan, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Vietnam.

Even changes which are approved take a little while to be rendered and appear on the maps - this is especially true for some large features.

Visited Countries

I've updated my visted countries maps, and they look like this (with Germany and Austria being only fleeting):

County map
I've visited the counties in yellow.
Which counties have you visited?

made by marnanel
map reproduced from Ordnance Survey map data
by permission of the Ordnance Survey.
© Crown copyright 2001.

On the UK map, much is to be taken with a pinch of salt, it's very easy to go between UK counties! I've only been to Scotland once, and that was fleeting. I've been to most counties in Wales (if not all), but am making best guess, and I really can't recall the southwest of Wales, the rest is on a 'best guess' basis. The nearer to London, the more sure I can be of the counties actually visited. I tried to tick only for actually setting for in the counties, rather than setting wheel - so I can't be sure of Rutland, and can't recall going to Norfolk at all (though I think I was taken to the Broads once, I have no memory of it).

EU map
create your personalized map of europe

US map
create your own visited states map

World Map
create your own visited countries map

GPS and Michelangelo

Yesterday I acquired a GPS from Amazon, and I decided to go into London. I wanted to see the Michelangelo exhibition, and test the GPS at the same time. I walked around home a bit to check all was well, and then I headed off for the train. Unfortunately there is no way to get the GPS signals in the train, and so as soon as I left Waterloo station I switched the thing on and found my satellites.

I started to walk.

It's rather magical really, a moving display of where you are. My GPS is quite a basic unit (I don't want, or need, the full screen maps as I'm moving - it's a supplement, not a replacement - and besides, that would have made it much more expensive!). On the resulting tracklog there are a few places where the signal was lost and so when plotting the software made approximations, so there is the odd corner cut off and so forth (I was walking in London, remember - tall buildings everywhere, it's amazing, I think, that the log is so good!)

First GPS trial map

I walked up to the London Eye, and then to Trafalgar square, and on up Charing Cross Road to the British Museum.

I tend to go to the British Museum a few times each year, and so I decided today to become a friend of the museum, and I joined them.

I got a Michelangelo exhibition for just before 5pm.

During the day I went around the museum and did some sketching - some reasonable, some not - none what one might see as 'good' on an objective scale, but I enjoy it. I drew Parvati, the consort of Shiva, a drew one of the Parthenon sculptures, 'a blind contour' drawing of a Cypriot chappy, and a 'straight' drawing of him. These should appear on flickr when I get a round tuit. I also did a bit of peoplewatching - I'm not as happy with the sketches that resulted as I was last time I did this, everybody kept moving - it was a conspiracy!

The Michelangelo exhibition was pretty good - some of the drawings are incredible, they're so detailed and he makes them look so effortless. I found that even close up, when you can see the individual pencil marks, each one was just right. The place was absolutely packed though - the British museum do a timed entry system to minimise the crowding, but it's still quite busy. I'd guess a very early ticket would be best.

On the way back, I walked down Shaftesbury avenue, Haymarket and across Westminster Bridge.

This data was put onto a map using OziExplorer, which also outputs data in a Google Earth friendly manner.


I've been playing with a mapping website called 'frappr'. Essentially the idea is that people can add themselves to a map - the maps might be groups of friends, groups of people who like bunnies, or anything. Out of curiousity, I made a map for people who read this site (the map is here.

If you're not on the current map view, you can scroll the map around, and zoom the map as appropriate.


(I've also found - which looks very useful).

Where I have been

Playing with the 'where have I been' maps (click through to make your own).

In the world, I have been to the UK (obviously), France, Spain, Andorra, USA, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands; I have skipped through Austria and Germany. I have been to Portugal too, but cannot really remember it, so it does not count.

In the USA I have been to Nevada, Utah, Arizona (just!), California and Illinois:

Putting this on a world map:

24/4/06: Map updated to include India.

Hereford and Back

Those of you paying attention may have noticed that the site was spammed in the last couple of days and I've only just cleaned it up. This delay is due to the fact that Monica and I have been away for a couple of days. View from Hotel

We went to stay in a place near Hereford. The hotel was the Pengethley Manor hotel near Ross-On-Wye

It's a nice place, set in the countryside. Admittedly the weather was a bit miserable at times, but we were lucky in that it cleared for us when it mattered.

We arrived at the hotel on Thursday, and ate there. The bar was quite cosy, we started with the wine produced on site (the hotel has a vineyard), and it was very good indeed. The food was excellent (though a bit on the dear side). I had Mussels in a White Wine sauce, and Monica has a Sea Bass. Beautifully prepared, well served.

The next morning we had a large breakfast - the plan is not to have to eat during the day. The cooked breakfast was reasonable, but not great - should've stuck with the porridge with whisky!

Eventually we set out, and aimed for Hereford. Parking was pretty easy, we parked near the cathedral, just over the river (near a leisure centre). The river stunk a bit - country smells. Probably water washed off farmland.

Inside the Cathedral they have the 'Mappa Mundi'. This is a large map which was drawn on Vellum. It's a good four or five feet across. It is meant to show the a religious representation of the known world, so Jerusalem is near the centre of the map. The map has east at the top, and though many features are present, there is quite a lack of geographical accuracy. I would have expected shapes to be wrong, but some quite large topographical details were wrong, for example, Spain was seperated from France by the Meditteranean, and there was a river dividing England from Scotland. I can appreciate the difficulties of producing a world map at this time, and mistakes are bound to be made - but these are rather fundamental!

Hereford Cathedral

Facsimile of the Mappa Mundi

This is a section of the Mappa Mundi which shows the UK, Ireland, and parts of Northern Europe. East is at the top of the map.

There was a jobsworth in the museum who did not allow photography, so I only have photos of modern facsimiles of the map (taken before he saw me). I don't understand the photography ban, I really don't. Flash photography, I understand - especially when you have light sensitive documents - but a ban on any photograph in areas where light sensitive things are not present, I don't understand.

The actual map is quite dark, and kept in a room of its own with a guide next to it the whole time who is able to talk about the map in great depth.

Passing through the room with the Mappa Mundi we came to a chained library. All very nice (though I have seen these quite often). What really impressed me was that in the room there was a copy of the Magna Carta. It was from the 1217 reissue by Henry III, and there are only 3 other copies, all held at Oxford.

What I found frankly amazing about this single sheet is that here we have one of the most important documents in English Legal History, and not only was there no indication it was there (all the signs pointing to the Cathedral reference the Mappa Mundi), but it was also misleadingly labelled in the case (there was a glossy manuscript book to its right, and the Magna Carta labels were near that).

Not once did we see a sign saying: 'Hereford Cathedral: Mappa Mundi (oh, and we've got the Magna Carta, too).

Arthur's Stone

Arthur's Stone

We then headed west to find something called 'Arthur's Stone'. This was an ancient tomb dating from 3700BC to 2700BC. The 'chambered tombs' were used to bury the neolithic dead. They were used over many generations. Arthur's stone was once covered by a mound of earth which has largely been eroded away over time. The stone roof of the tomb has collapsed. According to legend, the stone marks the sport of one of King Arthur's battles - however the stone has been at the site since long before the time that Arthur is supposed to have been around.

After visiting the stone we drove down through Monmouth to try and see some standing stones. Unfortunately the ones we picked seemed to be on private land, so we headed back to the hotel as it was getting on a bit.

In the evening, in the rain, we went for a meal in Ross-On-Wye. We parked outside the Wetherspoons pub and had a wander round in the pouring rain before deciding to go into the Wetherspoons for some food. It was quite a smokey pub and we felt uncomfortable, there were lots of unpleasant stares. We decided that we did not want to stay there and ended up down the road in the 'China Boy Jo' restaurant. This turned out to be an excellent choice. Downstairs they had a takeaway section, but we were ferried upstairs as soon as we opened the door. We found quite a nice area, and we were treated very well indeed. The food was excellent.

The Cherhill Horse

The next day we headed home, and we decided to visit some more ancient monuments on the way. We joined the M5, headed south, connected to the M4, and then left the M4 to go through Cherhill.

The Cherhill white horse, like many such monuments, doesn't really count as 'ancient'. It was cut by Dr. Alsop of Calne in 1780. Or rather, it was cut under his direction, he called instructions from the main road using a megaphone.

Silbury HillMonica at AveburyMonica at AveburyMe at AveburyMonica views the stone circleA view of part of the Avebury Stone Circle

We soon found our way to Avebury, which is a World Heritage Site.

Outside Avebury is a large ancient Earthwork called Silbury Hill. It is 40metres high (130ft) and is the only surviving unaltered exampled of its type. Its original purpose is unknown.

The village of Avebury is actually build inside a giant stone circle. What idiot decided to build the first house in the circle, I don't know. However, that is what we've got now. One can walk around it quite easily (though in some places it can be a bit steep).

Avebury is a very impressive site, though it would be more impressive if someone a few hundred years ago had decided to put the village next to the circle.

From Avebury, we did consider going to see some more white horses, but we decided to get down to Stonehenge before the light failed us.

Stonehenge is a 5000 year old monument on Salisbury plain, the only one of its kind in the world. At the moment it is on the fork of two roads, within a decade this situation will change as they plan to put the main road into a tunnel to cut the traffic noise, and to move the visitor centre two miles away.

The henge is truly impressive, as a feat of engineering if nothing else. The place was fairly busy, as might be expected, but I still was able to get quite a large number of reasonably people free photos.

Part of StonehengeAnother view of a part of StonehengeMe at stonehengeA distant view of StonehengeSunset at StonehengeSunset at stonehenge 2Silhouette of Stonehenge

If you visit stonehenge then I recommend that you use the free audio guide, even though the last bit of that annoyed me greatly. (It is not forever a mystery why one type of rock feels warmer than another, it is to do with differing thermal conductivity. Carpet feels warmer than tiled floor for the same reason.)

Wales has vanished!

Maps of the EU are sometimes drawn with non-members removed (as on the euro coin). Eurostat produced a recent map, someone forgot Wales. Oh dear.

Regretable, though I can understand it as the organisation of the UK must be a bit of a mystery to many people who aren't from the UK. The person looking at their list of countries must have known about Scotland and England being part of the UK, but did not know that the same applied to Wales. Therefore when they looked for Wales on their list and came up short, they assumed it was outside the EU.

These things happen, though someone will be walking round with a very red face today.

Prisoner of War Map

Map kept by the POWs

I've spent part of today going through some of my Grandad's papers. There is a lot of memorabilia in there, and I thought I'd periodically post some of it online, along with any stories which are associated with them. I'll also put on other items which come to me from other relatives - of course, this assumes that there is some interest.

This map was kept by my Grandad in a German POW camp in World War 2. He, along with his platoon, were captured somewhere in the region of Arras. They were on their way to the evacuation at Dunkirk (Dunkerque) but they never made it. Up until his death he still remembered being straffed by the Luftwaffe. A few days before he died he was convinced at one point that he was back on that French road.

Once captured, he along with the other POWs were marched across Europe. They would literally support their colleagues as they went for if one could not march, one was shot.

He spent the rest of the war in a German POW camp, having walked from the North of France. I think he was taken south as he described mountain ranges.

This map survives. It is a flimsy document, held together with a wing and a prayer, and a few pieces of tape. The map was kept in the camp, and the prisoners used it to follow troop movements which they heard from local Germans at their work placements, one of which was working in a plant which helped to make V2 rockets - an activity they were forced to do. One of the secretaries used to pass news on to the prisoners. When she was discovered she and her family were executed. In addition if the map was discovered then there was a high chance of being shot.

The map was hidden by being wrapped in oil skins, and it was kept in the pot of constantly boiling water which they used in the hut for various purposes.

The map is quite large, A3 size with a bit sticking out (so it once was A2). This image has been stitched together from three scans - I've shown a close up of the region around Brussels where one can just make out some of the pencil marks which were made.

A larger version of the map can be obtained by clicking on the image - the highest res version is too large to put online!

Additional: This entry has been linked to from 'The Map Room'

Right to Roam

The first Right to Roam maps are published today. These detail where the public can walk in the UK. The maps will not include cultivated land, e.g. gardens, it will include 'open country' or 'common land'. Historically, some of these areas were kept out of bounds by landowners.

The first maps include the south east and the area around the peak district.

There is some 'excepted' land, which is not included, and people should be familiar with this if they use the maps. Also, the maps are not in and of themselves walking maps.

The maps are published by the Countryside Agency.