Monday, April 26, 2010

A Map of London

On my way to meet Bindy and Lauren yesterday at the finish line of the London Marathon, I grabbed my trusty and battered Philip's Street Atlas of London, just to help me a bit with navigation around St James' Park.  Although I tend to use Google maps these days for finding specific locations, my Philip's pocket map used to always accompany me any time I set foot outside my flat. 

I love this map not only because of its battered state, but also for its simplicity and the little annotations I've made in it along the way.  I love how its cover is discreet, rather than announcing to the world, "LONDON A-Z" (though I will admit the maps in London A-Z are superior to the ones in mine - they're a bit more ... thorough).  The London A-Z is bigger, spiral bound, and doesn't fit as easily into a handbag (which is always useful for us girls).  Nor does it have two lovely ribbons for you to mark your place.  Nor does it have a complete "notes section" where you can jot down important information, as I have below:

Flipping through the "notes" section of my map yesterday evoked some serious nostalgia.  On the left page, I had, for some reason, found it entirely necessary to write out by hand the appropriate bus schedules in Oxford when I took my dad there for a day trip, ensuring our travels ran smoothly and highlighting my control/anxiety issues (I like my completely useless, shaky, and random line map - of what exactly?  I still have no clue). 

On the top right of the right page is the address of Fresh Start, an organization that Udita had an interview at during a flying visit to London and which she had forgotten to jot down the address for.  It brought back memories of an overpriced cab trip through central London during rush hour and making it just in time for her interview there. 

The blue scrawl immediately below reminds me of the time I wrote, both tearfully and hastily, the bus information for the hospital Sophia had been admitted to in Hackney, during a brief illness last year.  Although it was difficult to locate, my Philip's map helped me every step of the way. 

And thus, something so insignificant and well, so brown, has helped me get around London, get to know the city I've been living in, and in a way, helped me get to know myself in this new and strange place.

If you're new to London (or even if you've been here for a while), I highly recommend buying one here for £5.91.  They come in a variety of colors and patiently wait for you to make them your own.


  1. that address in the upper right-hand corner is what sealed the deal for me coming to london.. so thank you, brown book, and thank YOU, ms.organized and considerately thoughtful escalante

  2. And when you move here, I'll buy you one as a welcoming present! But not in brown. Something more attractive, methinks.


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