“The sat nav says turn left” “Where? I can’t see any turning?” “Back there. You’ve passed it” Why didn’t you tell me?” “It would help if you drove more slowly and I did try.” “That is not helpful – we are now late. Wretched thing – it’s lost its signal. Find a map.” “Did you mean please?”
This seems often to be the extent of modern geography: arguing with a sat nav. Maps, however, mark out rivers, inclines, the formation of hills, the drop down to seas, the roads and trails we have created across them, yet today just tend to gather dust on shelves.
Geography is a generalist discipline. Those who study it gain insights into the earth: its geology, environment, climate history, water courses and the formation of the societies and communities it supports. It is grounding in every sense of the word. Edmund Burke (an 18th century Irish statesman and philosopher) commented “Geography is an earthly subject, but a heavenly science.” It is founded on man’s thirst for knowledge and instinct for exploration. I often think of the extraordinary undertaking of sailing across the Atlantic 300 years ago or earlier, of travelling across the prairies of north America to find new homes or of travelling across the Mediterranean to explore the pageantry of other lands. Travellers had to deal with the unknown, with fear and illness, of things going wrong.
Travel and subsequent settlement are not modern phenomena. The Romans overran the native British communities in AD 43, destroying homes and rebuilding new ones – villas. Beacon Hill in the centre of the Highclere Estate bears witness to this in the landscape remains of an iron age fort. Five hundred years later the Britons and Romans were likely intermarried and living here when the Vikings arrived with their own settlement plans. Now the Roman villas are even less distinct than the Iron Age homes, although we still drive in our cars along the path of Roman roads. Open any old map and you can see firstly the distinct lines of the natural world on top of which we have imposed our own lines of ancient societies and modern infrastructure.
One of the first written records of Highclere is a document describing the boundaries here. Essentially a map, although in words rather than pictures, it details what to follow and where to go. You can still see the lines today in the landscape if you look.
Sadly, geography is not always taught today, choices ask for compromises and often pupils in this country have to choose between it and history. History records friends made and arguments fought, geography tells us about where and how we live. Economic geography suggests that by far the majority of all trade is within 500 miles of each country. In fact, 44% – 50% of all UK import/export trade is with mainland Europe, our nearest neighbours, which makes sense in terms of travel costs. It is probably better for the planet that we import and export food and manufactured goods there rather than with somewhere 5,000 miles away.
We are now lucky enough to be able to share our “geography” in reality and welcome visitors back to Highclere. Sharing “virtually” is a wonderful bridge when travel itself is not possible and reminds us of what we would like to do if we could. We watch travel programmes, listen to podcasts and soak up information from the internet. Nevertheless, there is still something magical about a map with its possibility of creating a journey, of following that road over the page and into another land.
To adapt John F Kennedy’s quote: “Geography has made us neighbours. History should make us friends. Economics will make us partners, and necessity should make us allies”
Luckily, I married a man who read Geography at Oxford and thus has the advantages of the generalist intellectual curiosity. Despite that we too argue with the sat nav and each other in the car and I do have always have dog eared real paper map to hand, just in case.
What beautiful pictures!! I had just such an argument with myself this weekend trying to use my GPS here in Louisville Kentucky! The scenery was not nearly so beautiful as your home!
When we travel in the British isles we pull out our old handy book map. It’s made 4 trips for us and is our preference as we can then map ahead of the SAT NAV — which we rarely use. The road works in some areas have changed and so then we read signs and do turn it on.
Here on the Sask prairies, our home for decades, there is little need for a map. We understand how the grid system works and can basically go most places, even new ones, without a map. If we get to a city and need help we just use goggle maps.
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
Your Monday blog is an all too familiar story line, experienced and read before by your followers.
Even a navigation system has its faults: limited functionability in a desert, dense forest, or mountainous terrain.
So I agree with you, keep calm and carry a paper map.
Until next Monday, wishing you and everyone at Highclere Castle a productive week.
P.S. Enjoyed looking at the very nice pictures, especially the rainbow.
Lovely blog, what does the early Highclere boundary map say? It is so interesting to read how things were described, with the expectation the little would change…..
Beautifully written – & how refreshing it is to hear from a like-minded lady who finds maps far more reliable than Sat-navs!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I too have always loved maps. When going back and forth between our homes in Florida and Illinois, I like to trace our progress and also note the interesting things along the way. It’s much more fun than the satnav.
I feel so lucky I grew up with the ordinance maps i just think they tell such great stories..
I can remember road trips with my parents. My dad has a built-in sense of direction, but occasionally, we would need to pull out a map. My mom would tell him he was going in the wrong direction, he’d say, no, I just need to go this way and this way, she’d get mad and say”I don’t know why you asked me for help if you aren’t going to listen,” and try to fold the map back up in her anger. He’d just smile and continue to drive the way he thought was right. We always managed to get there! Kids today have no idea!
I have a BS degree in Geography from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL in 1980. Great post. Will there be a second Downton Abbey movie? Frank Chary
I hope so!
Really great read. My kids always ask me if I use the navigation system in my car and I just tell them no I have my map in the glove box. Frankly I do not trust the electronic ones. And I usually get where I’m going
I am not sure whether my son could exist without sat nav
Reading good writing is relaxing and oh so enjoyable. I look forward to your Monday posts. I smiled at your couple driving banter as it mirrors ours so well. I am so grateful to be a visual learner. I’ve always said I can find any place on the continent as long as I have a reliable road map. Still prefer a paper map over a GPS but not as readily available these days.
A Rainbow in the morning, is GOOD LUCK through the day!
And i hope that you have a GOOD DAY,… all for your self!
All the BEST!
May all of us have good luck today
The first conversation sounds so familiar, really!
Good afternoon Lady Carnarvon,
I did smile when I read this today as it so reflects what happens when we travel to places too. Despite the satnav, which is not always up to date when it comes to recently completed road changes, my husband often likes to refer to our dog-eared road atlas for reassurance we are in fact heading the right way !
How funny you should mention Edmund Burke too since I have long had a copy of ‘Reflections of the Revolution in France’, a tiny book Vol. I, which appears to date from 1820. How I would love to obtain Vol.2 since I gather the pair are much sought after and rather valuable today.
Some interesting quotes in today’s blog which hold true even in today’s odd world. Please keep them coming !
Thank you Sandra
I love this perspective, especially your adapted quote. How appropriate. Thank you.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
For some, a travel adventure is by car to the neighboring town. For others, it’s rail or plane or ship to foreign lands. SatNav in another language is most challenging and brings tears or shrieks of laughter.
Old maps are truly “windows” on a page to history and development. I framed an old map that showed the area of Alaska as “Russian Territory.” My children found it fascinating. Cartography was a noble profession, sadly I imagine now replaced by computer technology. A map is indeed a work of art.
And as for husbands and directions in the car…. well… it’s a universal truth.
So glad for the Highclere reopening.
All good luck!
Charlotte Merriam Cole
Thank you – keep sharing with your children!
I am so looking forward to a visit to Highclere when borders open up again! I want to open up a paper copy of The Cotswold Trail Map and see every lovely step along the way!!!
I can almost read the letters, but not the words. Translate, please?
I will revert with a translation (after a gin and tonic). “First from Hilda’s barrow to honey way along the way to Bregewith’s stone, from that stone to sheepwash along sheepwash to aleburn..along ale burn to beaver brook head, thence to coferan tree to the broad oak from that broad oak to stuters hill downward thence tote watch seat (ie Beacon hill)
On a very Hot Day in New Jersey it is delight to see the Rolling Hills of Highclere and the Rainbow Portending that all bad things will come to an end.
They will end and hopefully we can understand better what the pot of gold is ..
Dear Lady Carnarvon
Hoping that you keeping enjoy my portrait, I mean, your portrait, as well deeply wishing that the 12th Jul has been a Great Rehopening of your business.
My admiration and my best wishes
How very kind – thank you. We are slowly and quietly finding our rhythm
I am relieved that others argue in the car about routes…and speed. We have just acquired a new Garmin, the name of our satellite navigation system. The old one died sadly, but we were used to her voice which said “stop light” and “rowte”. The new one says “traffic light”and “root”. She has become English, quite comforting. She is also VERY severe compared to the old one. Yesterday she shouted “Turn left” and a second later “TURN LEFT”
,and then “TURN LEFT!!!!”. We are rather scared of her now ! However she is very useful travelling across this huge Texan Metroplex with constantly changing “roots”, in the largest civil engineering project in history. Major roadworks criss crossing land that only a few years ago was uncharted virgin ranchland. The roads are called after the old cattle ranchers families. Without the Garmin we would not know where we are…and the arguments would continue, now, we just sit up very straight and obey commands.:)
That is so funny!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Over the last eight years my husband and I have set out from the USA to travel to Great Britain and beyond. Two of those years included a trip down the Seine to Normandy and from Amsterdam to Budapest on Viking. One had a do it yourself two week drive through the Loire Valley looking at castles. I’ll get to that trip later.
The others have all involved the better part of three weeks driving through England, Wales or Scotland using my own sat nav from the USA ( a Garmin) plus The AZ road maps because the print is larger. We have had several hilarious arguments in the car over which turn to take and when. One time we were in Scotland near Edinburgh trying to find our B and B and it came time to take a left turn. My husband enjoys driving on the left in the English cars with a stick shift. I stick to navigating as I would have us in the hospital in five minutes trying to do things backwards. At any rate with my eyes glued to my Garmin I told him to turn left at which point he screamed at me saying “which left”? And I replied “The next one”. Well what I didn’t see was a maze of left turns all going down tiny little crooked roads that all seem to go one way. I can’t repeat the following conversation but you get the idea.
Another time we were in England trying to find our B and B and we had been driving for some time. My map showed me a shortcut so I told my husband to take the next right. What could go wrong? It was called the Langoise Highway. I expected a two lane road whisking us to our destination. Not at all. The Langoise Highway was the tiniest of paths that only a cow could fit on… the corn was scraping the car on both sides! After a few minutes my husband asked me where was the highway and when was the road ( if you could call it that) going to end? I didn’t have the heart or the courage to tell him he had seven miles to go! There were no laybys to pull over into if we should come face to face with a large tractor. We were exhausted when we finally made it on to a real road!
Back to trying to get around France… it is one thing to drive in a country where you can read the signs in your native language but it is an entirely different experience trying to figure out where you are going in a foreign language! Snap decisions have to be made quicker and more patience is needed. In all cases we made it to our destinations without a mishap ( well maybe a broken mirror in Ireland once).
I prefer maps but use the Garmin as well. Sat navs only give you a small picture of the land your are traversing whereas a map has the whole area laid out in front of you leading you to stop and explore the country’s heritage.
I wonder where our travels will take us next year if we have the opportunity? Hopefully to Highclere!
I love Maps. Paper Maps. I collect them. In the States we use to get them for free at gas stations along our travels. I love to go back through them to see just how much everything has changed since it was printed. Thank you so much for sharing this article. Oh, what was it like watching Downton Abbey in the Castle? Would be awesome to me. Have a grand day.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I thoroughly enjoyed your post this morning. How interesting to be reminded of the huge part geography played relating to where groups of people settled. The countryside photos were beautiful.
Your opening paragraph reminded me of a trip to Nashville with my son. We were trying to find a wedding venue. Solely relying on sat nav, (a big mistake by-the-way)we were driving on a country road when suddenly the navigation system announced, “you have arrived!”. To our dismay we were sitting in the middle of the woods. Your travel tip, to bring a map when traveling, is great advice! Thank you!
I have also gone wrong with maps as well..
This is so very dear to my heart. I was a geography teacher here in the U.S. for 20 years and have garnered the nickname “mapette” from my love of maps and the ability to get us anywhere with one, from driving to walking. Google maps is good in a pinch, but I always want to see where I am in relation to the bigger picture. Only a map can truly do that.
I am always trying to make the google map bigger ..then I lose it all
What a neat ‘travelogue’ this morning! One of my favorite hobbies from childhood is studying maps from museums to Mapquest. I imagine the ones in museums were more accurate to their followers since explorers were most likely men and their wives didn’t offer ‘help.’
My worst experience with mapquest, years ago, was when major road construction in our city of Raleigh (yes, England influence is strong here!) didn’t show up when my husband and I were trying to find our way to a very important event. We almost had to start over from scratch to get there late. Now I use both sat nav and mapquest – the first to get me there 99% of the time; the other to give me a lined picture of what the route looks like. I am the direction-oriented one in our marriage. My husband has graciously given up. Bless him!
We cleaned out our basement last week to make room for a Longarm quilting machine- my retirement hobby. Anyway, I came across a box of trip maps that my husband had saved. I asked if they were keepers or out they goers. He looked very sad and said out they go. The box was in good shape so I replaced the maps and put it in the keeper pile. I thought it might be nice to show our grandsons the maps of our travels along with some good stories of our trips. You can’t do that with the sat-nav. The 7 year old traced one of our trips with his little finger and asked about the shadowy areas on the map. I explained it shows the difference in height of the land traveled. He became so excited when he realized we went up and down a mountain. All by looking at a map.
We are not creating much to pass on are we?
I have always loved looking at maps and wondering how indigenous folk found their way on journeys of hundreds of miles from one settlement to another.
This came quite clearly to me as I was digging a large hole in my yard for a tree, and saw a glinting ‘rock’ in the dirt. I immediately thought it was an arrowhead. When I found a chart tracing thousands of years of the development of arrowheads and spear tips, my find was actually a spear tip from 5000 years ago to my ‘partially educated’ eye comparing it to the chart.
I marveled at the American Indian settlement that was once in my front yard.
How utterly amazing
I always learn something from each of your blogs. Hope and pray to visit Highclere again in the future! My last visit for THE highlight of a six month “Senior Sabbatical” at age 73. Loved the Kennedy quote which I had never heard.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
thank you for another lovely post. Reading a good map is like reading a good book, so much to see. The only word I could make out on the early document you shared was “hylle”. Perhaps one day you will translate and share more of the document for us.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Thank you so much for your blog on maps. Even though I have the OnStar navigation system in my car, I still travel with maps of the area I’m visiting – especially since navigation systems often take you on the ‘scenic route’ instead of giving you the most direct route. I studied both history and geography in school (no choice!)-so I really appreciate a good map. The above photos are so beautiful.
I look forward to visiting Highclere when the borders are again open to those of us from America,
Best wishes from New York City.
Linda D. Lewis
Thank you – we miss our curious (ie interested) travellers from abroad!
Love your choice of topic and more beautiful photos of your home. As a middle schooler my geography teacher gave us an assignment to make a map of our neighborhood which was not typical, as I was born and raised in the East African “bush”. I attended boarding schools in Tanzania and Ethiopia – learning
all about those areas with maps my teachers had and also my dads maps. Dad instilled in me an early appreciation for maps as we did quite a few safaris. Back then that I wanted to be the person who draws up maps. Never did pursue that childhood dream of becoming a cartographer. And yes – I still would rather use my paper maps to find my way.
What a wonderful tale. Geography was my favourite subject at school. I could gaze at « cartes géographiques » of the province of Québec and Canada for hours at a young age.
And later on as cabin crew, en route to London, I could not help peaking out the aircraft windows from time to time. All those roads and fields, rivers and lakes, buildings and landmarks were all mapped out before me. Ireland, Wales, the Cotswolds, Eton and Windsor. If only Highclere would have been on the flight path.
Thank you Lady Carnarvon for quoting the late slain president. Very wise words indeed.
Looking to go to Lexington, KY my friend and I fired up the GPS. From southwest Virginia, Bristol, we began on a four lane, divided highway then soon were directed to turn off onto a two lane, county road. We traveled this for quite a way, then we lost the mid-road yellow line. Not a good sign.
Moving on, the road became plain dirt. Pastures were on both sides of the road and the houses became few and far between. Ruts became deeper.
Soon the road actually ended…in a BARN!! A man came out, quite perplexed, as were we. We apologized and asked how to get to interstate. He looked at us sadly and said, “Back the way you came. We did that; lost an hour at least. Don’t trust them things!!!
Snow Valley Farm…John Snow. As I face our 21st July day in the 90s here in Southern Maryland, your lush and green pics are like a tall cold drink!
Golly that sounds hot – yes I am happier here..
Such a Lovely photo. Congratulations on reopening. Wishing you the best
Back when I was working, part of my job was to travel (drive) all around the great state of Texas. This was in the days before most nav systems, certainly well before they were built into vehicles. I always had the latest state road map and would map out my drive, notating the various towns I’d be driving through, and of course, the highways I’d take to get to my destination. I joked that I learned middle school geography by driving it. So many current generations don’t have a clue how to navigate reading a road map and actually watching the road for various highway signs.
I always say follow the signs here!
Love Maps. Thank you for sharing and reminding me how great they are. I think I will get my old ones out and look at them. I’ve had foot surgery and can’t walk so that would be fun to do. I can go places in my thoughts and dreams. I think I will travel to your Highclere Castle. Tea and a biscuit please. Earl Grey, Hot. Have a perfectly Lovely day
I remember renting a car in Cambridge to get to Gatwick airport and not realizing that the sat nav was incorrectly set (possibly on shortest route).To cut a long story short…… I can still remember the amazing views as we drove through central London and over Tower Bridge! My husband screaming at me to stop talking so he could concentrate on driving! Love from Vancouver!
After reading Lady Carnarvon’s blog ‘navigate’ her website to listen to her latest podcast!
I so enjoy your Monday letters. Brings memories and joy of my trips to the UK. Central Texas is hot and dry. Refreshing to remember my rides on the Roads of your countryside. Thank you for your writings. Much appreciated.
My question is “how can we have history without geography?” Kennedy said it best, I think. They all go hand in hand. We should not neglect any aspect of education and I find it so alarming that we are cutting so much.
What a lush summer green Monday at Highclere! Thank you for such a fascinating post, and I do love maps, old and new, even internet images, soaring over land and sea. The geography of the lands and grounds of Highclere is so magically full of tales and events, may you enjoy a most successful “opening” to visitors and travelers.
Thank you for a great installment. I was drawn to maps before I could read, particularly the very old ones depicting sea serpents and sea monsters.. My all time favorite map was seen at a library exhibit about Shakespeare. It was a HUGE map of Elizabethan London with all the churches and the nobles’ riverside mansions clearly labeled. J.K Rowling might have labelled it a time portal as it seemed to transport you back to those times.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I love looking at maps, in fact I still use one now, instead of the sat nav, Geography & History were my favourite subjects at school. Lovely photo’s especially the one with the rainbow.
Loved this installment….beautifully written! There’re nothing better than a good map and being able to read it! My husband chuckles when he walks in the living room and I have my map of England laid out plotting my trip when we can travel freely again! Glad to see your reopening, hope it goes well!
I am so glad – I too pull out maps and feel happy looking at them!
I studied both Geography and History, and only regret I din’t learn even more, such treasured knowledge.
On our frequent family outings my father would never reveal his planned route. He is rather a discoverer, so he likes to try different routes to the same place.
No SatNav, no old fashion maps, just “pointer” fashion.
He would occasionally seem to be driving out of the desired way but he was never lost! “Just going a different way”.
We were four girls in the back, which accounted for much teasing and comments, my mother would just sit in the passenger sit, smirk and enjoy the whole thing!
One day his “going a different” didn’t go unnoticed! We ended up in a massive rubbish dump!
Hills of terribly distinctively very intensively smelling rubbish! no matter how much we drove, the place seemed never to end!
We had to close the windows, clip our noses, there were tears of laughter and the eminence of being suffocated by the dreadful smell.
On that day his exploring got a bit uncovered. It still makes us laugh so much to this day; and he still never gets lost!
It must have been the fact that he was a driver in the war. Never lost, maybe just in foreign territory…..
Good morning from Fort Worth, Texas! When I was younger, we would often take road trips. Some of my experiences were nightmarish at the time, but now are remembered with hilarity. One road trip stands out in my mind. My children were very young, and what should have been a ten-hour pleasant drive to visit relatives turned out to be several more hours. Halfway there, we discovered we had made a wrong turn. Somewhere. It was 104 degrees outside, the air conditioner stopped working, my daughter became carsick, and the dog wouldn’t stop barking. I was digging through everything to find our map, and my son loudly declared that he needs the “baffroom.” I found the map, and as I was unfolding the wretched thing, the wind coming through the open windows continually blew the open map in my face and all over the inside of the car. Finally, I found the correct route, and we turned around. Then my son yelled, “Mommy, I had an accident in my pants.” Between the spilled snacks and banana peels, we finally reached our destination.
That is all very familiar …
Thank you for such a wonderful post today. I had records of my travels on individual maps for many years. Each trip to a new place required a new map with notations of fuel stops, restaurants, interesting sights, and various items stapled to the map.
My children depend on SAT NAV, too. My discovery is there’s the inevitable question, “Are you sure this is the correct building? Where’s the front door?”
Geography always fascinated me because of my background. Roads follow various paths; railroads are built to specifications established by the width of Roman chariots. So few people know that. Automobiles are built within those specifications so they fit onto railway cars. The patterns of life are built on the prior engineering designed to work within the topography.
If one lesson has been paramount in recent years, the human species has had to face the prospect of not being in control of the natural world. The response is still one of denial; nature doesn’t care what the human response is.
Take care as you gradually re-open. Wishing you the very best with all my heart. The joy your postings has brought to me in this period of chaos is immeasurable.
May the re-opening of Highclere be without incident and everyone stay healthy.
Ida Lee Duplechin
thank you – I agree – it is the planet, not our plant
Dear Lady Carnarvon
It made me smile to read your blog about the sat navs. I thought they were the bees knees to start with but have fell out with ours on many occasions. One time I was told I had reached my destination midway on a very busy dual carriage way, needless to say I did not stop to check!.
This was very confirming for me. I married a map person who reads maps like we women read cookbooks. He can amuse himself with world travel through maps. He knows the streets in my hometown in Texas better thanI do because he also reads city maps. And yes. I often think he is going the wrong way and am irritated when he will not listen. Even more irritating: he is always right. We meet strangers from a remote area in the world and he can tell them what is close by.
Neither Geordie nor I are usually right…
Hello Lady Carnarvon – I, too, prefer following a paper map to better understanding where I am going. I am not sure what on earth SAT NAV is! I think I wrote you once about when I was a teenager and my father was driving us to Maine – a well known route. When I started to feel Dad was off the trail I did not dare say anything. We ended up in a farmer’s field! My mother at the time was extremely ill with colon cancer and unable to be with us so when I was a bit older I understood Dad might have been distracted.
The photos in today’s e-mail from you are absolutely wonderful. I am one of hundreds who appreciate your keeping in touch each Monday. I think you are amazing with all you do. Sending a big hug and thanks. Diane
Thank y you and all best wishes to you too
Dear Lady Carnavon
Edward Trotman from our family and chauffeur to the Earl of Carnavon maybe would have had some interesting comments on the sat nav. Maybe they would have found the tomb of King Tut a little earlier!
Grace Becker nee Trotman
Trotman saved Lord Carnarvon’s life!
Your story about maps brought back so many memories with road trips when my sons were young. I was the navigator, always. Now, we are so spoiled with GPS (sat nav) that I wonder whether I can read a map! I miss the unfolding, and then trying to fold it back up correctly! You are correct that geography is not taught as much as before, but it should be. I wish you all the best with Highclere opening recently. I wonder where you and your family vacationed when your children were young.
I love Cornwall – it was part of my childhood and the seas, cliffs and beaches draw me back..
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Thank you for another fun blog. The photos are great especially of the one with your lovely dogs. My husband and I climbed Beacon Hill a couple of years ago. We were certainly breathless on reaching the top but it was really interesting and worth the effort for the wonderful views. We hope to visit Highclere Castle again before too long and with luck will be fit enough to climb Beacon Hill a second time as well.
It is an amazing hill – I always feel I go back in time as well as up in the air!
Thank you for this lovely post. I have been fascinated with geography ever since I was in primary school. Learning about the locations and features of other countries spurred my interest in world cultures and travel. I am looking forward to the day we can travel safely again as there are plenty of countries I have never visited but would love to go and savor the culture and attractions.
I agree that it is important to learn geography. If I could do university again, I would study geography because I am never tired of it and with my genuine interest, I would no doubt do well in it.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I truly enjoy not only your posts but also your books. As Downton Abbey fans we visited Highclere about 4 years ago, and loved every minute of it.
I, too, am a map person, and when we take a road trip I follow our route on a map or auto atlas as we drive, but must confess to using the GPS on my phone when looking for a specific address in an unfamiliar city. I guess I’m blending technologies.
I agree that it’s a shame that geography is not taught as much as it was because I think our children lose a perspective of the world as a whole.
I agree with you – phones are not perspectives
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Happy summer from the West Coast countryside of Canada! I haven’t been over to visit “home” Since 2005 when I took my mum and two young daughters on at Jane Austen pilgrimage and to also visit some of our ancestral places ( including Villages, a castle in rubble and some ancient relatives!).
Highclere was on our wish list. The bombings in Russell Square ended our plan in short order as we had returned to London for a night and were then going to head to your home in fact. After following the running crowd out of a smoky tube station I spoke to my husband on my then fashionable blackberry, and he felt under the circumstances that we should cut our month-long visit short by a few days and return home. We did just that and during the longest taxi drive ever to Heathrow!
You’re breathtaking photographs of the countryside in this most recent post re-ignites my always-present yearning to return and finish our ramblings. My mum is 87 now so will likely stay behind to feed the dogs and my beautiful daughters are both newlyweds, so it is unlikely that they will leave their husbands to go romping with their mother but if Covid is controllable in the next year or so, I will harness my physician husband to an airplane and return to the homeland.
Thank you again, Victoria Meanwhile, reading your wonderful blog takes me there as often as you can write it or that I can re-read it! Thank you again, Victoria
Thank you – I hope you will come over again – the book Almina is about early pioneering doctors – physicians..
I apologize for taking up your time to read another post, but had to say ‘thank you’ not only for this memory trip for lovers of geography but also another ‘thank you’ to your loyal readers whose posts I read every Monday to see how our lives compare in gracious ways during troubled times, based on your lead.
I still have my arrowheads and spears chart and the spear tip is wrapped up inside of it for my school-age great-grandchildren.
Thank you again,
I am so grateful to you all for talking part and joining me! Thank you
I do enjoy watching Downton Abbey, Series 6 when the horse riders depart for a cross country gallop. Why? Years ago I attended an orienteering event at Highclere and when I see Lady Mary and others pass a small group of trees, I am reminded that this was the location for the last control point at the event. Sure you have tried a bit of orienteering at some point. Even more challenging at night.
Looking at John Speed’s Tudor maps. I cannot find Highclere or Bishops Clere. As you are on the Hampshire/Berkshire border, you are “lost” on the borders somewhere.
Perhaps the clergy had found the recipe to produce GIN and wanted to keep the location a secret.
Carry on Highclere.
Definitively welcome spiritual guidance on the gin – the more I walk here, the more I see
Highclere Estate probably received a copy of the map that was used for the orienteering event. Try and see if you can locate it and just enjoy just what it shows and what has changed over the years.
Meanwhile I will see if I can obtain a copy by devious means for you.
When you are out walking, think that you will take 2 steps to the yard and then try and ascertain the distance from the castle to the Jackdaw folly. I do that when I am out fishing just for information. Beneficial at night.
I love the colors in a real paper map! Even more fun since I found our what those colors mean. I have our Waze (satnav) turned to a British accent. Makes it much more pleasant when we get intentionally lost.
Hello from Whitefish, Montana
Your Monday blogs always make my day!
So true about what is no longer taught: Geography.
I will add to that Penmanship.
For 33 years I taught Grades K,1,2,3,4 and when I moved to a new
classroom I always moved my huge pull down maps. Students were always glued to my simple geography lessons. As for the other lost art, Penmanship, young children would ask me, “When do we start cursy (cursive) and I recall how eager they were. After retirement I substituted in high school for 15 years and I would ask the students to write their signature 3 times on a piece of paper. Most were dumbfounded. They had never learned cursive writing.
I would quite like to offer a prize for cursive writing? What do you think?
Yes! A contest of cursive writing would be loads of fun! My father, from a small rural Southern town in the US, wrote the most beautiful cursive hand I’ve ever seen. He was born in 1909 and learned in grammar school. Some things should never be lost.
Yes a terrific idea a prize for cursive writing. Hmmmmm…let’s see…maybe there should be categories, not just one winner.
maybe age categories?sandie
12 and under
26- 100 years old
That is a lovely idea –
Thank you, Sandie, from Whitefish. As an aside, I mentioned Whitefish, Montana to a friend this morning. I was speaking of an Amtrak trip from Minneapolis to Seattle. I love the lodge there.
And yes, penmanship is getting to be a lost art. I”m not sure where we stand now in the US on teaching cursive in grade school. I was born in 1949, and my classrooms always had a lengthy paper ‘banner’ above the green boards, with upper and lower case cursive through the length of the alphabet.
My mother, born in 1914, learned the ‘Palmer method’ of cursive. For those unfamiliar, it is a lovely script with very curvaceous letters. As a three and four year old, she would pass me a piece of paper and a pencil and ask me to cross the page 4 or 5 times, forming recurring O’s across the width of the page, using my entire forearm. She never let me write from the wrist. Those are home lessons for which I have always been thankful.
And thank you, Lady Carnavon, for sharing the all too familiar verbal struggles in the car. My worst navigation was in the Canadian Province of New Brunswick. Beginning at our home in Maine, we drove East in our own state, passed through customs, and started along the New Brunswick coast. In the 1980’s, we found that the maps and the route numbers often did not match as we passed through that province. I studied the map in my lap and my husband tried to follow the routes I mentioned as he drove. It led to a lovely little village where we ate our lunch on a smooth pebble beach. It was a true adventure to reach Fundy National Park.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Thanks again for another delightful Monday blog. I have never been able to predict from your blog’s title what will follow. It is always like unwrapping a surprise Christmas present with a delightful surprise gift inside. You often include a touch of humor regarding the humanness of you and his Lordship – that I believe many can relate to.
Thank you, too, for opening my eyes to Geography. It will be another interesting to introduce ourselves to online during this shutdown.
Our American SatNav system offers a choice of voices and I will set the voice to “British English” in preparation for our eventual trip to Highclere Castle. If the car rental company or hotel offers paper maps along with SatNav, they will certainly be used as backup.
We wish you continued good progress on your reopening.
Steve and Robin Schroffel
Thank you so much – you are right I enjoy surprises from the title and starting point of each blog!!! Again thank you for your kindness. Last Saturday I invited towards 200 NHS staff from West Berkshire and families here as a day out in recognition of their hard work – that was what we discussed and you were and were with us in spirit even if your journey was delayed. So thank you both across the ocean
I love maps…especially the lovely antique ones. They are such works of art!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I’m so grateful that you’ve continued your blogs during these trying times. Such an escape, and a grounding !
Thank you for reading them!
Fascinating piece! You are truly gifted. It is a rare talent to be able to take a subject like “maps” and turn it into a piece that holds the interest of the reader until the very end.
Lady Carnarvon, a wonderful blog as always. Growing up my family would go on road trips and we would have our trusty map with us. Great memories and sometimes making the wrong turn and getting lost. That was often fun! Kind Regards, Cheryl
I look forward to your Monday blogs and especially enjoyed this one about maps. My father taught me how to swim, how to ride a bike, how to play baseball, how to shoot a rifle – and how to read maps! I too, always have a good old paper map with me wherever I go. Thank you for sharing your life at Highclere with us.
Hello Lady Carnarvon
The countryside around Highclere looks absolutely lovely and GREEN. We are just starting to come out of a 5 year drought here and after some small amount of rain everything is just fresher with touches of green showing through. This coming weekend we have a lot of rain expected and (hopefully)I can once again see this country change colour.
Some of our most memorable car trips have also been our most memorable “conversations”, some with very raised voices, some yelling back at our satnav and some even looking at the myriad of maps which live in our car. Firmly imprinted in my mind is “take the 3rd exit at the roundabout” and “take the next left” which invariably is now a one way street going in the opposite direction.
We have also been lost occasionally but have found ourselves in some wonderful places far more interesting than our original route. At this point my husband starts unfolding maps to rechart our trip and much muttering is heard. Forrest Gump was right when he said life is like a box of chocolates 🙂
I have a beautiful gilded map which I framed and it is what the world was deemed to be like in the late 1700’s. I often wonder what the person who drew that map would think of how different the world actually is.
Have a great week
I have just found a framed map of around here to hang in the office
Dear Lady Carnarvon
How lovely to read this weeks blog, I am a paper map person myself and have driven around Britain 10 times, always referring to the A to Z. I often think of what people must miss along the way when guided only by the Sat-nav. I watch any British TV show I possibly can and always have my atlas beside my chair so that I can look up exactly where places are if I don’t know them. I hadn’t read the Kennedy quote before, but certainly agree with it’s sentiments. Thank you for yet another wonderful story.
I always look up a new destination with google maps and it will very helpfully suggest a route. Often it will pick the busiest highways. I then very firmly tell google “well I am not going THAT way” and go the way I intended all the time.
Hello Friends and Lady Carnarvon,
Once again the day swallowed up my time and before I knew it, it was dinner time.
I have one very important question for all of the paper map lovers out there…how do you ever refold the map correctly???? LOL
I think the incorrect folding makes it yours!
I am old school. I always have my printed, dog-eared and well-worn map pages, fully marked with notes, when we travel. The family used to tease, until one trip when the cellular service was non-existent and my trusty map saved the day! Set in my ways, happily for me and fortunately for my family.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I am new to your blog but throughly enjoyed “Maps.” As a child I poured over maps, treasure maps, book maps, maps of all kinds, creating my own stories and adventures. As I got older my Dad would sit with me and show me, on a map, where he’d be traveling for his job. As a result of my “map” interest, I enjoyed geography among all subjects in school. To this day, I love viewing maps and must have one when I travel or to help me orient myself when reading books that take place in areas in which I am not familiar. It anchors me and makes me feel as if I am a character within the book. Maps have so many purposes.
I look forward to your next blog.
Holly Springs, NC
Thank you so much Pamela
My wife and I have been in Newbury for the past six weeks visiting from the US to support our daughter’s delivery of her second child. Her husband took us and our granddaughter to Highclere Castle on Tuesday July 21st and we loved everything about our experience; from the castle tour, to walking the grounds and of course the lunch with the castle as the backdrop under the shade trees looking across the magnificent lawn.
Regarding the topic of the blog … maps. Navigation tools have made life so much easier for so many and essential for some such as my 86 year old mother. Pre-GPS, for many, maps were not so well understood. I miss the intellectual engagement of using detailed maps to understand and plan and explore but I must say the convenience and accuracy of navigation tools have cut way down on the number of U-Turns I take while driving!
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
How very kind – thank you so. much for your kind commments!
Lady Carnarvon, Regarding your Instagram, what a dog gives in love, devotion and faithfulness is one of the best things in life. It does not get any better than that. All the very best, Cheryl
You are so kind to bring in the Instagram..different ways of sharing the music of life
My husband has been making maps for 33 years,
as a land surveyor. We do not have sat nav in any of our cars! Always a map and a plan though. As he also has a Planners license.
My husband has been making maps for 33 years,
as a land surveyor. We do not have sat nav in any of our cars! Always a map and a plan though. As he also has a Planners license. Lol
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Your article on geography is very good and very interesting. The JFK quote is brilliant. !
Thank you – there were some great statesmen
Good Afternoon Lady Carnarvon,
The love of maps runs in our family. I received my first atlas for my ninth birthday. I spent hours reading the text and studying the maps. That same atlas has a special spot in my bookcase today. Forty years ago, I graduated university with my degree in Geography. I did not profit financially from this field of study, but I am personally richer today because of it. I have a never ending interest in world cultures, the environment and of course, maps. To be able to attempt to understand this world, Geography should be a paramount field of study for everyone. Due to my trip to England being canceled this year, I am looking forward to being able to visit Highclere next year. Until then, I will continue to read your lovely blog each week. Thank you so much for your insight into life at your beautiful home. Always a delight.
I just think it is a building block for life..
On my last trip to the UK a year ago, I based myself in the northern Cotswolds in Oxfordshire. I had printed out maps from where I was staying, Heythrop Park Resort, for each days exploring before leaving home. Each day I memorized the main villages on the route. One day going to Kelmcott Manor I got horribly lost, but found some beautiful places. I did not have a GPS in the rental car and found that my phone data did not work in the UK. It was a wonderful 7 days and I visited some amazing historic palaces, houses and museums. I think getting lost when you have no real time constraints adds to the holiday and to what you get to see.
Lady Carnarvon, unknown quote, The best thing to collect is experiences. Every day is a chance to find a great one. Hope your day is going well. Kind Regards, Cheryl
Thank you – lovely quote
Dear Lady Carnarvon
I’m a Geographer and it was a pleasure to read your post!
I also like old maps!
And I always travel with a map in my hand.
Sat Nav is indeed very helpful when in a foreign location. Often when I’m visiting the Costwolds I intentionally do not use it and instead wander. It brings me to so many beautiful places, historic sites, and wonderful experiences. My travel mantra “All who wander are not lost”. Love to travel and learn.