Friday, 15 June 2012

Are we there yet? Training up my new navigator

I have a notoriously rubbish sense of direction.

I once excitedly booked a trip to the Algarve with a friend. I then told Mr Bean I was so excited about finally getting to Spain. He didn’t say anything until we were actually on our way to the airport and then told me that the few Spanish words I’d learnt probably wouldn’t be that useful in Portugal. Ah.

I have also lost Table Mountain in Cape Town – if you’ve ever been there you will realise this is quite a feat – and routinely use the satnav to direct me to my friend’s house which is ten minutes’ drive away and I have visited at least a hundred times.

Which is why I married a cartographer. I figured it was important for one of us to have some sort of sense of direction and I like to think I contribute in other areas. Like correcting his grammar. Though I don’t suppose he’d say that’s why he married me.

The poor man has made concerted efforts to get me interested in maps too. He made these for me showing where we met, got married and live. 

When Google Earth came out he spent hours excitedly showing me how it worked and what we could see. Smile, nod, look out of window and plan veg patch.

He once even dragged me to a map exhibition at the British Library. I have to admit actually that was quite cool. I like maps for their aesthetic value but from a practical point of view – I just haven’t made enough of an effort to learn their lingo.

Obviously I understand that geography is important and I’d prefer for Little Bean to take after her father when it comes to having a sense of direction. Then she can take over and be my navigator. Just kidding. Sort of.

So to help with this task for which I am obviously completely inadequately prepared, I’m heading to the bookshelf – where else?

Although the Times Atlas may be a tad complicated for me her just yet, I though we could start off with these:
Trust Dr Seuss to make maps interesting

This looks beautiful and while it may be of enchanted lands rather than the real world, if it gets her excited about maps to begin with that would be just fine

A little story and a whizz around the world. Hopefully a recipe for apple pie too?

Lots of detail to keep little minds engaged.

This way I'll never have to answer the question, 'Are we there yet, mummy?' She'll be able to tell me.

And while she and Mr Bean are negotiating their way to wherever we're off to, I'll have my head buried in this. If he can make John Cleese laugh, he'll have an easy audience with me. 

If you have any helpful suggestions on other map-related books for kids or geographically challenged adults please leave a comment below - would love to add to the list.


  1. None come to mind but I'm going to buy that Apple Pie book!

  2. Did you get the Barefoot Books World Atlas in the BritMums Live Swag bag? My eight year old has been avidly reading the section on oceans. I looked at it earlier but just can't retain geography info. My Mum despaired and bought me a child's atlas a few years ago but to no avail. I put it on a par with other blind spots such as plumbing. Looks like something else we have in common!! p.s. Lovely to meet you at the Prosecco reception.

    1. I did! Of course map-obsesses husband made a beeline for it and my poor baby (who quite frankly has is only just getting to grips with turning pages of board books - see the pic here of her turning pages with her toes!) was subjected to a long and lively (one-sided) discussion on longitudes and whatnots. Worked better than calpol in sending her off to sleep ;)
      Was SO lovely to meet you too! Hope to see you again at the next bloggy do. If we manage to find our way there of course ;) x

  3. Sorry i am unable to help you map skills are limited to punching in the postcode to google maps and printing off the written directions, or at a push, using my iphone to assist me. I really am hopeless too....think it's a mum's prerogative!