21. July 2014 17:49
We are delighted to have sponsored an award at the recent British Cartographic Awards 2014.
The Stanfords Award for printed mapping was created to encourage any printed products to enter, from coffee table atlases to maps featured in leaflets or topical articles.
Below are all the entries that received a Stanfords recognition:
Winner: Historical Map of York: Lovell Johns
Judges Comments: my favourite map, exceptionally well produced and designed, colours are clear, visual hierarchy is of a very high standard, a contemporary map style for an old map but I don’t mind that, a beautiful piece of design and cartography. Front cover design is great. More...
16. July 2014 12:06
by Caroline Sandes
Persepolis rises up on its plateau – tall classical columns keeping sentry above the walls. Up you go, trying to resist the urge to take two at a time of the shallow steps that lead up to Xerxes’ magnificent Gate of All Lands; the two colossal mythical guardian bulls between which you must pass making you feel insignificant. And then there it spreads out before you in all its ruined glory, the site of Persepolis, watched over by Artaxerxes II and III’s tombs cut into the rock above the site. And if you turn around, you can look down the long straight avenue and out to the mountains beyond with the blue sky behind, your fellow tourists looking some-what antlike below.
The earliest remains of Persepolis date to 518 BC, just four years after Darius the Great came to power. He is responsible for much of the building of Persepolis, one of the capitals of the Persian empire. Building continued on the site until the defeat of the Achaemenid dynasty by Alexander the Great in 331 BC. Whether Alexander ordered Persepolis to be burnt or it was an accident remains a mystery. Herodotus doesn’t mention Persepolis in his Histories, but he does detail all that history and mention all the people you come across depicted in the reliefs of the surviving ruins. So there on the Apadana Staircase you come face to face with all the peoples of the empire, including the Ethiopians, Greeks, Cappadocians, Bactrians with a two-humped camel, Elamites with a lioness and cubs, Indians, and the wonderfully unpronounceable Orthocorybantians with their pointy hats, to name just a few. In March every year, Iranians celebrate their national new year holiday, Na Ruz. This procession of stately people carved onto the Apadana Staircase had come from all parts of the Persian empire, stretching from East Africa to India, bearing gifts for the emperor to celebrate the same Na Ruz some 2500 years ago.More...
15. July 2014 16:49
by Tim Cleary
The late 80s were my formative years in terms of travel and holidays. In late July, six weeks of school holidays would begin and - like many other fortunate British families who had the opportunity to do such things - we would pack the boot of the car, load the roof rack and set out on a voyage of discovery to the Continent.
“Are we there yet?”
Although this was over 25 years ago, I remember quite distinctly what was involved with our annual camping holidays in France. First, there was an early-morning wake-up call for a quick breakfast and a drive to Dover for the ferry to Calais, where car sickness or the ferry's swaying from side to side might result in said breakfast rising again to where it came from. My siblings and I would irk our parents by repeating the inevitable “Are we there yet?” at various points along the way, ad nauseum.
My father would then attempt to drive us as far as possible along the French autoroutes before tiredness got the better of him somewhere in central France. Here, we would pitch our tent for the night, usually on a municipal campsite, and hunt for the nearest Géant Casino supermarket restaurant for its cheap, Gallic equivalent of Little Chef fare. My favourite was steak haché - cooked rare - with frites, an assortment of vegetables to make it seem slightly more healthy than it actually was, and some sort of chocolate mousse for pudding. My parents would also have a glass or two of French red table wine.
Songs for the middle of the road
No road trip would be worth it if you didn't have some tunes to keep the wheels turning. Thus began one of my enduring passions: music. During several hundred miles of travel through France, some time around 1988 or 1989, we would listen to French radio or the latest cassette albums purchased at home in England. The Gipsy Kings, Chris Rea (my favourite and most appropriate being On The Beach, the Travelling Wilburys supergroup, and the late-80s reincarnations of The Moody Blues (the Sur La Mer album in particular) and Fleetwood Mac became the soundtrack of these summer holidays. Middle-of-the-road music, in more ways than one. Occasionally, my more clued-up older teenage sister would get her way and my parents would reluctantly allow her to play albums by Morrissey, The Cure and other British alternative artists of the time. My tastes have changed, however, but my interest in music still remains. Whenever I travel now, I always try to use it as an opportunity to learn a bit more about the musical traditions around the world.More...
14. July 2014 16:33
by Debbie Valentine
Delhi is an assault on your senses. However you arrive in the city, it smacks you around the face with its intensity. The flavours and smells of the markets and food stalls; the sounds of a bustling, busy city; the sights of the completely contrasting old and new cites sitting next to each other: there is nowhere in the world quite like it.
Delhi is probably the most popular destination for visitors to India. It’s an easy gateway to the country, and the capital is a fascinating, bustling place to visit. Whether jumping in a rickshaw or on the surprisingly comfortable Metro, Delhi is a city easily traversed, although I would recommend taking a rickshaw at least once and experience the idiosyncrasies of Delhi’s traffic: where there are two lanes marked, expect four; traffic lights don’t necessarily mean stop; honking is just a suggestion the driver is about to do something; and being a pedestrian can be quite terrifying.
The main road of Old Delhi, Chandni Chowk, is the best place from which to explore the old city. With the Red Fort at one end, and the peaceful Fatehpuri Masjid at the other, the street is packed with shops, stalls, people and the occasional cow. Stop at one of the many stalls selling chai and, for about 10p, indulge in a cup of the sweet, aromatic tea. You can buy pretty much anything in the market, from fabric and shoes to food and homewares, it’s an astonishing selection of goods and a great place to collect a souvenir.More...
8. July 2014 13:48
by Annabel Barber, Editor of Blue Guides
Sir Richard Burton packed a lot into his relatively brief life. He died in 1890 at the age of 69 having been variously an explorer, soldier, diplomat and writer; a pilgrim (in Islamic disguise) to Mecca and Medina; the first European to see Lake Tanganyika; translator of the Arabian Nights; and above all a loose cannon “ill-fitted,” according to one source, “to run in official harness”. It is true that he never rose particularly high in the diplomatic service. And he was frowned on in certain circles for his interest in sex and sexual practices and for his penchant for noting down the vital statistics of the tribesmen he encountered on his travels. He was fiercely defended by his wife Isabel in a two-volume biography written shortly after his death. She dedicated it “To my earthly master, who is waiting for me on Heaven’s frontiers. Meet me soon—I wait the signal!” Isabel was herself a devout Catholic. Her earthly master was not. He dabbled in many religions, including Sufism, and is credited with the aphorism, “The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself.” More...
2. July 2014 13:04
by Brian Finch
Istanbul is a city of views and surprises. The views arise firstly from its location on the hilly banks of two great bodies of water - the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus - and secondly from the elegant domes, minarets, spires and towers throughout the historic centre . The surprises result from our misconceptions. I always thought of it as a Middle Eastern city, albeit spanning the border between Asia and Europe but found it a real synthesis and far more European than I expected.
We stayed in the historic centre which was ideal for walking to the main tourist sites whilst we took fast and reliable buses and trams to other areas. We did not try the underground system but it looks pretty impressive. There are plentiful and pretty cheap taxis but the drivers do not always know the way and may not always speak English. Two other things to beware of, they may try to negotiate a fare rather than using the meter, and the roads are pretty gridlocked during rush hour.More...
27. June 2014 12:53
Gregor Swiderek visits the Imperial War Museum at Duxford with some fellow military history enthusiasts from Stanfords.
The idea of a day trip to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford was floating amongst a few of us for a while. We decided to take a train to Whittlesford Parkway station which is located less than two miles from the museum, and walk from there. Otherwise there is a bus route from Cambridge serving the museums on Sunday. If you drive, Duxford is located just beside junction 10 on the M11.
What struck me first was the size of the museum. There is number of hangars, some of them quite enormous, located next to grass and hard runways. It was all bigger and more than I expected.
We started our tour from the largest hangar of the complex, the AirSpace. It displays mostly British and Commonwealth-built aircraft and the absolute highlight is of course Concorde. It was one of the first to be built and it was used for the test flights. In fact it has the distinction of having flown the fastest of any Concorde during the flight trials in which it was involved. What's most amazing is how low-tech everything looks, especially the cockpit, and how tiny the windows are. Still it is a spectacular machine, the only supersonic passenger jet ever.
Other great machines in this section include such icons as the Spitfire, Hurricane or Harrier as well as lesser known but impressive beasts like an Avro Vulcan strategic bomber (a huge delta-shaped plane which was used to carry the UK's atomic warheads), an Avro Lancaster heavy bomber from WWII and a Short Sunderland flying boat (used for hunting U-boats). There are many smaller or less known aircraft in this huge space, we could have probably spent a few hours in this one hangar alone but we decided to move on as there was so much more to see.More...
25. June 2014 16:57
by Barbara Tognini
After spending a few days in Bosnia and Montenegro, it was time to go back to Serbia, this time to visit those parts of the country which are a bit off the beaten track.
We set off from Mojkovac in Montenegro early in the morning and after driving for about three hours along the Serbian border with Kosovo, we left the main road to climb up a mountain to Studenica.
Studenica is the country’s oldest and holiest monastery, and it is still in use, with a small group of monks living within its walls.
The monastery was founded in the 12th century and consists of three churches and other two building enclosed by a defensive wall and a tower.
You notice straight away from the lawn around it that this place is special: the monks take good care of it, everything is clean and tidy, not a leaf of grass out of place. The setting is picturesque, on top of a mountain surrounded by other taller and forested mountains.More...
20. June 2014 14:43
by Gregor Swiderek
After roaming central Missouri for a whole long day (which you can read about it in the previous entry) the time came to find some place to stay overnight. So during one of our usual pit stops, when we refuel the car, stock up on coffee (for my girlfriend), cold coke with plenty of ice (for myself) and chocolate (for both of us), we opened our vast array of maps and started deliberating about where to go. It was then when I spotted the small town of Hermann located on the banks of the Missouri river, less than an hour from our current location. Somehow I remembered from one of the many guidebooks on the US I have read over the years that it was supposed to be a nice historic place.
In fact Hermann turned out to be a real gem. Located about 80 miles west of St Louis it was established in 1837 by the Deutsche Ansiedlungs-Gesellschaft zu Philadelphia (German Settlement Society of Philadelphia) and named after Hermann der Cherusker, a Germanic leader who defeated the Romans in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD (his mildly kitschy statue in the town was dedicated in 2009).
Nowadays this small place (population only about 2500) is a centre of the, so called, Missouri Rhineland. Located mostly in the Missouri River Valley this area is named for its similarities to the Rhineland region in Germany and for the German settlers who determined that this part of Missouri would be good for grape growing. German influences as well as connections with Philadelphia are visible throughout the town. For example most of the historic buildings are constructed with bricks and they really resemble some of Philadelphia's old neighbourhoods. In fact Hermann has over 110 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, many of them converted to lovely B&Bs and guest houses.More...
3. June 2014 10:11
This Friday, 6th June marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Take a look at some of our top D-Day maps and books below: