I grew up in the 1980s in a time when maps were made of paper not pixels and only a dad could fold one back to fit into its plastic sleeve.
Opening our road map on the kitchen table, all tatty edges, oil smudges and coffee stains, was a summer holiday ritual that evoked jitters of excitement and a wave of trepidation. Our family car was a vintage Bullnose Morris, so burst radiators and blown gaskets were part of the adventure and as my mother was the navigator and struggled to tell her left from her right, so was the scenic route. But there was always something pioneering about our summer holidays, like ancient explorers setting off to discover new lands.
Today, Google has over 21 million gigabytes of useful map data that can be beamed to your mobile in an instant to get you to your desired destination as fast as possible, saving you time, money and depending on your partner’s navigation skills, even your marriage along the way. GPS made maps infinitely more practical, bestowing an infallibility upon even the most unfit navigator, but what was gained in sense of direction was somehow lost in sense of adventure.
Short of a satellite blackout, the days of accidentally stumbling upon somewhere may be all but over, but the emotional bonds we tie to places are not. If you think about it, every significant memory you have, happened somewhere, meaning there’s a map out there with your story to tell. When you add a memory to a map, that place transcends its cold set of longitude and latitude coordinates and comes to life, contoured by emotion. We created The Map of Everyone to draw out the stories from places and turn your special locations into celebrations.
A map should be a time machine, transporting you back through a heady cloud of nostalgia to a place filled with memories. A special moment somewhere to relive over and over again. A landmark memory.
Here are 3 of my landmark memories — 3 places close to my heart
1. Holmbury St Mary, United Kingdom
The first is the farm in Holmbury St Mary where I grew up. This map is filled with the freedom of being raised in the countryside; the squelch of mud under welly boot, cold winters and beautiful (but short!) summers. I can hear the roar of my father’s vintage racing cars by day and Scott Joplin played on the piano by my mother at night- interspersed with the laughter and squabbling of 3 brothers born within 3 years of each other. There’s an aroma of baked bread, wet hay and bonfires.
2. Cartagena, Colombia
My second map is of Cartagena in Colombia, my wife’s home city and where we married. This map is filled with the colours and sounds of the Caribbean. There’s the aroma of coconut oil mixed with fresh coffee and scent of bougainvillaea that cascades down from the balconies in the old city. There’s the sweaty embrace of tropical heat and rhythm of salsa, laughter and the joy of life.
3. Barcelona, Spain
My final map is Barcelona, the city where my children were born and I now call home. It’s richly coloured in Mediterranean life; morning runs down the beach, blue winter skies, rocky coves and summer swims. There’s the clink of outdoor eating, the flip-flop of feet and the cackle of old Catalan men talking too loudly at each other on park benches. The map is contoured with the ups and downs of work and life, and flows with a deep sense of gratitude and contentment that comes with having a family.
The Map of Everyone is a new kind of personalised gift for 2020, a way to celebrate your landmark memories and your loved ones. The place you met your soulmate, the family home for mum, an unforgettable summer holiday for dad, where your best friend got married. Your favourite memories on a map. For Christmas, I gave one to my dad and one to my brothers for their birthdays. Here they are with their maps – apologies for the photography – my dad blames my brother and vice versa. That’s family.