April 2009


The weekend has been stolen from me by marking.  It has sucked the joy and life out of things, but geekness calms me.  It is a distraction.

And so when I saw the latest Mournes map on sale I ended up sitting down and comparing it to the older map.  The new map has a new cover but I had been told that it was the same as the old one with a few minor changes.  This is not the case, it seems different to me.

The new map has lost its coloured contouring showing high and low contours.  The old map had a gradient of bold colour showing the highs and lows.  At first you would think the bold colour on the old map is good and tells you where the mountains and valleys are.  However, map readers tend to be able to see this straight away without the colour.  The colour is a distraction like trying to embed yourself in a good novel which someone has used a highlighter pen and wrote revision notes on.  So this new, more sober, map is a welcome improvment.  It is an echo of the really old map of the Mournes which had no colour, a map that is rare and cherished.

The new map advertises; “digitally derived contours”.  This could be good or bad.  To most people digital means new and improved; modern.  To music lovers it means awful quality, degradation and a step backwards.  Digital music compresses the sound by simplifying it, by slicing it up and throwing the details away.  It seems that these digitally derived contours have stripped the details away the contours seem regular.  The mountains seem perfectly formed as if by a childish drawing.  They have lost their raw roughness, their organic quality.  The details have been dropped.  That is unless the OSNI have taken some steam rollers to the sides of the Mountains and made them look like their new map.

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An unwelcome distraction this weekend has been my car failing to start on the way home today.  As we left, it failed to turnover and had to be push started.  The starter motor is failing, everything else was fine so it started with a little push and a little speed.   That was until we made a little stop in the town city of Lisburn.  This time I pushed it on my own as the lovely Sharon was at the wheel.  She needs no instruction on these matters as we both have driven many bangers old cars that needed plenty of loving care and encouragement in the past.  This time I pushed it to speed and it refused to start.  I pushed it back and tried again, faster.  No joy.  I pushed it back and tried again.  No joy.    I pushed it back and tried again, faster.  No joy.  I should point out that we were in the middle of a main street in the centre and I did not look the part dressed in a suit.  Why won’t it start?  The electrics are fine ( apart from the starter).  I tried again as two friendly guys ran up and asked if I needed a hand.  It was a rhetorical question as they asked it while pushing, this is the behaviour that unites blokes everywhere.  The car started.

As I got back in the car I thanked them and we sped off.  I was exhausted and sweating from all the pushing and was out of breath as I turned to the lovely sharon.  She had a look of guilt mixed with mischievousness mixed with worry and embarrassment.  She asked if it was a bad thing that she forgot to turn the ignition on until the very last attempt?  I did not speak to her for 10 minutes.  I did not say a word.  She did not deserve conversation.

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Trapped inside all day; marking coursework.  The brief moments of sunshine kept me sane, reasonably sane.

Winding down now as the lovely Sharon sits beside me with her ankle elevated and packed in ice.  Logic dictates that you should not run on stretched and swollen ligaments.  When it comes to exercise the lovely Sharon does not care for logic.

Coursework = aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

This needs a little explaining.  It is a long standing joke between the lovely sharon and I that my family is useless at keeping presents unopened and her family are stronger willed.  My family will happily give presents way before the special date, the present is for the person and not necessarily for the date.

So a special day is approaching for me and I have been nagging the lovely sharon all day for my present.  She continually refuses and I am mostly teasing her for the entertainment value.  Earlier on I took her close to breaking point and she retorted, I quote; “My name’s not ***my surname*** you know!  Oh, wait, it is”.  Bless her.

Years ago I wrote about my strange experiences with OSNI and now I have stumbled upon another oddity – The Mournes Map.

The Mournes Map 1st Edition is a legend. It was loved by many and heavily used for years. I once heard an extremely experienced Mountaineer say that he believed it was the best walking map made in the UK and Ireland. Just the right amount of information and accuracy, not an overload of info that can be found in many OS maps in England. Some of these maps induce instant insanity when attempting to read them.

Rumours of a new map grew about 6 years ago. This new map was colourful, bright and was launched with pride. It received heavy criticism. Many claimed that it had mistakes all over it and was not as accurate as the old one. I can’t stand over these claims but I have experienced a few of these mistakes myself.

The map was again relaunched quietly. No fanfare that I could see, just quietly put on the shelf, a re-print with a few fixes.

Now here is the strangeness; this 3rd map is becoming hard to get. A couple of weeks ago the students claimed that they could not get the map anywhere, SOLD OUT. This is worrying as hundreds of DofE students from schools will be heading for the hills. So I began some research……

There is a new 4th Edition! Here it is. But if you look closely you can see it was published in February 2008? I have never seen this map in the shops, how could I have missed it for over a year? I will try and ring OSNI today.

UPDATE:  I rang osni and asked them when the ‘February 2008’ map would be out.  He said that they were all sitting ready to go out, although he was not to sure if they were out or not.  He gave me the number of the osni shop.  When I rang the shop they told me the manager would ring me back because they were not sure.  When the manager rang me back he said he did not have a date as he was not even sure they were all printed yet.  I told him that I had spoken to the other guy and he said they were ready to go.  He did not seem impressed with this.

So, still no clue when they will hit the shops.

The sun is out and it is beautiful.  It must be time to mark coursework.