Travels through England. The Map That Came To Life

No blog posts this week as one half of TheBigForest has been travelling. Leaving the house at 6am on Monday Ive been to Gloucestershire, Newcastle, Liverpool and London arriving back after 8pm on Friday night. Across the country and then people to please when I arrived at each destination. It’s been stimulating but exhausting, I’m so glad to be back home and sitting in my armchair with a cup of tea.

The travelling put me in mind of a book I had as child. It was a very old and battered book from another distant generation of children’s literature and it was called The Map That Came to Life. The publication date was 1948 and it told the story of John and Joanna and their visit to Uncle George at Two Tree Farm. Uncle gives them a map, teaches them the symbols and how to follow a route and off they set (with Rover the farm dog) for a walk through the fields and villages of 40’s England to the town of Dumbleford on market day. On the way they encounter scouts setting up tents, a gypsy encampment, the railway, an airfied, a small ferry, a Youth Hostel and when they arrive at Dumbleford Uncle George meets them in the horse and trap. There is a full scan of the book at a wonderful site called the Visual Telling of Stories if you click here.

I was too tired and mentally exhausted to read so I looked out of the train window on my journey across England. The beauty and diversity of the countryside is so wonderful to rediscover and passing longboats and canals, farms, two hikers in bright waterproofs, industrial cities and ancient cathedrals made the journey enjoyable and bought to mind The Map That Came to Life and its compelling glimpse of a lost and romanticised England.

A few years back we were rummaging through a carboot sale and came across another The Map That Came to Life in far better condition than my childhood copy. When we got home we discovered it was a 1962 reprint and the illustrations had been updated. Gone were most (but not all) of the 40’s trucks and cars, the woman using her cottage water pump, the propeller aircraft in the airfield and also the gentle lithograph colours. Now everything was superbright. Even the small 40’s hats and boxy clothes of the women had been softened to give an early 60’s silhouette. I’ve posted two comparison images which you might find interesting.

So what next? We are off to The Red House this afternoon, the home of William Morris the Arts and Crafts writer, artist, craftsman and designer which we hope will recharge batteries and jump start creativity and then on with the making for our selling events.

About TheBigForest

TheBigForest. A silly artist maker creating in felt and paper construction. Like us on Facebook: TheBigForest. Find us at Twitter : twitter/TheBigForestuk


  1. Jenny Day

    I too have a copy of the book ‘The Map that came to life ‘. Given to me on my 10th birthday. It started a life long fascination with both OS and here in NZ Topographical maps.

  2. Thank you! Glad you are enjoying it.

  3. Susan Bruce

    Fantastic blog ! Enjoyed it very much. Also want to go to Red House !

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