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Edinburgh Insight Flexi Map (Insight Flexi…
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Edinburgh Insight Flexi Map (Insight Flexi Maps)

by Apa

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If ever any city were in need of clear, concise and easy to understand mapping that comes in a stain-resistant, wipe-clean format of such sturdy quality that it won't blow to shredded buggery like a sodden spinnaker in a squall when unfolded for consultation on some windy, rainswept corner, that city is Edinburgh. And this is never more true than at festival time, when man's natural inability to seek directions or admit to being lost is combined with a deadline to get to the next show, and an alcohol-enhanced self belief in ones natural sense of direction being spot on, even when the room is spinning. (In the end, just did what I always do, ripped the back page gatefold from the fringe programme and used this for the time I was there. The problem is of course that occasionally a street can fall into one of the creases that appear from folding and refilling the thing into your back pocket.)

Edinburgh though, is always going to be a challenge for any mapmaker at any time. There is an attempt at a grid right in the city centre, but around this are wynds that connect closes that link streets, at different levels, giving the impression that the geography is trying to fold in on itself. Which, by design, this map does also.

Although the city itself is not actually that big, the many wee alleyways and closes appear to challenge the laws of geography, physics and sobriety, giving the appearance that there is actually more road and pavement here than in the rest of Scotland combined, most of it cobbled. A map is essential because the granite in the buildings throws off compasses and blocks gps signals. The twenty first century does not work here, unless it is combining microwave technology with deep fat frying.

The map is clear, colourful and, best of all, it’s printed on laminated paper, the sort of special lamination that they use in fast food restaurants. The sort of fast food restaurants where they know they will be wiping stuff down, a lot, mainly because while haggis is an excellent idea in theory, it's not to everybody's taste when they first bite into it, which is usually the time their sadistic dining partner tells them what it's made of. Hence the wiping down. But does mean that you can wipe off the worst excesses of the diet and the elements and also means that it is more weatherproof than most maps, indeed one gets the feeling that one could, at a push, use it to patch a galleon's sail in an emergency.

The shiny surface is also useful because one can also use a non-permenant marker pen to annotate the map. This is a great innovation as you can not only sit in a pub and mark out your route and destination but also cross off pubs, venues, and areas of the city such as phone boxes and secluded corners where one might have been discreetly indisposed that, after last night, it would be unwise to revisit, at least in sandals.

Although large and colourful, the one drawback is that the scale is not big enough. What one really needs is something that can be easily read in testing conditions, for instance low light (rain, overcast skies, dark nights, gloomy pubs) and is large enough to provide rapid and clear city centre navigation. I am sure that the outlying areas of Edinburgh are lovely, but the only people that want to visit them are their residents and presumably they know the way home.

In its favour it's got a street finder, and a separate map of Leith - useful if only to prevent accidentally visiting. It also features two separate maps showing where Edinburgh is in relation to Central Scotland, and in relation to Scotland in general, like a map version of one of those shots where the camera pulls away from the street and out into space. Extreme as this may appear, this is more useful than it sounds, because if there is one place where knowing your location on planet earth might come in handy first thing in the morning, it's Edinburgh. ( )
1 vote macnabbs | Mar 20, 2012 |
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