Sometime soon I need to check which maps I already have and fill in the gaps. My OS maps are ordered on my shelves roughly by region, and the Welsh maps sit together in a few geographic groups. Only then I spot, in the middle of a shelf, after the last of the Welsh maps give way to Stafford and the Peak District, just beyond the Isle of Man, an old, cloth map, stained by age, the cover long lost, and only a tattered bleached red remnant, suggests it is of the old one inch OS series.
Opening it up, I find it is of Cardiff and Glamorgan, the valleys black spider webs of railways before Beeching, a dark brown stain (water or campfire? odd that the two are indistinguishable with age) obliterates an area north of Barry Island.
My eye and finger trace old places walked, one day up beyond Caerphilly, rain-soaked amongst the coal tips; and places of childhood, Dynas Powis for the Whitsun sports, Ogmore for the dunes. Some I’ll pass through again in a few months, others who knows? But the map, a thing of magic, sometimes taking you away in your imaginations to places you have never seen, and sometimes back into your past.