Monday, April 24, 2006


On 8 April 2006 Wrights and Sites published ‘A Mis-guide to anywhere’, a book of ideas for you to try out in your City: ways of walking in your City that help you to see it differently.

In the MisGuide they develop the old situationist idea of using a map of one city to navigate around another. (a bit like the I'm Sorry I haven't a Clue game where you sing the words of one song to the tune of another).

They quote the example of a Ferris wheel moved from Paris to Birmingham in 2003. The wheel still had the French audio commentary installed. For several weeks people looked out on England’s second city whilst being told to look out for familiar Parisian landmarks.

If you are in London, Wrights and Sites suggest you get a map of Paris and use it to find where in London the Eiffel tower is. Stop along the way to enjoy the Parisian ambience, find a place for a Ricard and a croissant.

Tania and I inadvertently did something like this on our holiday in the Isle of Wight. On the bookshelf of the cottage we were staying in there was a pile of leaflets about places on the Island. The pile included a guide to Mottisfont Abbey.

The guide described the history of the Abbey. and its conversion to a manor house after the Reformation. The house has a drawing room designed by Rex Whistler. A river runs through its extensive gardens, which houses the national collection of roses.

A check of its facilities (with our hungry son in mind) revealed the existence of a café/restaurant open every day and serving hot meals.

Sounded good so we got in the car and drove over to the West of the Island. Got there at 12. Kids bored and hungry after an hour in the car. Restaurant turned out to be a tea hut, which didn’t take debit cards. No disaster, back in the car to the nearest village for an agreeable pub lunch looking towards the cliffs at Freshwater.

Should we go back? Might as well. After all, said Tania, it would be nice to see round the house. Back we go, spent an enjoyable hour helping Andrew and Anna find flowerpot men and women in the gardens.

(Here we found Dr Hoe and the Garleks)

Had a look at the house. It didn’t look much like an abbey, it didn’t look very open either. It wasn’t open.

A conversation with the Reception staff revealed that Mottisfont Abbey isn't on the Isle of Wight. We were at Mottistone Manor. The house in the gardens is a private residence which is open to the public one day per year (on the August bank holiday).

If I had known about the Mis-Guide we would have looked for the river and the rose collection.

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