Time and again as I cycled through Russia and China, I found high-quality, and often very beautiful, maps of the regions I was passing through.
Yet these maps are pretty much impossible to obtain back home in the UK. The few that are available are often on sale at impossibly high prices.
For a long time I have wanted to do something about that. Good quality maps of China and Russia are available in China and Russia - and it's about time they were available here in the UK, too.
So I've decided to set up a specialist online map store, supplying exclusively foreign-published maps from countries whose mapping has until now been hard or impossible to find. Starting with Russia and China, I am working with local map publishers in those two countries to bring their cartographic wares to the UK market.
The maps will soon be for sale on www.farflungmaps.com - the home of quality maps of Russia and China.
The market is there, I am sure. Over half a million British nationals visited China in 2010, and nearly quarter of a million visited Russia. Add about the same again from France, and a million Germans. All these people need to know where they are going, and many of them would love a map as a souvenir.
Of course all these maps are available in China and Russia - if you know where to look. If you're on holiday, or on a business trip, chances are you won't have time to track down the local bookstore in Shanghai or Moscow. Really, you want the map before you leave home, so you can plan your travels, and you'll want it when you arrive at Pudong or Domodedovo airport, too.
Did I mention that all products on farflungmaps will be delivered free anywhere in the UK and Europe? The site isn't built yet, but it will be coming soon. Keep watching this space.