Posted by: billpurdue | December 31, 2011

Out and about

As I am writing this on the last day of 2011, it seemed a good idea to take a look at some of the books I recently came across on a recent visit to Waterstone’s. They were all, in some way or other, connected with travel or getting away from it all – and that’s what many people like to think about at this time of the year.

Let’s start with David St. John Thomas’s Remote Britain [Frances Lincoln £18.99 978-0711230545] which roams over many different parts of the country finding out about the wildlife, the people, the history and, as you might expect from this author, abandoned or heritage railways. He has since written Railway Season[Frances Lincoln,£14.99 978-0711232594] which some reviewers have criticised for including rehashed content from previous books. For a review, have a look at the “Steam Index” website.

I’m over 60 and being an almost fully fledged “wrinkly”, I am making frequent use of my bus pass which gives me free travel on local bus services anywhere in England. A new book called Bus Pass Britain[Bradt, £16.99, 978-1841623764] brings together and describes 50 of the best bus journeys in the UK as voted for or suggested by the bus travelling public. These range right across the country, but unfortunately there are none in the North East Midlands. I’m sure there are several in our region that are as interesting as some of those that made it into the book.

If you enjoy the BBC series “Coast”, then you might also enjoy the book by the first presenter of the series (before Neil Oliver), Nick Crane. Coast: our Island Story [BBC Books £18.00 978-1849900362 ] is the first narrative account of a journey around the coast by a “Coast” presenter. All the elements of the TV series are in the book: the geography, geology, history, industry and so on.

I came across a lengthy review of this book in the Lancashire Evening Post

I love travelling by rail, so I thought Sunrise on the Southbound Sleeper [Aurum Press £20 978-1845136680]might be “right up my street”, so to speak. Michael Kerr has collected a large number of accounts of rail journeys in all parts of the world by well known writers. This is apparently the second collection. You can read a few extracts from the book on the Daily Telegraph’s travel website by clicking here.

I know the connection with travel is in this case is very tenuous, but….here’s a book about countries in Europe you can no longer visit simply because they don’t exist. This is not the Europe we usually think of – in other words the countries that exist today. Over the years there have been many kingdoms, empires and republics in Europe that have come and gone. In Vanished Kingdoms by Norman Davies [Allen Lane £30 978-1846143380] you will not only find information about many of the long forgotten kingdoms of Europe, but also facts that might surprise you. For example how many people know that Glasgow was founded by the Welsh before the existence of England and Scotland? This is quite a pricey volume and a weighty one too (848 pages), but I think I’d find it endlessly fascinating. You can find an extract from the book on the Penguin website.

Happy New Year!


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