Category > Travel books

Lonely Planet Devon, Cornwall and Southwest England

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Lonely Planet Devon Cornwall & Southwest England,  Oliver Berry , book reviewI bought this guide just before visiting Dartmoor and Cornwall for the first time in 2012. I would usually be content with borrowing a guidebook from the library, but as one of my sons lives in Bristol and I occasionally meet up with him in Bath, it seemed like a book worth buying since I would continue to use it in the future.

Right at the beginning, the guide has a double-page map in colour; the area it covers extends to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in the north and the New Forest in the east. To avoid confusion, the area actually covered by the guide is shaded in grey. Major cities, towns and attractions are shown, and these include Torquay, Bristol, the Isles of Scilly, Corfe Castle and the Eden Project.

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Motorcycle Diaries Across India

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Motorcycle Diaries Across India by Jay S Babu, book reviewMotorcycle Diaries Across India by Jay S Babu was my latest temporary acquisition from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library which offers free e-book ‘loans’ to members of their Amazon Prime scheme. Unlike the other downloads which I’ve tended to race through, leaving myself kicking my heels waiting for the end of the month so I could pick the next one, I had to sit myself down, give myself a good talking to and then force myself to finish it. Having challenged myself to download a freebie, read and review it each month, I was struggling for sufficient enthusiasm to get through this one.

The author is Indian and the trip he describes was taken back in 1966. It’s not clear to me whether it was written up and published at that time or whether he’s written it several decades later and then published it.


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Growing Old Outrageously

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Growing Old Outrageously by Hilary Linstead and Elisabeth Davies, book reviewThis article is part of our Holiday Reads 2013 series. You can find out more about Hilary’s and Liz’s favourite reads here.

Growing Old Outrageously by Hilary Linstead and Elisabeth Davies is a travel book that will either delight you with the scope of their retirement adventures and their willingness to have a go at anything or will fill you with fear that you might one day find yourself on holiday with these two eccentric old girls. Liz and Hilary met at school at Cheltenham Ladies College and then found each other again after retirement, despite Hilary being in Australia and Liz in the UK. They were reintroduced by a mutual friend, took their first trip together to Morocco and were soon bouncing around all over the world egging each other on to increasingly outrageous acts of self-embarrassment. Flirting with waiters, accidentally wetting themselves, getting locked in cupboards, offending fellow travellers and having a wild time soon became the norm.

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Berlitz: Lille Pocket Guide

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Berlitz: Lille Pocket Guide, book reviewThe Berlitz Lille Pocket Guide is such a tiny format that it really could fit in some pockets, measuring 4 inches by 5.75 inches. Despite that it does contain plenty of information; the font is of course small, but not to the extent that you would strain your eyes when reading.

The guide begins with a double page that has colour photos of Lille’s top ten attractions, which include the Porte de Paris, the Modern Art Museum, the Vieille Bourse and Wazemmes covered market. Each picture has a caption that tells you the page number where you can find out more about the attraction.


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Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found

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Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found, Cheryl Strayed, book reviewWild is Cheryl Strayed’s account of her journey along the Pacific Crest Trail, 1100 miles from California, through Oregon and into Washington State. Following the death of her mother, her family grew apart and her marriage broke up. She was in a pretty bad place, directionless and dabbling in drugs, and one day came across a guide book for the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). With nothing to lose, she set off with the worlds heaviest rucksack and no experience of long-distance hiking.

There are two stories told in Wild, the physical and the emotional.


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Harden’s UK Restaurant Survey 2013

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Harden's UK Restaurant Survey 2013, Richard Harden, Peter Harden, book reviewI’m not honestly sure how I first came across Harden’s Restaurant Survey a few years ago, although I expect it was through an email from them. Harden’s invites members of the public to complete a survey giving ratings and comments on restaurants they have visited; they then publish a book that features the restaurants for which they received a sufficient number of responses from survey participants. Up until recent years, Harden’s published a reporters’ edition of the guide book which they sent out to all participants as a token of appreciation; for the past couple of years, however, participants have received the full version of the book.

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100 Places You Will Never Visit

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100 Places You Will Never Visit: The World's Most Secret Locations, Dan Smith, book reviewPossibly the strangest addition to the ranks of travel list publications, Daniel Smith’s new book 100 Places You Will Never Visit: The World’s Most Secret Locations is effectively a travel guide to places you can’t go. Or wouldn’t want to go for that matter.

So why read a book that tells about a bunch of things you can’t do? Well, for me the clincher was that I live virtually next door to one of these locations and I was a bit curious about it – the location being Cheltenham’s Government Communication Headquarters, usually abbreviated to GCHQ and known locally as “the doughnut” owing to its ring shape.


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Strangers on a Train

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Around India in 80 Trains, Monisha Rajesh, book reviewThe inspiration of course comes from Jules Verne. And it struck London based journalist Monisha Rajesh one drizzly London day, reading about India’s airline boom, when she wanted to escape from the weather and the sameness of life in London. It also offered an opportunity to get to know India better, since Monisha’s encounters with the country of her origins had hardly been rewarding. As a child transported from England, she had found life as a schoolchild in Chennai filled with snide comments because her parents were ‘different’ from the rest, her mother did not wear saris. After that short unpleasant experience, the Rajesh family had left India, with no intentions of returning except perhaps to visit relatives.


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The Wander Year

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 The Wander Year: One Couple's Journey Around the World, Mike McIntyre, book reviewThe Wander Year by Mike McIntyre is pretty much completely summed up in its subtitle: One Couple’s Journey Around The World. In 2000, Mike and his girlfriend Andrea left their jobs and spent a year travelling the world, with only a vague plan of where they were going and when.

Originally published as a weekly column in the Los Angeles Times, the e-book has been expanded from the original column. The Wander Year charts their progress around the world, with McIntyre talking about their travel, accommodation, experiences and illnesses in a frank and funny style.


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A Shrinking World

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Sky Train: Tibetan Women on the Edge of History (Paperback) By (author) Canyon Sam, Foreword by Dalai Lama XIV, book reviewThe strange thing is that very few people were aware that women were marginalized in Tibet and then brought to the forefront after the Chinese occupation. You realize it reading through Sky Train. Most tellingly in the story of a Rinpoche who refuses to travel in the company of women, despite being accompanied by the woman’s husband and son as well. He calls the husband aside to tell him this and the result is that the family ends up being separated as the husband tries to escort the Rinpoche safely to the Indian border and the Chinese move in and arrest the two women, sisters, who share the same husband.

Canyon Sam is a third generation Chinese American who visited China in an attempt to discover her roots.


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Tuk-Tuk to the Road

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Tuk-Tuk to the Road,  Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent,  Jo Huxster, book reviewOne of the best things about being British is that eccentricity is not just acceptable, it’s almost compulsory. It’s perfectly possible to run the London marathon dressed as a tampon or to sail across the Atlantic on a sofa and still be considered entirely sane and almost normal. I say “hoorah to that” and the more such activities the better though I’d really rather someone else does them so that I don’t have to. When I read that two young women had driven a bright pink tuk tuk (auto-rickshaw) overland from Bangkok to Brighton to raise money for charity, I knew that I would have to get a copy of their book and find out more. That book is Tuk Tuk to the Road: Two Girls, Three Wheels, 12,500 Miles by Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent and Jo Huxter.

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Panamerican Peaks

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Panamerican Peaks by Thomas Laussermair, book reviewPanamerican Peaks by Thomas Laussermair is the story of the journey of a lifetime. In 2009-2010, Laussermair cycled from Alaska down through Canada and the US, and then through Central and South America. On the way he climbed 16 mountains, one per country (although technically two in the US as he did Denali in Alaska and then Mount Whitney). He categorises his journey by the elements of nature he is passing through, i.e. Heat, Pampa, Volcano.

Laussermair is not a native English speaker, although he is highly proficient in the language, and unfortunately this was the first thing I noticed about his writing.


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