… one of the best ways to get to know a country is to take yourself to the less touristy, less obvious destinations. And let’s face it: things don’t get much less touristy than Slough…
As staff travel writer on The Times since 1997, Tom Chesshyre had visited over 80 countries on assignment, and wondered: what is left to be discovered?
He realised that the answer might be very close to home. In a mad adventure that took him from Hull to Hell (actually a rather nice holiday location in the Isles of Scilly), Tom visited secret spots of Unsung Britain in search of the least likely holiday destinations. He got to know the real Coronation Street in Salford, explored Blade Runner Britain in Port Talbot, discovered that everything’s quite green in Milton Keynes, met real-life superheroes and many a suspicious landlady, and watched a football match with celebrity chef Delia Smith in Norwich.
With a light and edgy writing style Tom peels back the skin of the unfashionable underbelly of Britain, and embraces it all with the spirit of discovery.
‘It seemed a terrible shame to meet my end in Iowa; I couldn’t imagine anywhere more disappointing to die. If I were a betting man I’d have reckoned on the most dangerous thing in this state being sheer boredom. The scenery hadn’t changed for weeks and I was slowly dissolving into stimulation-deprived madness. My current predicament, then – attempting to escape through cornfields from a gun-toting alcohol-soaked rancher – was not something I expected.’
Just months after graduating from university, Leon received disastrous news: he had been offered a job. Terrified at the prospect of a life spent behind a desk, without challenge or adventure, he took off to cross America on an overloaded bicycle packed with everything but common sense. Over five months and 6,000 miles, Leon cycled from New York to Seattle and then on to the Mexican border, facing tornadoes, swollen river crossings and one hungry black bear along the way. But he also met kind strangers who offered their food, wisdom, hospitality and even the occasional local history lesson, and learned what happens when you take a chance and follow the scent of adventure.
The Great North Road is Britain’s Route 66 – we’ve just forgotten how to sing its praises
In 1921, Britain’s most illustrious highway, the Great North Road, ceased to exist – on paper at least. Stretching from London to Edinburgh, the old road was largely replaced by the A1 as the era of the motor car took hold.
A hundred years later, journalist and cyclist Steve Silk embraces the anniversary as the perfect excuse to set off on an adventure across 11 days and 400 miles. Travelling by bike at a stately 14 miles per hour, he heads north, searching out milestones and memories, coaching inns and coffee shops.
Seen from a saddle rather than a car seat, the towns and the countryside of England and Scotland reveal traces of Britain’s remarkable past and glimpses of its future. Instead of the familiar service stations and tourist hotspots, Steve tracks down the forgotten treasures of this ancient highway between the two capitals.
The Great North Road is a journey as satisfying for the armchair traveller as the long-distance cyclist. Enriched with history, humour and insight, it’s a tribute to Britain and the endless appeal of the open road.
Tired of airport security queues, delays and all those extra taxes and charges, Tom Chesshyre embarks on a series of high-speed adventures across the Continent on its fast trains instead. From shiny London St Pancras, Tom travels to places that wouldn’t feature on a standard holiday wish-list, and discovers the hidden delights of mysterious Luxembourg, super-trendy Rotterdam, much-maligned Frankfurt and lovely lakeside Lausanne, via a pop concert in Lille. It’s 186 mph all the way – well, apart from a power cut in the Channel Tunnel on the way to Antwerp. Is our idea of ‘Europe’ changing as its destinations become easier to reach? And what fun can you have at the ends of the lines? Jump on board and find out!
If I’d really been serious about getting to grips with my mid-life crisis, then I’d have been better opting for a course of therapy than going off travelling. Or if I had to travel, I’d have been better opting for somewhere warm with a beach…
In an attempt to get to grips with a BIG birthday, Steve sets out from Oxford to explore what makes the English… well, so English. His quirky humour is inspired by Tom Rolt, who took to the canals on a similar journey immortalised in the book ‘Narrow Boat’, kick-starting the revival of Britain’s waterways. Prepare for a generous helping of mayhem, mishaps and the staple of every English summer: torrential rain. First published as ‘Fruit Flies Like a Banana’ this revised edition with new material is published to coincide with the 70-year anniversary of Tom Rolt’s own classic trip.
Sixteen years after first moving to Catalonia, Richard Guise finally finds time to slow down and explore the back roads by bicycle. With over 400 kilometres of sparkling Mediterranean shoreline and an interior dominated by the Pyrenees, it’s a spectacular journey from wind-blown headlands to the glitzy costas, and from bustling Barcelona to remote hillsides where only wild goats grazing and chirruping cicadas disturb the tranquillity.
Dipping into the unique history of this fiercely independent nation-within-a-nation, he uncovers many of its cultural peculiarities, such as why the sardana dance is not as easy as it looks and what to do in a bugaderia. Chancing upon nudist beaches, ancient Iberian sites and revolutionary road-sweepers, this slow cyclist revels in authentic Catalonia.
A fun and inspiring interactive journal for boys aged 9-12
It’s time to be the best you can be and celebrate all your awesomeness!
Welcome to the time in your life when lots of big, exciting stuff happens! This companion is here to guide you along the way. It’s full of cool fill-in activities, quizzes to do with friends, tips for achieving your goals and dreams, and advice on how your body will change as you head into your teenage years. Helping you plan and prepare for big days, like starting a new school or taking an exam, and offering some great ideas when you need a confidence boost, this book covers the essentials and so much more!
All About Me is for you and you alone, so dive in and get started. Pick up a pen and make this journal as amazing and original as you are.
Write a letter to your future self – what would you say?
Create the ultimate travel bucket list and dream big.
How well do you and your best friend really know each other? Take the quiz to find out!
Lena nodded solemnly.
‘Where?’ I almost shouted, briefly rattling the table. ‘No, wait, don’t tell me – it’s Todi in Umbria, right? The old manor house, the one with the lemon groves!’
‘Alt-Globnitz?’ Suddenly I felt cold.
‘Alt-Globnitz. It’s a really nice place. You will love it.’
In a desperate attempt to save his relationship with girlfriend Lena and take a break from the world of journalism, Germany correspondent Roger Boyes agrees to make a great escape from the easy urban lifestyle of Berlin and decamp to the countryside. Roger has hopes for southern Italy, but Lena has inherited a run-down old schloss in deepest, darkest Brandenburg.
Needing a form of income, they decide to set up a B & B with a British theme. Enter unhelpful Harry and his Trinidadian chef cousin, a mad Scot to advise them on re-branding Brandenburg, some suicidal frogs and a posse of mad tourists. It all culminates, naturally, in a cricket match between the Brits and the Germans on an old Russian minefield. Farce meets romance in this follow-up to the successful A Year in the Scheisse.
It’s time we celebrated women in adventure
What does “toughness” mean to you? Perhaps it’s being physically fit and mentally resilient. Perhaps it’s doing something no one else has done before. Perhaps it’s breaking down boundaries and proving what you can do, in spite of the naysayers. Perhaps it’s travelling alone, immersing yourself in new cultures and meeting new people. Perhaps it’s running ultramarathons in the blistering heat and beating the competition. Perhaps it’s conquering your fears.
The badass adventurers in this collection are all fearless, intelligent, compassionate and curious about the world – and they all happen to be female. From endurance obstacle races to arctic expeditions, from mountain climbing to wingsuit flying, from horse trekking to swimming the English Channel, they have set the bar high for what women are capable of. Let yourself be inspired by their stories of grit, courage, determination, triumph and heartbreak – you never know, it might lead to something incredible!
A chance conversation with her greengrocer about the media’s portrayal of India inspired journalist Justine Hardy to leave London and, following in the footsteps of Rudyard Kipling, spend a year working at The Indian Express in New Delhi. Her new life – with a quirky landlord who turns out to be a former Rajput prince – takes her all over India from polo matches and Assam tea gardens to city slums.
When Samantha Brick’s life started to unravel – her company in liquidation, homeless, penniless and friendless, and on max-strength anti-depressants – it seemed that everything was going wrong. But a chance week away in France led to the most unexpected of all turn-arounds: a whirlwind romance with gun-toting, stubborn and ever-so-macho Pascal. It wasn’t until she moved in to his cottage in the beautiful Lot region in south-west France that she realised how shamefully ill-equipped she was for the country life.
Like Cinderella in reverse, Samantha had to learn to cook, clean, chop wood and keep house, as well as discovering how to be a step-mum to Pascal’s know-it-all ten-year-old son, finding love and happiness along the way.
The woman was one of those irritating expat types who felt she owed it to the world to impart on her all her superior knowledge of life in France. I realised that if I didn’t stop her now, she’d be bending my ear all the way to Bergerac.
‘Actually,’ I said, leaning in toward the woman, ‘I’m planning to integrate my way into the boxers of the first good-looking Frenchman I see. Can’t think of any better way to learn the language myself. You wouldn’t happen to know the French for “fancy a shag?” would you? Voulez-vous coucher avec moi just seems a bit nineteen-seventies these days.’
After one particularly bad day at work, advertising executive and confirmed city girl Melanie Jones decides to give up her old life in search of something new and simpler in South West France. With little knowledge of the country, even less of the language and just the memory of a disastrous school French exchange and a few day trips to Calais, she embarks on her adventure with a suitcase full of optimism and not a little bit of naivety. After all, how different can life in France be?
After a series of adventures with skirt-ripping tractors, handsome twin farmers, celebrity not-quite-beens, unusual toilets and a bonkers ex-pat community, all topped up, of course, with lashings of rosé, Melanie begins to discover that her new life in France isn’t quite what she’d thought it would be.
Between soaring mountains, across arid deserts, parched plains and valleys of fruit orchards and olive groves, down glittering coastlines and along viaducts towering above plunging ravines… there is no better way to see Spain than by train.
Rail enthusiast Tom Chesshyre, author of Slow Trains to Venice, Ticket to Ride and Tales from the Fast Trains, hits the tracks once again to take in the country through carriage windows on a series of clattering rides beyond the popular image of “holiday Spain” (although he stops by in Benidorm and Torremolinos too).
From hidden spots in Catalonia, through the plains of Aragon and across the north coast to Santiago de Compostela, Chesshyre continues his journey via Madrid, the wilds of Extremadura, dusty mining towns, the cathedrals and palaces of Valencia and Granada, and finally to Seville, Andalusia’s beguiling (and hot) capital.
Encounters? Plenty. Mishaps? A lot. Happy Spanish days? All the way.
heard the rustle again, too close and too real to ignore. I clutched the flashlight, stuck my head out of the mosquito net… and found myself face-to-face with a jaguar.
Four travelers meet in Bolivia and set off into the heart of the Amazon rainforest to find a hidden tribe and explore places tourists only dream of seeing. But what begins as the adventure of a lifetime quickly deteriorates into a dangerous nightmare.
After weeks of wandering in the dense undergrowth the group splits up after disagreements, and Yossi and his friend try to find their own way back without a guide. When a terrible rafting accident separates him from his partner, Yossi is forced to survive for weeks alone against one of the wildest backdrops on the planet. Stranded without a knife, map, or survival training, he must improvise shelter and forage for wild fruit to survive. As his feet begin to rot during raging storms, as he loses all sense of direction, and as he begins to lose all hope, he wonders whether he will make it out of the jungle alive.
The basis of an upcoming motion picture starring Daniel Radcliffe,”Lost in the Jungle”is the incredible story of friendship and the teachings of nature, survival and human fortitude and a terrifying true account that you won’t be able to put down.
A leisurely ramble through the woods, a meandering city stroll, a blustery seaside promenade or a vigorous mountain hike – all have their delights and incomparable joys. Whatever your walking style, you’ll be captivated and enthralled by the stories and excerpts of classic writing, trivia and practical tips in this book – perfect for anyone who loves the freedom of lacing up their hiking boots and heading for the hills.
When three friends – Paul, Johno and Leigh – clicked ‘buy’ on an iconic London cab, little did they know what they were letting themselves in for. Leaving the Big Smoke in their taxi bound for Sydney, the lads began a 43,000-mile trip that would take them off the beaten track to some of the most dangerous and deadly places on earth. By the time they arrived home, they would manage against all the odds to circumnavigate the globe and break two world records.
From altercations with the Iranian secret police to narrowly escaping the Taliban, the trio’s adventure is filled with hair-raising escapades. Feel the fear, revel in the fun and meet some of the hundred passengers the taxi picked up along the way, as the authors take you on their action-packed journey.
‘At one moment you seem to be in the Lake District; then you could be on the moon; then you are in a wilderness; and then beside a Norwegian fjord.’ When Edward decided to cycle around Ireland, he was enchanted by prehistoric fortresses, rugged landscapes, and landladies who insisted on washing his shirts. He takes you with him on a gentle ride up the west coast, eating enormous breakfasts and fresh fish for supper along the way, and stopping to chat to peat-cutters, fishermen, eccentric tourists and a famous matchmaker. With his trademark dry wit, observant eye and a sense of the absurd, he is the perfect companion for a tour of Ireland’s most beautiful areas from the lakes of Killarney to the idyllic Joyce’s Country, and from the dolmens of Clare to the deserts and neolithic remains of Mayo.
If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that people love parks
As horizons shrank, we took stock. At first, a sense of panic set in: nowhere to go, nothing to do…
Then we all went to the park, and we realized something: we need greenery – we crave it.
Whether we’re in Colombia or Korea, America or Australia, urban parks are places where we can find calm amid the chaos. They can also (more often than we may realize) conceal intriguing hidden histories, and can tell us something about modern life in our frenzied world, too.
With fondness and humour, travel writer Tom Chesshyre recalls 50 of his favourite urban parks from across the world, in a love letter to the green escapes that bring us joy in our cities.
Over the years, authors, artists and amblers aplenty have felt the pull of the Thames, and now travel writer Tom Chesshyre is following in their footsteps.
He’s walking the length of the river from the Cotswolds to the North Sea – a winding journey of over two hundred miles. Join him for an illuminating stroll past meadows, churches and palaces, country estates and council estates, factories and dockyards. Setting forth in the summer of Brexit, and meeting a host of interesting characters along the way, Chesshyre explores the living present and remarkable past of England’s longest and most iconic river.
For Anna, a cycling enthusiast, the decision to ride 4,000 miles solo around the coast of the UK wasn’t that hard. Following the river from London until it became the sea, then following the sea until it reached the mouth of the Thames again was a beautifully simple idea. But after epic highs, incredible lows, unforgettable scenery and unpronounceable place names – as well as a hearty battle with some good old British weather – her simple idea turns into a compelling journey of self-discovery, and an eye-opening insight into what makes the island where she lives so special.
THE LAST TIME JOHN HARRISON VENTURED INTO THE JUNGLE A MEMBER OF HIS GROUP DIED.
THIS TIME HE BROUGHT HIS WIFE.
The Tumucumaque Hills on Brazil’s northern frontier are one of the few remaining unexplored regions on earth. Back in 1950, a young French explorer set off into the deepest jungle of that region and was never seen again.
Inspired by that explorer’s diary, John and Heather Harrison paddled their canoe into some of the remotest tributaries of the Amazon, with no TV cameras, sponsors or the slightest chance of being rescued if things went wrong. Lost, and threatened by malaria, snakes, jaguars, piranhas, aggressive wild pigs and flesh-burrowing insects, they slashed a precipitous path over the mountains.
This is travel at its rawest: the incredible story of the Harrison’s struggle to keep their deteriorating sanity and relationship intact in one of the most hostile and unforgiving places in the world.
It’s not until we push ourselves past our perceived limits, till we feel so cold and so tired that we feel we can’t go on any further, that we discover what we are truly capable of…
Britain’s most famous wild camper and best-selling author of Extreme Sleeps, Phoebe Smith, is back. After bivvying under boulders and camping in caves on her last tent-bound adventure, she’s decided to hit the UK’s wild places once again but this time take it further. Determined to discover what defines a truly ‘extreme’ night out, and see if she has the guts to do it, she heads to the extremities of the country.
Battling whiteouts in Wales, facing monster waves in Suffolk and attempting to make camp in gale-force winds on Britain’s highest mountain, Phoebe takes us on a series of inspirational expeditions into the wilderness as she quests to find the ultimate pitch.
‘Fearlessness has got nothing to do with being unafraid. It’s about doing things anyway, getting on with it, living, whether you’re afraid or not… Courage is about being who you are with your whole heart.’
Fuzzy-haired, neurotic, cello-playing Catrina is devastated when lover, Jack, leaves her to go surfing on the other side of the world. Trapped in a dead-end job and torn by his departure, Catrina dreams of running away. But how do you run away when you’re flat broke? Luckily, her friend Andrew comes up with a plan: they’ll get an old van, turn it into a camper and busk their way from Norway to Portugal, via the midnight sun. When Andrew is killed in a tragic accident Catrina decides to go it alone, with disastrous consequences. Until her experiences on the road gradually teach her the real meaning of love, courage and above all else, the importance of following her dreams.
Escape to the sunlight and colour of a wild island in the south Aegean.
When Jennifer moves alone into the Honey Factory on a tiny Greek island, bringing a laptop, her hiking boots and plans for a peaceful life, she has no idea what surprises are in store.
Diving into an exciting new life with a fisherman, she learns something every day. Joining the dancing at local festivals and helping at a café on the beach, surviving winter storms and finding a canine companion, she is faced with both challenges and rewards, and discovers that to become an island woman she must live small and think big.