Rail writings

Trains are a little bit like time machines. There’s just something about them that seems able to whisk us back to a bygone age when travel was new, exciting and overspilling with possibilities and romance…

519Trlhp8+LI love a good train trip. India, the USA, Switzerland, Clapham Junction… So a little earlier this year, I was thrilled at the publication of my second book, A History of the World in 500 Railway Journeys.

The rail rides compiled here tell the stories of our planet, from trips through ancient canyons to pootles along lines built by prisoners during the Second World War. Fascinating to research and, hopefully, an enjoyable read!


I’ll tell you exactly where to go…

We’d so nearly booked to come in early June. I’d thought: that’ll be nice, surely? Start of summer, decent weather before the crowds descend, no? Well, not quite. As we sat sipping grappa on a high, sunny terrace, with a view of the spiky Dolomites spearing a cloudless blue sky, I was glad we’d waited until the start of July. By now, unlike in early June, the salubrious mountain huts and handy cablecars were all open for business; the high passes were mostly free of snow; the activities were all available; the wildflowers were rampant. Yet it still wasn’t busy. We raised our little glasses again. Saluti! A local toast to perfect timing.

61lrk9by56l-_sx258_bo1204203200_Travel? It’s all in the timing. That’s the theory behind Where To Go When, the book I’ve just written (with Paul Bloomfield) for Lonely Planet.

Broken down into 12 chapters – one for each month – there are ideas for all types and all budgets, suggesting the best places for sun, snow, festivals, wildlife spectacles, off-season bargains, in-season delicacies and all sorts of other things that may entice you to visit a certain place at a certain time. Lots of fun to write – though the flow charts were quite the challenge…

Walking through history

The main lesson I’ve learned from writing this book is that there is history to be found everywhere. Whenever and wherever you walk, someone or something has almost definitely gone before. This enriches every ramble. It means we can stride out amid landscapes made wonderfully weird by geothermal activity. We can stroll via crumbling castles, walls that kept people in, walls that kept people out, furrows made by slaves and escapees, streets lined with epoch-defining architecture, or really, really old trees…

51S6HQNKIILOh my! I’ve written a book! A History of the World in 500 Walks (Aurum) has been published this month, the product of hours (and hours and hours) of hard graft, and decades of dreaming about being an author.

It was a real labour of love, combining my passion for walking with an ever-increasing fascination for history. I now can’t seem to go for a wander without wondering how long that building, mud bump or bit of rock I’ve just passed has been sitting there.

I’ve loved writing this book. I hope people enjoy reading it.

First post, first book review

bestplaceLonely Planet’s Best Place to be Today – which I sort-of masterminded – has had its first review on Amazon. I promise I didn’t write it (the review that is, not the book). And I hope it’s real…


Now what makes this a little different to the usual 1000 best places etc kind of books is that some more thought has gone into this one. This work has actually picked certain days for a reason rather than just compiling 365 random things… This is a fun read for the dreamer.