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…
I 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!
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…
Oh 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.