Watch Out for Pirates by Jules Brown
I am not well travelled – outside Britain- so I was not sure that I would follow this “Tales from a travel writer’s life”. I can confirm I need not have been concerned; apart from the fact that there are a couple of UK based stories, the irresistible humour and honest recollections of the trials and tribulations / opportunities for experiences that Jules has written in this book were so entertaining. As an experienced “Rough Guide” writer, he captures some of the stuff he has picked up (always tip generously in New York or risk being chased down the street), admits to being nervous of arriving in a new country, and that tracking down sites of interest can be a hot, dusty and unrewarding task. The joys of travelling alone are explored, but also the humour of walking with a friend and a loved one are memorable in this entertaining book.
I don’t suppose I will ever drive across Australia myself, but in this book there is a memorable chapter about the grinding boredom of the road compared with the excitement of Bar Sliding ( you will have to read the book) and the question of what would the late Steve Irwin do when confronted with a big lizard guarding the car door. I really enjoyed the idea of being in a hot air balloon trip over Luxor in theory, but like Jules almost was, I think I would have been a bit put off by the high incidence of fatal accidents. Would I have been sufficiently reassured by the uniformed Kevin who was the pilot who Jules so well describes – I think not, but the contrast that he describes with the bustle and fuss of trying to visit Luxor on land may have swayed me. His account of accidentally leading the singing at a wedding in Sicily is lovely, despite his interesting and desperate choice of a song.
These far flung adventures are contrasted with more accessible accounts of British exploration. Behind the scenes at Blackpool is fascinating, even if you are not tempted by the multitude of attractions on offer. I really enjoyed the walking tour of Yorkshire with a like minded barrister in the enticing hunt for Captain Cook’s authentic stamping ground, and the proposed rating system for the disappointing remnants of buildings that were subjected to “Washing Away”. My favourite was undoubtedly the journey to find the locations for the series “Outlander”, which though undertaken for the benefit of another, was really quite enjoyed. I was touched by the memoir of life for much loved parents when they were first married and discovered the mixed joys of living and working in another country.
The second section features tips for travel with and without a guide book, or in the event of wi fi failure. The words and phrases used to describe travel experiences could well be applied to other areas of life, so are well worth reading.
In short, this is a book which offers great entertainment and laugh out loud humour even for the most risk averse traveller. It is honest and funny, written in a friendly and warm style, and anyways engaging. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read and review it, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys travel in reality or the armchair variety.