One of the easier ways to turn a regular old holiday into a richer experience is by reading a book about the country you’re visiting, while you’re there. It sets up a beautiful two-way street, where your surroundings give context to the book and the book provides insights into your surroundings. We’re not talking guide books either, although they have their place, but nice works of fiction, which are just as enlightening. Bill Bryson’s latest book about England, The Road to Little Dribbling, sits somewhere in between the two genres – an entertaining travelogue based on his adventures around the English countryside.
Will I laugh?
Yes, lots. Bryson is like having a university professor for an uncle; one who’s well-travelled and loves nothing more than a good pun and snarky joke. It’s been 20 years since he wrote “Notes from a Small Island” which was based on his first trip around England. Two decades later and not much has changed – he’s still got a knack for finding the quirkiest places on the map and uncovering the facts and people that make them so interesting.
Will I cry?
No. Bryson travels as far as humanly possible in a straight line on the island, from Bogner Regis in the south to Cape Wrath in the north, but he never ventures near any emotional territory. There is one sentimental visit to the place where he got his first job, which happened to be an insane asylum. No kidding.
Bryson travels as far as possible in a straight line on the island, from Bogner Regis in the south to Cape Wrath in the north
Will I learn anything?
Plenty. As one of the few authors on the planet who’s written a short history of the world (and made it interesting!) this wouldn’t be a Bryson book if there wasn’t a heap of great information hidden in underneath all the comical anecdotes and witty observations. Along the journey, Bill loves stopping off to point out eccentric things like the Society for Clay Pipe Research and the Roundabout Appreciation Society, along with famous sites like Stonehenge. All of them, things that could only exist in Britain.
Rating: Four out of five cups of tea.
Grab a copy for yourself here.
Image: Stonehenge in all its rocky, mystical glory.