By John Higgs
A journey along one of Britain's oldest roads, from Dover to Anglesey, in search of the hidden history that makes us who we are today.Long ago a path was created by the passage of feet tramping through endless forests. Gradually that path became a track, and the track became a road. It connected the White Cliffs of Dover to the Druid groves of the Welsh island of Anglesey, across a land that was first called Albion then Britain, Mercia and eventually England and Wales. Armies from Rome arrived and straightened this 444 kilometres of meandering track, which in the Dark Ages gained the name Watling Street. Today, this ancient road goes by many different names: the A2, the A5 and the M6 Toll. It is a palimpsest that is always being rewritten.Watling Street is a road of witches and ghosts, of queens and highwaymen, of history and myth, of Chaucer, Dickens and James Bond. Along this route Boudicca met her end, the Battle of Bosworth changed royal history, Bletchley Park code breakers cracked Nazi transmissions and Capability Brown remodelled the English landscape. The myriad people who use this road every day might think it unremarkable, but, as John Higgs shows, it hides its secrets in plain sight. Watling Street is not just the story of a route across our island, but an acutely observed, unexpected exploration of Britain and who we are today, told with wit and flair, and an unerring eye for the curious and surprising.
Lines in the Sand
By A.A. Gill
'By miles the most brilliant journalist of our age' Lynn Barber'A golden writer' Andrew MarrA. A. Gill was rightly hailed as one of the greatest journalists of our time. This selection of some of his recent pieces, which he made himself before his untimely death, spans the last five years from all corners of the world. It shows him at his most perceptive, brilliant and funny.His subjects range from the controversial - fur - to the heartfelt - a fantastic crystallisation of what it means to be European. He tackles life drawing, designs his own tweed, considers boyhood through the prism of the Museum of Childhood, and spends a day at Donald Trump's university. In his final two articles he wrote with characteristic wit and courage about his cancer diagnosis - 'the full English - and the limits of the NHS. But more than any other subject, a recurring theme emerges in the overwhelming story of our times: the refugee crisis. In the last few years A. A. Gill wrote with compassion and anger about the refugees' story, giving us both its human face and its appalling context. The resulting articles are journalism at its finest and fiercest.
By Robert Twigger
'Robert Twigger is not so much a travel writer as a thrill-seeking philosopher' EsquireThe Himalayas beckon and we go ... Some to make real journeys and others to make imaginary ones. These mountains, home to Buddhists, Bonpos, Jains, Muslims, Hindus, shamans and animists, to name only a few, are a place of pilgrimage and dreams, revelation and war, massacre and invasion, but also peace and unutterable calm.In an exploration of the region's seismic history, Robert Twigger unravels some of these real and invented journeys and the unexpected links between them. Following a meandering path across the Himalayas to its physical end in Nagaland on the Indian-Burmese border, Twigger encounters incredible stories from a unique cast of mountaineers and mystics, pundits and prophets. The result is a sweeping, enthralling and surprising journey through the history of the world's greatest mountain range.
By Steve Backshall
Steve Backshall's love affair with the mountains has taken him to some of the world's wildest places, environments that have the power to make a human being feel very small, very vulnerable and very alive. MOUNTAIN: A LIFE OF THE ROCKS is an account of his most breathtaking expeditions: heading into the 'Death Zone' on the roof of the world in the Himalayas, and picking a precarious route up hundreds of metres of rock in the Arctic and Alps. There are expeditions of exploration, as Steve makes the first ascent of jungle peaks and scales the tabletop mountains of the 'Lost World', Venezuela's Gran Sabana, in search of undiscovered animal species on their summits. Steve recalls his apprenticeship in the art of mountaineering with the Indian army, and the terror and near-disaster of some of his more ill-fated adventures, including the aftermath of the fall that should have ended his life.This is a tale of terror and ecstasy, a book that tries to get to the heart of why we risk our lives to climb and conquer. But most of all, MOUNTAIN is a love letter to the wilderness, from one of the world's most adventurous spirits.
By Mark Mason
'FASCINATING' Daily Mail'FULL OF AMAZING FACTS' The QI ElvesEach of the United Kingdom's 124 postcode areas has a story to tell, an unexpected nugget to dust off and treasure. Mark Mason has embarked on a tour of the country, immersing himself in Britain's history on a roundabout journey from AB to ZE. On the lookout for interesting place names and unusual monuments, along the way he discovers what the Queen keeps in her handbag, why the Jack Russell has a white coat and how Jimi Hendrix got confused by the M1. At the same time Mason paints an affectionate portrait of Britain in the 21st century, from aggressive seagulls in Blackpool to 'seasoned' drinkers in Surrey. And his travels offer the perfect opportunity to delve into the history of the Royal Mail, complete with pillar boxes, posties and Penny Reds - plus Oscar Wilde's unconventional method of posting a letter. A playful mix of fact, anecdote and overheard conversation, MAIL OBSESSION pays homage to Britain's wonderful past and its curious present.
La Vie en Rose
By Jamie Ivey
In Jamie Ivey's sequel to Extremely Pale Rosé, he finds out whether it is possible to run a successful rosé bar in France. French friends think it's a crazy idea: bar customers are largely men and rosé is seen as a woman's drink; rosé is a seasonal drink and Jamie's trade will vanish come September - and rosé isn't supposed to accompany food. Yet France seems to be on the brink of a rosé revolution: rosé sales are booming. If Jamie can find a small bar in a pretty square and chalk up a selection of different rosés, a rosé bar could be a great success. Bars in Uzes, Aix en Provence and Nimes agree to help Jamie sell some rosé, and he discovers what the French attitude to rosé really is. Are gnarled old men discarding their pastis and sipping pale rosé? Is it just a myth that the French don't drink rosé with food? Are the young the real reason for booming sales? For readers who enjoyed Extremely Pale Rosé, and envied Jamie and Tanya Ivey's researches, La Vie En Rose is the perfect second glass.
Rose En Marche
By Jamie Ivey
Rosé en Marché, the third title in the 'rosé' series by Jamie Ivey, involves Tanya and Jamie selling rosé in French markets. They rent a flat in Saint Remy de Provence and work in the town's market as well as three or four other local markets. There is, of course, the odd flying visit from their old friend Peter. The Iveys decide to set up their own market stall in the exquisite Provencal town of Saint Remy. But they quickly uncover a battleground. Artisan traders fight competitors selling imports of lavender from Bulgaria, rip-off tableware from China and wholesale vegetables artificially smattered with dirt. Rumours of bribery and corruption are ever present as traders scramble for the best pitches. But can the Iveys make a go of their own stall . . .?
Extremely Pale Rose
By Jamie Ivey
A chance conversation with a Provençal vigneron leads to the most unlikely of quests - a hunt to find France's palest rosé. Extremely Pale Rosé is a richly entertaining and informative account of the travels of Jamie, his wife Tanya and their ebullient friend Peter, as they take up this challenge. Giving up their lives in London, they quickly discover an unfortunate truth - the French won't treat rosé or their quest seriously. Rosé is seen as a poor cousin to red and white wine, drunk as an aperitif or to wash away the taste of spicy food. In bars, boulangeries and boucheries from Bordeaux to Bandol, Jamie, Tanya and Peter are recommended diverse vineyards to visit, and as they travel they encounter the beginnings of a rosé revolution - French attitudes to pale pink wine appear to be changing, but is it too little too late to help them succeed in their quest? With wit, candour and wonderful storytelling, Jamie Ivey maintains a tradition of excellence in food and travel writing. Readers are left with dreams of France, summer days, baguettes, and . . . extremely pale rosé.
The Greedy Bastard Diary
By Eric Idle
Eric Idle, the legendary star of Monty Python fame, takes fans on a deeply personal and hilarious whirlwind tour around America.'I still feel somewhat nervous encroaching on the Palin territory of writing a travel diary based on a journey ... though it is true, I reason, that all the Pythons have been involved in documentaries. So this must be a Python thing. What is this urge to probe and examine by ex-comedians? Are they tired of dressing up as women? Surely not.' - Eric IdleThe man who brought you the anthems 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' and 'Sit on my Face' shows his naughty bits - and much more! As he crossed the US on The Greedy Bastard Tour, Eric Idle kept a diary on the Monty Python website updating fans with his experiences, insights and observations. Inspired by those blogs, THE GREEDY BASTARD DIARY is an honest, hysterical and moving book - part travelogue, part memoir - that chronicles those 80 days on the road, offering Idle's thoughts on his career, personal life and the country he now calls his home. Reflective, ironic, and stamped with his renowned wit, this illuminating work takes readers on a personal tour with the legendary star and offers an intimate, close-up look inside the man as never before.
By Michael Palin
Michael Palin, the No.1 bestselling author, explores an exotic country that is now a global superpower. The only companion you need during the World Cup.Brazil is one of the four new global super powers with its vast natural resources and burgeoning industries. Half a continent in size and a potent mix of races, religions and cultures, of unexplored wildernesses and bustling modern cities, it is also one of the few countries Michael Palin has never fully travelled. With the next Olympics to be held in Rio in 2016 and the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, international attention will be on the country as never before. Michael Palin's timely book and series take a closer look at a remarkable new force on the world scene. From the Venezuelan border and the forests of the Lost World, where he encounters the Yanomami tribe and their ongoing territorial war with the gold miners, Michael Palin explores this vast and disparate nation in his inimitable way. He journeys into the heart of the Amazon rainforest. He travels down the north-east coast to meet the descendants of African slaves with their vibrant culture of rituals, festivals and music. He visits the shanty towns of Rio and the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. He goes to Sao Paolo, where the rich commute by helicopter. He travels south to meet German and Japanese communities, meets supermodels in the making and wealthy gauchos in the Pantanal before ending his journey at the spectacular Iguaçu Falls.
The Golden Door
By A.A. Gill
Britain's most readable journalist takes on his biggest challenge - America.Where were you when John F. Kennedy was shot? Today the answer more often than not is going to be 'not born'. You have to be some way past 45 to know where you were when Kennedy was shot in Dallas in 1963. A generation later, you could ask the same question about the World Trade Centre. Where were you when the plane hit the twin towers on 11 September 2001? But this book is about what happened between those two moments. The world's perception of America changed between those two waves.A.A. Gill's book is about the things he's always found admirable and optimistic about the United States and its citizens. Two of the happiest times of his life were spent living in New York and the mountains of Kentucky. The contrast between the two couldn't have been more complicated and different. The America he found was contradictory and elusive, not the simpletons' place he'd been led to believe. It was still a list of raw ingredients rather than the old stew of Europe.Now A.A. Gill takes another look at the America he knew in the 1970s, a place that seemed to hold promise, practical energy and a plan for the future. How did it become the political magnetic north, against which the liberal intellectuals from the rest of the world set their opinions? Why is it so easily mocked, so comprehensively blamed, so thoughtlessly hated?This book is a collection of linked essays based around places that will open up truths and mythologies about America and Americans. The theme of his journey will be searching for 'the home of'. Every other small town in America boasts on its Welcome sign that it is the home of something or other: a mountain, a mine, peaches, spotted pigs, a president, the world's biggest ball of string, barbecues, the deepest hole. So that's where A.A. Gill starts, going to find the home of everything.
Looking for Adventure
By Steve Backshall
A Childhood Dream. A Lost Land. The Journey of a Lifetime.How do you become an explorer? It's a question every child has asked. And, Steve Backshall was no different. But after a rainy-day visit to an exhibition of artefacts from Papua New Guinea, it was a question that began to obsess the seven-year old Backshall. Due to this childhood interest, the vast, untamed wildness of Papua New Guinea was where Backshall forged his unlikely path. From crushing lows of early failures to the extraordinary highs of the BBC's Lost Land of the Volcano expedition, it was this dark island which gave Backshall his opportunity. Full of incredible wildlife, extraordinary wilderness, jungles, cannibals, pitfalls, triumph, danger and excitement, Looking for Adventure is the irresistible, inspiring story of a little boy who let his heart rule his head.
A.A. Gill is Further Away
By A.A. Gill
A collection of dazzling travel pieces from SUNDAY TIMES journalist and critic A. A. GILL.From the moment he joined the SUNDAY TIMES, A.A. Gill has wanted to interview places - to discover the personality of a place as if it were a person, to listen and talk to it. A selection of the very best pieces that Gill has written over the past five years, A. A. GILL IS FURTHER AWAY is a wonderfully insightful and funny compendium of travel writing taken mostly from the SUNDAY TIMES, but also from GQ, TATLER and CONDE NAST TRAVELLER. Gill writes with a clarity and acerbity that conveys the intensity of his experiences in his travels around the world. His book includes essays on Sudan, India, Cuba, Germany and California. In each piece, there is a central image Gill uses as the key to unlocking the personality of a place.