Posted in Reading, Travel, Writing

How to Be an Armchair Traveller

(This post was written for the January issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News)

Cover of Sea Witch by Helen HollickJanuary is traditionally the time when holiday companies’ commercials start popping up on our television screens. What better distraction from our post-Christmas overdrafts than sundrenched villas and beaches?

In the depths of the January gloom, these adverts tempt us to raid the rainy-day fund reserved for moments of crisis, such as when dishwasher gives up the ghost. (Now there’s a middle-class problem.)

The Budget Travel Option: A Good Book

Debbie Young with Helen Holllick
With Helen Hollick, creator of the fabulous escapist Sea Witch adventure stories

I for one will be resisting the lure of travel agents and instead taking refuge in a good book. This time last year, through the pages of Helen Hollick’s excellent historical novel Sea Witch, I sailed away with her enticing pirate Jesemiah Acorne. After an interesting stop-off in South Africa, we headed straight for the Caribbean, where thoughts of palm-fringed shores and tropic temperatures helped me shut out the dark nights and icy winds of Hawkesbury Upton. It may have helped that I was reading in a comfy armchair by a log fire, with what was left of our Christmas bottle of Lamb’s Navy Rum.

Photo of bluestockinged scarecrow with Books are my Bag bag and Little Free Library
My Little Free Library – offering armchair travellers an easy source of escapist books

Good books are much cheaper than holiday bookings – and you don’t even have to wait till the summer to enjoy them. And, as with radio, the pictures are so much better than on television. If your budget doesn’t run to a new book, check out the huge range of £1 books in the Hawkesbury Shop and Head Start Studio, or the free books available round the clock from the Little Free Library box on my front garden wall in France Lane.

Last January, my sorrow at ending my voyage with Captain Acorne was cut short when I realised that “Sea Witch” was the first in a series. I’ve been saving the sequel especially for this winter. So wish me bon voyage – I’m back off to the Caribbean via the pages of Pirate Code. I just wish I could bring back some duty-free.

OVER TO YOU What’s your favourite book for armchair travelling? I’d love to know!

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends!

And if you liked this post, you may also enjoy this anecdote that centres on reading a book on a plane, inspired by my avid travelling: Flight of Fancy: A Cautionary Tale



English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

4 thoughts on “How to Be an Armchair Traveller

  1. Considering I’ve never been there I love stories set in America, The Horse Whisperer springs to mind alongside the short story Brokeback Mountain. I’ve always loved westerns and obviously the same themes are carried through in these books and I’m transported to the wide open plains with endless space to roam. Bliss. Lovely post Debbie and as we haven’t booked a holiday this year maybe I’ll save a few quid 🙂

    1. Yes, who needs to save up for holidays when you get books free from the library?! I haven’t read many western-style books (though my Welsh grandma used to love them, to my constant surprise), but I adore the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, (Little House in the Big Woods etc), which I reread every couple of years, and also discovered a wonderful, quirky autobiography a couple of years ago called “My Life as Laura”, written by someone who’d read a post on my blog called “Why I Named My Daughter Laura” ( one of my most popular posts ever). The author Kelly Kathleen Ferguson, records how at a difficult time in her life, she made a road-trip by car to try to find herself – by following the route of the pioneering Ingalls family. Highly recommended!

      1. Thanks for the recommendation Debbie – I’ve added it to my TBR list 🙂 and for the Laura Ingalls Wilder series which I was unaware of!

  2. Hmmm. I suppose if I’d adopted this approach 30 years ago, my retirement savings account would be a lot plumper. As it stands now, I need to die by about age 70.

    I still do enjoy books that are oriented to travel or are set in (what I consider) exotic places. A couple of favorites are Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller, and Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani.

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