Posted in Personal life, Reading, Travel

Thank You, Matthew Paris – Now I Don’t Have To Go To Peru

A post about holiday reading, discussed after my holiday on the BBC Radio Gloucestershire Book Club this week

Photo of Debbie in hat and coat at northernmost point of mainland Britain
Fending off the most northerly midges of mainland Scotland this summer

Although I love travelling, and rarely turn down an opportunity to travel anywhere, I do love putting in extra miles via the pages of a good travel book, whether to places I know well, to places I plan to go, or places I know will always be off my agenda.

And once I’m on holiday, one of the chief pleasures is having more time to read. I usually pack books about the place that I’m visiting, and I enjoy buying local books as souvenirs, to extend the holiday long after its over. I have amassed quite a collection of books by Scottish writers from the many times I’ve visited my husband’s native country, from fiction and poems to history books and memoirs.

Not So Plain Sailing in Scotland

Cover of Sea Change by Mairi Hedderwick
A personal account of sailing through and beyond the Caledonian Canal

This year one of my favourite holiday reads was Sea Change, Mairi Hedderwick’s illustrated travelogue of her sailing trip from the east coast to the west via the Caledonian Canal. You may know her better as the author and illustrator of the delightful Katie Morag series of children’s story books set on a little Scottish island. She writes for adults as evocatively as she paints, and it was a pleasure to share her watery journey as by chance we shadowed part of her journey from Mallaig (in the west) to Inverness in our camper van. (You can read my review on my book blog here.)

Grittier in Glasgow

Cover of Love's Long RoadGrittier but equally evocative was G D Harper’s psychological thriller Love’s Long Road, set partly in Glasgow and Fort William – we also passed through the latter on our summer journey in a trip of over 1,000 miles. (My review’s on my book blog here if you’d like to know more about it.)

Peruvian Pleasure

Cover of Inca-Kola by Matthew Parris
A bumpier journey than Mairi Hedderwick’s crossing Peru

But the book I enjoyed the most on holiday was set in a completely different land – Peru, a favourite haunt of political columnist and broadcaster Matthew Parris, in Inca-Kola. (Yes, it is a real drink.) I can’t imagine that I will ever go to Peru myself, though I’ve always been intrigued by the place since my earliest introduction to it through fiction. Parris didn’t encounter any marmalade-eating bears on his trek, although some violet blancmange makes an ominous appearance, but he is about as charming as Paddington Bear, and it was a pleasure to spend time in his company through the pages of his book which I’ve reviewed on my book blog here.

Sharing the Love of Travel Books on BBC Radio Gloucestershire

So it was with great pleasure that on my return from holiday, I pitched up at the BBC Radio Gloucestershire studios on my return to discuss Inca-Kola as the station’s Book Club’s Book of the Month, chosen by presenter Dominic Cotter. Fellow guest Caroline Sanderson and I loved Inca-Kola as much as he did, and we enjoyed our usual wide-ranging discussion appraising the month’s choice while also going off at umpteen tangents.

If you’d like to listen to the show, you can catch if for the next month on BBC iPlayer here, from just after an hour into the show.

Next Month’s Book Club

Cover of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a HatOur choice of book for next month will be investigating a different kind of journey: into the human brain, with the late, great Oliver Sacks’ classic The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, a series of beautifully written, sensitively observed case studies of neurological disorders. It’s also possibly my favourite book title of all time.

If you’ve never read it, you’re in for a real treat. Tune in to BBC Radio Gloucestershire on Monday 19th September at 1pm to join the conversation.



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.

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