Continental Drifter: Taking the Low Road with the First Grand Tourist by Tim Moore

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They stuck their coaches on ride-on, ride off ferries, whisked through France and Italy moaning about garlic and rudeness, then bored the neighbours to death by having them all round to look at their holiday watercolours’ Many people associate the Grand Tour with the baggy shirted Byrons of its 19th century heyday, but someone had to do it first and Thomas Coryate, author of arguably the first piece of pure travel writing, CRUDITIES, was that man. Tim Moore travels through 45 cities in the steps of a larger-than-life Jacobean hero incidentally responsible for introducing forks to England and thus ending forever the days of the finger-lickin’-good drumstick hurlers of courts gone by. Coryate’s early 17th century bawdy anecdotes include being pelted with eggs, pursued by a knife wielding man in a turban and, finally, being vomited on copiously by a topless woman with a beer barrel on her head:- For once, Tim Moore has no trouble keeping up the modern-day side. And his authentic method of travel to replicate these adventures? A clapped-out pink Rolls Royce, of course.

Continental Drifter: Taking the Low Road with the First Grand Tourist

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French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France by Tim Moore

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Seduced by the speed and glamour of the biggest annual sporting event in the world, and determined to tackle the most fearsome physical challenge outside classical mythology, Moore, the ultimate amateur, attempts to complete all 3,630km of the 2000 Tour in the weeks before the professionals set off.
Battling it out with the old men on butchers’ bikes across the plains of Aquitaine and pursued by cattle over Europe’s second highest road, Moore soon finds himself resorting to narcotic assistance, systematic overeating and waxed legs before summoning a support vehicle staffed by cruelly sceptical family and friends. Accounts of his suffering and chicanery, and those encountered in the race’s epic history, are interwoven through a look at rural France busy tarting itself up for those 15 seconds of fame as the Tour careers through at 50kph. An heroic depiction of an inadequate man’s attempt to achieve the unachievable, Moore’s Tour is a tale of calorific excess, ludicrous clothing and intimate discomfort.

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Bon Appetit!: Travels Through France with Knife, Fork and Corkscrew by Peter Mayle

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Gastronomy is a wonderful starting point to study France and the French. As the retired schoolmaster from Provence says ‘The religion of France is food. And wine, of course.’ And they put their money where their mouth is, spending a greater proportion of their income on food and drink than any other nation in the world. Literally hundreds of gastronomic fairs and festivals take place throughout the year all over France – a frog fair, an hommage to the sausage, to the turnip, to the quiche and the noble Camembert. What kind of person is a snail-fancier? Is there a brotherhood of sausage connoisseurs? How can you devote an entire weekend to the French fry? Peter Mayle finds out and brings hilariously and affectionately to life the people who can get passionate about a frog’s leg or a well-turned omelette. Over ten years ago he transformed our feelings about Provence, now he captures the irresistible essence of France herself – and her food.

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The Pillars Of Hercules: A Grand Tour Of The Mediterranean by Paul Theroux

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At the gateway to the Mediterranean lie the two Pillars of Hercules: Gibraltar and Ceuta, in Morocco. Paul Theroux decided to travel from one to the other – but taking the long way round.
His grand tour of the Mediterranean begins in Gibraltar and takes him through Spain, the French Riviera, Italy, Greece, Istanbul and beyond. He travels by any means necessary – including dilapidated taxi, smoke-filled bus, bicycle and even a cruise-liner. And he encounters bullfights, bazaars and British tourists, discovers pockets of humanity in war-torn Slovenia and Croatia, is astounded by the urban developments on the Costa del Sol and marvels at the ancient wonders of Delphi.
Told with Theroux’s inimitable wit and style, this lively and eventful tour evokes the essence of Mediterranean life.
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