The Voyages of the Princess Matilda by Shane Spall

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‘Tim and I both understood we had done something really stupid. We had underestimated the danger involved in going out to sea. We had no radio, compass, life raft or flares. In other words, we were a couple of idiots.’
This is the story of Shane and Timothy Spall and their Dutch barge The Princess Matilda. After a summer on the Thames they head out to sea with only a road atlas and a vast amount of ignorance – and it is absolutely terrifying!
On their travels, memories are triggered of childhood trips to the seaside, but also of more recent times. A decade before, Tim had been diagnosed with acute leukaemia and was given only days to live.
Shocked at how life can pass you by they decided that when, and if, Tim got better, they would buy a boat.
As Tim and Shane explore the coast from the Medway to Cornwall, eventually they start to wonder, could they make it out of England altogether? Could Matilda make it to … Wales?!
Taking over five years, The Voyages of The Princess Matilda is a minor epic,charting a very personal, moving and uplifting story of an everyday couple’s adventure around their much loved homeland.

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You Are Awful (But I Like You): Travels Through Unloved Britain by Tim Moore

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It began with an accidental daytrip to an intriguingly awful resort on the Thames Estuary, and ended 3,812 miles later: one man’s journey through deep-fried, brownfield, poundshop Britain, a crash course in urban blight, deranged civic planning and commercial eccentricity. Following an itinerary drawn up from surveys, polls, reviews and lazy personal prejudice, Tim Moore goes to all the places that nobody wants to go to – the bleakest towns, the shonkiest hotels, the scariest pubs, the silliest sea zoos. He visits the grid reference adjudged by the Ordnance Survey to be the least interesting point in Britain, and is chased out of the new town twice crowned Scotland’s Most Dismal Place. His palate is flayed alive by horrific regional foodstuffs, his ears shrivelled by the 358 least loved tracks in the history of native popular music. With his progress entrusted to our motor industry’s fittingly hopeless finale, he comes to learn that Britain seems very much larger when you’re driving around it in a Bulgarian-built Austin Maestro.
Yet as the soggy, decrepit quest unfolds, so it evolves into something much more stirring: a nostalgic celebration of our magnificent mercantile pomp, and an angry requiem for a golden age of cheerily homespun crap culture being swept aside by the faceless, soul-stripping forces of Tesco-town globalisation.

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Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour by Kate Fox

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In WATCHING THE ENGLISH anthropologist Kate Fox takes a revealing look at the quirks, habits and foibles of the English people. She puts the English national character under her anthropological microscope, and finds a strange and fascinating culture, governed by complex sets of unspoken rules and byzantine codes of behaviour.
The rules of weather-speak. The ironic-gnome rule. The reflex apology rule. The paranoid-pantomime rule. Class indicators and class anxiety tests. The money-talk taboo and many more . . .Through a mixture of anthropological analysis and her own unorthodox experiments (using herself as a reluctant guinea-pig), Kate Fox discovers what these unwritten behaviour codes tell us about Englishness.

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Pies And Prejudice: In Search Of The North by Stuart Maconie

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A Northerner in exile, Stuart Maconie goes on a journey in search of the North, attempting to discover where the clich├ęs end and the truth begins. He travels from Wigan Pier to Blackpool Tower and Newcastle’s Bigg Market to the Lake District to find his own Northern Soul, encountering along the way an exotic cast of chippy Scousers, pie-eating woollybacks, topless Geordies, mad-for-it Mancs, Yorkshire nationalists and brothers in southern exile.
The bestselling Pies and Prejudice is a hugely enjoyable journey around the north of England.

Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson

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Bill Bryson is an unabashed Anglophile who, through a mistake of history, happened to be born and bred in Iowa. Righting that error, he spent 20 years in England before deciding to repatriate: “I had recently read that 3.7 million Americans according to a Gallup poll, believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another, so it was clear that my people needed me.” That comic tone enlivens this account of Bryson’s farewell walking tour of the countryside of “the green and kindly island that had for two decades been my home.”
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