That title probably wasn’t what you were expecting.
This month’s travel link-up is all about guilty pleasures. Now, you would think this would be the ultimate chance to write about just how much I love cake, coffee, ice-cream and gin, but no, today’s post is about this random quirk I have.
Since I moved to the UK in 2005, I’ve become slightly obsessed with buying signed copies of books. Not just any signed copies of books – they have to be by authors I know and love – and these have mostly been centred around their big adventures.
I don’t have a single photo of any of them. But I’ll point you to the book store almost entirely responsible for several awkward Christmas presents (other people don’t seem to think signed books are as cool as I do) and ruining a few pay-days. Hello Stanfords in Covent Garden. I love you.
When I hear Stanfords have had a certain author in to sign books I’m generally there within a few days to buy a copy. I have signed ones by Dervla Murphy, William Dalrymple, Michael Palin, The Gentle Author, Hilary Clinton (though her visit was to Waterstones and I lined up for 2 hours to meet her only to be completely tongue tied and left nearly in tears, don’t ever meet your idols basically) and Hans Blix. Mr Blix’s was actually a copy of his report on weapons of mass destruction and I got to have a nice chat with him after going to one of his lectures when he visited Wellington many moons ago – he was the nicest guy ever.
You all know Michael Palin, you may know of William Dalrymple but have you heard of Dervla Murphy? She is my travel idol. What a woman. She took her nine year old daughter and a mule to hike 1300 miles across the Peruvian Andes and for half that trip had a nail digging through her boot – she just drank beer and shrugged it off. She also cycled from Ireland to India and has probably used her legs to travel places more than any other travel writer on earth. What I’m saying is that she’s phenomenal and I was so excited when Mr Man introduced me to her books – go and buy a copy of Eight Feet in the Andes because it is excellent.
William Dalrymple is gifted. His books on India are amazing but the one that really got me was From The Holy Mountain, all about the Middle Eastern Orthodox Christians who still follow an ancient tradition today (think the Coptic Christians of Egypt for example). It’s a wonderful travel tale but also one woven with a lot of history and facts with fascinating tales.
Stanfords do book signings all the time. If you can make it to one, I highly recommend you do. There’s one coming up in June with Anthony Sattin who wrote one of the best books I’ve ever read. That book, Through the Gates of Africa is about the early European explorers to Africa and their mind-boggling often very misguided adventures. Most of us participating in this link up like to write and like to travel so what better way to be inspired than meet someone who makes a living from it?
Now tell me, what are your travel-related guilty pleasures?
Stanfords can be found at 12-14 Long Acre, Covent Garden