Apologies for the absence of updates to this blog. Two small people are keeping me busy and away from here. I am travelling and writing as much as I can, though, and hope to share some news soon. x
Who set his own shirt on fire to cure a bout of hiccups?
What experience did John Betjeman describe as like “being lifted up to heaven”?
Where can you pet a llama, go down a mine, sing in an old-time music hall or stand with one leg in England and one leg in Wales?
When was Shropshire a coral reef in a tropical sea?
Why did weeping Victorian tourists flock to a ‘grave’ in Tong?
Find the answers to all these questions and more in Slow Travel: Shropshire, published by Bradt Travel Guides to a very positive reception in February this year.
Between now and the end of November 2016, I’m taking orders for signed copies – the ideal Christmas present for anyone who loves Shropshire already, or who deserves to be let in on the secrets of this quietly beautiful, unjustly overlooked, historically important county.
Get your signed copy directly from me, the author, for only £12 (RRP £12.99) plus £2.30 P&P*. Just send me a message with your details: I’ll forward you a link for instant payment and get the book to you right away, with the handwritten sentiment of your choice inside.
Please hurry, though, as I have only limited stock. This offer will end on Wednesday 30 November.
*Price for UK second-class postage. Please let me know in your message if you’re overseas or need it sooner than a second-class service can deliver.
My book for Bradt Travel Guides is available to buy now in online bookshops and some of the best real-life mainstream and indie ones too (cover price is £12.99).
The book came out two days before my second baby so I’ve been very busy (and awake) ever since.
Here is just some of the lovely feedback I’ve received so far:
“an interesting read even for a local, puts a really interesting spin on places you normally only ever drive (or ride) past”
From Shropshire Review
. . . “an excellent guide book, packed to bursting with information and painstakingly gathered detail which will have not only visitors but also natives of the county wanting to get out there and explore.”
From a PhD student at the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage at the University of Birmingham:
“it’s a lovely format and felt much more like travel writing than a traditional guide book. I was really impressed by the depth of research that went into it and the way it drew me into the stories of the places in it.”
Over at Amazon:
“I found myself reading it almost from cover to cover.”
Just a few of many sweet tweets:
You’ll also find lots of extra content at the Bradt website.
At this very moment it is likely I am wearing wellies, hopping over a stile, falling in a mere, climbing a hill, testing cream tea (VERY important), scribbling down museum opening hours or waiting for a train. Or just holed up in my office writing …
Slow Travel: Shropshire will be published by Bradt Travel Guides in February 2016. Available for pre-order now.
I’ve got a feature in August 2013’s special coastal edition of Real Family Travel, the brilliant iPad magazine based in the US.
I’m delighted to have been commissioned by Motherhood magazine to write three articles for its ‘Travel with Kids Guide’ this month – about flying in pregnancy and holidays with small children. Did you know all Singapore Airlines’ cabin crew are trained to help deliver babies? I found out some other interesting things while researching these features: take a look at my published work page …
I was coming down with a cold. My throat felt raw and my forehead was burning. Determined not to miss out on a single hour in Chengdu, I dragged myself around the city alongside Steve, slurping giant bowls of hot soup noodles and watching grubby street kids playing elaborate games of hide-and-seek in glass lifts outside a gleaming shopping mall. We visited the centuries-old Wenshu Monastery, failing to spot the NO PHOTOS sign and casting disappointed frowns across the faces of two monks who were lighting incense and praying to Buddha statues. In the outdoor teahouse behind the lofty Thousand Buddha Peace Pagoda, hundreds of grey-haired people in their sixties and seventies were laughing and gossiping on bamboo chairs, clinking cups and clicking chopsticks over toy-sized plates of delicate dumplings. We passed a dingy restaurant where half a skinned white dog hung by his jaws from a butcher’s hook. His legs were stiff and bent at the knees, giving the cruel impression he was leaping for a ball.
With the autumn temperatures falling by the day, I was pleased when we found ourselves a pair of heavy coats for the onward journey – a cheap parka for me and a green communist-style army jacket for Steve. In the military surplus store where we bought Steve’s, the gentle old man with liver spots on his bald head formed a misguided impression that I could interpret Mandarin, and relied on me to translate everything to Steve. I was slumped in a chair, a little feverish, and hoping we could return to the hostel for a nap soon.
“He says do you want this hat to go with it?” I bluffed, as the man pushed a furry brown trapper with earflaps over Steve’s head. It wouldn’t go on properly and sat perched atop his hair like a cinema ice-cream tub.
“He says it looks good on you, but I disagree, I’m afraid,” I said, giggling. “Ah, now he says that the coat can button round the inside of your leg – ”
” – Woah there!” said Steve, as the old man knelt down, grabbed Steve’s inner thigh and began demonstrating the extra warmth afforded by the coat’s inner legflaps.
But then I failed to understand the next part of the conversation and my fraudulent Mandarin was uncovered. “Sorry, no,” I said, shaking my head.
Perhaps thinking I spoke a little-known dialect, the man scribbled a few Chinese characters on the back of a crumpled receipt and looked up at me questioningly. “Sorry, no,” I said again, although I had a distinct feeling he wanted to discuss the possibility of Long Johns. We paid for the green jacket and left the shop, with the man chuckling and shaking his head after us.
This is an extract from Marie Kreft’s book, Love on a Third Class Ticket, due out in the autumn.