Book review: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods 
Bill Bryson
Published 1998 by Black Swan (first published 1997)


I’ve just re-read this and found it to be even more wonderful the second time round.

At times genuinely, laugh-out-loud funny – funny in a way that makes you snort with laughter on public transport. It’s packed with background data and interesting anecdotes from the author’s own readings about the Appalachian Trail.  At heart though this is the tale of two guys on a really, really long walk.

Whole-heartedly recommended.

Victorian travels in the Middle East

This is a beautiful gallery of photos from the Edinburgh city collections. They really appeal to the geek in me (and the image of Istanbul’s Blue Mosque brings back some happy memories). Thanks to Tales of one city for the link

Tales of One City

Fancy a trip back in time to the Middle East of the late 1800s? Our latest exhibition on Capital Collections is a stunning collection of early travel photographs capturing these exotic lands which were far beyond the imagination of the British public of the time.

Mosque of Sultan Ahmed Mosque of Sultan Ahmed, Istanbul

By the 1860s, British tour operators such as Cook’s Tours were offering package tours to the Middle East encompassing destinations such as Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, and Egypt. Wealthy gentlemen (including King Edward VII) embarked on these tours to learn about the ancient cultures, history, and religions of these mysterious faraway lands.

Parthenon, Athens Parthenon, Athens

As the tourist trade grew, photographers from all over Europe flocked here, keen to document this different world. Some set up studios to produce prints specifically for the tourist trade, much like a modern travel postcard, many of which can be seen in this collection.

View of the bridge in Istanbul View…

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Robert Louis Stephenson’s history tour from Edinburgh to California

 from the Glasgow Herald, Monday 8 June 2015


Robert Louis Stevenson one of the world’s best-loved writers, with a life story spanning the globe from Scotland to the South Seas.
Now 120 years after the Scots writer’s death, thousands of people will be able to follow a European network linking places that inspired the likes of Treasure Island, Kidnapped and Travels With A Donkey
The new route has won official accreditation as a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe.
The European Network “In the Footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson” links Scotland, England, Belgium and France through a series of places associated with the life and works of the Scottish author.
It begins in Edinburgh where Stevenson was born on November 13 1850.
It moves onto Colinton, Stevenson’s second childhood home where he would often stay with his Balfour cousins at the Manse, where his grandfather was the Minister.
Next on the trail is North Berwick in East Lothian, where the young Stevenson spent holidays and walked to the isle of Fidra, curiously reminiscent of Treasure Island.
It also includes the Highlands, which Stevenson toured with his father, gathering material for Kidnapped. In Bristol, Hispaniola was berthed. It was here that Jim Hawkins and his friends sailed in search of treasure, along with Long John Silver’s pirates.
In Belgium, Brussels and the Rivers and Canals of northern France provide the backdrop. The Belgian capital helped Stevenson on his voyage by canoe from Antwerp to Pontoise near Paris.
In Fontainebleau, Stevenson found freedom among the artists painting in the Forest of Fontainebleau, where he also met and fell in love with American Fanny Osbourne.
When Mrs Osbourne had to return to the US, Stevenson took himself off on a walk through the Cévennes mountains in southern France, which he wrote up as Travels With A Donkey.
The furthest point is California – where the author travelled by ship and train to persuade Mrs Osbourne to divorce her husband and marry him.
Launched in 1987, there are now 30 Cultural Routes ranging from the music of Mozart to the Santiago de Compostela religious pilgrimages.