Notes on a small island – Bill Bryson

After reading some heavy literature, I found myself in one of those rare literary droughts, picking up books, setting them back down again, reading a few pages then feeling unsatisfied. So when I went on holiday, I left with three different books in my bag, hoping to find one that would fit my mood.

Fortunately for me, after landing and before hitting the long road to my holiday destination, I stopped off at my gran’s house for lunch. Now my gran and I do not have the same taste in books, she subsists solely on a diet of murder mysteries (Patricia Cornwall and the like) intermingled with a dash of Danielle Steele for variety. So imagine my delight when I found this literary treasure upon her shelf! (I also picked up a Toni Morrison).

After having recently read A Walk in the Woods, and just heading on an adventure myself, this book was the perfect fit. It wasn’t the same as A Walk in the Woods, and definitely took me longer to read, but it was packed with all of Bryson’s wit, skepticism and charm.

In the book Bryson attempts to traverse all of the U.K using only public transport, as a kind of farewell to the place he met his wife, and the place he called home for fifteen years. In true Bryson style, it is filled with insight about England, with all its quirks. He really captures British culture succinctly, and although the book seems to fall into a monotony at times, and is somewhat dated in terms of cultural references, it’s still a lighthearted and entertaining read.

Keeping with the tone of this travelogue I didn’t pair it with wine. I did however pair it with some great gin and tonics, particularly Gillespie’s or Cruxland truffle-infused gin. Add a dash of bitters for a rounder flavor.


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