November 2009

In my last post “Travelogues” I listed a number of famous personalities who have done TV travelogues, or similar programs, here is a quick overview of what they have done, as far as I can remember.

Home Grown

Michael Palin Great Railway Journeys, Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole, Full Circle, Hemingway Adventure, Sahara, Himalaya, New Europe and 80 Days Revisited
Billy Connolly Journey to the Edge of the World, World Tour of New Zealand, World Tour of Ireland, Wales and England, A Scot in the Arctic, World Tour of Australia and World Tour of Scotland
Stephen Fry America and Last Chance To See
Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman Long Way Round and Long Way Down
Charley Boorman London To Sydney By Any Means and Sydney To Tokyo By Any Means
Paul Merton China, Indian
Griff Rhys Jones Rivers, Mountains
Griff Rhys Jones, Dara Ó Briain and Rory McGrath Three Men in a Boat, Three Men in Another Boat, Three Men in More Than One Boat
Victoria Wood Victoria’s Empire
Martin Clunes Islands Of Britain
Robbie Coltrane B Roads of Britain
James May and Oz Clarke Wine Tours – Big Wine Adventure (France and California), Drink To Britain
John Sergeant On The Tourist Trail
Julia Bradbury Rough Guides, Railway Walks, Wainwright’s Walks
Kate Humble Frankincense Trail
Sir Trevor McDonald The Secret Caribbean
Bruce Parry Tribe, Amazon (and some others I haven’t seen yet)
Ray Mears Extreme Survival, Bushcraft, Wild Food, Goes Walkabout, Northern Wilderness


Across the Pond

Anthony Bourdain No Reservations
Andrew Zimmerman Bizarre World
Adam Richman Man v. Food

If I’ve missed anyone I’m sure one my many readers will remind me.


I’m off to Manchester soon – on the train for a gig. Its not really ambitious travel, but until my long weekend in Italy next January and my drive home for Christmas it’s all I’ve got.

As much as I am looking forward to all three (yes I am looking forward to my trip to Manchester,  its a break from the norm, a railway line I haven’t been on and it’s been a while since I’ve been down the curry mile for a meal. Plus last time I went to Manchester I didn’t have time to check the food in China Town.

Its at times like this I tend to turn to books, magazines, various internet site and yes – what has been refared to as my “whopping electronic canvas suitable for opening a small-time cinema“; the TV.

I have been reliving Mr Palin’s Travels (I have lost count as to how many times I’ve seen them now) it got  me thinking about who else has done a travelogue. I’m not going to look at Pilot Guides/Globe Trekker here – suffice to say I enjoy it.

Well Billy Connolly, Stephen Fry, Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman, Paul Merton, Griff Rhys Jones (with and without Dara Ó Briain and Rory McGrath), Victoria Wood, The Children In Need 80 Day Challenge Team, Martin Clunes, Robbie Coltrane, James May and Oz Clarke, John Sergeant, Sir Trevor McDonald, Julia Bradbury and Kate Humble are the only one I can think of for now. I’ll add Bruce Parry and Ray Mears to the list as their shows are about travel and/or different cultures.

Our American cousins who are lucky enough to have the Travel Channel – have the likes of Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmerman and the ever hungry Adam Richman amongst others to watch.

Unlike many “critics” I am by no means going to rip these people apart, or their producers why would I – they provide me with entertainment, escapes, inspiration and fuel my dreams. Those that think not another famous personality (I refuse to use the “C” word) getting to travel, funded by someone else’s wallet – good for them – if I was in their position I would be sending letters, faxes and emails to every producer and television company I could to get them to pay for me to do something like this – who wouldn’t?

As far as comparisons go everyone of the names above (with the exception of Bruce Parry and Ray Mears) are going to be graded against Mr Plain – the only one I feel can compete is Billy Connolly, although Stephen Fry does come close too. For those who are music fans consider this – there is only one drummer worthy of being the best ever and no one with any sense can argue with this – Animal. There is only one man who can come close to him – Keith Moon. Like all other drummers, there is yet to be another travel presenter who can compete.

So please just enjoy the show – have a little escape and wish it was you doing it.

All good things must end, and with some drama and sea sickness Jose Lawrence & Shane Richie attempt to doge a hurricane (Bill) and race to get back in time to make the 80 days target.

So how do you spend your time on a transatlantic voyage, on a cargo ship. Options are limited and I suppose after you have counted the containers, engines, pipes and watched your wake for a while and spotted the local wildlife your a bit stuck. Not with a film crew and two celebrities, you make a cheesy soap opera.

Meanwhile a rescue plan is put into place, a ship to ship transfer just off the Lizard Point, boat to Plymouth and a train to London. Sounds simple… well to disembark you need a rope ladder and the captain, can’t stop. He just moves course a little. Its all dependant on good weather.

Its at this point you realise a few things, a solo 80 day attempt does not have the power of the BBC behind it and (as I predicted) in earlier posts both sea sickness and the ocean crossings are the most important parts of the trip and you have no control over either.

Off the cargo ship and its the last day, with only 17 hours the most beautiful racing yacht and the most wonderful Dame Ellen MacArthur at the helm. I cannot emphasise enough how much respect and admiration I have for her. It would be nice to see her with longer hair though. There is only one thing I rather do (and have less chance of completing) that a solo circumnavigation of the globe in a racing yacht.

The whole team is at the reform club to great them,  just a note here – no one met Mr Palin.

The journal and the carpet bag are now both up for auction…  as I type this the journal has just flown past £20,000 (there goes my chance of owning it) and the carpet bag making a good start at £3,000.

I do from time to time drive from my current home to my parents home, or my old home.

Generally this for a rugby match, a concert or an occasion (a Birthday or Christmas),  this weekend was a bit of both, chance to England beaten by Australia in my old local and to “tidy” a load of my old stuff. This is something that should have been done a long tome ago…

What relation does this have to travel I hear my many readers ask… well my parents have access to the Travel Channel, which I enjoy and I found my first camera.

The Travel Channel amongst other things has the fantastic Globe Trekker, check out Pilot Guides and pay particular attention to any that has the adventurous Ian Wright and the lovely Megan McCormick.

Coming to the Travel Channel soon is the Don of travel journalists, the big cheese himself, Simon Calder. He will be spending 48 hours in a city… no doubt with a bag so small you would believe he could travel with it and his folding bike!

I’m sat watching a repeat of Stephen Fry In America. I have seen all the episodes once and read the book, but like a Michael Palin or any really good travelogue its nice to watch again.

For those of my many readers (are there any?) who don’t know he drives a London Taxi around all 50 States. Now it is a dream of mine to visit all 50, I have managed three (five if you choose to include visits to airports to transfer flights). Florida, California and Hawaii (with Main and Ohio courtesy of airports).

I have a few little routes planned, that should bring me a few more states, but some; Alaska for example I think will have to be a special trip.

So three down and 47 to go – plus Guam, Costa Rica and Washington D.C. – oh dear, wish me luck…

I am reminded by The West Wing that at least one person had succeeded in circumnavigating the globe before Mr Palin, an American journalist and author Nellie Bly; who was able to do it in an incredible 72 days.

The First Lady, Mrs Bartlett point this out to her husband in Season 2 – Episode 5: “And It’s Surely to Their Credit“. That was a little nerdy, sorry about that. Any way this record was further bettered by one George Francis Train, another American; who managed it in 67 days. George Francis Train’s earlier circumnavigations may have been the inspiration for Phileas Fogg.

However to my knowledge (which is still growing) the only person to achieve the circumnavigation from the Reform Club, to the Reform Club is Mr Palin, plus he is English, Fogg was English and so am I – you have to allow some national pride.

“Walking through this tourist town,
The heavy winds are blowing
And something’s coming towards me
Well it looks like it’s the ocean”

Catherine Feeny, Hurricane Glass

If there is one thing other than travel I like – its music, above is an verse from a song I found recently, this is the song I named this blog for. I’m sure there are other songs I could have used, but this one had a nice ring to it and it mentions a fantastic drive I’d like to do, but I think I’d keep the car.

“I’ve driven up and down the coast
Just looking for a reason
To wake up in the morning
Now I’m in the Florida Keys
And I just gave away my car
I guess that I’m not going far”

Catherine Feeny, Hurricane Glass

And I suppose the chorus is a pretty good thing to remember when you are travelling anywhere, or just generally it may help – not that I want to get too deep here, but…

“It’s not what I wanted
It’s not what I planned
It’s not where I thought I’d be
Hurricane glass”

Catherine Feeny, Hurricane Glass

For those of you who don’t know what a hurricane glass is commonly used for cocktails and specifically the Hurricane an alcoholic beverage. I’ll risk saying that they are common in America here – but go to a Hard Rock Café and have a look at the cocktail menu and you will see one.
Anyway back to the plot – I suppose it boils down to go with the flow and don’t panic if everything doesn’t work out – kick back and have a drink (please drink responsibly).

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