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.

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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.

This is a bit of a challenge for me – as  child I was afflicted by car sickness. Unfortunately as I got older and was able to get used to this, then learn to drive which made a huge difference as did moving from the back of the car to the front passenger seat (sorry mum).

I remember and I sure my  family does many occasions a drive was interrupted by my poor constitution. If you remember my first post and my thoughts on the origins of my passion for travel this makes little sense as all the long journey’s I had done had been affected.

Back to more recent times and the sea sickness,  its a terrible thing – you can stop a car and get out – no chance of that on a boat. One irony is I love sailing, back in my youth I did some dingy sailing and I spent a few days on an amazing racing yacht called Mandrake cruising around the Whitsunday Islands off the Queensland coast.

A week earlier on a ferry to Fitzroy Island, a journey of only 45 minutes I was very, very ill and subsequently when learning to dive suffered the same fate.

Add that to bad experiences on Irish Ferries between Holyhead and Dublin, more than one on North Sea Ferries between Hull and Zeebrugge or Rotterdam (saved by sea sickness tablets) and the Inter Island Ferry between Picton and Wellington.

Now my experience on the ferry to Dublin may have had something to do with a few pints of Guinness I had consumed in the wonderful Sky Lounge, on an empty stomach (yes there are more excuses coming), on a rough sea followed by a walk down to the restaurant… yes it was mainly the Guinness.

All that said if I want to complete the the 80 days I’ll have to spend at least 2 weeks crossing the Pacific and the Atlantic, if not the Persian Gulf and other bodies of water… Are there any sea sickness tablets that work? Are there enough to last me that long?

I know that Ginger is a help – a few bottles of ginger beer got me though the trip across the Cook Straits and has helped on other car related occasions, but it has its limitations. I have used some travel sickness tablets before, on recent flights over the Atlantic which seemed to work and once when I was very young on a North sea crossing (basically they sent me to sleep – which doesn’t happen these days).

One thing I have found is fresh air and a view of the horizon in all but the worst cases is also a great help – again this helped on the Cook Straits crossing and when I went for a trip down Milford Sound. On Milford Sound this made me look pretty hard core as the only people outside when we reached the mouth of the Fjord were those who felt like me, the smokers (tucked away in a corner) and the photographers.

I’m at a loss – careful preparation, lots of ginger, sea sickness tables, very few or no alcoholic beverages, and praying for good weather are my only options. Maybe the Pacific won’t be that bad (fingers crossed).

I love my passport and I am very lucky it is a British one, this gives me a good chance of getting into most countries with the bar minimum of hassle.

I am however struck by the problems the relay pairs have had getting across borders. I think up to now, (they got across the pacific last night) they have been refused entry to 5 or 6 countries, including China – now that is a huge detour.

I found myself wondering why they hadn’t stuck to the original route (see the header image); Mr Palin managed it, so why not this time. Well he had to cross the Persian Gulf between the middle east and India and then cross India. Unfortunately the sea crossing Mr Palin did is not very safe and pretty much impossible to do on the Dhow as demonstrated in 80 Days Revisited and even if you do manage to get out on the water it hugely dangerous thanks to pirates.

Pirates are quite a serious problem these days, there are unfortunately they seem to be increasing their attacks on shipping.

On top of piracy on the high seas there are other more pressing problems on land, this is where politics rears its head – which it does frequently. In the last few years Thailand has suffered with social unrest that briefly crippled the tourist industry, Russia invaded Georgia, the Middle East large areas of Africa and the Indian sub-continent continue to be less than safe. All of this depresses me – I’d love to visit these places.

Paperwork is a serious issue and failure to get a Visa could well be disastrous, Ewan Mcgregor and Charley Boorman demonstrated a large scale overland trip around the world is possible in Long Way Round, another great travelogue/challenge – but they took longer than 80 days and I think there may have been some flights involved on the way. Plus I don’t think I would like to ride a bike around the world.

Charley Boorman continued the madness with London To Sydney: By Any Means and Sydney To Tokyo: By Any Means.  In the second instalment they have unfortunately been plagued by problems and forced to fly, this even happened in the first adventure. The idea of both was to avoid flying, and politics, border control and the weather spoiled this.

21 years ago Mr Palin had to overcome some pretty big obstacles – but now it seems almost impossible.

Ever since Mr Palin’s first steps in 80 Days I have whenever possible sought out travelogues, holiday programs and literature for travel and a few years ago got around the world on my own. I say on my own, the Round The World Airline ticket was a great help.

I did at one time think that this would be the end of the hunger and I would be able to manage with lighter trips, ones that lasted no longer than about two weeks. I secretly knew this would not be the case. The hunger just increased.

I know I’m not alone and by no means am I the most adventurous of traveller; but I find I need to travel, it a passion, an addiction and I must feed it.

This has not been help by my old friend the BBC and their recent and very entertaining version of Around the World In 80 Days, a Children In need relay challenge. I now find myself wanting to do it again…

I ask myself only two questions 1) Could I manage it and 2) Would it satisfy my hunger to travel.

The answers are simple –1) If I had the chance I would try my best to succeed, who wouldn’t and 2) No, it would only fuel it more.

One thing has puzzled me for years, my love of travel.

I should really be more specific, as a love of travel is not uncommon, its not that me family holidays were unadventurous  or any in way boring, but my solo travels have been more ambitious.

My parents showed my various parts of England, northern France, Jersey and Florida, but I still harboured desires to go further, to visit every US State, all the continents (Including Antarctica), see the temples of Cambodia, hike the Inca Trail, see Russia, India and countless other places…

The problem is where did this all come from. I’m sure these desires didn’t come directly form my parents, neither of them has seen these places or have a burning desire to spend days on a train crossing African desert or on a Cargo ship crossing the Pacific Ocean.

The more I thought about it, the more the blame was laid on one man, Michael Palin.

Blame maybe isn’t a fair word to use, but back in 1988 as young and impressionable child of 9 the most amazing BBC Series whet my appetite with Around the World In 80 Days. The BBC and Mr Plain then continued to showcase epic overland travel with Pole to Pole and Full Circle.

I am not ignoring any of Mr Palin’s other journeys Hemingway Adventure,  Sahara,  Himalaya and  New Europe – I enjoyed everyone, but there was no challenge – they all had a roughly set route and time limits.