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Simon C McCrum

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The Inn at the Top: Tales of Life at the Highest Pub in Britain
The Inn at the Top: Tales of Life at the Highest Pub in Britain
Price: 2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice read, quite illuminating in parts!, 15 Jan 2014
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I have just finished this book and enjoyed it; its a fun, entertaining, at times very informative book which I think does good justice to a very special part of England.

I am puzzled though why the author wouldn't name the Inn nor any of the surrounding area. Even if you didn't know that the highest Inn in England is the Tan Hill Inn it wouldn't take much time on google to find out its name?! Given how stunnignSwaledale is and how beautiful some of the villages and towns are nearby I think not naming them is a great shame.

I enjoyed the deviations from the narrative of running the Inn; the pieces on the drovers, the horse-fairs and the lead and coal mining I found very interesting and it filled in a few gaps in my knowledge.

I was a little surprised at the authors distaste/disdain for the hikers, and in particular the Pennine Wayfarers. A considerable amount of his bus-ness and income must have come from this group and yet he is very disparaging about them. Not understanding why anyone would voluntarily subject themselves to this 'marathon' isn't grounds for considering them all lunatics and irritants I think!

I walked the Pennine Way in 1983 and had a lunch stop at Tan Hill Inn. It was a glorious summer, very dry and hot and when I asked the landlord if it would be possible to refill my water-bottles he told me to bugger off! I filled them up anyway in the toilet sink but I've never forgotten this lack of hospitality. However having now read the book and learnt about how the water was supplied to the Inn I can perhaps understand his refusal!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 15, 2014 6:09 PM GMT


You've Gone Too Far This Time, Sir!
You've Gone Too Far This Time, Sir!
Price: 2.05

5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely loved it!, 8 Feb 2013
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delight of a book, an amazing story of an extraordinary journey told beautifully and with real compassion. restores one's faith in humanity.


Two Degrees West: An English Journey
Two Degrees West: An English Journey
by Nick Crane
Edition: Paperback

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable achievement, 11 Feb 2001
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Nicholas Crane again tackles an immense project...to walk the length of England along the line of 'zero convergence' or two degrees west. He allows himself a 2000m wide corridor which occassionally allows him into a village but not to the shop!
Crane describes the country and the people he meets, and provides a fascinating account of the heart of England little seen by even the English. It is generally a pretty bleak picture, of rural communities being destroyed by the need to work in towns and by big supermarket chains replacing the small community shops.
Crane is an extremely enterprising chap and travelling with him is quite an adventure. I enjoyed this book very much and can't wait for his next mad-cap project.


Under The Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy
Under The Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy
by Frances Mayes
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Evocative and poetic account of the expat life in Italy, 9 Feb 2001
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This is the first of now 3 books written about Mayes purchasing, renovation and living in an old villa in Tuscany. There are plenty of these sorts of books around at the moment but this is probably one of the better ones.
First of all it should be made clear that this book is about privileged expats living in Italy, it is not about life in Italy at all. Mayes does write with a lovely lyrical style, it is very poetic; strained at times, a bit forced and trite in places, but overall the writing is very pleasing to read. Mayes cleverly evokes delightful scenes and is particularly expert at bringing incredible meals wafting off the pages.
I talked about this book with my brother and he mentioned that he found Mayes too smug. I think he is right, she is smug, but oddly enough I didn't mind that at all. If I ever fulfil my dream to own a house in Italy (Umbria not Tuscany!) I think I will allow myself to be a little smug too.


Running with the Moon: A Boy's Own Adventure
Running with the Moon: A Boy's Own Adventure
by Jonny Bealby
Edition: Paperback

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An incredible story, 9 Feb 2001
In trying to exorcise the demons brought on by the tragic and untimely death of his fiancee Bealby decides to drive a motor bike the length of Africa.
His route takes him down the western countries and back up via the eastern side, a trip of 20,000kms. Such a journey inevitably throws up horrors, delights, surprises and incredible hardship. Bealby handles all with great humour, strong resolve and an unshakeable belief in his 'guardian angel'.
On one level this is simply the story of an incredible journey, but it is also the story of rediscovery, of the author finding his life again, finding reasons to believe, things to live for.
I really enjoyed this book and have already ordered his next one 'Pagan Song' as a result.


Between the Woods and the Water
Between the Woods and the Water
by Patrick Leigh Fermor
Edition: Paperback

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical, 22 Jan 2001
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I can only reiterate what the previous reviewer has written, you must read this book.
'Between the Woods and Water' is part two in the triology recounting PL-F's walk in 1933 from Holland to Istanbul. This book is an utter delight, the author must rank as one of the greatest travel writers alive.
There is so much charm, poetry and delight within these pages that it would be a tragic shame to miss out on them.


What If? Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been
What If? Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been
by Robert Cowley
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting view on what might have happened....., 16 Jan 2001
The author has pulled together some of the most emminent military historians of our time and has produced a fascinating book with short chapters dedicated to studying the possible outcome had the fortunes of war gone the other way.
The books starts with the Persians and the Greeks and leads up to modern day conflict. Some of the essays are quite convuluted, dizzying in their breadth of possibilities and permutations, what if, what if, what if....?
A very enjoyable, thought-provoking read and I highly recommend it.


Down Under
Down Under
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At last, Bryson back to his old self., 16 Jan 2001
This review is from: Down Under (Hardcover)
Having been quite disappointd with 'Walk in the Woods' and 'Notes from a Big Country' I was delighted to find Bryson back on form, if a little subdued, in his latest book.
This book is very funny but in a much more subtle way than in some previous books where I felt that the humour had become rather forced. Bryson researches his topics in great depth and you can always rely on him to provide you with the most unusual and fascinating anecdotes that you won't find in your average travel 'guide'.
This is a very good book on a little known continent (even to a lot of Australians I suspect given it's enormous size and diversity) and I really enjoyed it.


Grains of Sand
Grains of Sand
by Martin Buckley
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very unusual account of the world's empty places, 21 Oct 2000
This review is from: Grains of Sand (Hardcover)
This book tells the story of a young man's incredible circumnavigation by way of the world's deserts.
Starting in Africa, the author spends two years journeying through the driest spots on the planet. The author discusses the influences that the desert exerts on us, how 'empty' places seem to hold such fascination.
In the course of his journey the author meets the peoples of the deserts and immerses himself in their lives. This is an extraordinary adventure and the book is highly enjoyable.


Corsairville: The Lost Domain of the Flying Boat
Corsairville: The Lost Domain of the Flying Boat
by Graham Coster
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating history of the Empire Flying Boats, 21 Oct 2000
This gentle book charts the brief, but illustrious, era of the Empire flying boats which in many ways mirrored the British empire at its height and its subsequent decline after WWII.
Flying boats seemed to have had a very profound impact on those who either flew them or had the great fortune to fly in them. The author has managed to interview a number of people directly involved in the flying boats and their recollections provide fascinating reading.
The author journeys to the Caribbean, Africa and Alaska following leads on operating flying boats and in doing so describes the effect that flying boats have had on these areas.
The title of the book refers to an incredible story where a flying boat crashed on a very small river in Belgian Congo and was susequently repaired and successfully salavged. A village, Corsairville, built up around the wrecked aircraft during the two years it was being worked upon by a band of very intrepid British engineers.


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