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on 12 August 2011
I haven't quite finished this book. The reason is because I'm enjoying it so much I don't want it to stop! His descriptions of countryside, cities, roads and people are outstanding and give you a different and encouraging perspective of everything good about the UK. As a Geordie by birth I was itching to read his descriptions of Newcastle and Northumberland, but he rather whizzed through that area in his desire to get over the border, where his obvious enjoyment of Scotland and its outstanding scenery made me long to be there too. He is clearly an outgoing and friendly person who not only enjoys the company of interesting and quirky people but who is honest enough to give his readers an insight into the feelings which these encounters produce in him, thus making this book much more than just a travelogue or a list of places he cycled through. The book is not only well-written but extremely funny and there are sections where I laughed out loud (rather unfairly, seeing I have never been the object of a mass mozzie attack). If you have ever wondered about cycling around Britain, this book will help you to decide whether you could do it or not; if you have never entertained the idea, this book might just make you think again. A really enjoyable book by a very perceptive and entertaining writer.
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on 9 July 2011
I absolutely loved this book, especially when he visited my home town and other places I know well. His portrayal of the scenery made it come alive for me and likewise the people he met on the way. A slight pity he raced through some localities without too much comment, but he does explain why in the book. A few photographs would have made a really good book even better. Well worth reading.
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on 24 January 2012
Firstly, I recommend this book. Nice travelogue that really does seek to find a hidden Britain and look for the good as the Credit Crunch took hold during the summer of 2009.

If you're interested in cycle touring, buy it (that'll secure him thousands of sales)and if you are looking to visit Scotland this year, definitely buy it (see Mike's note on the east coast, deserted, midge free and beautiful).

I'm a biker as well as a bicyclist so I'd read his BMW motorcycle Europe tour, mid-life crisis book last year and had been disappointed really, so I'd bought this book ready to be similarly rewarded. But I was wrong. It's almost as though two different people had written them.

Mike wrote about his tour in The Observer during 2009 and for those reviewers looking for support pictures, there are plenty on the Guardian website which still has all his diary pieces from the ride [...](Remember from the book, he's a freelance sub editor for the paper).

Overall, lovely book, which, as some have said, does feels rushed towards the end but it fits perfectly with the mentality of the author, though merely focuses the reader's attention on the disappointment you feel as the book, and journey, come to a close. It's a fine book, it's not Riding Home from Siberia, but what is?

You will know in the first 100 pages whether you like the author - if you do, then you will love this book. Recommended, even to non cyclists interested in their own country.
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on 29 December 2011
This was both one of my favourite books read in 2011 and one of the best travelogues about the UK, ranking up there with Paul Theroux's "The Kingdom by the Sea" and Bill Bryson's "Notes from a Small Island". (Actually, on reflection, it's better than either of them.)
It's hard not to envy Mike Carter's ability to be able to say one day, "Sod this", as he biked through a rainy London to his work, and decides to jack it in to follow the temptation to just keep cycling on along the Thames to the coast before turning left to circumnavigate the whole of the British coastline on his bike. Nice idea, and nice to be in the position to do it too!
The bookshelves groan with the weight of a lot of these kind of travelogues, with people lighting out on their journey to find whatever it is they're looking for. Carter keeps the interest because he actually interacts with quite a few people that he meets and manages to colour these characters in quite well, and he keeps the balance between people and places quite nicely. You get the feeling that he has some quite strong opinions about the state of both Britain and Britons, which sometimes poke through the narrative, but the interesting thing for me was that the book looks on the bright side because that's what the author experienced on his trip. It would be quite easy, and no doubt enjoyable, to slag off a lot of the places Carter visits on his travels, but he resists the temptation for sarcasm and slander because, you feel, although it was part of his experience it was nowhere near all of it. We've all been to the utter run-down dumps that sit on our seashore, and we could all have a good go at laying into them for the states they are in because of the people, the politics or the poverty, but it's an easy target. Probably a dispiriting one too, and this bike ride is certainly not that.
Carter was gutted when his journey ends back in London, and I was disappointed too - that the book was ending. I wanted to know what Mike did next. Did he settle down? Did he set off somewhere else? Has he still not found what he is looking for? I looked him up on the net and was surprised to see I'd read another of his books, "Uneasy Rider", about a fairly rubbish and discontented motorcycle tour through Europe. It seems, as Mike often attests in this book, there's no place like home.
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on 22 June 2011
I've read a few cycling travelogues recently and for the most part they've been fairly disappointing. But although I'm only a quarter of the way through Mike Carter's excellent book, it already stands head and shoulders anything else.

He's got a lot going for him; he's a Guardian sub-editor and writes well; he's got all the time in the world to take in his surroundings and the people he meets along the way - and it's damn funny with a lot of the humour being his own self-deprecating comments. I'd put it up there with Eric Newby and other travel writers of that ilk.

He suggests his trip is due to a mid-life crisis so I'm looking forward to how this will pan out in the rest of the book. But so far I'd call it a glorious success.
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on 22 May 2014
Well, what to say about this book?! I originally purchased it as I am a keen cyclist (with no intention of cycling those sort of distances, but always in awe of those who do), but to be honest, you don't actually need to be a cyclist, or even have an interest in cycling to enjoy this book.

It is more a study in human nature, emotions and dare I say it, discovering the meaning of life! If your area is mentioned, then you'll share that extra connection, but if not, it really doesn't matter as Mike paints a wonderful (if somewhat short, understandably) picture of the places he cycles through, offering just enough information to retain your interest, but not too much to bog you down to the point that you start glazing over.

It's funny, inspiring stuff that really gets you thinking about your life and the people around you, and how we're perhaps all to some extent occasionally guilty of being a bit too wrapped up in our busy lives to notice the beauty of this little island we inhabit.

A brilliant read from start to finish, and highly recommended to all.
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on 31 July 2011
Just finished reading this, and have to say it's one of the best books I've read for a long while.T
he characters and settings can be visualised very easily through Mike Carters writing. I now intend to read about his exploits on the BMW in Europe.

I do however agree with one comment about the latter half of the book appearing more rushed than the first,that aside still a great and interesting read.
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on 22 July 2011
Enchanting and insightful - made me feel that it's more than ok to be human in the 21st century. Best book I've read in along time.
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on 4 September 2013
This book is really good fun. It dispels the theory that Britain is broken as he met so many kind people of his travels. I really enjoyed the book but in particular the passages set in Scotland. I now want to visit places like Findhorn, Cape Wrath & the village where the film local hero Local Hero was set - read the book to find out where it is!. It's even inspired me to read some Bruce Chatwin. My only criticism is the small number of pages dedicated to the final leg across southern Britain. But after five months in the saddle I would probably want to get the final leg over & done with as well.
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on 26 May 2014
This is a superb account of a journey many, many cyclists dream of. Mike comes across as a pleasant and insightful chap and brings the country to life. I am certain it is a book I will re-read and I recommend it highly if you ever get the urge to just get on your bike and ride!
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