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4.3 out of 5 stars128
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on 9 September 2004
This is a great book! If you have ever wondered where North Utsire is or what it may be like to have a North Easterly Gale force 8 blowing across Lundy, then this is the book for you. Connelly reveals each of the sea areas of the shipping forecast in turn in a very easy to read format. He is quite ready to share with us his failings but he also tells the reader about life on the edge of the coast with a gentleness lost in some others writings. If you liked Bryson, Hawks etc then you will like this book, even if you don't know your Bailey from your Viking.
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on 24 June 2004
Ever since I was a lad, I've wanted to read the Shipping Forecast on Radio 4. Which is why I'm now an engineer. But there remains a great charm and poetry to the forecast which, since its first broadcast in 1911, has become a fixture of British radio. For me, there's the comfort of shutting up the shop, drawing in the curtains, as the announcer makes his (or her) way around this island and its territorial waters, starting in the north-east and working clockwise to Iceland. At twelve minutes to one in the morning, it's comforting; a precise definition of all of the land, and sea, that Britain encompasses. As I've grown older, the coastal reports mean more to me, as I recognise places I've been, headlands I've stood upon. As sleep rushes over me, I try to picture the island and tick the places off - Channel Light Vessel Automatic; Aberporth; Sangette Automatic; and so on.
Charlie Connelly's book is like a manifesto for Shipping Forecast Aholics Anonymous. He starts with the same love of the thing and attempts to visit all of the areas, to better make the mental pictures in later life. It's a fantastic piece of scheduling to have this as the Late Book on Radio 4 - how post-modern! A book reading about the very next programme!
Connelly's book has kinsmen in the Tony Hawks triology, Pete McCarthy's books, and others like 'Tilting at Windmills' but, for me, it is so much better than those. He explores the areas wittily, and there's a fair amount of personal experience built into his tales, but there's also a real care and passion in the histories he tells of each area. In short, it's great fun but really interesting too - highly recommended.
Two very minor quibbles. First, why no photographs? In the chapter about the Isle of Man, Connelly talks about having a photographer with him - a few plates would be excellent. Second, twice, when quoting the forecast in reported speech, Connelly writes '...And now the shipping forecast as issued by the Met Office at 0048...'. But, as all afficianados know, 0048 is when the forecast starts; never when it's been prepared - that's usually around midnight. Gr.
But overall, a really good book - it rattles along, it's good fun, and it's about something that matters. What more could you want?
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on 20 July 2004
The idea behind "Attention All Shipping: A Journey Around the Shipping Forecast" is so ingenious you wonder why nobody has ever done it before. Whereas many globe-hopping travel writers struggle desperately to come up with increasingly outlandish odysseys, Charlie Connelly has accomplished a much more impressive feat: revealing the extraordinary diversity that exists right here in the British Isles and their near neighbours. In a book brimming with characters and anecdotes, my favourites are the Crown Prince of Sealand (a rusty World War Two military platform in the North Sea) and the Pythonesque women who cheerfully bully their customers into buying Belgian waffles in the Choxaway Café at Land's End Aerodrome.
Whether you view the shipping forecast as a dry, nautical roll call or get all misty at the mere mention of Dogger, Fisher and German Bight, you will find plenty to enjoy in "Attention All Shipping". From beginning to end, Connelly proves a funny and self-deprecating guide, the kind of guy you'd be happy to be stuck on a remote island with-provided he had recovered from his latest bout of seasickness. Five stars.
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on 16 April 2006
This was one of my surprisingly good reads of 2006. Having never heard the shipping news (well, consciously at any rate), this would never have been a first choice and I must admit to being a little dubious about receiving it as a gift.

The basic premise seems designed for retired sailors safely tucked under their lap blankets in an out of the way coastal town. The author, oddly intrigued by the shipping forecast since his youth, would spend a year travelling through each of the areas named in the forecast and give us a potted history of each. Not generally my cup of tea, particularly when some of these places have so little to offer your regular tourist that even the locals are surprised to see him.

However, Connelly's writing style clearly carries this concept. He is a brilliant observer of both people and places and kept me giggling away at even the most banal travelling mishaps. The book is packed with cringeworthy character studies, laugh out loud anecdotes and interesting local histories - all of which come together in an exceptionally good read.

While I have no inclination to visit many of the places on Connelly's travels, I am at least now better informed as to why that might be and definitely have admiration for an author who can find so much of interest in even the most banal of places. Definitely worth a read.
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on 8 October 2005
....I've heard of it but never actually listened to it. Luckily that didn't stop me picking up this book, it's been an absolute joy to be guided round the shipping areas and some of the quirkier places related to it. Charlie entertains and educates and I certainly feel wiser for reading this. I'll definitely be reading it again but this time it will be with a decent map beside me (only grumble was the maps illustrations are very basic) and the shipping forecast playing in the background....
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on 20 December 2009
With a title like this I would never have bought this book but as I always listen, without always understanding, to the shipping forecast a friend bought me "Attention All Shipping."
It is a delightful book, full of humour and well written. The author is not afraid to put himself down and/or laugh at his mistakes. I have learnt a lot about the areas and I think the description of his seasickness was the best and funniest I had ever read, His visit to the Isle Man will not be forgotten for quite a while nor his writing about S.Utsire and N.Utsire.
I recommend it to any one over 15years of age as a funny, lively, informative book that Granny and Grandpa will enjoy as well. I am 75 years of age and not easily impressed but this year I have bought it as a present for my 40 and 49 year old nephews and for a young, intelligent man of 20. I am glad I was given this book.
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on 24 February 2010
Everyone over a certain age will remember those immortal words "Attention all Shipping". I can still recall listening to the Shipping Forecast when I was a child and my mother and I wondering where these cold, wet and windy places were. Now I know. I pictured the fishermen in their yellow oilskins, steaming cups of tea in their hands, waiting for news of the weather in 'their' areas.

This book is a joy and an excellent read for the armchair traveller. I read it in a couple of sittings and will read it again. I liked Charlie's writing style and found it warm and humourous. He wrote as though he was really enjoying the journey - even the couple of times when he experienced chronic seasickness! He met some fascinating people and, although he doesn't pretend he did all the research himself, he came up with lots of interesting facts, stories and anecdotes. I was sorry when his journey came to an end.

My only criticism? I want to know even more about North and South Utsire, Fitzroy, Lundy and all the other areas.

As long as the BBC continues broadcasting the Shipping Forecast, we can be fairly certain that all is well with the world!
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on 30 November 2008
I enjoyed reading this.Partly because I was sailing round britain at the time - so it was a great introduction to each sea area we entered. But in parts it made me laugh out aloud. It is a great idea and given that we are an Island nation it documents an interesting part of our maritime history.
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on 17 April 2009
I bought this book on something of a whim and found it thoroughly enjoyable. The concept is simple - so simple, in fact that you wonder why it hadn't been tried before (well, not in this form at any rate) - a book about one man's experiences during his personal attempt at visiting all the sea areas mentioned in that now legendary daily broadcast by the BBC, but in the end it is also about so much more.
Charlie Connelly is a pleasant companion on an intriguing journey, and along the way, amongst many other things, you meet Darwin's captain Fitzroy, learn about the Battle of Trafalgar and the colourful history of Hegioland, travel to the very edge of the known Roman world, and meet a dedicated bunch of souls in Bracknell who work dedicatedly to bring us the daily broadcast that may well interrupt the cricket, but can be life and death to those who earn their livelihoods, and others, on the seas around Britain's coast. There's also time for a poignant look into his own family history along the way, in fact, pretty much something for everyone.
There are also tales of quirky meetings with strangers, and bizarre experiences in remote little towns - the meat and drink of travel writers across the board - and in this the book does not disappoint.
Because of the nature of its subject matter, some might expect this subject to be very dry and dull, but it is far from that. Mr Connelly's writing is fresh and funny, intelligent and thought-provoking, and I just loved it.
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VINE VOICEon 1 September 2009
Travelling around the shipping forecast - areas that are little more than lumps of coastal rock or great swathes of sea - sounds a potentially dreary idea for a travel book, and in the hands of the wrong writer could have been a complete disaster. Full marks then, to Charlie Connelly for producing such an entertaining and really well-written book that brings these little known and little visited areas to life.

The book succeeds because most of the time Connelly keeps himself in the background and tells the story of the areas he visits, and when he does tell of his own travel experiences, his ego doesn't seem so huge that it dwarfs the main idea of the book. It's hard to see various "celeb" writers avoiding this trap. There are moments when the humour grates, and something of Connelly's media history comes into play, but most of the time it's done well enough.

The places visited are essentially remote, hard to reach, and harder still to make a living from as an inhabitant. Again, the book scores highly on the ability to bring these places to life without patronising the inhabitants as some kind of island idiots. With a certain sameness to the locations, the books just about manages to avoid outstaying its welcome - but anything longer and my attention would have started to wander. Nevertheless, a surprisingly great read, and recommended.
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