60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than a wet weekend in Fleetwood!
My 'young adult' kids bought this as my father's day present - revenge will be mind on our next cagoule clad thermos clutching day trip!
For all those of my generation ( approaching 50 too fast for comfort ) who suffered long childhood journeys in inadequately ventilated cars upholstered in warm black PVC, seaside metal spades so sharp they could take your toe off, and...
Published on 24 Jun 2005
261 of 295 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting (up to a point)
What a great idea: ignore the queues at the enormous, packed, commercialised tourist trail and write a book celebrating Britain's more obscure and quirky attractions. Unfortunately, the book is not quite up the task.
The book is divided into several sections, each one dedicated to one place. The range of places is good, including stone circles, museums, pubs and, er, a...
Published on 26 April 2005 by NumberSix
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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than a wet weekend in Fleetwood!,
By A Customer
This review is from: Bollocks to Alton Towers: Uncommonly British Days Out (Hardcover)My 'young adult' kids bought this as my father's day present - revenge will be mind on our next cagoule clad thermos clutching day trip!
For all those of my generation ( approaching 50 too fast for comfort ) who suffered long childhood journeys in inadequately ventilated cars upholstered in warm black PVC, seaside metal spades so sharp they could take your toe off, and endless games of 'I spy'....this book is for you. With page turning and near 'brysonesk' humour and observation it makes you want more than anything to visit eccentric gems in far off reaches of Britain. Places you did not know existed, but will now add to your itinerary if you're in the area on your next holiday.
British understatement, with a slowly melting ice-cream cone of eccentric nostalgia thrown in.
Are the British the only people that have 'days out'? Does a day out mean leaving home for a period long enough to include at least one meal time? Do the French, or Germans, or even Americans go for 'proper days out'? The French probably go to the market, the Germans to sit in the park and eat too much, and the Americans to the superbowl, or megatrucks, or
After reading the book you feel cheated that your local crowd-magnet was not listed, but then again do you want the great unwashed descending on your own private 'tourist trap' - I think not. BUY THIS BOOK>>>>>>it's brilliant.
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My face aches from smiling,
By A Customer
This review is from: Bollocks to Alton Towers: Uncommonly British Days Out (Hardcover)This is a great book, hilarious and well written, but with an added layer of being rather touching in a funny sort of way. This book is written with a lot of joy behind it, no cynsism, no sneering and nothing needlessly negative (and because of that, it's nothing like Crap Towns btw). You can feel the genuine enthusiasm the writers seemed to feel for each of the strange little places they visited. A cliché it may be, but this book does give you a sense of "Britishness", even if you're confused as to what "Britishness" really is.
I found this book extremely witty with some big belly laughs thrown in and, strangely for a book of this sort, rather useful and informative. I shall definitely be visiting some of these places with my family when we next go on holiday. And, next time I am driving through Bedford I shall keep a beady eye out for the end of terrace house earmarked by a strange Victorian religious sect for Jesus to live in, should he ever get round to being resurrected.
In short, buy this book, it has a little more weight and rather more laughs than its coffee table brothers and sisters.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect Disneyland antidote,
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Now that I've got it, I only wish I'd bought it earlier. Living in the depths of Cumbria, it's lovely to find a 'guidebook' that has no less than 3 local places in it!
What I like best about it tries to instill a love and appreciation of the small tourist attractions in this country. All too often we ignore the random brown roadside signs to some attraction we've never heard of and prefer the safety of the well-established places such as Sealife centres or Alton Towers. Even if you never visit any of the places in this book, it makes you want to find some other ones and support somewhere that hasn't sold itself out by joining the Disneylands of this world.
The writing style is very readable and witty. You can read it as a non-fiction book not just as a guidebook. Highly highly recommended.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uniquely British Attractions That Are Worth Treasuring,
I've driven past brown tourist signs for a couple of these places, like Gnome Magic, and thought 'that could either be really great or a total waste of time'. This book convinces me that the attractions they've selected would, generally, be great. In fact, I've highlighted a number of places I want to take the kids to when we're out and about, and will refer to this book prior to trips around the UK.
The writers have lovingly scoured the country, following up recommendations to explore these places. They write about them with humour, passion, excitement and attention to detail - making them sound all the more attractive, as you find out some local history or 'secret' details and in-jokes that the average visitor might miss.
The forty-two sites span the country - from Dufftown in North-East Scotland to Porteath in Cornwall. Wherever you live, there will be at least a couple fairly near and a few you could visit if you're in other parts of the country.
Many sites sound like great alternatives to 'the usual suspects' like the Eden Project, Stonehenge or London Science Museum. There are also many sites that sound like great places for kids. The authors' descriptions of so many children having such a great time at places like Diggerworld, Cumberland Pencil Museum or Beckonscot Model Village make them sound all the more attractive.
Authors take note for volume two: the only improvement I can suggest is to state the attraction's location (or show map location) at the beginning of each chapter. I was constantly flipping back to the map at the front to genuinely find out if it's feasible to get to.
The places in this book will give you a new appreciation for the entertainment possibilities in your area - and save you a fortune in avoiding the big 'corporate' days out!
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Affectionately written labour of love,
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Childhood days out revisited,
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!,
This review is from: Bollocks to Alton Towers: Uncommonly British Days Out (Hardcover)As someone who often finds themselves in search of 'different' days out in Britain, this book served it's purpose beautifully. It's very funny, very British and very quirky. And we like that.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You just have to visit. . . . . .,
The book becomes a travel guide for the interesting and unusual, the Ripon Tramp Museum was a fascinating view into the changing face of the treatment of the destitute and was certainly something I found worth visiting. There are the more obvious venues to visit such as Orford Ness, but the Bagpipe Museum in Morpeth is a gem.
My advice to you is but this book and begin visiting, you won't spend your days out in queues full of screaming kids and moaning adults, but you might just see somewhere in this country that reminds you that this is Britain not America and we are a nation of eccentrics who can have fun outside a theme park.
261 of 295 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting (up to a point),
This review is from: Bollocks to Alton Towers: Uncommonly British Days Out (Hardcover)What a great idea: ignore the queues at the enormous, packed, commercialised tourist trail and write a book celebrating Britain's more obscure and quirky attractions. Unfortunately, the book is not quite up the task.
The book is divided into several sections, each one dedicated to one place. The range of places is good, including stone circles, museums, pubs and, er, a nuclear bunker. Some of the places are truly obscure, but some are reasonably well known, such as Avebury (the stone circle, which attracts visitors from around the world), Portmeirion (the Welsh village that is best known as the setting for 60s cult TV classic 'The Prisoner') and Blackgang Chine (one of the best-known tourist attractions on the Isle of Wight, which seems to have been included here primarily because of the coastal erosion that in the past has caused sections of it to fall into the sea).
Certainly a good amount of research has gone into the book and it is clearly intended for a wide audience (although you'd think that they'd have given the book a less, well, 'vulgar' title, given that it includes places intended for children).
The problem is in the presentation. The book is in the 'small hardback' form that is currently popular (think 'Shott's Original Miscellany' etc) but is printed on fairly low-grade paper so that it feels quite cheap, and it doesn't help the B&W pictures, several of which look indistinct or bleached-out (although this may be intentional and it may vary from copy to copy).
The quality of the writing is variable and unfortunately doesn't always do justice to the places described. There's an unfortunate tendency to promote on place only by moaning bitterly about another similar place; this fits in with the theme of the book but it does get tedious after a while. For example, the section about Avebury stone circle could have included more on the history of the place rather than include, as it does, a lengthy whinge about Stonehenge. There also seems to be an implication that the people who go to places like Alton Towers and the like are fools, when they could be visiting the pencil museum instead; I'd like to think that it's possible to enjoy both.
This is a tourist guide for those who thought 'Crap Towns' was funny for more than five minutes. It would have been better without the moaning about everything or the endless eulogising of the 'Britishness' of supporting the underdog and so on. Try 'I Never Knew That About England' or one of the other books about Britain's less well-known places instead.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highlights the less visited attractions in the UK,
This review is from: Bollocks to Alton Towers: Uncommonly British Days Out (Hardcover)Intriguing title - I happen to like Alton Towers. It's not just Alton Towers the writers are disdainful towards but theme parks in general, along with any attraction that is purely about making money, always packed to the gills with tourists and doesn't inform or educate the visitor. Bollocks to Alton Towers is a compilation of 42 attractions within the UK that are unusual, unique and undervalued. The purpose of the book, it says in the introduction, is to highlight and celebrate the "underdogs of British tourism." The writers have endeavoured to only include those attractions that represent all that is British and have avoided attempting to recreate successful attractions in America in order to get the punters in. So we have places like the British Lawnmower Museum, Gnome Magic, Morpeth Bagpipe Museum and Peasholm Park Navel Warfare. Hm, thrilling. But that's the point; if you want thrills and spills, hustle and bustle and all the fun of the fair, then you'll find this book hard going. These attractions require a little more effort and imagination than your average tourist hotspot.
An alternative to Alton Towers - The book starts off with Blackgang Chine, Britain's oldest theme park, located in the Isle of Wight and set in over 40 acres of Victorian cliff-top gardens. I apparently went there when I was a child but I don't remember. The park is really for children and their parents because there's hardly any rides, just things like Giant Hedge Maze, Hall of Funny Mirrors, and The Crooked House in themed areas including Dinosaurland, Fantasyland and Nurseryland. Blackgang Chine is quintessentially British in that it's modest and understated. Because a British theme park proclaiming that it's the fastest and the best is "a faintly embarrassing spectacle, like a geography teacher bodypopping in a cowboy hat." I can definately see where they're coming from there. What the writers liked about Blackgang Chine was the lack of noise from rollercoasters and teenagers, which means a visit to the park is relaxing for the adults and, perhaps more importantly, stimulates children's imagination more than any rollercoaster could.
An alternative to Madame Tussaud's - Louis Tussaud's House of Wax, a waxworks museum in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, that's been slaughtered by the press for its crapness. Like Blackgang Chine, the place is stuck in a time warp as the exhibits haven't been updated for fifteen years. The ones they've got are rather poor imitations of the celebrities they're supposed to represent. But the writers liked the museum for its ability to take the visitor on a trip down memory lane and for being a "traditional British seaside experience".
An alternative to Stonehenge - Avebury Stone Circle, about 20 miles from Stonehenge in Wiltshire. This massive site of around 28 acres isn't as famous as Stonehenge but it perhaps ought to be. The writers point out that you can actually interact with the stones themselves by walking amongst them, unlike at Stonehenge where you are kept well away from the monoliths. The overall experience at Avebury is therefore much more fulfilling.
Halstead et al. are an old-fashioned lot, which they are unapologetic about. Many of the attractions in Bollocks to Alton Towers are old-fashioned (or just plain ancient, see Avebury Stone Circle), but are part of a British heritage you want to continue. It would be a shame for attractions like these to die out. You may be interested enough in one or two places to go and visit them, but considering the broad range and quality of places on offer, that wouldn't be bad going.
As has been mentioned by previous reviewers, the photos are in black and white and don't exactly sell the attraction that's being written about. The book cannot get 5/5 because of this fact. Another gripe I have with the book is that there aren't any days out in the Midlands - not one. Although they're spread all over the British Isles, from Wadebridge in Cornwall to Dufftown in Banffshire, the Midlands seems to have been forgotten. I live in the East Midlands and the nearest day out for me is in either North Yorkshire or Norfolk. That's just not good enough!
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Bollocks to Alton Towers: Uncommonly British Days Out by Alex Morris (Hardcover - 28 April 2005)
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