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4.8 out of 5 stars22
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 3 March 2014
A kick up the backside for everyone who dreams of jacking in their jobs and going on the hunt for adventure, Beads in the Highlight perfectly captures the highs and lows of life on the road. With vivid descriptions of landscape, people and local traditions, you're taken on a journey from the cold climes of Canada all the way to windswept South America, on a journey that leaves you feeling inspired and in awe of people's kindness. Living out of a rucksack is tough, but as we find out in this book, living out of a motorcycle is even tougher, and yet the protagonists deal with setback after setback with enviable poise and good humour. A perfect example of the resilience of the human spirit, the book reaffirms that it's always possible to achieve your goals, whatever obstacles you might have to overcome in the process. A fine read and one which makes you want to stop dreaming and start doing.
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on 12 January 2014
A wonderful read for adventurers and armchair-travellers alike. A must for anyone wishing to explore the Americas - or planning a trip anywhere on a vintage motorcycle!
The beautiful descriptions in this journal are a feast for the senses - from the dramatic landscapes viewed to the extremes of temperature felt and the mouth-watering dishes savoured along the way. It also restores faith in humanity when you read of the many acts of kindness by strangers.
The book is well-structured and balanced in more ways than one. We are given an insight into Isabel and Byron's inspiration for the trip in the first few chapters, we then visit different states, countries and parts of the continent in turn but at no point do we feel our interest waning or parts of the journey rushed through or glossed over. In the same way that Isabel and Byron moved on, the book does as well. And at the end we get time to reflect on an amazing journey.
Each chapter is also given a witty, intriguing title in nicely balanced phrases. It's almost as if a year spent balancing on the back of a luggage-laden motorbike has rubbed off in more ways than one on the author!
I was regularly in awe of Isabel and Byron's daring - from climbing to the edge of volcanoes, rope-jumping from bridges, diving into icy lakes and deep-sea waters, to riding along hair-pin bends with sheer drops whilst dodging on-coming trucks. Also their resilience in withstanding sea-sickness, floods and the many breakdowns - it wasn't all plain sailing. Byron's skill in riding - and fixing - the bike is awe-inspiring, but we must also salute the central character of this book. The 33-year-old Flying Aga is the real hero - by the end I wanted to give it a pat on its leather seat and say well done. I wonder where its owners will take it on their next adventure..
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on 19 December 2013
If you've ever sat and daydreamed about what it would really be like to quit your job, leave life as you know it and go on an adventure with the wind, rain and sand in your hair, then this tale is for you!

The book follows the enchanting adventure of a young English couple as they save for, plan, prepare and live out their dream to explore the American continent on an old motorbike. Beads in the Headlight has it all; camping in the middle of nowhere, wild animals, bureaucratic border crossings, vivid descriptions of landscapes, `love hotels' and expeditions across land and sea.
It offers real ups and downs, as well as scary but life affirming moments and combines practical knowledge for motorcycle enthusiasts with cultural advice for travelling through countless countries.

From Banff to Boston, Vegas, Panama, Colombia and beyond, this story will inspire your sense of travel and adventure and will have you gasping at the close calls, laughing and crying all along the journey!

I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of local food and customs, festivals, overcoming language barriers and learning of the bonds that tie people across cultures, including family, food and motorcycles. The encounters they experience on `the Flying Aga' really highlight the kindness of some amazing strangers and expose the realities and fun of travelling with limited possessions on a budget.

An inspiring read for everyone! The definitive moment is surely discovering the true meaning behind Beads in the Headlight ......
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on 9 December 2013
Reading this was like pouring over the pages of a diary from a presence from the past. Though I didn't know Isabel well - I think I directed her in a play once - I was taught by her father and acted as a thorn in his side more than once, was an acquaintance of her brother Edward and a friend to her other brother Henry. For some reason, I felt a sense of pride that this trip had climaxed into a literary entity, seeing as I have recently undertaken some magical trips and woefully under-represented them through a blog to my friends and family. Living in South America for the last two years, many of the understated references rang a bell to 'those in the know' and honestly reflect the countries which we embrace as home.
Fond memories of Mr Dyson emerged: standing on chairs reciting poetry from memory, being lambasted for incorrect punctuation and woeful analysis of this or that book. Running alongside Henry, directing him in a play, watching the hockey prowess of Edward - all these surfaced whilst reading of the adventure, for some unknown reason. Both Henry and Isabel capture moments in humble beauty, with many an hour lost seething over Henry's photos from his own amazing trips.
Thank you Isabel for putting pen to paper and sharing your journey with us. I wish I had half the talent and phrasing you have.
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on 18 January 2014
The last book I read was the Hobbit about 12 months ago in an attempt to have read the book before the film was released, a plan that I had failed at when the Lord of the Rings trilogy was released several years before. Beads in the Headlight was the motivation to purchase a Kindle and a fantastic read to start my ebook collection. I have since kept Beads in my pocket most of my waking hours and relished getting back on the road along with Byron & Isabel during my dreary commute. Having followed the blog from my desk back in early 2012 it was great to learn about more detailed parts of the trip including the preparation in Clapham, the trials of crossing borders and the cunning engagement.

Genuinely a great read & I look forward to the film!
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on 21 December 2013
I have loved reading about Isabel and Byron's adventure. It was great to read about so many friendly people, beautiful places and to hear about the different cultures. Sad to have finished this as I have been looking forward to my morning train journey to read more!!
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on 11 January 2014
Amazing adventure story. Couldn't put it down.
I loved that it was written from woman's perspective. Not just a bloke's motor bike book. Isabel really portrayed what it is like to visit countries on the American continent off the tourist trail. Seemed very hazardous at times. She painted a wonderful picture of the culture and people on their travels and how they coped with difficulties.
Inspirational for any age.

I would recommend you download this book for a gripping read on a cold winters night or in the sun by the pool!
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on 6 March 2014
I was so impressed by this account of a couple who took a career break to travel the Americas. I found it really well written with very relevant and meaningful observations and descriptions that helped to capture some of their experiences. The account was upbeat and engaging whilst also capturing the times when problems with breakdowns, accommodation, borders, scams, adverse weather etc tested them but injected into the book the reality of 'adventure motorcycling'.

I found this an exceptionally well written and enjoyable book.
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on 27 February 2014
A story that should inspire young people into adventure. Byron and Isabel are to be admired from their pluck but also for not just riding the landscape but observing the scenery and the people who populate the regions through which they passed. Done in short chapters it is a perfect book for the busy person who, perhaps trapped in work and responsibilities can head out into another world through what they read.
Well done!

David Donachie
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on 4 February 2014
Giving up your job and travelling to foreign climes is a pipe-dream for most but Isabel and Byron made it a reality, depicted here in Isabel's voice in Beads in the the Headlight.
The writing style is evocative of the landscape through which they travelled and the visual descriptions linger long after the book is finished.
Should be read by those tempted to jack in their jobs and live the dream...
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