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A Robinson Crusoe wannabe,
This review is from: Offshore: In Search of an Island of My Own (Paperback)"The only positive thing about flying from Luton airport is that wherever you are flying to is guaranteed to feel like paradise in comparison. I can highly recommend it for trips to Chernobyl, Baghdad and Chechnya." - Author Ben Fogle in OFFSHORE
This is the second volume I've read lately that disparages Luton. So, what's that all about, you think? Personally, I've not been there during any of my many trips to the U.K., so I can't say.
Ben Fogle also brought us THE TEATIME ISLANDS, in which he recounts his landings on an assortment of the last remaining island possessions of the old British Empire, a narrative that resembles yet another book on the same theme, OUTPOSTS by Simon Winchester. Both are excellent diversions for the armchair traveler.
In this volume, Fogle continues the insular theme by visiting a number of islands around the perimeter of Great Britain that are, or were at one time, subject to Crown rule: Sark, Caldey, Bardsey, the Skerries, Isle of Man, Muck, Eigg, Gruinard, St. Kilda, Shetland, Heligoland, Sealand (which is actually an old WWII gun platform in the Thames Estuary), and Rockall.
There's no photo section in OFFSHORE, which isn't surprising since it's the rare travel essay that incorporates such even though it's a logical inclusion. What's worse, and which causes me to knock off a star, is the absence even of maps showing where these places are. I guess the author assumes the reader can look them up on the Web, like I did, but I miss the effort he could have made to make an otherwise pretty good read better.
The context of the narrative is Fogle's expressed wish to own his personal private island - a place to get away from it all - much like Adam Nicolson succeeds in doing in SEA ROOM. Unfortunately, this desire eventually seems more a gimmick upon which to construct the text than a serious ambition, especially when reading the last chapter about Rockall. I mean, a post-it note and duct tape? Puhleeze!
Fogle's sense of humor makes him an immensely readable writer. But, in this case, a more substantial, more informative, and equally congenial book is perhaps one by Charlie Connelly, ATTENTION ALL SHIPPING, in which he visits interesting and/or isolated places that fall within the areas covered by the BBC's venerable Shipping Forecast.