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on 20 June 2012
I couldnt put this down, this book is quite simply one of the best travel books that Ive had the pleasure to read. and I ve read quite a few. The true story takes us from Britain to Bulgaria on a long and sometimes sad journey. The author and her husband are still trying to accept the death of their son, Matt three years earlier and hope that doing this bike ride , camping and staying in hotels along the way will somehow help them achieve the peace of mind they need so much.Matt is mentioned a few times in the book but we dont get the full story of his untimely death, we dont need it. we only need to know he died young and alone in a forgein country. Obviously the book has it sad moments and catches you out sometimes. just as grief does.Its not over poweringly sad. its a very descriptive book along the way and you get get the " feel " of the countries and places visited. I didnt want the book to end when they arrived in Bulgaria and I hope they both have come to accept that life must carry on.I do hope there will be a follow up book about building their new life abroad.
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on 14 April 2013
This is a very interesting and honest account of a European bike journey through countries
not as yet popular for the cycling camper. Having navigated Germany and Austria without too
many problems, they found Slovakia, Serbia and Bulgaria a very different kettle of fish. To anyone
attempting to cycle tour through these countries I would wholeheartedly recommend reading this
down to earth saga of their journey. Realistically written, I felt at times I was there with them,
sharing a meal at the close of another exhausting day.
On a different note, my only criticism might be that the bereavement tone of the story was rather
overdone and pathos seeking which could have been more effective by applying a little more
subtlety to such a sensitive issue. That said, I enjoyed the book immensely and devoured it at a
cracking pace.
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on 3 February 2013
Not brilliantly written, either from the point of view of a travelogue or of a soul-baring, find-yourself book. Middle aged couple cycle to their holiday home in Bulgaria from Newcastle; he's a cyclist of sorts, she's barely even been on a bike in her life and is unfit and still hurting from the death of their adult son 2 or 3 years before. Long, self-indulgent tearful passages relating to him and the aftermath of his death, followed by repetitive passages of cycling in various European countries, putting up a tent, eating, sleeping and getting up the next day to do the same again. Hardly inspiring if you were thinking of doing something similar.
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on 13 October 2014
A delightful book. A beautiful, tender and honest account of a journey along the road not only to Bulgaria but also to finding a way to cope with the loss of a beloved son. As a female cyclist of similar age, living in Northumberland and gradually becoming braver about tackling a variety of terrains (hills!) and distances, I could easily identify with the physical challenges Eileen faced; on the subject of bereavement, my losses have not been so severe, but her story touched my heart and I feel the greatest respect for the way she, her husband, family and friends have been able to support each other through a horrible sadness.
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on 21 August 2013
As this book had lots of good reviews, I thought I'd give it a go after just having read the very enjoyable Desert Snow by Helen Lloyd about cycling across Africa (read it - it's great!). Ok, a middle-aged couple cycling from London to Bulgaria was never going to be quite as exciting but I didn't expect to get so irritated by it that I would abandon it! I won't repeat what some of the other less favourable reviews have said but yes, there are a few too many mentions of Matt. Also, some really tedious dialogues. But what annoyed me most is the really sloppy approach to geography. A few examples:
* 'If we continue along the Ruhr, we're going to arrive fairly quickly in the foothills of the Alps'. No you're not - the Alps are 500 km away from the Ruhr valley!!
*Later on, they decide to take the train from Strasbourg to Ulm, as Eileen isn't keen on encountering the Alps 'again'. Why again when you've been nowhere near them? And going from Strasbourg to Ulm you would be cycling through the Black Forest, not the Alps.
* Then she misplaces the Rhine! They are cycling from Ulm to Regensburg and she talks about a place called Welterburg (which I assume is Weltenburg) and a journey across the Rhine. No Rhine there, it's the Danube! Oh well, it's only another one of Europe's great rivers, surely they are easy to mix up...
The book is littered with misspellings of place names - or at least it is in the part about Germany. I gave up after that!!
They claim they bought lots of good maps. It might have been an idea to consult them when writing the book.
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on 13 January 2013
I was really looking forward to reading this book and found the mention of their son who had died as being their reason for doing the trip quite acceptable and uplifting. These people had gone through a dreadful ordeal that 90% of us thankfully never have to.

The problem was there was really too much of it. 1 mention and then maybe say 'we had the day off as our minds were on other things'. would have been quite enough. We would all have known what that meant due to the explanation at the start.

I am very pleased they did the trip and had each other to sound off on. Every touring cyclist needs someone to talk to who understands what it is they have endured during their day. They have done better than I have and are stronger for it. Lets hope this has gone some way to healing the wounds.
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on 10 June 2012
Thoroughly enjoyed the book. It reads very fast taking you from the North of England eastward to Bulgaria. I had a very clear picture in my head by the time I got to the end,of the changes of scenery, culture and standards of living from western to eastern Europe. The journey is also a very sad one. I cried for a good part of the book. Eileen's thoughts and memories of her son, Matt, who tragically died very young, are woven through the bike ride. But don't be put off by that, you won't cry all the time. Eileen is a good story teller and there is a sense of humour
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on 24 September 2012
I have just finished reading this book and I enjoyed it immensely. I got so absorbed in it that it caught me out every day when I realised I was much further into my train journey to/from work than I expected, so it made my commute fly by! I couldn't wait to read about the next part of the journey and now feel sad that I've come to the end.

It was really interesting to read about Alan and Eileen's experiences. I've met both of them, albeit only briefly, so it was good to be able to put faces to the characters and imagine them cycling across Europe. I remember hearing about their trip but at the time I didn't appreciate just what they were undertaking. It's truly impressive and inspiring that they not only set themselves the challenge to do it, but completed it too. And now Eileen (or 'Eil' as she will now be known to me!) has written this fantastic book about their journey. It's wonderful.

It was also great to read what are to me 'Geordie phrases' that my Geordie grandad used to use, some of which I haven't heard in years.

Even if I didn't know the family (or have Geordie roots!), the book would still be a fascinating read. I was taken on their physical and emotional journey across Europe and was left laughing, inspired, touched (sometimes almost to the point of tears) and with a new found admiration for 'Al and Eil'.

Thank you for a wonderful read.
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on 27 January 2013
If you enjoy travel stories, you'll enjoy this. The sights, sounds and scenes they portray make you feel you are actually there with them. The sad reason for the trip becomes very apparent througout the book and the struggles they go through bring another dimension to this book. Join with them in their highs and lows of the trip to it's final conclusion, you wont regret it.
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on 3 January 2013
A really fantastic, interesting and well written book. The book itself reads like novel from an established author rather than an autobiographical tale from a new writer. Perhaps because all the experiences are real, the descriptions are vivid and easily come to life when you read it.

For those interested in cycling and perhaps their own expedition through Europe, this book is the perfect introduction and contains some useful tips from a truly honest perspective. But I'd equally recommend it for those looking for a good read.

I started to read the book on my commute to work and immediately felt the effects of reading it, I was actually very sad to finish it (please cycle further next time!). The perfect accompaniment to a sometime lonely London life.

Well done Eileen, a book to be proud of. I look forward to reading many more from you in the future.
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