Close

Planning

Packing For a New Adventure

With my latest book finally off my desk and in the hands of my publisher, I have been getting itchy feet here at HQ. The trouble is that I come across so many great ideas for rail routes and places to visit by train. Almost too many. I note them down in a special little book, but my downfall is that don’t take immediate action on actually implementing them. Throughout my life I have always been a little over planned and (in my own opinion), not spontaneous enough. I spent too long in a business where everything was planned and […]

Read More

Learn to speak Amtrak

Travelling across the U.S. by train recently has revealed a brand new language to me; I have discovered the dialect of the American railway. I now speak fluent “Amtrak”, and you can too. The train language of the rest of the world has had limited chance to interbreed with the U.S, leaving America with a unique set of rail words. Most make some sense to English speakers, but a variety of carriage (sorry, car) types and multiple names for the same thing can at times become confusing. In addition, the first time traveller may be surprised by the way the […]

Read More

Midnight Run

I have reached that time when my next rail adventure is not far ahead and I am filled with a heady mixture of schoolboy train excitement combined with mild nervousness of the unknown. Before bringing you up to date on the trip, I feel I must first apologise for not posting much on my blog lately. I have been studying hard on the world of book publishing, whilst trying to simultaneously move house (and country). I’m pleased to report that I have now accomplished both, and I am now a happy author living in West Sussex, a part of England […]

Read More

Mad to go to Istanbul by train, or mad not to?

Having just competed a one week run from London to Istanbul on the train (mostly), I’m contemplating if it’s a journey that I would recommend to others. Whilst just a modest 3000 km, it contains some real highlights, but also a couple of challenges. The major highlight of such a trip is the huge cultural diversity that you can encounter in just a few days. Every day is a new currency, a new favourite beer, and a place that feels very different to yesterday. If you are unlucky you may discover a new top scam too. Living in Europe we […]

Read More

Final Preparations for the Orient Express

Next week I am getting back on the rails and heading for Istanbul, a journey I last completed in the 1980’s. Not surprisingly I have been doing some packing, much reading of Seat 61 (it feels like I have been cramming train times and numbers for some sort of European Interail qualification), and a bit of reflection on what I got out of Interrail all those years ago – and what I want to get out of this trip. First the bad news. Interrail isn’t as simple as it used to be. I would expect it to be more expensive, […]

Read More

What Makes an Explorer?

Since I have returned to expedition HQ I have been busy catching up with my blog and a few writing projects that I have been working on. One that I have recently completed is a series of short guides for Real Russia – if you don’t know them, they are probably the biggest and best known specialist Trans-Siberian travel agency. They asked me if I minded doing a short interview to help introduce myself to their readers. I found it really interesting to do this as I don’t get asked about my motivations very much. If you are interested, you […]

Read More

The Bible

There was some excitement at expedition HQ this week when a package arrived from from the team behind the European Rail Timetable. I last held “The Bible” back in 1988 and it was an immediate trip of nostalgia into past European rail adventures. Back then it was produced by Thomas Cook who had been printing the “continental” timetable since 1873. Today it still produced in the familiar format, and is now run independently since Thomas Cook discontinued their involvement in 2013. In today’s world to some it would perhaps be inconceivable that there was a time when there were no […]

Read More

The Story So Far…

First of all, welcome to you if you are a new visitor to my blog and have found my website from great places like Wanderlust, Seat 61 and Real Russia. It’s great to have you here. I’m now in the final phase of preparation for my latest challenge. This post is a bit of a recap on my plan, just in case you might not have read some of my earlier posts. In a couple of weeks I shall be heading east again – this time with a destination of Hong Kong. But there is a twist. I’m going to […]

Read More

South Learmonth Gardens

I had the opportunity to share some of my adventures and forthcoming plans with a select group in a rather unique setting this week. I’m a great believer in the sense of place, and there are few more special to me than Ernest Shackleton’s Edinburgh residence. He lived at 14 South Learmonth Gardens between 1904 and 1910. By some coincidence, this week marks the exact 100th anniversary that “Endurance” was finally swallowed by the ice of the Weddell Sea in 1915. (In passing there is a brilliant exhibition of restored photographs now open at the Royal Geographical Society┬áin London to […]

Read More

The Dark Side of the Moon

If you are a Pink Floyd fan, I’m very sorry but I might have brought you to this blog on rather false pretences. I was trying to explain to a friend this week what I find so appealing about Trans-Siberian travel. It’s not an easy question to answer – the extreme climate, the questionable catering, the lack of sleep, the lack of sanitation, the sense of isolation and the challenge communicating with nearly everyone. But these are not insurmountable problems and I actually long to be back there. It gives me a rather special feeling, one which I can only […]

Read More