Thursday, July 28, 2011



A crotchety travel writer wanders around England and encounters a peculiar thing called Englishness.


I will say up front that I love Bill Bryson’s dry, grumpy humor. He just ambles through the English countryside writing about what he sees, but his unique voice and concise observations make this a lot of fun. Bryson, an American writer, has spent many years living in England, but he is still enough of an outsider to identify the idiosyncrasies of English people.

Bryson travels by train, bus, and foot. This allows him to get a ground-level view of countryside villages, industrial cities and seaside towns. He talks to people who are also out walking and to people who are having tea and beer in little shops and pubs across the country. This method of travel is very different from the way one would explore the US, and it gives ample opportunity for Bryson to observe the ways in which people live and travel.

At the time of this post, I am in the midst of experimenting with different types of transport. This is a big travel month for me, and I am experiencing firsthand how different kinds of travel affect the way you relate to a place. In Bali last week, I rode around with various local drivers, who talked about how tourism has affected their country. After changing planes in airports around Asia, I flew to Oregon where I am spending time with family, crabbing, going to the beach, and preparing for a Great American Road Trip. Next week we’ll be renting a car to experience the big empty spaces of Montana and Wyoming; by the end of our trip we’ll hop on a train that will take us home across the Southwest. On the way, I’ll keep my eyes open for the funny idiosyncrasies of the people in my own country.



I bought a used paperback copy of this book at Flow Organic Bookshop.


How do you like to travel? Do you walk, ride, drive, fly? How does that affect your perceptions of each place?


  1. I too love Bill Bryson's writing. Will you take "The lost continent" on your road trip? I read it whislt driving across parts of Colorado, Wyoming and Kansas and he nailed it completely!

  2. My 15yo son just finished a Bill Bryson book about Australia ("In a Sunburned Country") that he really enjoyed. I look forward to reading both books -- and the one Joyce recommended. My favorite mode of travel occurred many years ago when I rented a scooter and motored around the island of Aruba on it. Best day ever!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...