Sunday 5 April 2015

Bon Voyage - book review

Bon Voyage
edited by Michael Kerr
April 2015

This book puts me in mind of a meal I once had at Purnell's in Birmingham.

Purnells is one of Birmingham's few Michelin starred restaurants and offers a taster meal made up of about 10 courses featuring all their specialties. Bon Voyage is to watery travel what Purnells is to gastronomy, featuring 84 travel vignettes which have been featured in the Telegraph over the years.

Helen bought it for me because it features a number of articles about the early days of the Queen Mary 2 on which we will be returning from New York in October, and to offer a bit of context to this epic trans Atlantic crossing.

And yes, there are some interesting features about her construction, her groundings as she made her way out of the Clyde and the early journeys. But the book is much more than that. It offers a dazzling array of cameos or snippits of watery travel from around the globe. The geography may vary but the authors (or their subject) all seem to agree that its about the journey - not the destination. This is a sentiment I can really connect with.

The journeys cover the great liners, dirty little coasters, canoe journeys, river journeys, north and south poles with just one canal boat journey thrown in but even that was on the US Intra-coastal Waterway and not out diminutive canal system.

The problem with this sort of book is that an interesting tale has barely got started when its over, truncated and leaving you wanting more. And I guess that's the point. Its a taster of journeys undertaken begging the reader to follow in the writers footsteps or at least to buy a full account and read the account in detail.

I guess it has served its purpose in that I now haw a collection of boat based travel accounts I will trawl the shelves of second hand bookshops to find. And, of course, more material for future blog posts. 

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