I don’t often post news or reviews that have basically nothing to do with cars, but this is an exception. Being as we here are all fans of British cars, I sense that that love of Britains expands out beyond the cars and encompasses many other things British – people, places, and history just to name a few. Bill Bryson, author and travel writer, has published a follow-up to his Notes From A Small Island from 20 years ago. The Road To Little Dribbling sess Bryson making his way by foot, car and rail from the south end of England to the far north of Scotland. Along the way, he observes not only the general English condition but makes note of things that have changed since the journey of his early book.
What there is about cars in this book is mostly confined to comments on traffic, car parks, and the rise of tourism through once-quiet areas. These are all things that I think most of us can commiserate with – especially those of us who live in tourist attractive areas. But there are also warming reminiscences of countrysides, railways, tea rooms, and more than a few beers. Again, much of this has a lot in common with many British car club meetings I have attended.
As when some of us complain about the eccentricities of our cars, the casual observer may take Bryson’s curmudgeonly attitude as an indication that he does not like his adopted country. On the contrary, I believe it is the things he grumbles about and the difference between what is and what was or could be that endear the country to him. He says as much in his conclusion where he states the five reasons he believes Britain is so wonderful.
Anyway, if you are a fan of British culture and fancy a travel book that is not a guidebook but instead the diary of a place, then I highly recommend you pick up a copy of The Road To Little Dribbling. If you have not read the early work, Notes from a Small Island, I would recommend it as well but you need not have to read the one to enjoy the other. Be prepared to laugh out loud though and nod in appreciation. And trust me, watch out for those traffic arms.