I have a soft spot for travel books and have been a huge fan of Bill Bryson for many years so I was looking forward to reading this one from Ben Hatch.
It is a story about his travels whilst writing a guidebook for Frommer's (the American equivalent of Time Out, apparently) about visiting England with your family and where to go etc.
The story Ben writes is a very personal one. He takes with him his wife Dinah and their two small children on a five month tour of England. A very brave move in itself, as any parent will appreciate. He tells of the places they visit and the reception they receive but moreover he tells of the emotions of the trip and what it cost him to do it.
His father is very unwell but, proud of his son and what he is doing, he insists he carries on with the trip and Ben does this, despite misgivings and the pull to be with his father. The trip he makes shows his father the family man Ben has become and is a legacy to the man he loves very much. I found it very emotive, laughing one minute at scary episodes in haunted houses to crying with empathy the next as his father's illness unfolds. It's a snapshot of life.
The only criticism I can give is to wonder why he only just brushed into Suffolk and left again before he was photographed. I can only hope he was on a road on which he had to cross the border twice and there was a yokel hovering over the sign, pointing out his misfortune and laughing at his plight. Bryson never mentions Suffolk either. I don't know what it is, there really isn't any substance to the rumour we don't let tourists back out again until they have ploughed six fields by hand and milked a herd of cows. They only do that in parts of Norfolk. Allegedly ;)
P.S. This book is currently at the ridiculous price of 98p, I suggest you grab a copy quickly before he realises...
(I have since been informed by Mr Hatch they did visit Suffolk on this trip and enjoyed themselves but I am leaving the menacing yokel where he is, the hours not up yet and I want my money's worth *smiles*)