The Valley of Heaven and Hell - Cycling In The Shadow of Marie Antoinette
"When the author and her husband set off on a bike ride from Versailles to the vineyards and champagne cellars of Epernay and Reims, they knew nothing of the Marne valley through which they would ride, except that it had been the scene of unimaginable horror and devastation during WWI. Their route followed the coach tracks and footsteps of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette in their abortive attempt to escape the French revolution, leading finally to the square in central Paris where they died on the scaffold. In three weeks the couple cycle 500 miles, dining sometimes in luxury and often on weird makeshift meals in their tent. Along the way there are traumas, epiphanies, occasional matrimonial disagreements and the odd glass of champagne. "It is unlikely that any other cyclist could be less competent than the author, nor be so unsuited to wearing skin-tight Lycra." Susie Kelly"
The Tent, the Bucket and Me
"For the Seventies child, summer holidays didn't mean the joy of CentreParcs or the sophistication of a Tuscan villa. They meant being crammed into a car with Grandma and heading to the coast. With just a tent for a home and a bucket for the necessities, we would set off on new adventures each year stoically resolving to enjoy ourselves.
For Emma Kennedy, and her mum and dad, disaster always came along for the ride no matter where they went. Whether it was being swept away by a force ten gale on the Welsh coast or suffering copious amounts of food poisoning on a brave trip to the south of France, family holidays always left them battered and bruised.
But they never gave up. Emma's memoir, The Tent, The Bucket and Me, is a painfully funny reminder of just what it was like to spend your summer holidays cold, damp but with sand between your toes."
I Left My Tent in San Francisco
"It's 1989, and Emma and her best friend Dee head to the USA to make their fortune. But completely inept and virtually unemployable, they discover that they can't even get a job in McDonald's.
Forced to travel from California to New York with only pennies in their pockets, they bounce from scrape to scrape, surviving on their wits and the kindness of strangers. Bad luck and misfortune throw everything their way - snakes, earthquakes, black magic and incontinent dogs. They even get kidnapped by a sex-crazed midget in a Ferrari. This never happened to Jack Kerouac.
Startlingly honest and ridiculously funny, I Left My Tent in San Francisco is the miraculous story of how the hapless pair made it back alive to tell the disastrous tale."
Up With the Larks: Starting Again in Cornwall
"Having given up a high-powered job and the lifestyle to match, Tessa Hainsworth had no idea how hard she would struggle when, full of optimism, she fulfilled her dream of moving to rural Cornwall with her young family one September. Within months, she is almost ready to return to London, tail between her legs: her husband is still out of work, her children are struggling in a cold, damp, tumbledown house and the family is running out of money - fast. But a chance encounter in the local post office leads her to accept the unlikeliest of job offers.
Up with the Larks charts Tessa's turbulent first year with the Royal Mail, and her transformation from outsider to 'Posh Postie', adopted Cornishwoman and much-loved member of her new community.
She starts in the bitter darkness of midwinter, faced with the perils of the Christmas rush, a van with a mind of its own and a host of unfamiliar routes, local characters - and their animals, large and small. But, day by day and month by month, she meets and learns to love a wonderfully colourful cast of characters until her second Christmas in Cornwall is entirely different from the first, as the community goes out of its way to thank her with small gifts and other tokens of their affection.
At last she feels Cornwall is home."