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"Travels with my Rant"
Most of my writing is about my travels. Mostly very slow travels. For some years now I've been plodding round the seas of northern Europe aboard a small sailing boat. To date I've published three accounts of these trips.
For years I poked around in some of the more obscure parts of some developing countries, hitch-hiking and travelling by boat, train and bus. Some of the buses were slower than my boat. The record was 12 hours to go 11 miles in the Shan State in northern Burma. I'll soon be publishing two volumes entitled "Travels with my Rant" and "The Front of Beyond". These will include tales about hopping across dodgy borders in places like East Timor and Nicaragua.
Whilst travel may broaden some minds and narrow others, travelling slowly and alone changes your perspective on the world around you. I like to think it hones the senses and heightens the critical faculties. Others have agreed that yes, it does make me rant on and on about everything.
My travel writings are not gripping tales of derring-do and one man's survival in a savage wilderness against all the odds. I am, in fact, something of a wimp. Neither do they consciously seek to maintain the mythology and exoticism of travel to far flung parts.
The fact is that more or less everywhere on earth people wear jeans and ride scooters. The documentary makers must have a hell of a job editing the world so that it's full of tribal head-dresses and loin cloths. Culture shock isn't all it's cracked up to be and nowhere on the planet is as alien as it appears to be from a distance. Except Manchester of course.
I've tried to give a flavour of the places I've visited and to discuss those aspects of their landscape, environment, people, culture, economy and politics which make them interesting.
In 2014 I published a sort of pilot book entitled "105 Rocks and Other Stuff to Tie your Boat to in Eastern Sweden and Finland". It's full of photos, maps, descriptions and waypoints for, as the name suggests, 105 Scandinavian rocks and other harbours. It's available FREE of charge at my website (www.edge.me.uk) as a web file and as a pdf.
There's yet more stuff on my web page at http://www.edge.me.uk/index.htm. This includes a pile of more academic papers written while I was Head of Research of the Architecture School in Aberdeen.
on May 09, 2013 :
Hi Martin - It's me again, the only person who will give you a review, and an American at that! I'm glad to see that you gave up on your hopeless campaign to avoid our taxes by giving your books away free, and have come around to our way of seeing things and are charging for them now. To an American like me, the cost is a mere pittance, though it probably precludes many of your impoverished fellow countrymen from reading your works. Which is truly a shame, because the Angry Scot has come through yet again with another fine work of wit and irony.
This work, from Martin's pre-sailing days, describes his travels among some of the remotest and poorest third-world outposts remaining. While Somerset Maugham visited many of the same places a hundred years ago, the transportation standards have seen a shocking decline in the interval. The descriptions of the Timorese buses and Bornean barges evoked the utmost squalor, though the people were noticeably kinder and more civil than the Panamanian basketballers who cruelly beat Martin at a later stage of his trip. All in all, I can understand why Martin has given up on land travel and now can sail away from the drunken Norwegians, automatonic Swedes and murderous Irish who he visits in this new millenium.
This book, along with its companion, "The Front of Beyond", is worth every cent of the price, no matter how much tax Martin has to pay.
(reviewed 11 days after purchase)