Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain – A review

Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain
By George Mahood

Free country.jpg

7.30 am in the morning, Land’s End, Cornwall England.

Two men stand in their boxers, just their boxers. It is colder than what they’d bargained for, the gravel cuts into their feet, and they get more than a few ‘what are the weirdos upto’ galnces.

That’s George and Ben – a photographer and a composer/actor respectively.

So what are they doing, almost naked, at Land’s End? For the geographically challenged, Land’s End is the most South Westerly part of England. This slightly crazy duo plans to cover the length of England, from Land’s End to the top of Scotland, a distance of about a 1000 miles, on bikes without money, clothes, shoes, food …… or bikes. Yeah right, they have no bikes just yet. Or maps to guide them either.

They are counting on the generosity of strangers to lend them bikes, feed them, clothe them and give them a place to sleep each night.

Stranger than fiction, right?

The book traces their adventures as they cycle on a mountain bike and child’s road bike (Yeah they do manage to get those), through the length of England and finish the trip on the terms they’d set out with.

The review

This book is definitely more about the journey than the destination – a hilarious, heartwarming journey. George and Ben wind their way through back roads and tiny towns, giving us a ride through the gorgeous English countryside.

However, what remains with me is the sheer audacity of their endeavour. Being a rather self-conscious person, I can only commend the courage it takes to approach a stranger and ask for a favour. And here are these two men asking not just for food, but also clothes and shoes and bikes, then bike repairs, all for free. They even mange to wheedle out ice creams, free ferry rides and a night in the theatre too. They are ready to wash dishes, clean hotels, sing carols, cook a barbecue and even scavenge rubbish bins.

The other thing that struck me was the positivity in the book. There is very little mention of the physical challenges the journey must have thrown up. For untrained people to cycle three weeks at a stretch mustn’t have been easy. Yet they do not dwell upon hurting knees, going hungry or meeting unpleasant people, not to say about putting up with each other under such stressful circumstances and shared meagre resources.

They bicker and argue ‘like an old couple’ but most of the way it is a laugh-out-loud journey full of ready humour and plenty of wit that reminded me of a Bill Bryson travelogue.

If you like travelogues this one’s for you. If you do not, read it to reaffirm your faith in people, read it to believe that the world is yours if you have the gumption to take it on or read it simply for a few laughs.

Day 1 of the #BarAThon Challenge  from 1st to 7th August 2016.
The prompt for today is Stranger than fiction.

I am with Team #CrimsonRush

BAR-A-THON

43 Replies to “Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain – A review”

  1. Wow! The sheer strength of human endurance! I would love to read this rather interesting tale. It is a journey as well as a tale of humility, of challenging everything that comforts us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! That’s some amazing guts, grit and glory! I am picking it up and adding it in my TBR list! Thanks for the recco and a great take on the prompt, Tulika!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That requires some serious gumption! And indeed it is stranger than fiction! I was mentally imagining the whole scenario and I had a good chuckle with just that! Good take on the prompt Tulika.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It sure seems to be an interesting book! And it requires a lot more courage than we can think of while asking all the mentioned stuff from people… let alone from strangers!

    Cheers
    Geets

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You said Bill Bryson! That’s enough for me. Although I agree with you. I could never imagine doing this myself. But then that’s what makes life interesting right? And what a perfect post for the prompt, you rockstar you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sid. These two were quite something. If someone would say a ‘No’ to me I’d be out of action for a while but they remained unfazed throughout the trip.

      Like

    1. Ha ha.. yes Raj, it would be quite an adventure. I remember a show like this on TV long back. But of course this girl had cameras following her so at least safety wouldn’t have been an issue.

      Like

    1. Ha ha.. I found the picture cute too, though in real life I don’t know what I’d do if two half naked men approached me.

      Like

    1. Oh yes first I thought I’d put up three or four biographies that were so so difficult to believe then this one kind of took up all the space.

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    1. Me too. I don’t like travelogues but when someone suggested this on a reading site it intrigued me. I’m glad I picked it up.

      Like

  6. Would love to read this book as it has some elements that are similar to my work in progress!
    Thank you for sharing this review 🙂

    Like

  7. That looks pretty interesting! That kind of gumption is rare..and to be able to complete such a journey is rarer…like you said,it reaffirms your faith in humankind…would love to read it.

    Shubhangi @ The Little Princess

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You must give it a shot. What amazing faith in people. I’d be intimidated even before I took off.

      Like

  8. Interesting book. As you said, it does take immense courage attempting such a trip. Hats off to these 2 individuals and I shall definitely pick it up for my next read. 🙂

    Like

    1. Yeah even I’m not much for travelogues but I liked this one. Also if you want to make a start, read up Bill Bryson – Down Under for one.

      Like

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