A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published March 7th 2014
I Haven't Been Everywhere But It's On My List
I greatly enjoyed this book, co-written by Hilary Linstead and Elisabeth Davies (or 'Hilly' and 'Liz' as they refer to each other). The cover describes the book as being 'a memoir of travel, food and friendship', and I selected it to take with me when I was travelling. I do like to read travel books when I travel.
Hilary and Liz are old school friends who re-unite after 35 years, having lived for many years in different countries (Hilary in Australia and Liz in England). They feel an instant connection and take a bold decision to start travelling together - bold because they don't initially know each other well, but also because they still live half a world away from each other, and travel arrangements are therefore generally made via email.
Hilary is the planner, and likes all her holidays to be meticulously planned. Liz is a spontaneous person who is happy to leave things to chance. Hilly is overweight, loves food and detests exercise, needing to frequently rest, while Liz is lean and relatively fit, and almost disinterested in food. Not surprisingly, this difference in approach leads to some tension at times, although there's quite a strong tolerance by each woman of the other's tendencies. You could say that they complement one another; perhaps that's why they travel so well together.
There are many things to like about this book. First, Liz and Hilly visit a large number of amazing holiday destinations, some mainstream, some less so. Some of the places they visit I've also visited (e.g. Marrakech, Prague, the Serengeti), and it's great to read their account and re-visit my own holiday memories. Other places they visit are on my travel bucket list (e.g. Patagonia and Namibia) and I sucked up every bit of information I could about their experiences.
Second, I enjoyed the strong focus on food. Dotted throughout the book are recipes that Hilly has wheedled out of people they meet. In most cases, the recipes are typical of the cuisine of the place in which they are holidaying. For example, there is the Bobotie recipe they obtain from the manager of their safari camp in South Africa, and the Skink (a type of Irish stew) recipe their host cooks for them while they are staying in Ireland.
Third, I like the spirit of the women. They are determined to get out and have fun, and not to sit around and wait to get old. Having visited numerous countries, during many holidays, their lust for travel never wanes. Near the end of the book, Hilly says 'I want to take a mail boat through the Scandinavian fjords; see Lapland's northern lights and then spend Christmas in a little snow-covered Swiss village in the mountains; then there's the blossoms in springtime Japan....And what about the orang-utans in Borneo? Do you fancy treating them to an afternoon banana and tea?' Ah yes, they well and truly have the travel bug, and I completely understand what that feels like.
They tell their stories in a light-hearted way, injected with humour.
One negative point about this book is that it's written in a fairly loose and slightly rambling style - almost blog-like. If you don't like that style, then it's not the book for you.