Monday, 27 October 2014

What I'm Reading...

This month I have read 'The Voyages of the Princess Matilda' by Shane Spall, wife of actor Timothy Spall.

After watching Timothy Spall: Somewhere at Sea, Back at Sea and All at Sea, a set of three BBC Four television series that follow the journey of actor Timothy Spall and his wife Shane as they take their £200,000 52 feet (16 m) long ocean going Dutch barge, the Princess Matilda, on a trip around the British Coast including Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man, I couldn't wait to get stuck into Shane Spall's books as they give so much more detail and background than the programmes can.

As someone who loves the british waterways and have only had brief trips aboard barges, I now long for the open sea on a dutch barge! That's how beautiful Shane's descriptions are of locations and adventures along the way. It draws you in from the word go and paints so many pictures, you feel like you're on the journies with the Spalls.

I was laughing out loud at parts, and crying in others. It's a wonderful tale of living life to the full, and staring death in the face whether it comes in the form of leukemia or the turbulent tides ever threatening The Princess Matilda and it's crew. Shane and Tim's banter reminded me of my husband and I as they bickered and made friends in the blink of an eye, and shared moments of tenderness, true love and enjoyment.

It's a beautifully written book, that at times is funny, scary and the start to an adventure of a lifetime. I'm yet to read 'The Princess Matilda Comes Home' but I certainly intend to after reading 'The Voyages of the Princess Matilda', and will certainly recommend this book to many :)

Below is the write up from Amazon...

'Tim and I both understood we had done something really stupid. We had underestimated the danger involved in going out to sea. We had no radio, compass, life raft or flares. In other words, we were a couple of idiots.'

This is the story of Shane and Timothy Spall and their Dutch barge The Princess Matilda. After a summer on the Thames they head out to sea with only a road atlas and a vast amount of ignorance - and it is absolutely terrifying!

On their travels, memories are triggered of childhood trips to the seaside, but also of more recent times. A decade before, Tim had been diagnosed with acute leukaemia and was given only days to live. Shocked at how life can pass you by they decided that when, and if, Tim got better, they would buy a boat.

As Tim and Shane explore the coast from the Medway to Cornwall, eventually they start to wonder, could they make it out of England altogether? Could Matilda make it to ... Wales?!

Taking over five years, The Voyages of The Princess Matilda is a minor epic, charting a very personal, moving and uplifting story of an everyday couple's adventure around their much loved homeland.

** Winner of the British Travel Press's Narrative Travel Book of the Year Award **

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