The Road to Little Dribbling

The Road to Little Dribbling

Adventures of An American in Britain

Large Print - 2015
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Twenty years ago, Bill Bryson went on a trip around Britain to discover and celebrate that green and pleasant land. The result was Notes from a Small Island, one of the bestselling travel books ever written. Now he has traveled about Britain again, by bus and train and rental car and on foot, to see what has changed -- and what hasn't. Following a route he dubs the Bryson Line, from Bognor Regis in the south to Cape Wrath in the north, by way of places few travelers ever get to at all, Bryson rediscovers the wondrously beautiful, magnificently eccentric, endearingly singular country that he both celebrates and, when called for, twits. With his instinct for the funny and quirky, and his eye for the idiotic, the bewildering, the appealing, and the ridiculous, he offers insights into all that is best and worst about Britain today.
Publisher: New York, NY :, Random House Large Print,, [2015]
Edition: First large print edition
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780399566783
0399566783
Characteristics: 510 pages (large print) : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
large print,rda
Additional Contributors: Gower, Neil - Illustrator

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p
pablo
May 29, 2017

Where is the Bill Bryson of yore? In this book he's a grumpy old man (though only 65), sarcastic and mostly dull. Very disappointing.

e
EmilyEm
May 08, 2017

Bill Bryson travels ‘The Bryson Line’ from one end of the UK to the other, revisiting some places from his ‘Notes from a Small Island’ after 20 years.

There were laugh-out-loud moments, but this outing was repetitious as Bryson traveled from one failing seaside town to the next. Found myself skimming to get to those nuggets of brilliance I expect from him. And, there are some.

q
Quietday
Mar 21, 2017

If you happen to love the UK like I do, Bryson's book is for you. Honest, charming and cheeky, he writes about the things that endear us most to England. I was especially struck by the chain of events that took him there in the early 70's and kept him there until now (pg. 75-77). I put the book down for a minute and thought about how the smallest decisions somehow completely change the course of our lives. I had a similar experience to some of Bryson's not too long ago.

Last year, I stopped into a sweet shop in the UK and realized it was the same shop I had gone to on my fist trip abroad at 21. At the till, I asked the man if by chance he had been there 20+ years. He said, "Why, yes. I took early retirement from the military and bought this shop 20 years ago." I told him he had sold me the same toffee then. He came out from behind the counter, kissed me cheek and said, "welcome back, love."

Kind people, beautiful country. No wonder Bryson loves it so much.

d
desertcammo
Feb 16, 2017

Bryson has a great sense of humor which seems at it's best in the first few chapters of every book he writes. Unfortunately, he then has a tendency to devolve into 'first I did this and then I did that' chapter upon chapter. One sometimes get the impression he's merely trying to fill pages. His grumpy old codger persona is only matched by the impression he casts as a huge cheapskate. Though I'm sure his readers recognize that he is a very successful writer, he is still constantly complaining about how much everything costs. I stared this book literally laughing out loud and ended it finding myself mildly irritated with the author.

a
abogsted
Feb 14, 2017

The author writes about "the good ol' days" and his reminiscences are funny, but after about 100 pages, it just felt whiny. I didn't want to read a book about all the ways England used to be wonderful and is now awful.

p
patcarstensen
Jan 02, 2017

Had I read one more "lovely" or "splendid," I would have run screaming out of the house.

k
kakacurt
Dec 28, 2016

Would be more interesting if I had a more intimate knowledge of the geography of England.

AL_LESLEY Nov 10, 2016

Bill Bryson's quirky, endearing and yes, grumpy, voice shines in this loving yet not at all coddling portrait of the spirit of England (and other wee bits of the UK). There was not an instant while reading this book where I was not smiling, laughing or lamentably agreeing. Bill Bryson is just amazingly awesome.

j
jeffreyochsner
Sep 11, 2016

This book is entertaining, funny and informative. Mr. Bryson rhapsodizes about the beautiful English countryside. He thinks that is one of Britain's greatest achievements, even though Britain does not have the natural wonders that exist in other parts of the world. He writes approvingly of the things Britain does well, and despairingly of the things it does poorly. Frequently his stories made me laugh out loud (and goodness knows we need more books that make us laugh out loud!). As Seattle faces crises with affordable housing, transportation infrastructure, and rampant growth and development, it is interesting to hear how London and other places in Britain are grappling with the same problems. Mr. Bryson is just as irritated and frustrated with the way the British authorities are "solving" these problems as are many of us here in Seattle.

g
ghreads
Aug 15, 2016

This is a sequel to Bryson’s book “Notes From a Small Island” published 20 years earlier. In the first book, he travelled from Calais to John O’Groats and back to his home in the Yorkshire Dales. This second book starts in Bognor Regis on the south coast of England and finishes at Cape Wrath on the northwestern tip of Scotland and visits a completely different selection of villages, towns, cities and rural countryside.

This is a travel book and much more. The descriptions include commentary on the state of things in Britain today and comparisons to the way things were in the past – highlighting both the improvements and the losses. He deplores the deterioration in the standard of spoken and written English grammar and punctuation. He mourns the loss of the traditional High Streets with their local family-run butchers, fishmongers, grocers and clothing shops – all of which are replaced by large chain stores and malls. He is especially critical of what he perceives as stupidity at both the individual and institutional levels and of the poor service he often received from businesses. There are lots of obscure and interesting historical anecdotes and he has high praise for most of the museums he visited.

In spite of all the things he finds wrong, Bryson, an American who has lived there for 40 years, clearly loves Britain and ends the book with a list of many reasons why, most importantly the beauty of the countryside: “There isn’t a landscape in the world that is more artfully worked, more lovely to behold, more comfortable to be in, than the countryside of Great Britain.”

The book is well written and very funny – although there are not as many laugh-out-loud belly laughs as in the previous book. The previous book had rather too liberal and unnecessary use of the F-word for my taste. The word still appears in this book but, thankfully, not as frequently.

The book is informative and entertaining and well worth reading.

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h
hey44
Dec 17, 2015

.....this was one of the things that I really like about Britain: it is unknowable. There is so much to it.......If you decided to visit one standing stone a week, it would take you twenty years to see them all.

It's like that with every historic thing in Britain. If you tried to visit all the medieval churches in England - just England - at the rate of one a week, it would take you three hundred and eight years. You would take you three hundred and eight years. You would need an additional vastly daunting lengths of time to visit all the historic cemeteries, stately homes, castles, Bronze Age hill forts, giant figures carved in hillsides and every other category of built structure. Brochs would take a decade to see. All the known archaeological sites in Britain would require no less than 11,500 years of your time.

....Britain is infinite. There isn't anywhere in the world with more to look at in a smaller space..... (p 376)

h
hey44
Dec 17, 2015

The British, you see, are always happy when they ought to be - when the sun is shining and thy have a drink in their hands and that sort of thing - but they are also very good at remaining happy when others would falter. If, for instance, they are walking in the countryside and it start to rain, they pull on their waterproofs and accept that that's just the way it sometimes is. Living in a British climate teaches patience and stoicism. I admire that.

But what really sets the British apart is that when things go very wrong and they have a legitimate reason to bitch deeply, bitterly and at length, that is when they are the happiest of all. A Briton standing in a minefield with a leg blown off who can say, "I told you this would happen," is actually a happy man. I quite like that in a people. p. 380

h
hey44
Dec 17, 2015

I went to Inverness and visited the battlefield at Culloden, where two thousand men lost their lives fighting the English, and then to Glencoe, where still more died when Campbells notoriously massacred Macdonalds, and I sombrely reflected that the history of the Highlands is five hundred years of cruelty and bloodshed followed by two hundred years of way too much bagpipe music. p 374

h
hey44
Dec 16, 2015

At the village of Scourie, I passed a sign that said 'Scourie Beach and Burial Ground', which seemed an enchanting combination. ('We're burying Grannie tomorrow. Don't forget to bring your swimming costumes.') p. 371

h
hey44
Dec 16, 2015

Our steward passed and told me that a freight train had broken down further up the line and that our engine had gone to save it. I was, it seemed, now living in a Thomas the Tank Engine story. p 369

h
hey44
Dec 16, 2015

Everything on offer was robustly Scottish and not the least bit appealing to someone from Iowa. (I believe I can speak for my entire state on this.) The dinner options featured haggis, neeps and tatties, and the snacks included Tunnocks teacake, haggis-flavoured crisps and Mrs Tilly's Scottish Tablet, which sounded to me not at all like a food but more like something you would put in a tub of warm water and immerse sore feet in. I would imagine it makes a fizzing sound and produces streams of ticklish bubbles........It is perhaps dangerous to conclude too much about the character and intentions of a nation based on a snacks menu in a railway carriage, but I couldn't hep wonder if Scottish nationalism hasn't gone a little too far now. I mean, those poor people are denying themselves simple comforts like Kit-Kats and Cornish pasties and instead are eating neeps and foot medications on grounds of patriotism. Seems a bit unnecessary to me. p 368

h
hey44
Dec 16, 2015

The news pages of the paper were liberally sprinkled with articles about pub beatings - five on one page, just from this area - but everything else was about flower shows and fun runs and people shaving their heads for charity. I had never seen such a range of kindliness and violence coexisting in one locality. When I went for a second pint, I turned round and a guy was standing behind me waiting to take my place at the bar. We went through that little side-to-side dance where you keep inadvertently blocking the other person's way. I smiled helplessly, as you do, and he looked at me as if he was thinking about shoving my head through the wall. That is the problem with Scotland, I find. You never know whether the next person you meet is going to offer you his bone marrow or nut you with his forehead. (p. 365)

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