As you imagine with a book addict like me, I am keen on guide-books. I’m a bit of an armchair traveller, though I enjoy the real thing, too. A while ago I bought a remaindered copy of the very attractive Dorling Kindersley guide to VENICE AND THE VENETO. No, I wasn’t about to go there, wasn’t even planning a trip there, but I would certainly want to go back there one day – and I could always set part of a story there. One of the great things about being a writer is that it gives you even more reasons to buy books.
Guide-books are not an unmitigated blessing as my husband would tell you after I’ve dragged him half-way round some foreign city that to find a recommended restaurant that turns out to be closed on Thursdays. Sometimes it’s better to relax and just take what comes. It is a holiday after all.
But at their best, guide-books can be cherished companions. Indeed there used to be a series of guide books called the Companion Guides. A week or two ago, near the end of our holiday in I was very glad of NORTHERN FRANCE: WHAT TO DO AND SEE WITHIN 90 MINUTES OF CALAIS. We have been several times to the Pas de Calais and Picardy region and I was at a loss for new something to do that would suit all the family. I thought we had done everything. Yet I somehow thought that Angela Bird’s excellent guide might come up trumps as it has so often done. And it did. Within easy reach was a working water-mill with guided tours and a creperie. An hour or two later we were having lunch on a balcony watching the river flow by. So thank you, Angela Bird, good companion and assiduous researcher. You’ve done a fine job.