My travel books stem from my long fascination with people and places. This fascination took me to Oxford University and a degree in geography, and then on to a career as a travel writer. The first books I wrote were travel guides, for Moorland and Landmark Publishing and for Rough Guides; these were followed by historical-cultural guides to various cities and regions that have been published by Signal Books. Throughout, I have specialised in writing about four very distinct regions, namely Alpine Europe, Eastern Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean and (more recently) the United Kingdom itself.
I wrote and researched my first book, on Czechoslovakia, immediately after leaving Oxford. It was published in 1991 by Ashbourne-based Moorland Publishing and was a general guide to the country, with advice about what to see and how to get around and so on. When the book was published Communism had just ended and this fascinating country, with its medieval cities and rugged mountains, was just opening up to tourists. This first book was followed by co-authored books to Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Republics (again), the Swiss region of Ticino and the Polish city of Krakow, all long out of print now.
In 2003 I signed up with Oxford-based independent publisher Signal Books, through which I published five cultural-historical guides – to the cities of Cairo (2005) and Prague (2012), and the regions of the Alps (2006), the River Danube (2010) and the Scottish Highlands (2014). Rather than practical guides, packed with sightseeing ideas and information listings, these books look at the cultural and literary heritage of each place, covering everything from the experiences of early tourists to the writers, artists, film-makers and composers each place has inspired (the foreword of the Cairo book was written by the novelist Penelope Lively, who grew up in that city). In 2016 Signal Books published Storm Force: How Britain has been Forged by the Wind, which was different again – a blend of political, military and economic history, cultural anecdote, physical geography, meteorology and the history of science that tells the story of how the wind in Britain has influenced everything from military campaigns to the social geography of cities, and from the country’s diverse and often spectacular landscapes to the development (through Daniel Defoe’s book The Storm) of journalism.
More recently I have returned to guide books and to the Rough Guides series. Back in the late 1990s I co-wrote the first two editions of a book on Syria for Rough Guides, which continued my enduring fascination with the Middle East, but this time I have been back in the Alps, working on the latest edition of their book on Switzerland: using the text from previous editions as a base, I researched and extensively updated six out of the twelve regional chapters in the book, and also the “Basics” and “Contexts” sections, with the remainder of the book covered by two other authors.
In this section of the website you can find photographs taken during the research for these titles. Many of these photos were not published in the books themselves for reasons of space. In addition there are captions that indicate which page of the book each photo relates to.
This is a list of the books I have written since 2005. To go to the relevant part of the site that covers each book, click on the link below or one of the top right links.
The Alps: A Cultural History
(Landscapes of the Imagination series)
Signal Books (UK) and Oxford University Press (USA), 2006
(Innercities Cultural Guides series)
Signal Books (UK) and Interlink Books (USA) 2012
The Scottish Highlands: A Cultural History
(Landscapes of the Imagination series)
Signal Books (UK) and Interlink Books (USA) 2014
Storm Force: How Britain has been Forged by the Wind
Signal Books 2016
The Rough Guide to Switzerland:
Rough Guides/Penguin Random House 2017