As you know by now, I love train travel but I’m pleased to say I am easily outdone (in terms of distance and time taken to complete the journey) by two local authors who are bringing out a new book shortly.
The furthest I’ve been in a day from Chandler’s Ford Station is York (to date anyway!) but the new book, written by Martin Kyrle and Michael Roberts, is called Jottings from the Trans-Siberian Railway. Now there is considerable commitment to long distance train travel!
The book is aimed at all armchair travellers (and anyone who loves railway travel in particular, I would have thought), along with anyone with any interest in this part of the world.
Martin Kyrle is a former Mayor of Eastleigh and Chandler’s Ford resident.
The colour photos in Jottings from the Trans-Siberian Railway were taken by Michael Roberts. If you would like to know more, the book launch will be on Saturday 3rd December 2016 at the Independent Holiday Shop at the Brooks Centre in Winchester. The launch starts at 11 am.
Sadly I can’t be at the launch (albeit for the happy reason I’ll be in London at the launch of two anthologies I’ve got work in this year!) but I hope the launch is a huge success.
The book, with 220 colour photos and three maps, will be in hardback and is available via Sarsen Press of Winchester. Cost £14.95.
The book describes the authors’ travels across Russia and Mongolia on the Trans-Siberian Railway.
The first link takes you to the Wikipedia page, which has useful information, but I was delighted to come across the next link to Seat 61. This link tells you all you might want to know about booking a ticket on the Trans-Siberian railway and gives a wealth of other data as well.
I understand from news Barbara Large has shared with me there are also plans for the book to also go on display at the Russian Embassy at some point.
Background to how book came about
Martin Kyrle and Michael Roberts met as students at Southampton University in the 1950s and travelled widely. After Margaret Kyrle died in 2011, the men met at The Point in Eastleigh at the celebration event for her life.
Michael suggested to Martin, as they had travelled to out of the way places before, they should have another trip, which would be across Siberia to Mongolia. Martin had studied Russian while in the Royal Navy (national service) and Michael knew that if they got into any trouble, he’d be able to talk their way out again. I suspect to find out more about that, you will need to read the book! If nothing else, it is a great tag-line!
A Little of What to Expect
The two men spent time in Moscow and visited the Orthodox Church’s HQ at Sergiev Posad, 70 km away. They then caught the train to Tobolsk where the cathedral and Kremlin (built out of stone, the only one in Siberia built this way) had recently been restored. Martin discovered, thanks to experiencing an accident at the Novosibirsk Musem, how hospitals in Russia deal with emergencies.
Happier moments included touring mid-19th-century houses in Irkutsk, once owned by aristocrats exiled for taking part in the Decembrist revolt in 1825. Then there was a visit to the Taltsy Open Air Museum. There was a trip on the Circum-Baikal Railway.
The two men also spent four days on an island in a lake, which they discovered was the deepest in the world (Lake Baikal), containing one-fifth of the world’s fresh water. (The link shows a wonderful satellite image). They stopped off to get a shaman’s blessing en route. In Mongolia itself, they stayed in a tourist camp near the mountains and in Ulan Bator learned about the modern history of the country.
The book contains simple explanations of Russian history and descriptions of numerous hilarious encounters. Would you know what a menu meant when it offered up ‘hot shak with bird’? I don’t. I must admit the mind boggles… I’d almost certainly give it a miss. I’m not eating what I don’t understand! (Unlike Alice in her Adventures in Wonderland and most of us will know how that worked out!).
Martin submitted his explanation in a competition at the Winchester International Writers’ Conference in 2013, and was awarded third prize.
The light-hearted book has descriptions, commentaries, anecdotes and asides, dramatic colour photographs and both authors hope the book will entertain the reader.
I wish the book and the launch well.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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