Book Review: The Railway Adventures by Vicki Pipe & Geoff Marshall

Genre: Travel, Non-Fiction

Publishing Info: 2018 by September Publishing

Pages: 201

If you love the railways, travel, or have even the slightest sense of adventure, then I wholly recommend this excellent book, detailing the summer when Vicki and Geoff visited All the Stations.

In 2017, two people set off to visit every one of the 2,563 railway stations in Great Britain. Documenting their journey on YouTube (which you can find here), they highlighted the importance of the railway to the various communities out there and introduced viewers to the most beautiful and interesting locations. This book is a follow-up to their 2017 documentary, highlighting the most memorable moments and including previously unseen events. But most of all, it encourages everyone with a sense of adventure to use the railways and explore the wonderful country around them.

One of the biggest strengths of the documentary was the conversational manner the couple used; it felt like your friends were telling you what they did in the summer, in an interesting, funny and respectful way. Comparing this to a lot of travel-themed documentaries, where presenters would talk to locals as if from a script and discuss local facts that must have been taken straight off of University Challenge. This allowed All the Stations to be both informative and enjoyable, down largely to the infectious and relatable personalities of Geoff and Vicki. This book follows that successful formula with interesting facts about the railway and local areas, plus fun little tidbits for those who saw the series (The Quaint Scale is finally explained!). The inclusion of sections that didn’t make the videos help prevent the book from getting predictable (I could never get bored of the series!). If you enjoyed the free-spirited nature of All the Stations, then you’ll love reading this.

The information and presentation is only one half of the series, sometimes a simple but effective clip of a stunning piece of coastline or mountain range, with some whimsical music the only inclusion, tended to be among some of the best moments. It showed me areas I had never heard of or even travelled close to, but made me want to emulate Geoff and Vicki and go there myself. The text in The Railway Adventures are accompanied by some fantastic photographs, documenting the most special settings and people the pair came into contact with. Like with the YouTube series, this book is a visual experience that has the human touch – unlike your average travel photographs, you can actually frame the shots with your own eyes.

Did this book make me want to explore the country’s railways more? Well, I’ll let you all into a couple of facts about me. Firstly, I have always been interested in the railways, from a young age when I was standing on the fence near my local station and watching the trains go by (I always found the diesel locomotives a bit loud!). Secondly, and those who have seen my social media and read my occasional travel post on here will know, I love to explore. I can think of nothing better on a nice day than to pick an area that I have never visited before, do a bit of geocaching and take pictures of attractive landscapes. Since I have watched All the Stations, I have been using the railways to travel to those places more, sometimes just on my suburban line, sometimes going into London and occasionally travelling on a different line altogether. You would not believe some of the great places that are hidden away from the majority of tourists and day-trippers. Reading this book has given me further inspiration, for it also includes details on journeys that can be done and what sites of interest lie at stations on the route. I read about a section of the London Overground that I can’t wait to explore myself. In short, this has helped to rekindle my interest in travel and exploring my local areas.

When All the Stations came out, I felt like it was tailor-made for my interests; railways, landscapes and exploration, all delivered in an informative yet fun and conversational style. The Railway Adventures builds on that feeling I got by reminiscing about the best moments of the series, whilst encouraging readers to travel and make memories of their own. Who knows, I could start having more of my own railway adventures very soon.

Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

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