Mem­oir Trav­el­ling Light

Alas­tair Saw­day (Lit­tle, Brown, £20)

Country Life Every Week - - Books -

Alas­tair saw­day is a very at­trac­tive, pas­sion­ate man, who is also highly in­tel­li­gent and burst­ing with cut­ting-edge al­ter­na­tive ideas. it’s fas­ci­nat­ing to read how the pur­suit of his vi­sion and the as­so­ci­ated re­search trips came about and how, vir­tu­ally sin­gle-hand­edly, he changed the mean­ing of ‘bed and break­fast’ for­ever. His pas­sion for all things ‘spe­cial’ sweeps the reader along on a roller­coaster ride of char­ac­ters, cul­ture, laugh­ter, food and lots of wine.

the com­bi­na­tion of his grow­ing eco­log­i­cal aware­ness, his cam­paign­ing, writ­ings and eclec­tic trav­els through­out Europe, in­dia and the rest of the world as he tracks down equally ec­cen­tric and like-minded peo­ple, who just hap­pen to live in de­light­ful houses, makes fas­ci­nat­ing read­ing.

He’s best known for hav­ing cre­ated his ‘spe­cial Places’ guides. they’ve be­come the travel bi­ble for many seek­ing un­usual but al­ways en­joy­able ac­com­mo­da­tion. i have long main­tained that this hugely suc­cess­ful ini­tia­tive, both as a pub­lish­ing ven­ture and as a com­pletely new source of in­come for so many own­ers of nice houses, was the sil­ver lin­ing of the lloyds in­sur­ance de­ba­cle.

Many fam­i­lies, who would oth­er­wise have been forced to sell, turned to tak­ing in what

‘His pas­sion for all things “spe­cial” sweeps the reader along

used to be called ‘pay­ing guests’ and found their lives trans­formed. it cer­tainly worked for us. we were among his first Cor­nish clients more than 20 years ago and have made ends meet as a re­sult ever since. we’ve also en­joyed the whole process tremen­dously and made an enor­mous num­ber of new friends, which is a con­stant theme of the book.

How­ever, much more is re­vealed in this funny and some­times racy life story of a vagabond he­do­nist. Alas­tair’s ex­u­ber­ance mounts as his life story pro­gresses. He seems at times to be car­ried away with his own ex­cite­ment at all the fab­u­lous sights he sees on his trav­els and all the mouth­wa­ter­ing food he rel­ishes along the way.

there is also an un­der­cur­rent of real anger at the cul­tural and, es­pe­cially, the en­vi­ron­men­tal de­struc­tion he finds in so many of the places he vis­its.

thought­ful and in­for­ma­tive, this book is also funny and en­ter­tain­ing as it rises to a crescendo of en­thu­si­asm and hope to­wards the end. i couldn’t put it down. Robin Han­bury-teni­son

Alas­tair Saw­day trav­els the world look­ing for the best B&B ac­com­mo­da­tion

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