I’ve always been an avid reader and particularly enjoy memoirs, nostalgia, travel and humour, and for a long time it’s been an ambition of mine to write something of my own. As things started to go wrong on our first motorhome tour, I jotted everything down to see if I could amass enough interesting anecdotes to fill a book. When a grumpy old work colleague said we were mad to buy a motorhome and that he would only stay in hotels, I knew I had a catchy title - Some People Prefer Hotels. Then, having retired with time on my hands, I started to put pen to paper.
Your writing style has been compared to Bill Bryson; how does that make you feel?
When the publisher asked which other writers I most compare myself to, I told them ‘I tried to be me whilst writing my book and didn’t compare myself with anyone in particular. However, without getting carried away, I guess there could be a bit of early Bryson there.’ I just hope readers enjoy my writing as much as his.
How can those who have never owned a motorhome enjoy the book?
Having enjoyed numerous travelogues based on journeys or modes of transport I’ve never actually experienced, such as long distance walking or cycling trips, narrow-boat voyagers, mountaineering expeditions, etc., I’m confident like-minded readers, who have never owned a motorhome, will be entertained by our motorhome tour of Cornwall. Whilst reading about driving in torrential rain with a non-functioning windscreen wiper, the basic campsite washroom facilities, and being cooped up in such a confined space with our muddy Border Terrier thinking it had been a terrible mistake to buy the motorhome, they will readily identify with the very reasons they’d never consider buying one and laugh at our initial discomfort and the farcical situations we got ourselves into.
Please tell us a bit about your first trip to Cornwall.
My first trip to Cornwall was a camping holiday in 1971 with Em before we were married. Back then, roughing it in our tiny tent was about the only time we could spend the night together, so despite the typical wet Cornish weather, we still enjoyed ourselves…
One warm afternoon we went to the Minack open air theatre, which is built into the cliff top near Land’s End, and booked to see a play called The Net that evening. The play was spectacular with Neptune brandishing his trident against the background of the rough sea crashing against the rocks below us. But as soon as we took our places on the cold concrete seats, the sun went down, the cold breezes started to chill us to the bone and it started to rain. After the interval we felt as though we were suffering from hyperthermia, and couldn’t wait for the play to end so we could to get back to our tent and warm each other up.
We re-visited the Minack in glorious sunshine on our motorhome holiday, and in Some People Prefer Hotels I recall that 1971 trip when we started our long love affair with Cornwall, as well as each other.
At what point did you think that you had made a good decision to the buy the motorhome?
That’s easy! On the fifth day, whilst at the marvellous Minack theatre enjoying Mediterranean-like sunshine and reminiscing about our first Cornish holiday together.
After our motorhome baptism in the torrential rain we’d endured at the beginning of our trip, we’d left our first campsite with its run-down washrooms, and moved to the superb 4 star Ayr holiday park in St Ives with its exceptional 5 star hotel-like facilities and fabulous views. We’d spent a perfect day under cloudless blue skies driving along the scenic coast road via Zennor and Land’s End to Porthcurno, and having just climbed the steps to the top of the cliff where the Minack theatre awaited us, everything seemed right with the world.
What would you say now to your work colleague who 'preferred to stay in hotels'?
Ray had a great sense of humour and was tickled pink I dedicated the book to him and that he was acknowledged for inadvertently giving me the title. When working together on outside duty we often stayed in good hotels, and he loved his home comforts. Self-catering was not for him, and if I’d seriously tried to convince him that holidaying in a motorhome was better that staying in hotels, his response would have been unprintable!
He was the first person to buy my book. In fact he bought two copies, one for himself which by reading about the laughable situations we got ourselves into, he immensely enjoyed, and another as a Christmas present for a golfing partner he’d not played for a while. In Ray’s own words, ‘He went out and bought one of those tin boxes on wheels and is always away somewhere holding up all the traffic, just like you do!’
Unfortunately Ray passed away in January after a long battle with cancer, which is why I intend to donate some of the proceeds to cancer charities. I met his ex-golfing motorhome owning friend and his wife at the funeral. We exchanged motorhome stories and they said my book was brilliant!
What is next for you?
The official publication date being 2nd April, much time has been devoted to marketing and I will be attending some motorhome shows where I hope to sell significant numbers from the Motor Caravanners’ Club stall. The club invited me to submit regular articles for their monthly magazine which I gladly agreed to. Writing these articles about my humorous experiences as a motorhome novice is giving me the opportunity to promote my book, and providing valuable experience at working to a deadline.
I will also be looking to have Some People Prefer Hotels turned into an e-book, which I must confess is a medium I’ve not yet used myself. I’ve also got another book in mind about our motorhome experiences in France.