Bill Bryson - Little Dribbling

Bill Bryson - The Road to Little Dribbling - a travel book about places in England, such as Dover, Bournemouth, Norfolk and The Lake District
2015, Doubleday, 384pp, £20

Much of this book is about revisiting places where Bill has lived or been before. So opportunities to bemoan change. For example the disbanding of Bournemouth Sinfonietta in 1999 as a result of difficulty raising funds from local sources. I remember listening to them in Manchester around 1978 and I agree a sad loss. Losing the odd shop I'm less concerned about.
 The best bits are the biographies: of people, graves, memorials, houses and areas. There is Mary Shelley, Frederic Leighton the painter, Lyndhurst village, Oliver Heaviside, Avebury and so on.
  I enjoyed his take on places we have been: Wolvercote north of Oxford, N. Norfolk coast, Buxton, Woodstock and Blenheim, Ironbridge, Dover and the Brochs of Glenelg.
  Bill likes museums, the British Countryside and The National Trust. Lots he doesn't like. Town planners and government projects come in for some stick as do lots of people, from dog-walkers who don't pick up poo to those who don't do grammar like what he does. Some I found amusing, some I didn't.      
  A couple of points. Roger Bannister had two pacemakers for his 4 minute mile - Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway. Blenheim has two tours. The one downstairs takes in rooms, tapestries and the library and is informative, especially on the Cromwell and Churchill histories. The Vanderbilt connection lead to a lot of development, and was welcome. Sadly a loveless marriage to the 9th Duke.
  We have just returned from Buxton where we looked in Potter's window, a shop Bill liked because of the names of things. We didn't venture in when we saw the price of a shirt for more than £60.
  Overall, Bill likes us and where we live, 'Britain is infinite. There isn't anywhere in the world with more to look at in a smaller space - nowhere that has a greater record of interesting and worthwhile productivity over a longer period at a higher level. No wonder my trip didn't feel complete. I could never see it all.'
  We are blessed and blighted by choice. From Google hits to crime fiction. From interesting places to computer software. It's about clarity and focus. For me it helps to have personal meaning. Flying to Thailand or Vietnam leaves me cold. Seeing a hand loom in use on Lewis and listening to an Irish band in Galway means much more.

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