Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Chasing the Dream by Alyson Sheldrake

Chasing the Dream - A new life abroad: An Anthology of Travel Stories by Alyson Sheldrake is pretty much what it says on the tin. There are 20 tales in this volume each recounting how the authors ended up where they are: living abroad in a distant - or not so distant - country.


'Please excuse Laura for being absent from school. She was sick again so I took her to the doctor and had her shot'. 

Victoria Twead is a supply teacher - used to notes like this from parents - who loves her job, but still hankers after a life in Spain with her husband. He needs persuading but 'you know' lovely hot weather and all that so they move to Spain and get record snowfall in their first winter... Get Your Coat We're Going to Buy Chickens is hilarious.

I've read two of Val Poore's lovely books already but was very happy to read again in Doing Things the Dutch Way exactly how she came to be on a barge in the historic part of a harbour in Rotterdam. Next I must get around to reading about her life in South Africa before she moved.

In Waking up in Japan by Todd Wassel we hear how he fell in love with Japan as young man. He gets a post at a rural school but doesn't take into account the huge cultural differences between Brits and Japanese people and can't work out why no-one will talk about what happened to his predecessor. All kinds of things go through his mind...

Clare Pedrick in An Unplanned Adventure in the Hills of Umbria tells how she exchanged life as journalist in Brighton for a run-down house in Umbria in Italy, really just on a whim. I will investigate her book, Chickens Eat Pasta soon.

Linda Decker was a geography geek as a child, something I completely identify with. (She loved maps, so do I, but my main geography love was stamp collecting.) In Global Nomads she tells how she ended up marrying a chap who was something to do with water supplies and ended up living all over the world. Fascinating stuff. 

In Finding the Dream, Nick Albert and his wife move to Ireland looking for a more rural life, even though they've never previously been there. He has a whole host of books about his experiences starting with, Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds.

Beth Haslam is another author whose first book, Fat Dogs and French Estates, I've already read. Before her and her husband decided to find an estate in France she was a magistrate and I enjoying reading her stories about that in her contribution, From Bench Life to French Life.

Mountain Dreams by Roy Clarke is about a country you don't often hear about: Slovenia. For those not certain of its location it has a western border with Italy and a northern border with Austria and is very mountainous. And for the author 'mountainous' is the attraction as he's a keen cyclist, so when his wife gets a job there, off they go. His, The Sunny Side of the Alps, is another book I plan to get.

Lisa Rose Wright wrote Plum, Courgette and Green Bean Tart which I reviewed HERE. A Toilet Behind the Sofa recounts how their loo was, literally, behind the sofa until they got their bathroom done, and how people reacted to that! But we also hear how happy she is in Galicia and I was pleased to hear that her mum has now joined them there. I have her second book, Tomato, Fig and Pumpkin Jelly, on my Kindle to read soon.

You Lived Where? by Lucinda Clarke deserves its title as the author describes her life in Libya in the 1970s. I've heard other such stories about life for western women in that country so none of it came as a surprise. The author has written quite a few books which I fancy might bear investigating.

From the Gardens of England to the Foothills of the Pyrenees by Nikki McArthur. Relates how a couple who have always fancied living in Greece are not able to achieve that ambition and end up in the French countryside near Toulouse. I have to say that if I were to go and live in France this is the area I would head for too. The book connected with this story is What Have We Got Toulouse?

In A Fridge Too Far, author Ron Johnson tells about moving to Greece, halfway up a mountain overlooking the sea. Sounds wonderful but deliveries are a nightmare. That said, local Greek delivery people are apparently much quicker than many of us are used to and willing to overfcome any kind of difficult situation. I found this one very interesting... and then discovered I already have his book, A Kilo of String, on my Kindle. 

The perils of buying a house with another couple is related in, A Long Way to the Castanets by Jean Roberts. (Hint: Don't.) And hiring someone you've just met to do the work that needs doing is not such a great idea either.

Ann Patras, in Born To Be An Expat, explains how she emigrated to Canada in the 1970s, came home, married and then went off to Zambia and South Africa with her husband.

In Winter Fruit by Vernon Lacey, the author describes how as an exhausted teacher he went off to Spain for a half-term and loved it so much that he wondered whether or not he could chuck in his job and make a living in Spain teaching.

Rachel Caldicott moved country a lot  so the title of her contribution, Travel is in my DNA, is apprpriate. Her family moved from country to country when she was a child and once she was grown up she moved to Italy to teach. She married a glassblower and moved to France amid plenty of difficulties.

In Sight of Aconcogua charts the life of a Canadian Couple when they move to Chile. Author Ronald McCay has to learn how to be an avocado grower.

In Tuscan Dreams author Tonya Parronchi lives in Italy with her husband and sons. He's a keen sailor and she joins him occasionally, sailing from Italy to the Aeolian sea. Sounds wonderful.

Simon Michael Prior recounts how he married a New Zealander and moved to Australia in Melbourne: The Wonder Down Under. His book, The Coconut Wireless: A Travel Adventure in Search of the Queen of Tonga sounds like a lot of fun. (I might have just bought it...)

And last but not least, Alyson Sheldrake relates how she moved to the Algarve in Portugal, in Living the Algarve Dream. I loved hearing about her early morning walk with the dogs. She has several books to investigate too, starting with, Living the Dream in the Algarve, Portugal.

So. This is quite a long collection of very varying experiences of living abroad.  Even though this is not something I would probably do myself I find the subject fascinating as this is what my late sister-in-law did when her and her husband moved to France in the late nineties. So I have some idea of what it entails and the unexpected pitfalls that can occur. I really enjoyed every account in this collection, they're all well written, sometimes funny, sometimes unbelievable, occasionally heart-breaking. The book has also supplied me with rather a long list of new writers to investigate. Val Poore did warn me!


Lark said...

Stories of people doing adventurous things in their lives, like choosing to live abroad, always makes me stop and wonder what I'm doing with my life...and why I'm not being more adventurous and choosing to live somewhere more exotic for awhile. ;D

Cath said...

Lark: Got it in one. Me too. I mean we've had some good touring holidays in the USA and France but I realise we ought to do more before we get too ancient. (Italy is calling me.) I doubt we could move abroad though as we're both too attached to our daughters and grandkids. Plus, my husabnd's health is not too great. Fun to read about it though!

Vallypee said...

Cath, thank you so much from us all for this wonderful review. I know every single contributing author will be delighted with it! Bless you for mentioning all the chapters, and yes, I did warn you, didn't I? :))

TracyK said...

That sounds like a fascinating book, Cath. A sampling of various travel/moving adventures and the style of writing of each of them too.

It is definitely not something I would do. I worked much longer than I wanted to so that we could afford to stay in Santa Barbara when we retired. But I like hearing about others experiences like this.

Susan said...

Interesting! I'm always fascinated by people who choose to live in different countries from their own and why they make those choices. They usually have great stories to tell.

Simon Michael Prior said...

Cath, thank you so much for your wonderful review. And thank you for buying The Coconut Wireless. I do hope you enjoy reading it, I had such fun writing it! Simon.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This was a fascinating review and I must say the wording of that first quote cracked me up. (I am assuming, hopefully, that she didn't get shot but, rather an injection LOL

Cath said...

Val: You are so welcome. I Made notes as I went along as I intended to try and say a few words about each contribution. I think it worked ok. You did indeed warn me. LOL!

Tracy: It was a fascinating book and I kind of felt that everyone deserved a mention as it can't be easy writing travel memoirs and making them interesting and entertaining.

I'm so full of awe for people who move abroad. I know from my sister-in-law that it's not easy - I could write a book on her experiences to be honest. I thought we were brave enough exploring France on the way home from leaving her!

Cath said...

Susan: In my experience people who move abroad always have fascinating stories to tell. And I can read endless books based on those stories, the more the merrier...

Simon: It's my pleasure. I couldn't resist a book with a title like that, plus I am quite interested in the South Pacific. Thanks for commenting.

Diane: I showed that quote to my husband and we both cracked up. The author said that sometimes either her or her teaching assistant had to leave the room because they were crying with laughter.

Ronald said...

It's always a pleasure to learn how people come to move from one place to settle in another. I enjoyed the collection of such accounts in this anthology by Alyson Sheldrake as fascinating as you did, Cath, and of course I enjoyed recollecting my own move with Viviana from Canada to Chile. Thank you for such a comprehensive summary of the book.

Tina said...

Thank you for recommending this book, it sounds ideal! I’m going to look for it now. There is many the time my husband and I wish we’d bought this little business in Dunster England. There were living quarters above the shop & we were only in our 30s. Alas, too old to expat now but I love reading about it.

Cath said...

Ronald: It's my pleasure, a good book is always worth a comprehensive review. And I thoroughly enjoyed your contribution about your new life in Chile. Thanks for dropping by to comment.

Tina: We used to live near Dunster and went there quite often... we still only live about 20 miles away. It's a gorgeous area.

Sandra Cross said...

Hi Cath,

I have recently released my book on Amazon called Paradise by Sandra Cross. It is the story of our adventures in Central/Northern Portugal. I thoroughly enjoyed writing the book but am now realising that writing is only half of the story and trying to market it is another whole dimension of which I haven't the foggiest idea how to start! I wondered if you would consider reviewing my book and maybe giving my any advise as to where to go from here. I've enjoyed reading all the comments on Read-warbler. Sandra.

Cath said...

Hi Sandra. I'm not someone who has ever self-published a book I'm afraid so have no idea how to go about marketing one. Your best bet is to join a Facebook group called We Love Memoirs which is chock full of self-published authors who might be able to help you. They're also on Twitter. As to reviewing your book, I'm really sorry but I don't do that kind of review request, I gave it up quite a few years ago when I started to get too many and had no time for my own reading. Good luck with your book anyway.