The gran tour Travels with my elders

Ben Aitken

Book - 2021

"When Ben Aitken learnt that his gran had enjoyed a four-night holiday including four three-course dinners, four cooked breakfasts, four games of bingo, a pair of excursions, sixteen pints of lager and luxury return coach travel, all for a hundred pounds, he thought, that's the life, and signed himself up. Six times over. Good value aside, what Ben was really after was the company of his elders - those with more chapters under their belt, with the wisdom granted by experience, the candour gifted by time, and the hard-earned ability to live each day like it's nearly their last. A series of coach holidays ensued - from Scarborough to St Ives, Killarney to Lake Como - during which Ben attempts to shake off his thirty-something b...lues by getting old as soon as possible."--Page 4 of cover.

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Travel writing
London : Icon Books 2021.
Main Author
Ben Aitken (author)
Physical Description
309 pages ; 20 cm
  • Part 1. Scarborough, Yorkshire, England
  • 1. We're hard to spot, aren't we?
  • 2. There's an art to eating happily alone
  • 3. Why aren't you in bed?
  • 4. I'm the right side of 80, she says - 81
  • Part 2. St Ives, Cornwall, England
  • 5. Any student discount?
  • 6. Well, pardon me, Mrs Robinson
  • 7. Older people should be exploited
  • 8. Although owls appear zen and wise, they're actually thick as sh*t
  • Part 3. Llandudno, Wales
  • 9. Just eat your bread roll and don't touch me
  • 10. Ask your mother while you can
  • 11. Alexa, find Facebook, says Nan
  • 12. It sounds to me like you could do with some grief
  • Part 4. Killarney, Ireland
  • 13. I'm not used to the likes of you. On ye get
  • 14. It's Judy bloody Garland
  • 15. You can't take a picture of them. They're not us
  • 16. These days, even babies don't know they're born
  • Part 5. Lake Como, Italy
  • 17. Life's not about living to 96. It's about living to 84
  • 18. They're talking of switching rooms because their neighbours were at it half the night
  • 19. Now there's no whistling because he never comes home
  • 20. They took him to hospital in a gondola
  • 21. If you want to know the secret to a long happy marriage, it's 1) stay alive and 2) have separate bedtimes
  • 22. And then some paramedics arrive
  • Part 6. Pitlochry, Scotland
  • 23. She says that thanking God gets easier and harder every day
  • 24. She grew beetroot and potatoes all day and hi return she wasn't shot
  • 25. I can't just sit here and wait for the rain to stop
  • 26. There was that lark in the end
  • Acknowledgements
  • Permissions
  • About the author
Review by Booklist Review

Millennial Aitken long enjoyed talking to his grandparents and found, in general, older people more interesting than his peers. What better way to enjoy the company of "elders" than to take a series of bus trips in their company? Aitken travels north to Scarborough in his native England; he admires the chattiness and general happiness of his bus mates. His girlfriend accompanies him on a trip to Cornwall, and their fellow travelers assume the two want to be left alone, which they don't. His grandma (his "nan") goes to Wales with him, where she becomes expert at sleuthing out the latest gossip from fellow travelers. On later trips, Aitken goes solo to Ireland, Italy, and Scotland. While he describes sights, his companions are the real joy of travel for Aitken. Readers will enjoy the delightful footnotes liberally sprinkled throughout each chapter, and the chapter titles themselves (e.g., "It's Judy bloody Garland") are literary gems. Armchair travelers and Anglophiles will enjoy the resigned-yet-hopeful, stoic-yet-droll way of the English and tuck into this diverting read.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

Aitken (A Chip Shop in Poznan: My Unlikely Years in Poland) is a 32-year-old Englishman who hopped a bus and took several tours with a motor coach company catering to retirees. He was accompanied on one of the trips by his girlfriend, one with his grandmother, and took several by himself. He is a person who obviously enjoys the company of others, and his lively memoir reveals more about his fellow passengers than the destinations, which included visits to Scarborough, Cornwall, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and Lake Como. Sometimes he ate alone, sometimes with his fellow travelers, and always had a good time. Playing bingo, eating bacon rolls, drinking tea, and buying expensive snacks at a Swiss gas station were all part of his adventure. He makes no deep philosophical musings about the seniors on the tours, but enjoys their stories and varied backgrounds. Aitken is a fan of cross-generational encounters, and if you enjoy "haggis on a jacket," you will be too. VERDICT For readers who delight in witty accounts of travel with an Anglophile flair, this is a hilarious guide to the road in the company of retirees.--Susan Belsky, Oshkosh P.L., WI

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