Letter S on The A to Z April Challenge 2014

Today is letter S on the A to Z April blogging challenge. My book today is “Silk, Spice and Furry Dice” from Andy N Robinson. Genre: Travel

Silk Spice and Furry Dice
Overlanding in Central Asia with a film crew

by Andy N Robinson

Silk, Spice and Furry Dice

Andy N Robinson has spent the last decade taking groups on tour all over the world, working for many of the big names in the adventure travel industry. On this occasion he dragged himself and his well-travelled furry dice out of retirement for ‘one last trip’.
He often wondered what on earth he was thinking.
Silk Spice and Furry Dice is an amusing and unique account of the challenges faced when filming a documentary abroad and supporting a Japanese film crew on an epic journey along the Silk Road from Istanbul to Beijing. People from different countries and cultures collided for a one off project and proceeded to make life as difficult as possible for themselves.
With refreshing honesty Andy recounts life on the road, looking at not only his own wayward actions, but the inner workings of the film crew, the relationships simultaneously forming and crumbling around him as well as painting a painting a picture of the magical world that is Central Asia.
As Andy soon found out there is a lot more to making a documentary than meets the eye and far more to travelling overland than seeing the sights…

Silk, Spice and Furry Dice will be published both in print and eBook by Black Frog Publishing on the 30th August 2014

Andy Website pic

Andy and his partner Kirsty were guest authors here on the blog back in November click on the link to find out more about them and travelling http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-2RV

Andy is also the co-author of ‘It’s NOT a Holiday! The A-Z Guide to Group Travel’, ‘Go Hard or Go Home: The Little Book of Overlanding’ and ‘Overlanding: How, What, Where and Who With…?’

All books are available to buy via Amazon and all major eRetailers
You can also order limited signed paperback copies of all books at www.blackfrogpublishing.com and browse the travel resources as well.
You can follow Andy @FlagonOfCider and @TheFrogFather as well as on Facebook at Black Frog Publishing.

I met Andy and Kirsty here on the A to Z tour last year and we have become firm blogging friends, I have read and reviewed two of their books and recommend them to anyone.
Here are some randomly selected links to other bloggers who are also blogging their way through April. Please find the time to visit them as well.

http://melissajanda.wordpress.com/

http://www.kimgraff.com/blog/

http://eliseabram.com/

http://www.oliviawaite.com/blog/

http://theegetawaygal.com/

During the challenge we are asking people to leave as many comments on blogs as possible, all supportive comments are much appreciated thank you.

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Guest Authors Andy Robinson and Kirsty McGregor (Nov 29th)

My guests today are a writing duo who will open your minds to the idea of group travel across the world. Their book “It’s NOT a Holiday” is due out tomorrow (30th November) and is the most amazing and hilarious A-Z guide to road travel. A must read for anyone young or old who may be contemplating an adventure across the world.

It's NOT a Holiday! The A-Z Guide to Group Travel

Let’s go and find out more about them;

Andy and Kirsty in Rio de Janeiro

Andy and Kirsty in Rio de Janeiro

1) Where are your home towns?

Andy: I am from sunny Calne, a small market town in Wiltshire, the West Country of England. Although perhaps describing it as sunny is a bit of a stretch and is why I found myself working abroad for so long.

Andy Website pic

Kirsty: I grew up in Weipa, a small and very isolated mining town in Far North Queensland, Australia.

Kirsty1

Andy and I have been living in Calne for the last few years but we plan to immigrate back to Queensland next year; where it really is sunny.

2) Is this your first writing piece as individuals or together?

This is our first written piece to be published both as individuals and as a collaboration. We have both been writing individually for many years. When writing “It’s NOT a Holiday!” together we discovered that we approach our writing in very different ways and had quite different styles. It took a while and a few heated discussions before we found our groove – a way to write together and a style that we both agreed on. We got there in the end but we both agreed at the time it wasn’t something we would rush to do again. However, looking back on it now, the process was fun and we had lots of laughs remembering the stories from our time on the road.

 

3) Where did the idea for “It’s NOT a Holiday!” stem from?

We had the idea of “It’s NOT a Holiday!” for a few years before it came to fruition. On the first trip we worked together on, back in 2008 in South America, we realised we both had a love of writing and thought there was a need for a ‘survival guide’ for passengers travelling on group tours such as the ones we were leading. “It’s NOT a holiday, it’s a life experience…” is something we often told our passengers when explaining how they could get the most out of their trip.

We threw a few ideas around and made notes whilst sitting round the campfire for a bit of fun but it wasn’t until we were off the road and working in France for the winter that we fleshed out the ideas and put pen to paper.

 

4) You’ve both been guides or drivers on tours, can you tell us where in the world these were?

EOE truck in Rio de Janeiro

EOE truck in Rio de Janeiro

Andy: Ten years ago I decided to throw in my job and travel through Africa on an overland truck… and that really was the end of normality for me. I have specialised in long haul trips throughout the Middle East, Iran, India, China, around South East Asia and extensively throughout Latin America.

Kirsty: I was travelling independently in the Middle East when I stumbled across a group travelling overland on a big truck to Egypt. I loved the idea and signed myself up for a six month trip from London to Cape Town. I had a ball and decided that becoming an overland tour leader/driver was the perfect way to see the world and get paid for it. Since then I have been lucky enough to work in Africa, Europe, Central & South East Asia, Central & South America and Australia.

Kirsty with Pakistani Police

Kirsty with Pakistani Police

 

5) What’s the longest road trip you’ve taken people on?

Andy: Driving from Istanbul to Bangkok in 7 months was one of my longest road trips with passengers. However, by far my longest road trip would be driving from London to Mongolia and then back in a small 1 litre Ford Fiesta. Great fun!

Mongolian Sand trap!

Mongolian Sand trap!

Kirsty: An 8 month trip from London to Sydney was my longest trip. I took 32 passengers through 3 continents, 23 countries and had a blast. Of all my long haul trips, this one was the most diverse in terms of the landscapes and cultures I experienced along the way.

London to Sydney trip (Tibet)

London to Sydney trip (Tibet)

Our longest trip together was the one we met on – Mexico City to Rio de Janeiro.  A 7 month trip travelling through 17 Latin American countries ending up at the biggest party in the world, the Rio Carnival.

 

6) What’s the worst terrain to take trips over?

There are lots of different terrains that can be difficult to drive through – soft sand in deserts, muddy roads in jungles and city roads packed with trucks, buses, cars, motorbikes, bicycles, pedestrians, horse and carts, camels, donkeys, goats and just about any other beast you can think of. But the terrain we enjoy the least is mountain passes – proper mountains, the Himalayas and the Andes. Driving at altitude means thin air, a hard time breathing and headaches. Not fun! Although to be fair the views are fantastic.

Bogging!

Bogging!

 

Pope 7 Pantanal Bogging

Pope 7 Pantanal Bogging

7) Can you list 5 packing essentials for any road trip?

Head torch

Toilet roll in a plastic Ziploc bag

Cash

Multi-tool with knife and bottle opener

A sense of humour

Not necessarily in that order…

 

8) What are 5 items that people REALLY don’t need, but think they do?

Micro fibre towel

Expensive sunglasses

Trekking trousers with daft zip off legs

Traveller’s cheques

6 month supply of toiletries – these can be bought anywhere, believe it or not showering is a worldwide phenomenon.

 

9) Tell us your own choices of BEST place to experience if you only took one road trip in your lifetime.

This is a question we get asked a lot. It is along the same lines of our favourite places we have travelled. It is so hard to answer because we have so many favourites for so many different reasons.

Andy: If someone was to do only one major overland trip in their lifetime I would recommend one through Asia – the history and sheer diversity of cultures is mind blowing.

Kirsty: For me it would be Africa. There is something magical about going on your first African wildlife safari.

A road trip we would like to do in the future would be in North America. We have driven the Pan American Highway in Latin America so would now like to do the northern section including Canada and Alaska. One day! West Africa and Madagascar are also on the list…

 

10) Tell me what attributes I need to get voted as “best guest” on one of your trips?

The perfect passenger is someone who has a sense of humour, a sense of adventure, a can do attitude and embraces everything with open arms and an open mind. They will also be the one who has the most fun!

Are you coming on a road trip Rosie? Well…. The North American trip appeals more to my sanitation fears and my son wants to go to Madagascar! You never know!

Twitter: Andy – @FlagonOfCider  Kirsty – @kirsty_oz  Black Frog Publishing – @TheFrogFather  It’s NOT a Holiday – @ItsNOTaHoliday
Buy books:
Direct from our website – www.blackfrogpublishing.com/Books.htm
A Big Thanks to Kirsty and Andy and Good Luck with the book launch, I know it will be a winner!

Looking back at the A to Z Challenge 2013

After 26 posts during this years A to Z Challenge I’m still buzzing from it all. This was my first year doing the challenge and I only read about it in March, but I was so glad that I took the plunge and committed to the idea.

How I approached the challenge – I didn’t want to divert from the common theme of my blog where I support writers and authors, I’ve got quite a list of books that I’ve read but I wanted to put out new posts, so I sent out messages on the social networks looking for authors who wanted to promote their work through my challenge. This was great it filled most of my letters with books that I may not have otherwise even considered, and added to my TBR pile. For each individual post I thought it appropriate to display the A to Z Challenge badge to help keep promotion going throughout the month. I also chose to display up to 5 randomly chosen links each day to other A to Z Challenger’s blogs to encourage more visitors to the challenge.

What I liked about the challenge – I liked the support from the A to Z Team, their enthusiasm and encouragement. I couldn’t believe how many people had signed up at the start of the challenge (over 1500). I liked the way it brought people together from across the world.

What I loved about the challenge I loved the fact that it changed the way I approached my own visits to other people’s blogs, I realised that just hitting “Like” (at the end of the post) is only part of your relationship with fellow bloggers, what really counts is taking the time to leave a comment.

What frustrated me – A few sites made leaving comments really hard, sometimes I had to search around the site to find the challenge post and it was a shame when people were unable to par-take in the challenge this year or were unable to finish the month for various reasons.

My own advice to others – Planning, planning, planning. Each day your post doesn’t have to be long and detailed, but draft it out ahead of the challenge, that way the hard work is done and you can enjoy the journey. Also committing to visiting at least 5 sites a day was easy when I had previously set up links to them in my draft posts. I usually went to more than 5 because I enjoyed it so much.

Bloggers worth a mention

http://blackfrogpublishing.wordpress.com/

http://pullupatoadstool.blogspot.co.uk/

http://stephenyhoughtlin.wordpress.com/

http://sarahcradit.wordpress.com

http://damyantiwrites.wordpress.com/ (Co-host of the challenge)

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