Out of Context

In my last post about my book it was kinda fun to boil down a lot of what I’d been working on to bullet points – obviously they’re a lot more expanded in the book but I wanted to give a flavour of what you can expect.

So I thought it would be amusing to pick out some quotes, and leave them completely without context:

“Gritting my teeth, I told myself that I was supposed to be having an adventure, and I was damn well going to have one.”

“I have to say, pouring cocktails into my mouth from a shiny teapot was extremely fun, and I drank rather a lot.”

“As mum always said, “what goes up, must come down”, and I had visions of what coming down was going to look like.”

“So that’s how I found myself on stage in a Toronto hotel, miming the words to a Backstreet Boys song that I wasn’t even sure I’d ever heard before…”

“For dinner one evening I’d ordered pork chops. I got 4. Lamb chops? Seven.”

“If there’s one thing that my hangovers do not enjoy, it’s blazing sun and relentless heat.”

“It was loud, bright, colourful and utterly inexplicable. And it was fabulous.”

So, that’s what you’ve got to look forward to!





Word Count Milestone

As I write this, I’ve just achieved 20,000 words completed!

It feels like a massive achievement, that’s a lot of words. I also have a long, long way to go yet. Research tells me that memoirs are usually in the region of 80-100,000 words long, so by that reckoning I’m either a quarter or a fifth of the way there. Which sounds a little less impressive to my ears.

But I still have plenty to write about – I’ve actually only finished the chapters for 5 or 6 countries (though I’ve started plenty of the others), so I don’t think I’ll be lacking content.

Of course this is only the first draft, and I know there will be a lot of work to do once I’ve finished it. And I still have at least 8 countries to visit before I can complete even this first draft. Did I mention that this is going to be a long-term project?!


The Rules

If there’s one thing any quest needs, it’s rules. When dad and I first came up with the idea for our A-Z of the world, we also planned out how to decide whether or not a visit would qualify.

Our rules may be spurious (certainly a family friend disagreed with a couple of them, and has her own version of the rules), but they’re what we agreed and therefore they’re the rules I will be sticking to as I complete this journey for the both of us.

The Rules

  • In order for a country to count as having been visited you had to be there long enough for a toilet stop. You must set foot in the country itself – airports and other transport hubs don’t count.
  • A country can only count for one letter, but you can choose which letter if there are multiple options (you can see that I’ve used H for Holland, rather than N for Netherlands, as I have another N country covered).
  • The countries of the United Kingdom absolutely count, apart from E for England.
  • Countries we had already visited counted, and formed the start of our lists – we weren’t trying to make it completely impossible!
  • Countries only, no provinces. Visiting an embassy didn’t count – foreign soil only qualified if you stood on it in the actual foreign land
  • Bonus points would be awarded for swimming in a new sea or seeing one of the 7 wonders of the world
  • Historic names wouldn’t count – so there was no way to visit a country that was previously part of Yugoslavia to claim the challenging Y
  • X would involve some level of compromise.

So, there you go, the rules of engagement.

Introducing the A-Z

If you’ve looked at the page about my project, you’ll know that I’m on a mission to visit at least one country beginning with every letter of the alphabet (and if you haven’t read that yet, go read it now… I’ll wait…)

All caught up? Great.

As you can see, it’s a fairly involved project. I’ve still got a fair few countries to visit before I’ll be able to finish the book, and unless I win the lottery (or meet a fabulous benefactor – any interest?), it’ll be a while before I get there.

So, to keep me motivated and on track to write up the countries I have already visited, and get as much of the book done as possible in the downtime between my trips, I’m keeping this website up to date with my progress. I’ll be sharing updates, excerpts, pictures, and anything else that might be of interest.

I hope you’ll join me for the ride!