First off, I must apologise to Simon for not blogging this review sooner! I read this book in April, did my Amazon review relatively quickly and then promptly forgot to do a review here on the blog!
As regular readers of the blog may know, Mr B and I lived in Kinghorn, Fife for just over a year in 2011/12. I commuted by train into Edinburgh each day, and pretty much every morning, I would succeed in getting a coastal window seat in order that I could take pictures of the sunrise.
Most mornings there was a delay, so I amused myself with taking balancing my phone on the train station wall…
I really enjoyed my commute into Haymarket each morning. However during most weekends we skipped the city and completed various sections of the Fife Coastal Path.
We saw the majestic sight of the Forth Rail Bridge. ..
and the quirky picturesque villages of the East Neuk and St Andrews… as well as the not so picturesque (Buckhaven, I’m looking at you, but you were charming in an industrial, different kind of way!)
In 2013, we moved to Inverness. It actually wasn’t until April of this year that I took a train down from Inverness to Edinburgh.
Why am I telling you this? Well, even though I had a relatively short affinity with Fife, I wanted to know more about it, and I also wanted to find out more about the Highlands – to where I had lived for just over a year. I love taking trains and I’m more happy looking out of the window wondering what you could find out about each stop on the line, than amusing myself with the Wifi connection that never seems to work. So I was really pleased when Simon Varwell (who has written other travel books I should get round to reading!) was looking for people to review his book – “The Next Stop”.
(Image courtesy of Amazon website)
Simon recounts his week of travelling down from Inverness to Edinburgh, and spending a minimum of two hours at each stop (though for a very few stops, two hours was possibly 1hr40 too long!), exploring the local villages and towns that the stations inhabit. I could identify with his rationale for exploring a well travelled route that ironically, was completely unknown once you disembarked the train.
Although I enjoyed the book thoroughly with it’s descriptions of places, buildings and the insights into the history of towns and villages as well as the railway itself, the stand out bits for me were the interactions and observations of the locals that Simon encounters (particularly the imagined conversation between Simon and a fellow journeyer at Ladybank station).
And of course, I was really keen to read Simon’s observations of Kinghorn, the wee town in which I once lived. I have to say I never noticed the plethora of “warm welcome (!) signs” that adorned the Parish Church’s gates, despite worshipping there each week when Mr B was on training placement. I also shared Simon’s apprehension of going into pubs that you can’t clearly see inside of – there were a couple of pubs in Kinghorn where this was obviously the test of entry!
To sum up – this book isn’t full of fast paced fun, it’s a book that details local life once you step off the train platform, with lots of descriptions of the small, mundane ‘bits’ of life which I really enjoyed. I got a sense of Simon’s achievement as his train pulled into Edinburgh Waverley and appreciated the considered way that Simon adds in his humble impressions of each place he visited.
(I received a free Kindle edition of the book to review. The review is 100% my own truthful opinion)