Saturday, 8 December 2012

Wye Breakfast Club talk - Q&A

I gave a talk at a very pleasant breakfast club in Wye (Kent) this morning. Delicious breakfast guys! The talk centred upon the 10,000mile cycle trip and the 6 facets of the book: Cycling–Adventure Expeditions–Euro/Asian Travel–Father/Son relationships–Husband/Wife relationships–Work/Life balance.
There were some good questions:

Q: Whose Idea was it?
A: My son's when he was 10yrs. He didn't have any idea how far Tokyo was!
Q: But you made it happen though?
A: Yes. And perversely, I felt throughout the preparation and the journey that I was doing the trip for my son. Later, I discovered that he felt he was doing it for me! These days we both feel we personally gained the most from it. My business partner feels he gained more than either of us (he took on the running of the company and has continued since my return). Obviously this is the best of situations, where everyone's a winner.

Q: How did you cycle across water?
A: We took a ferry then cycled up and down the deck during the crossing.

Q: Did you have any major disasters?
A: No, I planned things too well. It might have been better to leave more to chance.
Q: Yes but mightn't that have meant losing a leg or death for example?
A: Good point. We don't get to choose which disasters do we.

Q: Did your wife mind you being away for 10 months?
A: She missed me more than she ever expected but she felt at the end she had grown and gained by it. I felt we had grown as a couple.
Q: Were there any negatives?
A: Yes. When I got back she found she had got used to having the house to herself (and my quiet youngest daughter). She found my 'noisiness' intolerable. "What noisiness?" I asked. "Well you keep walking through the house. It sort of moves the air and it disturbs me," she said. Very tolerant my wife! Eventually she got used to me again but she never has entirely.

Q: How long did it take you to get back to normal after you got back?
A: In truth I never have. I am more laissez faire about life. I don't let things bother me in the way they did. I place value on simple things and have stopped obsessively setting myself targets. I let myself enjoy life without concerning myself over what purpose things have. I am more comfortable with myself I suppose and I have made peace with my own father (who died when I was 15).

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Non-cyclists Like it too!

I just received an e-mail from one of the bosses I worked with on the 2012 Olympics (disaster recovery planning). Very reassuring thing to receive from a non-cyclist:

Hi Mark,

Finished the book;

I have experienced so much reading it although I have never owned a bike! – The descriptive writing and relationship between you and Sam made for a very good read -

·         I laughed aloud with the drunk getting caught having a piddle by his missus!
·         I got hungry every time I read – proper food!
·         I was astonished at some of the places you stayed
·         And couldn’t believe the ‘risk’ taken when cycling along, going down waterfalls etc..

Brilliant, would be good to catch up.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Canterbury Author Outraged

Canterbury Author and adventurer, Mark Swain, was outraged to hear that patients of his dentist were blaming him for their valued surgeon giving up his practice to go off travelling.

Mark Swain, who wrote the book 'Long Road, Hard Lessons' about a 10,000-mile cycle trip with his son, from Ireland to Japan, says that a friend and fellow patient gave him the news that Paul Cokely of Bradley & Partners, was giving up work to go travelling after reading his book.

"OK, I know my dentist has read my book," says Mark, "and he was enthusiastic about it. But I hardly think that entitles people to blame me for him leaving. It will not have been his only influence. I'm as sorry to lose him as other patients are, but my advice to anyone considering an adventurous expedition, is not to put it off until you are too old. We are not good at work-life balance in this country. That's a serious threat to our health; even our very survival!"

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

New Kindle Version

The Kindle e-book version of Long Road, Hard Lessons has just been updated. The price hasn't changed – it is still a very unlikely £2.48 on Amazon, but it now contains no less than 30 colour photographs from the trip. That's in addition to the 7 detailed maps. You can preview the first couple of chapters on Amazon:

P.S. The typos have also been removed (:-)

Monday, 17 September 2012

UK Book Launch - Wed 12th Sept

At last the official UK launch of Long Road, Hard Lessons came around.  Martin Latham of Waterstones, to whom I am eternally grateful, told me to invite as many as I liked "It holds over a hundred – you'll never fill the place."  Some of us non-celebrities have dedicated friends.  People came down from London.  Alex even came from Spain and Rob from Bristol.  I was sure I talked for too long (as always) but if I did, people were too kind not to contradict my worried enquiries afterwards.

Thanks to everyone who made the effort to come and to be part of a very enjoyable evening - even for me.

I'm hoping to do a London launch as well as some talks in other branches of Waterstones around the country, so if you couldn't make Canterbury don't worry, I won't let you off the hook that easily!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Kerryman Newspaper Article 10.09.12

Following the Irish book launch in Dingle, Marian O'Flaherty's article for The Kerryman was published yesterday morning.  She's made a nice job of it.  So many articles that have appeared in the press since we started the trip have been inaccurate – sometimes amusing (Lorna being Japanese), other times not (no, Sam & I were not holed up in a Moroccan brothel pretending to be on a bike trip) – Marian has captured it well in her piece.  Have a read.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Ireland Book Launch – Dingle

Thanks to all those who attended the official Irish launch of 'Long Road, Hard Lessons.'  It was a memorable event all round, with creamy black pints lined up on the counter of Curran's Bar in Main Street, Dingle – one of Ireland's few remaining genuine hardware-store-cum-bars.  Despite the ultra-short planning time (2 days!), with the help of Colm Bambury and the enthusiasm of many local friends, it all went off smoothly.  Here's hoping we can create something approaching the same positive atmosphere at the UK Launch in Waterstones Bookshop, Canterbury (St Margaret's Street) at 6:30pm on Wednesday 12th, without the black stuff!
Newspaper article in today's copy of The Kerryman. Link to on-line version to follow on Monday.

The Link:

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Review of LRHL e-book on Smashwords

Eric Balke has left a very well written review for Long Road, Hard Lessons on Smashwords e-book site.  Thanks Eric!
His and Josh's cycle blog is:

Invitations have gone out for the book launch:

Venue:  Waterstones Bookshop, 20-21 St Margaret's Street, Canterbury
Date & Time:  6:30pm on Wednesday 12th September
Agenda:  Talk by Mark & Sam Swain with slides, Q&A, Book signing
Afterwards:  The Foundry, White Horse Lane, Canterbury (Micro-brewery & pub)

Please bring friends.  Hecklers welcome.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Check out your local Waterstone's

LONG ROAD, HARD LESSONS is now available in all Waterstone's shops (not just Canterbury).  Assuming you get out now and again and you don't just sit at your computer all day, please consider buying it from Waterstone's rather than Amazon. You also get to see, hold and smell before you buy!
ISBN: 9780957200203
3rd row down to left of 'English Garden.'

Amazon finally found the box of 30 books I sent them - delivered to their warehouse 3 weeks ago. Until I saw this pic of their UK warehouse, I was wondering why!
Now back in stock anyway.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Sam's Cherished Bike Found

Sam got his bike back, thanks to massive media coverage. Bike theft seems to spark a lot of public interest.  Have a read:

Sam's Stolen Bike

Did you hear about Sam's cherished expedition bike being stolen?  Have a read of the Guardian article. It was only one of many in the media that spread around the world.

Book now out

Long Road, Hard Lessons is finally in print and available on e-readers.  Check it out on Amazon.  It is also available in Waterstone's bookshops (Canterbury only at present but others very soon).  Amazon keeps showing it as out of stock.  This is just early stock inventory glitches. If you order it, you can generally expect it to arrive within a few days.

Video from the trip (High Ranges of Travancore, Nr Munar, Kerala, South India).