'You've had some pretty crazy ideas in your life, Newby, but this is the craziest.' Grandmother Wanda Newby was exasperated after continuous rain, snow, and gales that knocked from her bike. Twice.
To avoid other tourists, Eric Newby had decided that the depths of winter would be the very best time to explore Ireland by mountain bike. More astonishing still, he managed to persuade Wanda, his long-suffering wife and life-long co-traveller, to accompany him - mainly, she admitted, to 'keep him out of trouble'. Lashed by winter storms, fuelled by Guinness and warmed by thermal underwear, their panniers laden with antique books on Ireland, the elderly adventurers cycle the highways and byways, encountering hospitable locals, swaying saints and ferocious dogs.
From the shores of Donegal to the holy mountains, Newby guides the reader on a tale of mishap and magic, all in his own peculiar style of humour and charm, relishing his never-ending curiosity of the world and his insatiable quest for adventure.
Eric Newby was born in London in 1919. In 1938, he joined the four-masted Finnish barque Moshulu as an apprentice and sailed in the last Grain Race from Australia to Europe, by way of Cape Horn. During World War II, he served in the Black Watch and the Special Boat Section. In 1942, he was captured and remained a prisoner-of-war until 1945. He subsequently married the girl who helped him to escape, and for the next fifty years, his wife Wanda was at his side on many adventures. After the war, he worked in the fashion business and book publishing but always travelled on a grand scale, sometimes as the Travel Editor for the Observer. He was made CBE in 1994 and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award of the British Guild of Travel Writers in 2001. Eric Newby died in 2006.