‘I love introducing people to places and experiences they would not have come across on their own.’
Pages From My Passport
By Amelia Dalton
Published by Sandstone Press
Congratulations Amelia on the publication of your latest book, Pages from my Passport. Could you tell us a little bit about what readers should expect from it?
An entertaining account of exploring remote places with a specific purpose, rather than to have a break or a good time. Readers will be transported to unknown destinations in distant countries. The book has little about the usual aspects of travel, such as hotels, restaurants, or planes; it is a series of adventures with each chapter a story of a different country, describing exotic seashores and tiny villages discovered when I was employed to replicate exploring the archipelagos and remote islands of Scotland’s intricate west coast. Researching from the Arctic to India, I needed to find unknown and unvisited places to offer our passengers unexpected experiences and unusual destinations with curious wildlife, interesting architecture or idiosyncratic small museums.
Most people would be daunted by the kind of travelling you organise. What gives you your fearlessness?
I am not at all fearless, but I am determined and can be politely, I hope, stubborn! Lee Durrell once said ’It’s difficult to say ”No” to Amelia.’ I regard this as a huge compliment. Persuading someone they do want to open up their private palace or solving the difficulties of bringing people onto a beach in Madagascar to visit a village is the kind of problem solving I like.
What draws you to the lesser-known places? What does travel mean to you?
I love introducing people to places and experiences they would not have come across on their own. For myself, I am interested in wildlife, plants and geology – and I simply love a new experience. It’s a privilege to experience different cultures, foods and beliefs and find out what influences and shapes peoples’ lives.
You write about your misadventures with humour and a light touch. Do you think this is a key ingredient for an adventurer?
A sense of humour eases many a long day. A vital aspect of travelling is an ability to see the ridiculous, combined with a sense of curiosity. Misadventures, rather than actual disasters, are usually more interesting than successes and become entertaining stories.
What advice would you give to more cautious travellers about getting more adventurous?
Do your research really well before you arrive somewhere remote. It will make the unknown seem less daunting if you have an idea of the history, the local culture and how and why people live there and what makes the place tick. Small manageable steps which you can expand as you feel more comfortable, rather than leaps into the unknown.
Do you read a lot of other travel memoirs? Who would you say influences your writing?
I like to read about a country or place whilst I am there. In June I will be in the Western Isles again so will re-read Bella Bathurst’s The Lighthouse Stevensons. Recently I was in Sulawesi and the Moluccas and enjoyed reading Nathaniel’s Nutmeg by Giles Scott as well as the rather daunting scientific account The Malay Archipelago by Alfred Russel Wallace. I will re-read Jan Morris’s Sultan in Oman a wonderful, highly entertaining book, before my next tour there in early 2024.
Where are you planning to travel this year?
2023 will take me back to St Kilda (weather permitting!) to Oman, Italy, France and, if I am lucky, again to Madagascar and the outer Seychelles. The St Kilda archipelago is truly extraordinary, powerful and dramatic. It is an edgy place, so remote, with a fascinating history, scenery and unique wildlife
Pages From My Passport by Amelia Dalton is published by Sandstone Press, priced £14.99
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