Attention All Shipping - Charlie Connelly

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Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round the ShippingForecast

The Shipping Forecast is an odd thing. For many people (particularly Radio 4 addicts), lying in bed around 1 am listening to the gentle poetry of the Shipping Forecast is one of life's secret but treasured pleasures. Curled up under the duvet, you can let the litany of "Dogger, Fisher, German Bight...", "south-westerly five or six, rain then showers, moderate becoming good..." wash over you. You may live in Solihull, miles from the nearest coast, but for once you can be glad that you're not in North Utsire enduring the gales.

'Attention All Shipping' is a great idea (one that probably causes other travel writers to kick themselves that they didn't think of it first); Charlie Connelly travels to every shipping area in the forecast, along the way giving a bit of the history of the shipping areas, meteorology, lighthouses, the RNLI and the lives of the coastal and island communities around Britain and our nearest neighbours. Connelly has an enjoyable style, and this is a perfect book for reading on the train, or indeed in bed, just before you listen to the Shipping Forecast.

He has a great story about his great-grandfather who ended up swimming to the Falklands after he accidentally ended up on a Royal Navy ship during World War I, got very badly scalded by a huge pan of soup during a battle, then jumped ship when the ship's surgeon said he'd lose his legs. With that kind of family history, you can understand why Connelly is so fascinated by the sea and shipping.

I love the sea and islands myself, and after reading this book, there are a few more islands I'd love to visit one day.