What The Pandemic Has Meant For Us

In this post Tommi reflects on the unprecedented events of 2020 and how they have affected us as a business and as a team.

Well, what a strange year this has been! As England starts its new month-long series of restrictions, it’s a good time to look back on how this year has been for Multilingual Matters and Channel View Publications.

At the beginning of 2020, Multilingual Matters and Channel View Publications were looking at a good year of publications and a very healthy production pipeline of new materials. Following on from a year where sales had been quite depressed, we were seeing really good financial figures and the business was looking very healthy. We had two members of staff away on parental leave, but we were looking forward to welcoming them back in the summer and to really forging bravely into the future. Brexit loomed as a potential difficulty, and we were thinking about what steps we could take to make the business more environmentally friendly.

During a February vacation taking some friends to visit my home in Finland we had started to see an increased number of reports of coronavirus spreading, and the seemingly drastic measures taken in Wuhan to contain the virus as much as possible. It seemed like a sad situation, but such a long way away from us. I returned to my desk in early March and discussed with Anna Roderick whether we should start to consider our work-related travel to conferences, not really so much from a health perspective, but more because we felt it might just not be worth flying to the conferences if few people would attend. Then slowly the conference cancellations started coming in, and before long there was talk of what would happen if the UK government announced a lockdown. Every day brought different announcements, and it was getting very difficult to believe that anyone had any sensible plan at all. I found it almost impossible to concentrate on actual work, and we all speculated on when we might be told to work from home.

One evening while giving blood at my local blood donor centre, I sat and watched the news on the TV. Since our national government clearly wasn’t going to make a decision anytime soon, I typed a message out with one hand to my colleagues saying that “from tomorrow, we’ll work from home”. We all took our laptops home, and that was it. I expected it to be six weeks, or maybe two months. I did not expect that in November, eight months later, I would still be working from home and that I would have only seen my colleagues face-to-face a handful of times during that period. Had I known it would last this long, I would probably have suggested that we work in the office one last day, all have lunch together, and then go home, but at the time it seemed more sensible to break as many chains of contact as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, over the years our systems have been designed to allow homeworking and remote working while travelling, so the switch to working from home was technically not too difficult, and our team was pretty quickly coming up with strategies to make home working seem less lonely, including a shared 2.30pm break to listen to the same song, with each member of staff choosing the song on rotating days. We definitely have an eclectic taste in music across the whole team! Some of us had been working from home for a long time already, and so Sarah Williams and Anna Roderick were able to give us “newcomers” some tips and advice on how to organise ourselves, and enjoyed a more social atmosphere than before, now that us office workers began to understand the importance of regular contact!

About 10 days after we had decided to work from home, the government made a national announcement that we should all work from home and not leave our houses unless shopping for food, or for essential exercise once per day. All non-essential shops were to close, as were all workplaces that could not operate in a COVID-safe manner. Amazon stopped ordering books to focus on other product lines, and our two biggest wholesale customers closed their doors for an indefinite period. It was clear that this was not going to be a short, sharp shock and then back to business as usual. Together with the senior management team at Multilingual Matters and Channel View Publications, we took the decision that the two most important things that we could do were to focus on staff wellbeing, and to conserve as much cash as possible. We immediately stopped all longer print runs and switched to digital printing, and decided that we would delay sending the usual complimentary copies of the books. We also wrote to all of our authors asking for patience with our annual royalties payments. We asked that authors who were either self-employed, in precarious employment or otherwise in a financial situation where the money would make a difference to their daily lives identify themselves to us so that we could prioritise payments to them, and that otherwise we would delay payments to a time when cashflow would allow. Our authors and editors responded with such warm and supportive messages. Many people wrote to offer words of encouragement and support, to insist that others were prioritised, and a good number even offered to donate their royalties to us this year. To all of you, I would like to extend a very heartfelt thank you from the whole Multilingual Matters and Channel View Publications team. The financial breathing room that this gave us was vital. But even more vital was the psychological boost that we got from feeling that we were genuinely valued as part of the community.

As the weeks went by, the news was mixed. One of our biggest wholesale customers declared bankruptcy, leaving us with a considerable bad debt. Fortunately, around that time the other wholesale customer started to re-open their warehouse, and orders began to come in, albeit at a much reduced volume. At the same time we started to see the sales of ebooks to libraries increase, which gave us some confidence that we weren’t going to be facing a complete halt in income. We were able to start sending out complimentary copies again, and we started to pay royalties. By the end of July we had caught up and paid all outstanding royalties where we knew we had payment preferences recorded. We also saw an increase in the number of manuscript submissions and so we felt that the decision to keep working rather than to go on furlough was definitely the right one. We have been innovative, arranging webinars and events on Zoom to promote the books from authors who have not been able to show off their work at conferences. Expect to see more of this over the coming months as we plan to introduce more of our publications in this manner.

Our “summer” pub lunch together

We arranged a few social events, including the ubiquitous Zoom “pub quiz” that has been a lockdown experience for most Brits, afternoon drinks, and even a shared Devon cream tea, which Sarah Williams organised for us one week. In the summer we managed to meet face-to-face on one occasion, with seven of us sitting around a large pub table at a time when social restrictions had been lifted temporarily. I still hold onto that lunch as one of my favourite lunches of the year! Although I certainly miss seeing my colleagues every day in the office, I think we have managed as well as is possible to keep a sense of togetherness going, which will prove vital as we now head towards a more difficult winter lockdown.

What will the coming months bring? I think February 2020 shows that we cannot take anything for granted, but equally so does March, April and May. It has been a much tougher year so far than I could ever have imagined when it started, but it has not been as bleak as we thought it would be at some times during April and May. We still expect that Brexit will cause some headaches for us as trade regulations and rules around exporting change. We do not yet know how bad the winter spread of coronavirus will be, or when we might be able to have more normal interactions with each other. Conference travel and bookfair travel seem a very long way away still. We can only imagine that with the levels of financial intervention that many countries have had to take over the past year, budgets of all publicly funded institutions will be strained, and this will no doubt have an impact on us in the future. But we are financially much more stable today than we were in February, and I believe that we are also more resilient as a team.

I could not be prouder of how my colleagues have responded to the difficulties and challenges this year has produced, and how we have still managed to find positives and celebrate successes. I strongly believe that this year has shown that we can overcome some really difficult situations when we, both in-house and as a wider community, work together to make sure that we look after each other’s interests.

Tommi

Industry Award Winners Again!

We have been the proud holders of an ‘Excellence Plus’ Product Data Excellence Award from the Book Industry Communication (BIC) for a few years now (and there are a few previous posts about our journey elsewhere on our blog!). While they may not be the most glamorous of awards to win, and are marked by a certificate arriving in the post, rather than an Oscar’s style ceremony, they are still very important. In short, they are the book industry’s way of certifying that we provide all the ‘behind the scenes’ information about our books to everyone in the industry, in a complete and timely manner.

This year, BIC extended their award scheme to include the new Supply Chain Excellence Award, alongside the Product Data Excellence Award. We are absolutely thrilled to have been awarded an Excellence award, one of only seven publishers in the UK to receive this award (seating ourselves alongside the likes of HarperCollins, Penguin Random House and Sage) and to be one of only two UK publishers using a third-party distributor to get this award. What an achievement for a small independent publisher!

The Supply Chain Award differs from the Product Excellence Award in that it focuses more on working processes, rather than on the books themselves. BIC describe winners of the award as ‘modern, technically-capable, efficient to do business with, and compliant with industry standards and practices…the best in their class for business efficiency, customer service, environmental concern and innovation.’

The questionnaire application itself was surprisingly easy, and future applicants shouldn’t be daunted by the 22-page form(!) nor the technical terms. It’s certainly simpler than it looks! For me, the tricky bit was getting the hang of the lingo…the publishing industry is full of its own wonderful list of acronyms and systems, so while most of the questions related to things that we already do, they often happen behind the scenes (and seamlessly) and I had to write to some of our partners to check how the systems work. In happy news, our distributor, NBN International, and the database company we use, Stison, were also among the tiny list of award winners in their categories. We are happy to be working together with such great partners, and it goes to show that sometimes in order to succeed, you need the support of top teams too.

We don’t like to blow our own trumpet, but we think that achieving this award demonstrates that not only are our books among the most exciting in our field, but that we too as a company rank among the best in the industry.

Activities for a Lockdown

Now we’ve been in lockdown for a couple of weeks here in the UK, we’re starting to get used to a different way of life and a lot more time spent at home. Of course, for some of you the pandemic doesn’t mean you have more time on your hands, and it might mean quite the opposite – working, while simultaneously trying to home-school children and stay sane, for example…but if you do find yourself at a loose end, here is a list of ideas to keep you occupied!

  1. Anna’s sourdough loaf

    Making lengthy recipes that you’d never normally have the time to do. Anna made this amazing-looking sourdough bread that took a week to produce!

  2. Gardening and growing things – even if it’s just house plants or herbs. Not only can this be very therapeutic, but depending on what you grow, you get to see and enjoy the results for months or even years to come. Alice has started a series of vlogs documenting her progress which you can watch here!
  3. Catching up with friends and family with whom you haven’t spoken in a long time. People seem to be checking in on each other more at the moment, which is one of the nicer aspects of these strange times. As great as social media is at a time like this, it’s also a good chance to reinstate letter and postcard writing – everyone loves getting post!
  4. The team having a ‘Friday lunch’ chat

    Socialising online – the MM/CVP team has been busier than ever, participating in online drinks, pub quizzes and even weddings, all from the comfort of their own homes.

  5. Reading. Finally a chance to get through that to-read pile and not just squeeze a few pages in before you fall asleep…
  6. Doing arts and crafts. Whether that’s painting, writing, knitting, scrap-booking…being creative can be a really good way to relax and distract yourself.
  7. Learning or improving a language. Time to dust off the books or download an app – you might even be able to find an online tandem partner to learn with.
  8. Sunrise over Dawlish taken by Sarah on an early morning walk

    Making the most of your walks. At the moment, we’re allowed to go out for a walk (or run, or bike ride) for exercise once a day in the UK. Since it has to be done in your local area, it’s a chance to explore parts of your neighbourhood you wouldn’t usually, get some vitamin D and appreciate how much more clearly you can hear the birds with fewer cars on the road!

  9. Moving your body. There is probably every type of exercise video you could possibly imagine on YouTube, all of which you can do from home, often with no special equipment at all. Dancing, yoga, aerobics, martial arts…it’s a good way to get moving even when you’re not allowed to move anywhere!
  10. DIY projects. A drawer that always sticks, pictures that you keep meaning to put up, a room that needs painting. Now might be the time to tick them off your to-do list!

Whatever you’re spending your time doing, we hope you’re all keeping safe and well and in good spirits!

Tips for Working From Home

Following the worldwide outbreak of coronavirus, we are now all working from home. A few members of the team regularly work from home and are veterans of the practice, but for the rest of us it’s taking some getting used to! For anyone else who’s adjusting, we thought we’d put together some top tips for a successful day working at home.

  • Treat it like a normal working day as far as possible. Get up at the same time as usual and shower, get dressed etc. Don’t get your laptop out or scan through emails until your ‘start time’ in the morning, and when you finish for the day, put your laptop away.
  • If possible try to get some natural light and fresh air before you start work, even if it’s just leaning out of the window to drink your tea.
  • Have a designated working space, ideally a desk, but definitely not your sofa or bed!
  • Get up and move around once an hour.
  • Try to get outside for a stroll at lunchtime and, if possible, repeat after work too.
  • Make sure your lighting is good to work by, ideally natural light near a window.
  • Drink plenty of water and have snacks on hand.
  • Depending on how efficient your heating/insulation is, it might be chillier at home than in the office. Make sure to layer up and invest in some good slippers!
  • Try to keep up communication with your colleagues as much as possible. We use an instant messaging platform to keep in touch with each other throughout the day.
  • If you’re missing the hubbub of working in an office, the radio can be a good substitute. You could also do a collaborative playlist with your colleagues that you all listen to at the same time, as we’re planning!
    Laura in her new home office set-up

    Take care everyone!

CAUTHE 2020, Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Aotearoa/New Zealand

In February Sarah made her annual trip to the other side of the world for CAUTHE, held this year at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In this post she fills us in on her best CAUTHE experience ever!

Tihei mauri ora, tihei mauri ora
Ngā iwi o te motu e
Tü ake, karangatia
Tü ake, manaakitia
Ngā iwi, kia ora rā
Ngā iwi, kia ora rā

I haven’t been able to stop singing the conference Māori welcome song since I’ve been back! It was beautifully performed on the first morning by the AUT staff, led by Valance Smith, and all delegates were encouraged to join in each day of the conference. That was only one of the highlights of the conference’s opening morning! Delegates were invited to take part in a musical activity (Boom Time) which was a lot of fun even if you are rhythmically-challenged 😃

Alison Phipps then provided the opening keynote. We are proud to call Alison a friend of our company as well as a series editor and author. Her keynote on inhospitable hospitality and the treatment of refugees was in equal parts stunning, disturbing, breathtaking, uncomfortable and moving. It generated a lot of discussion during the following days and was an amazing start to a brilliant conference.

Alison's keynote
Alison’s keynote

The first day finished with the welcome reception and another moving performance, this time from the AUT student choir who performed Māori songs and finished with a haka.

The rest of the conference didn’t disappoint, with impressive paper presentations and other great keynotes from John Barrett, the founder of Kapiti Island Tours, on valuing people and community over profit, and from Iis Tussyadiah on AI and smart technologies.

Workshop
Our book workshop!

On the second day I co-hosted a workshop on the role of the book with two more of our series editors and authors, Ian Yeoman and Una McMahon-Beattie. It was a fun experience and I hope the attendees found it helpful!

Huge credit and many thanks go to the conference organisers, Tracy Harkison,  David Williamson, Glen Bailey (and many others!) for putting on the best CAUTHE I’ve attended!

Post-conference, I visited Wellington and Christchurch where I enjoyed the hospitality of Ian Yeoman and his wife (and dogs!) and Michael Hall and his family (thanks again for the chocolate!), and on my return to Auckland took a day trip to Tauranga.

Already looking forward to next year’s conference in Fremantle!

Sarah

World Book Day 2020: Our Favourite Childhood Stories

Today is World Book Day! Inspired by this year’s theme, Share A Million Stories, in this post we talk about our favourite stories from childhood.

Laura

One of my favourite stories as a child was There’s No Such Thing As A Dragon. It’s a story about a little boy called Billy who wakes up to find a dragon in his bedroom, but when he tells his mum, she doesn’t believe him. The dragon, who is a rather rebellious character, gets bigger and bigger and harder and harder to ignore, yet the mum still tells Billy that the dragon doesn’t exist. It’s a funny story and a great reminder that sometimes children are right and adults are wrong. Plus, it has some really tasty looking pancakes in it, which I was always desperate for my mum to make for breakfast (she never did!).

Tommi

One of my favourite childhood stories was a book read to me in Finnish when I was laid up in bed with pneumonia. It was called Kuinka Kum-Maa on Kaikkialla and tells of a little boy called Pau who is bored and ill in bed. All of a sudden a shape in the flowery wallpaper comes to life, and princess Lilaloo takes little Pau to ‘Kum-Maa’ (a play on the Finnish word kummaa meaning strange) where all of the inhabitants are two dimensional like pictures and so eat only two dimensional foods like gingerbread and pancake. Princess Lilaloo and Pau have a number of adventures in ‘Kum-Maa’, and I vividly remember staring at the wallpaper and the various paintings at my grandparent’s house imagining my own exciting adventures. After all, as the Finnish title promises, “Kum-Maa”  is everywhere…

Alice

I was considering writing about something a little less obvious, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that the Harry Potter books were hands down my favourites as a child. I distinctly remember the release of new books and the pain at these times of being the youngest in my family – this meant having to wait for every other family member to read it before I could. When it was finally mine, I would read it cover to cover without much stopping, before turning back to the beginning and starting again. So exciting!

Anna

I had a lot of favourite books when I was a child (I still do!) but what really stands out for me is the Malory Towers books by Enid Blyton. Sharing them now with my daughters (who love them as much as I did), I’m surprised at how modern they are in some ways – the girls are expected and encouraged to do great things, and to be clever and brave as well as kind. I suspect when I was a child it was the midnight feasts and the absence of parents that I enjoyed most though.

 

Flo

Like Anna, it’s really difficult for me to choose, but one that stands out is Dick King Smith’s Sophie Stories. I loved (and still do!) the character of Sophie – ‘small but very determined’ and no-nonsense, she loves animals and her greatest ambition is to be a ‘lady farmer’. At the beginning of the books her parents think she’s too young to have a pet, so in preparation for her future career she keeps ‘flocks and herds’ of woodlice, earwigs and snails in the garden shed, which she conscientiously tends to. As the series goes on and she grows older, she accumulates a cat (Tomboy), a rabbit (Beano), a puppy (Puddle) and eventually a pony (Lucky). My sister and I were big animal lovers and our ultimate wish was to have a pony (spoiler – it never happened), so the idea of all those pets was very appealing (less so to our parents, who had agreed to a cat and nothing more).

Sarah

One of my favourite bedtime stories (and one that has always stuck with me!) when I was young was from Enid Blyton’s Goodnight Stories. It is called Polly’s Ps and Qs. It was about an ill-mannered girl who always forgot to say please and thank you. Her mother decided that she would pin a big ‘P’ or ‘Q’ to her dress every time she forgot. I lived in horror of my parents starting this trend if I didn’t remember my manners! 😃

NABE 2020 in Las Vegas!

Laura receiving the NABE 2020 Exhibitor of the Year Award

I have just got back to the office from the 49th annual National Association of Bilingual Education (NABE) conference, which this year was held in glittering Las Vegas! The conference certainly got off to a sparkling start for Multilingual Matters as we were awarded the NABE Exhibitor of the Year award, which I was very excited to accept on behalf of the company at the ribbon-cutting opening ceremony. The ceremony had a bit of an Oscars/Grammys awards feel to it, as Elvis made an appearance! Fortunately, I kept my speech shorter than many heard at the Oscars! We are delighted to have been honoured with this award, having a long history of exhibiting at NABE and very much support the association’s mission of ‘advocating for educational equity and excellence for bilingual/multilingual students in a global society’.

View from Laura’s hotel at sunrise

The conference itself was a busy one and I was especially pleased at how many delegates seemed to find just the book they were looking for, to help them with their teaching, research or other work, at our stand. We are rare at the NABE conference in being an exhibitor presenting academic research to the delegates and it was nice that so many appreciated what we bring to the conference. Among the popular titles were Deborah K. Palmer’s book Teacher Leadership for Social Change in Bilingual and Bicultural Education, the 2nd edition of What Teachers Need to Know About Language by Carolyn Temple Adger, Catherine E. Snow and Donna Christian and our enduringly popular textbook Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism by Colin Baker and Wayne E. Wright. We’re hoping to get the 7th edition of this textbook out in time for NABE 2021, as it’s sure to be a big hit there. Next year’s conference is to be held in Houston, Texas and will be the 50th edition so with both our new textbook and NABE’s anniversary to celebrate, it’s sure to be a good one! We’re looking forward to it already!

Laura

Conference Season 2020

2020 has well and truly begun and we’re looking forward to the arrival of spring, not only for the (hopefully) slightly warmer weather, but also because it marks the beginning of our busy annual conference season.

Sarah at the recent CAUTHE conference with our raffle winner

In fact, Sarah has already been flying the flag for CVP at the CAUTHE conference in Auckland, New Zealand earlier this month, where she was able to have her yearly catch-up with our tourism contacts down under. Laura will be the next to head off, beginning our season of US conference travel with NABE in Las Vegas next week. Next on the schedule is GURT in Washington DC, which Anna will be attending in March. Following hot on her heels Tommi and Laura will be off to the back-to-back AAAL and TESOL conferences held this year in Denver. Then as April rolls around, it will be time for Laura to set off again (although not so far afield this time) for IATEFL in Manchester, our first UK conference of 2020.

As we head into summer, Sarah will be making the trip up north to attend the TEFI conference in York in June. Unfortunately the Sociolinguistics Symposium planned to take place in Hong Kong in June has had to be postponed until 2021, due to the coronavirus outbreak. We’re looking forward to catching up with everyone there next year instead. We then continue our summer travel with EuroSLA in Barcelona, Spain in July, followed by AILA in Groningen, Netherlands the following month.

As well as all these major conferences, we sometimes pop to smaller, more local meets and book launches, and send unattended displays far and wide, so wherever you’re heading this year, look out for our books!

Trips of the Past and Trips of the Future

This month we will be publishing The Future Past of Tourism edited by Ian Yeoman and Una McMahon-Beattie, which looks at how the history of tourism will shape its future. Inspired by this, in this post the CVP team reflect on their favourite past trips and dream future ones…

Laura

I still remember the first holiday I ever went on, to stay in a holiday cottage in West Wales with my cousins when I was nine. I had a new suitcase especially for the occasion, which I filled with all sorts of things from my bedroom at home…none useful for a holiday! The holiday itself was very simple: days spent on the beach or playing in the garden, and I’m sure it wasn’t as sunny as I remember but in my mind it was a perfect week. My cousins and I still talk about some of the in-jokes and sayings from the holiday and it’s those shared memories which make it my favourite past holiday.

Laura and her cousin attempting some sunbathing

There are a zillion places I’d love to visit, some close to home and some further afield. Inching its way up my list is the North Coast 500, Scotland’s 516 mile long tour of its northernmost roads. The appeal is the stunning scenery, isolation and Scottish hospitality. I’m yet to decide if I want to drive or cycle it, but either way, I’ll need to be prepared for all weathers!

Tommi

My favourite travel has always involved trains and ferries. Childhood journeys to Finland for Christmas always involved a train ride first across the UK, then a ferry to Hamburg, Esbjerg or Gothenburg, and either an overnight sleeper train to Stockholm followed by the Viking Line to Turku or Helsinki, or the Finnjet direct from Travemünde. The excitement of travelling over several days to get to “Mummola” in the winter with the dark scenery passing mysteriously by the train window. Stopping off in Copenhagen to see the Tivoli, or spending a night in Lübeck and visiting the German Christmas markets, before the final ferry ride across the Baltic. Would the sea be frozen? Would we spot any seals on the ice? Having a proper sauna in the bowels of the exciting Finnjet ferry with a swimming pool that had a swell in it as the ship rocked on the waves…all the while knowing that as we got closer to Grandma the sweets started tasting nicer…. First we got Skipper liquorice pipes on the ferries to Europe, then Marabou chocolate if we went via Sweden or Haribo in Germany, and finally as we hit the Finnish boats – Fazer! And proper liquorice! As our ferry sailed into Helsinki we would be met by an uncle waving to us from the terminal building and they would drive us the last leg to where “mummi” and “vaari” were waiting, having filled the garden with ice lanterns and we would catch the scent of “pulla” and “makaroonilaatikko” drifting out of the door…it’s no wonder I’ve grown up to love travelling!

When I was a child we would often travel overland partly due to cost of flying a family of four to Finland in the early 1980s and partly due to the feeling that by flying over everything we were missing out on so much. My Dad always looked forward to the adventure and the endless planning to find a “new” route…although I have tended to travel more by air in the last few years, I definitely feel like I have missed out on a lot, so I hope to get back to a more exciting, and relaxing, way of getting around.

In the immediate future we are planning to travel by train to Anterselva in Italy for New Year, with an overnight stop in Munich and a ride over the Brenner pass before spending a week cross country skiing, and catching the overnight train from Milan to Paris and back to the UK.

One day I would dearly love to travel all the way to Japan by train. Japan is a country that I have always loved spending time in, and if I can travel overland I feel like I will better understand where it is, and hopefully arrive for once without any hint of jetlag! I would hope to travel via the Trans-Siberian either to Beijing or Vladivostok, and then take a ferry with a few days in South Korea on the way…I personally hope that the future of my own travel will come full circle to my past travels, and that more and more of my journeys will once again be taken by train and ferry.

Flo

I’ve been lucky enough to go on some amazing trips over the years, but maybe the one that stands out the most is a trip I took to Ghana in 2015. I went with my friend to visit her family in Accra, Kumasi and Abetifi. I loved everything about it – the people, the language, the colours, the tropical heat, the food, the landscape… We stayed with my friend’s parents on the compound of the school they run, so we were always surrounded by kids, which was fun (and very noisy). We spent our days visiting family friends, markets, local villages, museums, the cultural centre, a cocoa farm, a Kente cloth workshop, a lake and a waterfall, and our evenings at the local ‘spot’ which was a tiny neighbourhood kiosk/bar with really loud speakers. A highlight of the trip was a very long drive (with one, and later two babies on our laps) to stay with my friend’s grandmother up in the mountains. She was still working the land in her 80s!

There are so many places I’d love to go in the future, but I think Sri Lanka’s probably top of my list. Apart from how beautiful and diverse it looks, my grandparents, who were in the army and navy, met there during the war at a dance in Kandy, and so I’ve got a bit of a sentimental reason to visit too! It might be a little while yet though, as I’ve decided to have a ‘no-fly year’ in 2020, so I’ll be keeping any travel to countries I can get to by train.

Sarah

In 2015 my sister and I went to the US to embark on as many different kinds of tourisms as we could – sport, literary, film, tv and music! We started in Boston where we saw the Red Sox play and spent a bookish day in Concord, then to New York where we took in a Giants game, an Islanders game and a Red Bulls game! We bussed next to Washington, DC. After much sightseeing there we flew down to Orlando to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – and also managed some relaxing by the pool. Our last stop was Nashville, where we visited the Opry and Ryman before spending our last night watching Foo Fighters at Bridgestone. It was a pretty tiring holiday but every day was very exciting! 🙂

It would be amazing to have a whole year off and pack it with as many sporting events as possible. January and February in Australia to watch the Big Bash (and be warm!) then back to the UK touring round the country for the rest of the football season and cricket season, maybe taking in an England cricket tour at some point to the West Indies 🙂

 

For more information about The Future Past of Tourism please see our website.

Travelling to Frankfurt Book Fair

The Frankfurt Book Fair is one of our most important events each year to promote our publications, meet with our bookselling and distribution contacts, learn about the future trends in publishing, and generally take the pulse of the industry for the next year. It is always an exhausting week, with back-to-back meetings set every 30 minutes for three days, and socialising and networking opportunities in the evenings.

With such a punishing schedule at the fair, we have always felt that we should make the travel as pleasant and as relaxing as possible, and so in recent years we have taken a scenic drive with an overnight ferry trip and lunch stops in the beautiful Rhine valley to enjoy. Following a car accident that left my car unusable just weeks before the fair this year, we were left with a decision to make. Should we fly to the fair? In the 22 years that I’ve been visiting the fair, I have only flown twice, and the memory of Frankfurt airport full of tens of thousands of book trade contacts trying to leave the city after the fair is firmly etched on my memory, so we decided to return to travelling by train. In the five years since I last travelled by train, connections and frequency of trains along the route have improved, and as such we were easily able to leave Bristol in the early morning, and with just one cross-London underground trip and a change of trains in Brussels, we arrived in Frankfurt by the mid-afternoon to set up our stand. During this time we were able to sit back and relax, eat at our seats in the train, and spread our work out and prepare for our meetings in a very civilised manner. We were even lucky enough to have our own compartment on the Brussels-Frankfurt leg of the journey, which felt very like a step back to the age of Agatha Christie. Thankfully though there were no mysteries to be solved!

Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof

After three days of successful meetings at the fair, we again boarded the train at Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, and were able to write up all of our post-book fair reports during the first leg of the journey, before a quick lunch at Brussels Midi. The train connections worked seamlessly, and we were back in Bristol in time for dinner on the Saturday evening.

We may have saved a few hours had we travelled by air, but by taking the train we saved ourselves the trouble of first travelling to the airport, then the hassle of check-in, security, and then waiting in departures, before a cramped flight and another wait for bags. Coupled with the environmental benefit of travelling by train, it really wasn’t a difficult choice and it’s one that we will most likely choose to make again in the future!

Tommi

Ever wondered what the Frankfurt Book Fair is like? In 2017 Laura and Tommi filmed every aisle of every hall! You can watch the video here.