A journey by train from New Zealand to Spain: Our interview with travel writer Gregory Hill

Catalogue link: The Antipodean Express - a journey by train from New Zealand to Spain, by Gregory Hill

Gregory Hill is an accomplished former NZSO musician, turned author and adventurer — his first travel book is called The Antipodean Express: A journey by train from New Zealand to Spain. The journey was inspired by an old memory of a school atlas and its description of ‘antipodes’ as ‘the exact opposite point on the globe to where you are standing now’.

The book is the story of a 38,000 kilometre journey with his partner, that encompassed 19 countries and 33 trains. Together, they journeyed the slow way — taking in offbeat and remote locations and soaking in the local ambience and customs.

Born in Auckland, Gregory Hill devoted his life to playing the French horn, pursuing a highly successful career in orchestras in both Australia and New Zealand. However, he always secretly nurtured a passion for long distance train travel, which he finally indulged to the maximum in this journey with fellow traveller, partner, and NZSO musician, Anne Loeser.

Gregory took some time out of his very busy schedule to give an in-depth and fascinating interview about his new book and the travels that inspired it.

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to Gregory for doing this interview, which was done in conjunction with Radioactive FM’s Caffeine and Aspirin arts and entertainment review show. The interview was conducted by Neil Johnstone.

Have a listen:

And you can borrow The Antipodean Express by following the link below:

The Antipodean Express: A journey by train from New Zealand to Spain / Hill, Gregory
“An epic train journey from New Zealand to Spain, across 19 countries in 89 days on 33 different trains. From New Zealand’s Northern Explorer to the Eurostar, the book captures the romance of rail travel, exploring cultures, cuisines, history and people along the way.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

I’m going on an adventure! New travel books

A tent silhouetted against a starry sky, with three books in foreground, about camping, travel in Italy, and travel in Antarctica

For a long time, adventurers have been exploring the world and some have been kind enough to write down and share their experiences with us. Some of us may prefer only to travel in luxury but we can still experience these adventures vicariously through a great range of books. In this month’s new travel books, we can cycle all over the world, move to the desert with only our dogs or be struck by a whale while sailing to New Zealand (!). Have a browse, and enjoy!

A flat place / Masud, Noreen | ebook available – A flat place
“Raw and radical, unfamiliar and beguiling – a journey through Britain’s breathtaking flatlands and a reckoning with the painful memories and hidden histories contained in those landscapes. Noreen weaves her impressions of the natural world with the poetry, folklore and history of the land, and with recollections of her own early life, rendering a startlingly strange, vivid and intimate account of a post-traumatic, post-colonial landscape – a seemingly flat and motionless place which is nevertheless defiantly alive.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Never leave the dogs behind : a memoir / Madia, Brianna | ebook available – Never leave the dogs behind | audiobook available – Never leave the dogs behind
“The author of the New York Times bestseller Nowhere for Very Long continues her story with this deeply honest, moving account of a woman walking the line between independence and isolation when she moves to the Southwest desert with nothing and no one but her four dogs.” (Catalogue)

Everest, Inc. : the renegades and rogues who built an industry at the top of the world / Cockrell, Will
“Unlike any book to date, Everest, Inc. gets to the heart of the mountain through the definitive story of its greatest invention: the Himalayan guiding industry. Everest, Inc. transcends stereotypes and tells the uplifting counternarrative of the army of journeymen and women who have made people’s dreams come true, and of the Nepalis who are pushing the industry into the future.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Life at full tilt : the selected writings of Dervla Murphy / Murphy, Dervla
“Life at Full Tilt is a whirlwind tour of Dervla Murphy s travels. It begins in Spain in 1956, before her first book, and follows in her tracks for over fifty years. Ethel Crowley, an Irish sociologist, has for the first time looked at all Dervla s writing her journalism and her twenty-four books selecting half-a-dozen extracts from each. She introduces us to a complex character, hard to pin down, but a role model for women and environmentalists, Irish to her fingertips and a crucial part of the larger English tradition of travel writing.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Maurice and Maralyn : a whale, a shipwreck, a love story / Elmhirst, Sophie
“Bored of 1970s suburban life, Maralyn has an idea: sell the house, build a boat, leave England forever. It is hard work, turning dreams into reality, but finally they set sail for New Zealand. Then, halfway there, their beloved boat is struck by a whale. It sinks within an hour, and the pair are cast adrift in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Filled with danger, spirit and tenderness, this is a book about human connection and the human condition.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

In Italy : Venice, Rome and beyond / Zarin, Cynthia
“From acclaimed poet and New Yorker writer Cynthia Zarin comes a deeply personal meditation on four Italian spaces. Here we encounter a writer deeply engaged with narrative in situ – a traveller moving through beloved streets, sometimes accompanied, sometimes solo.” (Catalogue)

Under the stars camping Australia & New Zealand : the best campsites, huts, glamping and bush camping / Reid, Sarah
“Sleep under the stars in Australia and New Zealand’s most spectacular spaces. Discover more than 200 out-of-this-world camping hotspots in this epic guide with practical details and expert tips for an adventure like no other – making it easier than ever before to plan the ultimate camping trip.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Antarctica cruising guide / Carey, Peter W.
“This bestselling Antarctica travel guide includes fascinating, full accounts of interesting places, spectacular landscapes, and local plants and wildlife. A definitive field guide to Antarctica, this book caters to visitors traveling by luxury liner, adventure cruise, or private boat. Written by experienced Antarctic scientists and travel guides who are recognized experts in the continent’s wildlife, conservation, and political history, every page offers gorgeous color photographs of the great white south.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Food, Glorious Food

Is there anything quite as comforting to read about than food? Be it the biography of a chef or food critic, a history of a particular food, or just a really good cook book, books about food have been a favourite for generations. Here are some books in our collection that you might like to sink your teeth into:

Scoff : a history of food and class in Britain / Vogler, Pen
“Avocado or beans on toast? Gin or claret? Nut roast or game pie? Milk in first or milk in last? And do you have tea, dinner or supper in the evening? In this fascinating social history of food in Britain, Pen Vogler examines the origins of our eating habits and reveals how they are loaded with centuries of class prejudice. Bringing together evidence from cookbooks, literature, artworks and social records from 1066 to the present, Vogler traces the changing fortunes of the food we encounter today, and unpicks the aspirations and prejudices of the people who have shaped our cuisine for better or worse.” (adapted from catalogue)

A cook’s tour : in search of the perfect meal / Bourdain, Anthony
“Inspired by the question, ‘What would be the perfect meal?’, Anthony sets out on a quest for his culinary holy grail. Our adventurous chef starts out in Japan, where he eats traditional Fugu, a poisonous blowfish which can be prepared only by specially licensed chefs. He then travels to Cambodia, up the mine-studded road to Pailin into autonomous Khmer Rouge territory and to Phnom Penh’s Gun Club, where local fare is served up alongside a menu of available firearms. In Saigon, he’s treated to a sustaining meal of live Cobra heart before moving on to savor a snack with the Viet Cong in the Mecong Delta. A Cook’s Tour recounts, in Bourdain’s inimitable style, the adventures and misadventures of America’s favorite chef.” (adapted from catalogue)

Hungry : a memoir of wanting more / Dent, Grace
“From an early age, Grace Dent was hungry. As a little girl growing up in Currock, Carlisle, she yearned to be something bigger, to go somewhere better. Hungry traces Grace’s story from growing up eating beige food to becoming one of the much-loved voices on the British food scene. It’s also everyone’s story – from treats with your nan, to cheese and pineapple hedgehogs, to the exquisite joy of cheaply-made apple crumble with custard. Warm, funny and joyous, Hungry is also about love and loss, the central role that food plays in all our lives, and how a Cadbury’s Fruit ‘n’ Nut in a hospital vending machine can brighten the toughest situation.” (adapted from catalogue)

In the devil’s garden : a sinful history of forbidden food / Allen, Stewart Lee
“Among the foods thought to encourage Lust, the love apple (now known as the tomato), has become the world’s most popular vegetable. But until the nineteenth century the love apple was considered Satanic by many because of its similarity to the mandrake, a plant believed to be possessed by demonic spirits. Filled with Incredible history and the author’s travels to many exotic locales, In the Devil’s Garden also features recipes like the Matzoh-ball stews outlawed by the Spanish Inquisition and the forbidden “chocolate champagnes” of the Aztecs. This is truly a delectable book that will be consumed by food lovers, culinary historians, amateur anthropologists, and armchair travellers alike.” (adapted from catalogue)

Toast / Slater, Nigel
“TOAST is top food writer Nigel Slater’s eat-and-tell autobiography. Detailing all the food, recipes and cooking that have marked his passage from greedy schoolboy to great food writer, this is also a catalogue of how the British have eaten over the last three decades.” (Catalogue)



Ultimate food journeys : the world’s best dishes & where to eat them
“[A] book for food-lovers with an interest in travel–and ardent travelers with a passion for food. … [also] has helpful sightseeing itineraries, hotel recommendations, and hundreds of restaurant choices.” (Catalogue)


Plenty : a memoir of food & family / Howard, Hannah
“A moving reflection on motherhood, friendship, and women making their mark on the world of food from the author of Feast” (Catalogue)




Chocolate wars : from Cadbury to Kraft : 200 years of sweet success and bitter rivalry / Cadbury, Deborah
“Beginning with an account of John Cadbury, who founded the first Cadbury’s coffee and chocolate shop in Birmingham in 1824, ‘Chocolate Wars’ goes on to chart the astonishing transformation of the company’s fortunes under his grandson George. But while the Cadbury dynasty is the fulcrum of the narrative, this is also the story of their Quaker rivals, the Frys and Rowntrees, and their European competitors, the Nestles, Suchards and Lindts. These rivalries drove the formation of the huge chocolate conglomorates that still straddle the corporate world today, and have first call on our collective sweet tooth.” (adapted from catalogue)

Bread & butter : history, culture, recipes / Snapes, Richard
“A celebration of bread and butter’s divine partnership, covering history, culture and recipes.” (Catalogue)




Special bonus read:

Food isn’t medicine : challenge nutribollocks & escape the diet trap / Wolrich, Joshua
“The first NHS doctor to take a public stand against diet culture and empower you to do the same. Losing weight is not your life’s purpose. Do carbs make you fat? Could the keto diet cure mental health disorders? Are eggs as bad for you as smoking? No, no and absolutely not. It’s all what Dr Joshua Wolrich defines as ‘nutribollocks’ and he is on a mission to set the record straight. As an NHS doctor with personal experience of how damaging diets can be, he believes every one of us deserves to have a happy, healthy relationship with food and with our bodies. His message is clear- we need to fight weight stigma, call out the lies of diet culture and give ourselves permission to eat all foods. Food Isn’t Medicine wades through nutritional science (both good and bad) to demystify the common diet myths that many of us believe without questioning. If you have ever wondered whether you should stop eating sugar, try fasting, juicing or ‘alkaline water’, or struggled through diet after diet (none of which seem to work), this book will be a powerful wake-up call. Drawing on the latest research and delivered with a dose of humour, it not only liberates us from the destructive belief that weight defines health but also explains how to spot the misinformation we are bombarded with every day. Dr Joshua Wolrich will empower you to escape the diet trap and call out the bad health advice for what it really is: complete nutribollocks.” (Catalogue)