The amorous adventures of Big Ben

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Dave Robson appreciation

Dave Robson

I’m intrigued that so many think sailing is easy, but maybe that’s more to do with my personality and the books I’ve read.

Over recent years, a number of books about the ordeal of sailing have been published, a few of which are listed below. So, it was with some kind of relief when Dave Robson approached TSL with How to be a popular crew. It doesn’t tell you how to sail, but it does give good advice for the social side – crucial when a number of people, possibly strangers are living in such close proximity to each other. It’s also well worth a read if you want or need confirmation that life in a restricted moving vessel is not for you despite the allure of new places, beautiful calm blue waters and dreams of relaxing in exotic locations. And if you’re still not sure about sailing after reading How to be a Popular Crew, then try Dick Allan’s Sailing my Dream (2016) or Martinique Stilwell’s Thinking up a Hurricane (2012).

Another feature of How to be a Popular Crew is that at heart it’s about people being considerate and how to work together effectively – all skills needed whether sailing or not. In tackling these issues, the examples Dave uses (keeping anonymity of all) are helpful in developing, or confirming, a sense of self-awareness. Dave’s abililty as a coach/facilitator of life skills are clearly at play in his writing.

Since we published How to be a Popular Crew, Dave has gone on to write a young person’s book about a Shire horse Ben who is lonely and needs a friend. Ben’s Amorous Adventures, inspired by the horse next door called Ben who sadly died not long after, tackles issues of loneliness and friendship. Again, it’s a book which works on two levels – adult and young person. Dave explains more on his website where you can also see what else he has published and does.

As I write this, I await Dave’s next book for publication – keep an eye open. It’s bound to be something different which again works on multiple levels.

TSL books by Dave and some involving boats and sailing:


A version of this post was first published on 19 June 2018, this appreciation is 2024

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Horses and donkeys

In days gone by, horses and donkeys were important for transport. Today in many rural settings, they can still be found performing similar functions whilst in more affluent areas, horses are a hobby and income earner through racing. They feature in fiction and non-fiction books alike. Here’s a sample of what horses featuring on covers by TSL authors:

Three books concern the Anglo-Boer or South African war on 1899-1902, two of which are non-fiction: British Military Chaplaincy and Religion in South Africa 1899-1902 and Practically Over. The third is a novel by Robberta Eaton Cheadle, A Ghost and His Gold.

Two others are children’s books – a working horse features in Towing Path Tales while The Amorous Adventures of Big Ben, a Shire horse, tells of a horse all alone in a field, his work done, finding love.

Family are the Friends you Choose is an autobiography by Marthe Kiley-Worthington who forms relationships with animals, and horses in particular, that are close to human. Ever heard of a horse in a kitchen and watching television?
Another autobiography is that by Ray Wooster, My 30’s and 40’s Childhood featuring his toy horse. Ray goes on to write about horses in his A Boy’s War Journal, a novel set in and post-World War 2 London.

Finally, John Samson’s A Donkey called Oddsock, a novel, set somewhere in Africa, tells of a donkey’s journey as he and his young master try to avoid being recruited as child soldiers.