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Whilst I would enjoy travelling abroad, since meeting my husband who has a number of health issues, we feel it safer to holiday in the UK. There are so many places that we would like to visit, which unfortunately, depends upon the very unpredictable British weather. We are both keen photographers and are always on the look out for picturesque places to visit where we can capture some wonderful images. A book that caught my eye is one belonging to the DK Eyewitness Travel range and is named Portrait of Britain and this review discusses my thoughts.
The hard covered book, which is an approximate height of A4 and slightly narrower, consists of 576 glossy high quality pages and begins with a map of the UK, which is colour coded for each region. There is a small coloured photograph illustrating a familiar landmark for each with the relevant page numbers located below. The easy to follow index is broken down into regions to mirror those illustrated on the map and we are presented with a double page on how to use the guide. The first few chapters of the book take us through sections such as Discovering Great Britain where we are provided with various places of interest together with brief details of the history.
The guide offers the most spectacular photography that portrays each place of interest in its full glory such as Edinburgh Castle, Lake District and the Cliffs of the Pembrokeshire Coast. It's a bit of a standing joke with me in relation to driving to places that I don't know, as I always tend to get lost and end up in the back of beyond! Fortunately, there are plenty of maps highlighting the major roads, motorways and airports together with a mileage chart.
We take a step back in time where we learn of the Roman invasion of AD and British heritage and for someone who absolutely detested history in school I found this section fascinating. We are taken through different traditions and customs and are provided with some brief information in relation to society and politics and learn of the Reform Acts between 1832 and 1884. The guide goes on to discuss the British people in general from culture and arts to the film industry and food.
We learn of British aristocracy and how is has evolved and are provided with colourful images. As I have worked in public sector housing for the past 24 years I found the section on rural culture particularly interesting as we learn of the materials that have been used to build our homes throughout the years. The book offers a wealth of information on how our country has evolved and we are taken through the journey of the British monarchy, Roman Britain and Prehistoric Britain. There is considerable information on the history of the UK and in conjunction with the text the timeline guide at the bottom of each of the pages proves to be a useful resource.
There is a handy section for sporting enthusiasts where there is a month by month guide to inform the reader when and where particular events are occurring. The guide offers plentiful information on a large variety of locations throughout the country such as London where we are provided with extensive details on the best places to visit and their history. The information covers areas such as gardens, parks, museums and places to eat and stay. In respect of buildings such as museums and the National Gallery the book offers us maps of inside the buildings together with a guide, so for example we would know exactly where to find Leonardo da Vinci's paintings inside the National Gallery or where to spend a penny and I don't mean the gift shop!
The guide offers a wealth of information if you are planning on visiting any of the locations as in addition to displaying opening times, parking information and locations we are provided with several pages of easy to follow detailed maps on how to get there whether it be by car, rail or tube. In addition, each place of interest is allocated with a unique code, which can be easily identified on one of the supporting maps, which are located at the end of each section. I must admit that when I made my purchase I had not noticed that the book contained so much useful information and I've visited York on many occasions and was totally unaware that there are many places that I have yet to see. Consequently, the guide is an extremely useful resource for planning your visit.
The Brecon Beacons National Park isn't too far from my home in the South Wales valleys and the book has assisted us in carefully planning our day, particularly as there are so many picturesque places to visit such as the four mountain ranges. I found the history of Scotland fascinating, particularly as I have never visited and one day we plan to travel to Edinburgh. I learned about the Clan system and there are a large number of colourful images displaying the different styles of tartan. I have a long list of places I would like to visit such as some of the stunning castles and the guide provides considerable information on each.
This is an absolutely stunning book with over 2,000 specifically commissioned photographs that span the pages deeming it a must for anyone interested in researching points of interest throughout Britain. As a result, Portrait of Britain receives 5 stars from me together with a high recommendation. At the time of writing you can purchase this guide from Amazon from 1p for a used copy and £5.99 for brand new. Please note that postage and packing charges need to be added to these prices.
ISBN - 978-1-4053-116-3
Published by Dorling Kindersley Ltd London
I hope you found my review useful and thanks for reading.