After tripping over a large pile of books that have been accumulating in my bedroom in recent weeks, I decided that it was about time I cleared out my bookcase to make room for my new books.
It was at this point that I discovered a book, lurking in the bottom shelf, called 'Roundabouts of Great Britain', which took me by surprise as I'm sure I've never seen it before. Believe me, it's not a book that I would buy for myself, and I'm sure I would have remembered somebody giving it to me (and quickly disowned them). Still, there it was hiding out in my bookcase, gathering dust along with books that I just don't want to part with. A mystery...
So with my curiosity awakened, I found myself flipping through its 96 colourful pages - I was actually reading it, this book devoted to roundabouts!! You all want to know more, don't you - good thing I'm writing this review then...
About the Author:
What kind of man would write a book about roundabouts? The same man that later wrote books called 'Roundabouts from the Air Ish' and 'Parking Mad: Car Parks from Heaven (or Hell)'.
Kevin Beresford, owner of a printing firm in Redditch and founder member of the UK Roundabout Appreciation Society, explains in the Introduction to his book, how he developed an interest (and later a full-blown love) of roundabouts.
As Christmas 2002 was approaching, Kevin's printing company decided to print a calendar that was a little bit different from the usual Beckhams and Kylies etc, and came up with 'The Roundabouts of Redditch', which displayed 12 of the best traffic-islands in the area. One hundred copies were immediately snapped up, and the calendar featured on Graham Norton's TV show 'So Graham Norton'. This led to television and radio interviews, and bizarrely, mail from aficianados from far and wide detailing their favourite roundabouts. This fed Kevin's growing enthusiasm and love of roundabouts, which led to this book.
Following the author's Introduction, you can find over 70 pages (with pictures) of his favourite roundabouts and comments on why he likes them.
Take for example the roundabout on the cover of the book (see picture above), this is the Brunel Roundabout in Slough town centre. Kevin Beresford comments "This traffic-island is also featured in the opening credits of the hit comedy series 'The Office'. Park-like in its size and appearance - a most attractive roundabout."
Interspersed between these photos, you will find other pages with useful roundabout information, such as:
A Name For the Hobby - A discussion on Roundabout Spotters and essential attributes such spotters should possess.
A British Love Affair - The author's opinion on why the British people love a good roundabout.
Who Invented the Roundabout? - A brief account on the origin of the roundabout.
Great Britain And On... - A short commentary on other countries where roundabouts are popular.
The Tale of Telford's Islands - Here the author recommends Telford as the place to go if you want an exceptional day out roundabout spotting.
What Makes A Good Roundabout? - A debate on some of the key aspects that makes a roundabout appealing.
Mini Malpractice - a brief rant on motorists who drive over mini roundabouts.
Types of Roundabout Spotter - An account of the differing types of people who make this their hobby, eg the macho-type, the pretender, etc.
Equipment Tips - An essential list of items a budding roundabout enthusiast will need to effectively spot.
Transport - Ideas on the best ways to travel to go roundabout spotting.
Safety First - Tips to safely roundabout spot.
Terrific Traffic-Islands To Collect - Twelve of the author's favourite roundabouts to start off anyone's hobby.
Roundabouts of Great Britain - Kevin Beresford
(Dedicated to his long-suffering wife Linda)
Published in 2004 by New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd
Hardcover 96 pages
ISBN: 1 84330 854 1
Product Dimensions: 17.4x17x1.2 cm
(Can be bought new or used on Amazon from £1.33)
For further information have a look at www.roundaboutsofbritain.com
You've probably had the same reaction that I first had - why would anyone buy this book?!
Well actually, since leafing through it's pages, I can honestly say that this book is quite funny. The idea of it seems absurd, yet I found myself admiring some of the weird and wonderful roundabouts contained within (my favourite being the double-ringer roundabout in South Devon featured on page 56), saying that, some of the roundabouts weren't anything special (sorry Kevin).
The author keeps his information brief, on pages such as the history of the roundabout, so there isn't a great deal of reading involved with this book; however he writes with a light-hearted style so what you do read is quite interesting and shouldn't cause you to fall asleep.
It's the kind of book that you would buy someone as a joke or stocking-filler. It's a bit of fun and you'll look through it once (perhaps a couple of times depending on how much you like roundabouts) and then stuff away somewhere where it will probably be forgotten about for a long time.
Unless you are a big fan of roundabouts (and apparently there are more out there than I would have guessed) or shopping for a jokey gift, I wouldn't rush out to buy this book.
No, I will not be spending my free time with a notepad and camera documenting my local roundabouts - but when I'm driving past a particularly appealing roundabout I might just take a moment to appreciate....no, stop it - must get a life!
This is the first ever book devoted to the popular hobby of roundabout spotting. A self-confessed traffic-island fanatic, author Kevin Beresford has travelled the length and breadth of the country to record the very best of the species, which range in scope from humble painted minis to magnificent landscaped beauties. Some feature works of art or are wildlife havens, others are sources of local history or simply have that certain something that sets them apart. Featuring over 80 of his favourites in glorious full-colour, he offers advice on the practical side of the pastime, with an exposition of the traffic-island's colourful history, following its French and American roots through to the first British roundabout in Letchworth and up to the present day.