Long Road Hard Lessons

by Mark Swain, with candid commentary by Sam Swain

Aged 50, Mark Swain left his slippers by the fire and set off with his 18 year-old son Sam on a cycle expedition from Ireland to Japan. "We'll train on the way," he said. Physical challenges, border bureaucracy, health scares and traffic hazards were all anticipated. What they underestimated was the conflict they faced, spending 24 hours a day together under such arduous conditions.

On one level a life-changing travel adventure, this book also takes time to look at the psychological journey made by parents and children. The accounts of the son's attempts to break away from his father, to find his own individual place in the world, are moving and insightful. Yet at every turn, these thoughts are lightened by humour and juxtaposed with vivid descriptions of the countries and people they encountered along their way. We witness how conflict teaches us things we didn't expect to learn, and how much the parent can learn from the child.

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