Sunday 21 September 2014

Casting Off by Emma Bamford

As a journalist for the Independent, Emma Bamford is swept along with the London rat race, lost amongst the egos of Fleet Street. Surrounded by budget cuts and bullies, the thrill of a breaking news story is no longer enough. And at 31, still struggling to get to a fourth date and surrounded by friends settling down to married life and babies, Emma decides to grasp her life by the roots and reclaim her running away to sea and joining a complete stranger (and his cat) on a yacht in Borneo.

Reflective yet humorous and self-deprecating, we share Emma’s excitement and fear at leaving a good job for an unknown adventure, and join her as she travels to some of the most exotic places in the world and starts to realise what really matters in life. She discovers the supreme awkwardness of sharing a tiny space with total strangers, the unimaginable beauty of paradise islands and secret jungle rivers, glimpses lost tribes, works all hours for demanding superyacht owners, and has a terrifyingly near miss with pirates. Fending off romantic propositions from a Moldovan pig farmer and a Sri Lanken village chief amongst others, Emma finds adventure and happiness in the most unlikely places.

From planning each day meticulously to learning to let go and leave things to chance, Emma’s story shows that it is possible to break free and find happiness – and love – on your own terms.

Casting Off by Emma Bamford was published by Bloomsbury Publishing on 3 July 2014, and is the author's first book.

I love holidays abroad, but I'm not an adventurous traveller, in fact I don't really like travelling at all, and often wish I could just go to sleep and wake up at my destination, without all the hassle of the journey.

Emma Bamford does like travelling, she loves sailing, the open sea, the adventure and meeting new people and it was that love that persuaded her to leave the rat-race of London and agree to sail a yacht, with a stranger, on the other side of the world.

Casting Off is her story, and it is so incredibly well written, that even a land-lubber like myself would be (almost) tempted to run off to sea too! As long as I didn't meet a guy like Emma's first captain that is. I have no idea how Emma kept her cheerful and upbeat tone whilst writing about the rat who was the skipper on her first part of this journey. Fending off his unwanted attention whilst trying not to be rude was one of her greatest achievements, and thank goodness she managed to find much better sailing mates once she'd escaped from his clutches!

Sailing on different types of boats, with a whole host of people of differing nationalities, some of whom couldn't speak her language and some of whom were not the nicest of shipmates can't have been easy.  However, the great people that she met and the wonderfully exotic places that she visited more than made up for it, despite the threat of pirates, the hard work and some particularly difficult holiday makers.

The author's background in journalism shines through in Casting Off. She certainly writes a fascinating and often funny account of her time at sea. Her vulnerabilities do come through at times, but on the whole, her optimistic nature and her spirit of adventure shine through in her writing.

I've read on Emma Bamford's website that she's now writing the sequel to Casting Off and I'm delighted to hear that. I really want to know what happens next; did she make it to the Caribbean, and what became of her and Guy?

A fascinating, extremely well written tale of how one woman really did change her life.

My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

Emma Bamford is an East Midlands-based author and journalist who has worked at The Independent and Daily Express and most recently as News Editor of the i newspaper.

She had a fairly normal life to begin with, growing up with her younger brother and sister under the watchful eyes of her parents in Lincoln and Nottingham. 

After studying English Literature at Southampton University and Newspaper Journalism at UCLan, she started work as a cub reporter for the Bicester Review and then the Derby Evening Telegraph 

Fleet Street beckoned and highlights of her career as a reporter and news editor include asking F1 driver Jenson Button what his favourite toasted sandwich filling was, quizzing the incumbent Home Secretary on his preferred kind of cheese (spot a pattern?) and peeing in Bruce Forsyth's downstairs loo. There was some serious and hard-hitting journalism in there for a fair few years, too.

Then, in her early 30s and bored with this 'fairly normal life' she'd created for herself, Emma took a career break and, despite protestations from friends and family, answered an advert on the internet for 'crew wanted' and flew to Borneo to live on a boat with a man she had never met and his cat. She found herself hunting for elephants in the jungle, visiting deserted islands and running from pirates. Finally she ended up among billionaires, working as a stewardess on a superyacht in Italy. Her adventures form the basis of her first book, Casting Off.

Emma now works part-time as a freelance to give herself space to write and make the jump from memoir to novels. Her ambition is to make book writing her full-time career. Tropical settings feature high in her inspiration and as her books' settings, although she lives about as far away from the sea as it is possible, in landlocked rural Derbyshire. And, while she may make self-deprecating jokes constantly, she really is serious about figuring out what is important in life and finding the freedom to be who you want to be.

For more information about Emma, visit her website
Visit her Facebook page   Follow her on Twitter @emmavbamford

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