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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'd like to buy these guys a beer
George Mahood is the sort of chap you'd like to have a beer with. Actually, I think he's the kind of fellow you'd find yourself buying a beer for after just the briefest of conversations. I say this having never met the man but I feel like I've just had the adventure of a lifetime with my new pal after having read his very funny and surprisingly inspirational book Free...
Published on November 28, 2012 by Amazon Customer

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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a fun adventure
George Mahood writes with an engaging style, the adventure is preposterously wonderful, and the book is a fun read. I knocked off a few stars for the vulgarity, and as the writing gives witness to the author's delightfully wide vocabulary, I saw no need for so much of it. He includes a little too much information about pain in his private parts as well--it was his choice...
Published 22 months ago by J. Zartman


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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'd like to buy these guys a beer, November 28, 2012
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This review is from: Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain (Kindle Edition)
George Mahood is the sort of chap you'd like to have a beer with. Actually, I think he's the kind of fellow you'd find yourself buying a beer for after just the briefest of conversations. I say this having never met the man but I feel like I've just had the adventure of a lifetime with my new pal after having read his very funny and surprisingly inspirational book Free Country.

Free Country tells the true story of two young men, George and his friend Ben, who decide to cycle the length of Britain from Land's End to John O Groats. While this ambitious journey has been undertaken by many others, none have done it in quite the same way as George and Ben. Because, you see, they begin with nothing. Well, not quite nothing, they each have a pair of Union Jack boxer shorts (and George later confesses, a camera, a notebook, a pencil and stack of cards containing the words "I am OFFICIALLY a very nice person.")

Over three weeks in September, with a vow to spend no money they wander their way north like the maddest of monks on the most quixotic of quests. What they find along the way is a country filled with very interesting people, a great number of whom are very nice. Ben and George manage, through charm, wit, fast talking and willingness to do tasks ranging from cleaning, to loading onions to singing for their suppers, to acquire clothes, food, bicycles and someplace to sleep every night. It is a wonderful adventure and very, very funny. George is a great observer of life and a very witty writer and he and Ben bicker throughout the journey in the way that only true friends can. A few quotes will give you the flavor of this delightful book:

`Yeah. There's a place called Neilston in another ten miles.' `Ten miles? Are you kidding me?' asked Ben. `Err, no. It doesn't look like there's anything else before there anyway. We've done really well today. I reckon we'll have done over 90 miles.' `WHAT? My god, you are such a slave driver. If I'd known we had done anything near that much, I would have stopped for the day ages ago.' `I know. That's why I didn't tell you.'

-----

Before eating the sandwiches we tried a rendition of Silent Night in German that I could still remember from primary school. A guy on a bmx, in his mid thirties, approached with a small paper bag from Greggs. `Hi guys. You can have these two donuts if you promise to stop singing.' `You've got yourself a deal. Thanks, mate,' I said.

-----

The descent from Kirkstone Pass was undoubtedly the fastest I have ever been on a bike. It was possibly the fastest that man has ever travelled, in any form of transport. If The Falcon had had wings, I swear she would have taken off. It was one of the scariest, but most exhilarating things I have ever done. Braking wasn't really an option for me, as The Falcon's brakes only had any slight effect when travelling at a ridiculously slow speed, or uphill. I just gave in and let The Falcon do what she was best at doing - not stopping.

-----

We explained our challenge and asked if there was anything we could do in exchange for some free food. `Oooooh, what do you reckon, Jan? Should we give these two strapping young lads any food?' she said to her colleague. `Yeah, why not. If that one with the skimpy shorts shows us a bit more leg,' she laughed. `That'll be you then, George,' said Ben. This was a new low. I was being made to flaunt my body in exchange for food. I felt used. I felt cheap. I liked it. I lifted up the side of my skimpy blue shorts, and exposed my flabby white thighs. `Phwoooooaarr,' said both ladies...

-----

If a nutritionist had analysed what we ate during the bike ride, I think they probably would have concluded that we should not be alive, let alone fit enough to cycle. I read somewhere that beige food is bad for you. Almost everything we ate was a shade of beige; bread, pasta bakes, chips, pasties and bananas. Anyway, all I'm saying is that peas and carrots taste unbelievable if you only eat beige food for 17 days beforehand. Give it a try.

-----

Free Country is one of the funniest books I've ever read and it is a book that celebrates the tremendous kindness that exists in the world. George and Ben completed their journey thanks to the kindness of strangers, but after reading the tale of their journey, I feel that I owe them much more than the meager cost of this book for the laughter and wisdom I've found in its pages. George and Ben, if you ever make it to Issaquah, look me up. I'll make sure you've got a good meal and a place to stay.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a fun adventure, March 20, 2013
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This review is from: Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain (Kindle Edition)
George Mahood writes with an engaging style, the adventure is preposterously wonderful, and the book is a fun read. I knocked off a few stars for the vulgarity, and as the writing gives witness to the author's delightfully wide vocabulary, I saw no need for so much of it. He includes a little too much information about pain in his private parts as well--it was his choice of bicycle seat, after all. I also grew weary of his calling Ben a wuss so frequently when Ben pedaled just as far on a donated bike, put up with all George's rules, and slept and ate under the same conditions. Both of these young men possess a great sense of adventure, as well as a good supply of creativity, charm, humor, and incredible perseverance. My hat is off to both of them, and with the exception of the few details mentioned above, I recommend the book.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pants and Chip Butties, February 16, 2013
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This review is from: Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain (Kindle Edition)
Without duplicating the comments of other reviewers, let me just say that the book gives you a feeling for the real Britain and has some laugh-out-loud passages. And the Kindle edition is fairly priced (other publishers, take note). It will help American readers to know a few British terms. Right from the first sentence, you need to know that British pants = American underpants. British trainers = American sneakers. I had to look up "chip butties" (French-fry-and-ketchup sandwiches, which restores my faith in British cuisine). As for Ben's ill-timed remark that he will "roger" Mrs. Rogers, you can look that one up yourself ...
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and life-affirming, February 6, 2014
This review is from: Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain (Kindle Edition)
Many great travelogues have at their centre a streak of insanity - what made this couple uproot from cosy Surrey and start keeping bees in Roumania? What made this family of seven want to sail the Pacific Ocean in a dinghy? `Free Country' takes this insanity to a whole new level - two barmy Brits decide to bike-ride the full length of the UK, from Land's End to John O'Groats, in just three weeks - with no clothing (except the boxer shorts they stand up in), no food, no money...and no bikes. "Why??" you might ask."What special kind of madness is this??" The simple answer is: `to prove the kindness of strangers.' Britain is not broken, the author (and friend Ben) have us believe. We are not a nation that has lost sight of basic values of humanity and kinship, there lies within everyone the desire to help others. And so the plucky twosome plunge into their 1000 mile journey without money and provisions, relying entirely on the mercy and generosity of strangers to get them through.
Starting out with one trainer and half a pair of socks, graduating to a pair of wellies four sizes too small and six pairs of the biggest socks in existence, the pair acquire a scooter and a mini BX and are on their way! What follows is the road trip to end all road trips - a kind of Around the World in Eighty Days meets Around Ireland with a Fridge - with a bevy of colourful characters (crazy, pizza-tossing Arek, even crazier phone-freak Roobals, Glastonbury-legend Michael Eavis) and, for me at least, a belly-laugh on practically every page. My favourite line? `It is bloody cold and windy on the top of a mountain in a pair of silky shorts and a T-shirt.' Well yeah, it must be!!
I was genuinely sad when the dustbin-diving duo, having slept in a cling-filmed polytunnel, a hitman's sitting room, and a stable with an unexpected "Surprise" in it (and having survived on pic n'mix and `beige' food for 18 days) finally approached the finish line. I was hoping they might microwave another pair of underpants.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply a great book, July 16, 2012
What a great read. Couldn't put the book down. And what am amazing group of people you meet on the way. I now want The Falcon!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but..., March 11, 2014
This review is from: Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain (Kindle Edition)
I am at 40% and really like the idea of the trip, the human experiment to find really nice people in the world and these fellows are funny and inventive. But does the foul language really enhance the story? I don't think so. I am a grown up and will probably read to the end but I would have felt differently about buying this book if I knew about the language before.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful story and thoroughly enjoyable adventure. You travel with them - wonderful. But why all the four letter words?, July 6, 2013
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This review is from: Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain (Kindle Edition)
Ben and George embark on a wonderful adventure, and take you with them as they take risks on where they will go, eat, sleep, etc. They have wonderful sense of fun and this humorous tale is well worth the read. However, I must qualify the statement. Too many four letter words which detracted rather than added to the enjoyment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Restore Your Faith in Humanity, February 9, 2013
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This review is from: Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain (Kindle Edition)
This book is a joy from start to finish. Follow George and Ben on their outlandish adventure to complete the famed End-to-End journey starting out with nothing more than two pairs of novelty boxer shorts and a crazy idea. The author and his pal are committed to completing the 1000-mile trip from Land's End to John O'Groats without spending a single shilling. Throughout this unique and often laugh-out-loud funny travelogue, readers meet a colorful array of people and see a part of Britain far off the bustling tourist trail. Drawn by the subject matter and the novelty of the approach, I was immediately taken in by George Mahood's fine writing and classically British self-deprecating humor.

Having cycled from London to Edinburgh and back a few years ago myself under rather different circumstances, I was reminded reading this book of the beauty and majesty (and hills) that await cyclists interested in making the journey. As an obsessive cyclist in search of long distance adventure, I am inspired to make the same trek (albeit with a nicer bike and far more gear) myself someday. The book has broad appeal, however, and rarely devolves into cycling minutiae so it is equally appealing to non-cyclists. In fact, I think it's fair to call George and Ben non-cyclists despite their accomplishment. While I won't give away the ending, I will say that it's nearly impossible to finish this book without developing a bit more hope for the human race.

This book is a delight. Treat yourself. It's a bargain at twice the price.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You owe it to yourself to read this, February 1, 2013
By 
Griswel (Rochester, NY) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This is a joy to read. Plenty of oddball characters, mishaps, and even some tension, but for the most part this is a hilarious romp through a world of wonderful people. While Ben isn't in the same league as the epic Katz from A Walk in the Woods, the friendship and travails and even disputes of Ben and the author are what keep the story going. The only downside is that, being British, the author occasionally makes references to things which non-Brits might not get. They are infrequent, and you can pick up the meaning even if the reference passes you by.

There are dozens of other positive reviews, I just wanted to make note of the fact that you will feel much better having read this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laughed my arse off!, January 7, 2015
By 
JKReads (Valley of the Sun) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain (Kindle Edition)
Usually when I read something amusing, I chuckle in my head using my inner voice. Maybe I unconsciously smile. This book, Free Country by George Mahood, had me making a gamut of amused noises...involuntary snorts to outright gales with a few tears (of mirth) thrown in. I love British humor, I love quirky people who do the unexpected, and I love a writer who can make you feel you are right there blagging (I love this word! God bless the Queen's English!) a meal or place to sleep right along with them. Unfortunately for Ben, the 'rogering of Mrs. Rogers' ill timed quip of his will be legend, as I still have fits of giggles over that one. At any rate, I am so happy that because of Amazon self-publishing I have gotten to read and discover such wonderful writers as Mr. Mahood and genuinely hope this book does become a movie...I would look forward to seeing it. Looking forward to reading more of his writing.
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