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Adventures on the High Teas: In Search of Middle England

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  437 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Just where and what is “Middle England?” Is Slough really as bad as Ricky Gervais makes out? From Shakespeare to Midsomer Murders, Stuart Maconie goes in search of the truth, with plenty of stop-offs for tea and pastries.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 21st 2009 by Ebury Press (first published 2009)
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Stuart - just because a publisher offers you an advance, you don't have to take it. "Pies and Prejudice" was a superb little book that cast an eye over the north of England with a great sense of humour and acceptance of what we have made it today. Adventures..... Now this started in terrific fashion describing the cycling mecca of Meriden. I truly thought that Stuart was embarking on travels around Middle England, a place I know very well having spent my first 20 years there. Very soon he drifte ...more
Maconie is a London music writer and t.v. host from Middle England, what seems to be the equivalent of the Midwest in America. On the surface, this book has him traveling to small towns and villages that tend to be overlooked in favor of places like London or Birmingham. It appears to be essays that are sometimes funny, other times, like discussing musician Nick Drake, sad. But there's a lot more here: Maconie breaks it up into chapters that concentrate on food, music, literature or the British ...more
Ian Mapp
An absolutely pitch perfect "travel guide", where the destination is not so much a location but a state of mind, and that state of mind being the much maligned middle England.

Maconie breaks the book into a series of essay style chapters - each with a meaning/message, covering things like the middle of britain, the state of the railways, birthplace of Thatcher, our wish to be entertained by murder and then heads off to that location as a basis to share his thoughts and observations.

The book acts
I see one American reader didn't understand this book. Well, quite possibly they wouldn't. It would onlt be fully understandable to Brits (I wonder if the person in question had ever heard of the floods in Tewkesbury a few years back that he refers to towards the end of the book - - knowing how parochial [from American friends] the US media is, I would not be surprised that they hadn't). The book is an affectionate, in many ways surprising, look at what is called 'Middle England' and is good at ...more
I can understand how some readers found this hard going and didn't manage to finish it. The book is full of whimsy and incidental British quirks.

I didn't find it as engaging as "Pies and Prejudice", probably because I am from "up North" and so related to that much more easily.

Maconie does a wonderful job of making nearly everywhere he visits seem appealing in some way. He needs another job: writing bylines for the English Tourist Board.

There's not a great deal of sunstance to the book, but there
I picked this up at a book swap and thought it might be interesting for me to read and give me some travel ideas. The author travels around in search of "Middle England" to several British towns. Some parts were quite funny, but others were sort of over my head with British references that I do not know. Some sections of the book were no more than "I got to this town and this is some conversation that I overheard" and I feel like anyone could write about that. He jumped around a lot which made i ...more
Had a laugh. But there wasn't enough of a structure so it all bumbled on rather and I had to skip a lot of the last chapters to get to the end.
Mildly amusing,more raise a smile than laugh out loud.Chose it because I had read Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North and had really liked that but in comparision this was disappointing.As for the claim that he is the english Bill Bryson I don't think so
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Maconie is fast becoming the must read author of the naughties. I really enjoyed this well researched and humourously written guide to 'middle-england'. Although I do think his geography 'slipped' on more than one occasion.
Erika Nilsson
I'm sad to say that I probably would have liked this book more if I hadn't been forced to read it for uni. Due to the fact that I was forced, the book was hard to read mostly because I lacked motivation.

The book itself is not bad. It has several gems, and I did laugh out loud at several parts. However, if you aren't already familiar with Middle England or England overall, the book can be a bit dry. Maconie makes a lot of references to British personalities, events, and companies that an outsider
Guy Jones
Three stars maybe does this book an injustice. I really enjoyed it and found it engaging. Those readers who rushed the finish or failed to complete the book have missed out, the final chapters are the best and tie the theme together nicely. Stuart Maconie has done a good job with this book and there are some really enjoyable and thought provoking points scattered throughout. I only read it as it was on my holiday cottage bookshelf. I happen to have Cider With Roadies with me as a holiday read, b ...more
I loved Maconie on radio. I found music I hadn't heard for years and bands I'd never heard before and wanted to hear lots more of , linked with some times whimsical links , perfect after tiring day at work.
I think the title could be misleading,it's about the middle England mindset and I think it could seem a bit obscure if you don't get the context .
I'm re reading it because I found it a brilliant read , loved northern irony found in abundance . I like the way he writes , as a reader I feel I'm
Frustratingly not quite good enough, like its predecessor Pies and Prejudice. I really enjoyed Maconie's autobiography Cider with Roadies. I haven't listened to his radio show nor read much if any of his journalism but I've heard enough of his voice to be able to settle into satisfyingly connected nostalgia over Wigan. And this book provides a wide conduit into similar sensations about multiple places across England but with an annoying grit of irrelevant opinion. Overall he presents himself as ...more
On balance, I enjoyed this. It's a travelogue, in which Stuart Maconie visits towns in the south of England, searching for the spirit of Middle England. In each chapter he picks a theme, and visits locations that allow him to make observations on both the topic and on Middle England's relationship to it.

Some chapters work well, where either I had a prior interest or where Maconie finds a strong coherent topic, and his writing is always light and non-judgemental. But others aren't convincing; he
Sarah Tipper
This book is a lovely journey round the middle of England. There’s lots of fun to be had reading about places you’ve been to and it’s also useful for identifying bits in the middle of our little island you’d like to visit. You learn history without trying and get to hear about the locals of many towns and villages. The only way it could be improved is with a map of places visited and an index of places visited.
Louise Culmer
This is an amiable and mostly affectionate look at 'Middle england' Stuart Maconie travels around to various pleasant places - Bath, Oxford, Ludlow, etc, and discusses various things he considers typical of the middle english - the food they eat, gardening, affection for railways, murder mysteries etc. I found most of it highly enjoyable, with a few minor quibbles; he apparently believes that the readership of the Daily Mail consists entirely of retired colonels for instance, which I feel cannot ...more
A very enjoyable book that was so pleasant and easy to read.I found it funny and very descriptive easy to imagine the settings and the food.I will look forward to reading more of his books.
Sean O'Reilly
I read this some time ago. It was a very enjoyable read; very much like listening to Maconie on the radio it seemed to ramble rather from one thing to another. From memory it took in several 'typical Middle England' locations while also looking at some of the aspects of English society and history that might be deemed to represent 'Middle England'. Unfortunately I can't remember it in any more detail now which is a shame, and probably a sign of age, or how many books I read, or something. What I ...more
Emma Glaisher
I enjoyed this. Stuart Maconie is a kind man who sees the best in everyone he meets, and I have a weakness for northern men called Stuart who are Vaughan Williams fans.
Apr 06, 2014 Em rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014, travel
This books is an anecdotal exploration or what we mean by "Middle England" - an actual place? a state of mind? disparaging or complementary?

Stuart Maconie uses such topics as literature, history and music as well as physical geography to provide the hook on which to hang his personal observations and insights. I found his style to be humourous and engaging, a good and knowledgeable travel companion.

The author experienced a meandering, stop and start again kind of a journey across England and I e
I really enjoyed Pies and Prejudice, so I was looking forward to cracking into Adventures on the High Teas. Unfortunately, this book didn't deliver, in fact, I found it surprisingly hard work to read. The main problem was the structure, which was very disorganised, with chapters built around 'themes' (music, food or what have you) instead of describing a clearly-defined journey from one place to the other. The book isn't that long, but it seemed to drag on and on and on - I thought I'd never fin ...more
Steven Brown
Not one of his best but he,s always an interesting read,
A little bland when compared to Maconie's book "Pies and Prejudice", but still a good read. I found it enjoyable mostly because I have visited some of the places Stuart does in the book.
A pleasant enough read, but I would not rate as highly as Pies and Prejudice's journey around Northern England.

I found this book somewhat disjointed, and the journey within it somewhat aimless. Perhaps that was because this time I was more familiar with the places, or perhaps it was the writer's lack of personal and cultural attachment to Middle England. But ultimately I suppose that this was because it made me smile inwardly rather than laugh as I had when reading Pies and Prejudice.
Nicholas Whyte[return][return][return]Another delightful look at part of England by the author of Pies and Prejudice, this time looking at southern England as a partial outsider. Though he spends a lot of time on the usual quirks of local populace and history, his most powerful chapters are on great English literature and also humour. Strongly recommended for anyone with an interest in England.
The cover quote comparing Stuart Maconie to Bill Bryson miss represents Adventures on the High Teas - this is not a travel book - it is an exploration of what 'middle England' is, discussed through food, songs, books, film and historical events and not just the here and now.
High Teas doesn't have the heart Pies and Prejudice does (it's different talking about your own) but is still intelligent, witty and entertaining.
Nick Meakin
After being impressed with Pies and Prejudice I though i'd go for the follow up. Unfortunately whilst following the same formula to its predecessor, it's been at the side of my bed with a book mark on page 80 something. It was hard work and I just can't get into it.

Maybe its me I identified with the Northern towns in Pies and Prejudice far more than the towns of Middle England discussed here.
Tom Ireland
Stuart Maconie's book, subtitled In Search of Middle England, is not one I would have chosen for myself. It was a Christmas present but I immediately recognised this easygoing, anecdotal book as the perfect read for drowsy evenings around the fire during the festive season.

Red the rest of my review at
Diverting enough, and it had its funny moments - particularly his dissection of the world of motorway service stations, but hasn't Bill Bryson done this all to rather better effect about 20 years before? On the other hand, Bryson didn't give 10 pages over to describing Buxton, including a passing reference to my old school, and didn't mention Whaley Bridge at all.
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Stuart Maconie is a TV and radio presenter, journalist, columnist and author.

He is the UK’s best-selling travel writer of non-TV tie-in books and his Pies and Prejudice was one of 2008’s top selling paperbacks. His work has been compared with Bill Bryson, Alan Bennett and John Peel and described by The Times as a 'National Treasure'.

He co-hosts the Radcliffe and Maconie Show on BBC Radio 2 every M
More about Stuart Maconie...
Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North Cider With Roadies Hope & Glory: The Days That Made Britain The People's Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records Blur: 3862 Days: The Official Story

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