Sunday, 24 February 2013


For Immediate Release        ––        For Immediate Release

Father & son complete epic cycle-ride: 10,000 emotional miles from Ireland to Japan

Canterbury, UK – 24th February 2013

In England a 10-year-old boy, after only a day’s cycle ride, asks his father to cycle to Japan with him when he reaches 18.

Eight years later, Kent-based father and son Mark and Sam Swain (50 and 18), set off. After a torturous, nine-month journey – cycling 10,000 miles through emotional turmoil and physically grueling terrain – they reach Tokyo.

With the sport of cycling currently so negatively highlighted by appalling drug cheats, Sam’s dream expedition across Europe and Asia displays true heartfelt human experiences of both resilience and humour. Long Road, Hard Lessons is the true story captured from their journals, including the practicalities of cycling this staggering distance, as well as the bruises, breakdowns and emotional punctures they both encountered as they sorted out their thorny father-son relationship.

Physical challenges, border bureaucracy, health scares and traffic hazards were anticipated; what they had underestimated, however, were the conflicts they would face spending 24-hours-a-day together under such arduous conditions with an already tenuous bond.

On one level, a life-changing travel adventure, Mark and Sam’s story shares the psychological journey made in life by most parents and children. Daily conflict caused by the extreme pressures and long periods together, taught them things they had not expected to learn, and revealed how much a parent can learn from their child.  

Nicholas Roe, in The Telegraph, said, “If you want to understand the point of adventure and the way it can glue families together, listen to Mark Swain describing his hellish night of suffering half-way through an extraordinary 10,000-mile bike ride to Japan.”

Sam said, “I thought I was doing the trip for my dad’s benefit, but afterwards I discovered he’d thought he was doing it for me!”

Asked what the trip had taught him, Mark said, “Most of all, to strive for a future where we listen to the instinctive wisdom in our children. I’m listening now, Sam!”

– Ends –

Notes to Editors:

If you require any images from the trip, of the writers or of the book cover, or if you have questions about the contents or background to the book, Mark Swain is happy to be contacted personally at:      Tel: +44 1227 760691    Mobile: +44 7930 542441

Mark and Sam Swain have appeared on BBC Breakfast TV. Susanna Reid commented, “A really inspiring story. It brings tears to my eyes.”
Their story was featured in The Telegraph, the Guardian and the Daily Mail, as well as The Times of India, The Japan Times, The Daily Yomuiri, The Irish Mirror, plus other national and international publications and on-line. A number of public talks have been given by the authors and more are planned.

Mark Swain is also the author of the award-winning short story ‘Special Treatment’ (Kinglake Modern Short Story Prize 2010) and a later book of short stories ‘Special Treatment and Other Stories’.

Long Road, Hard Lessons is available in the UK to booksellers via the wholesaler Gardners Books, and retail from all Waterstones stores. Internationally, it is available from Amazon.

You might like to look at the author's book blog for the latest information and comments:

You can contact the publisher at:

Long Road, Hard Lessons – ISBN 978-0-9572002-0-3
Paperback with 25 colour plates and 7 maps
Published by Tinderbox Publishing Ltd, UK
Retails in the UK at £9.99

Kindle e-book – ISBN 978-0-9572002-1-0
(30 colour photographs + 7 maps)
Available from Amazon worldwide. 
Retails at US$3.98 on
Retails at £2.48 on

Friday, 8 February 2013

Male Kissing Takes Off in UK Micropubs

Men kissing in pubs, whatever next!?

Micropubs are the most traditional and, some would say, conservative of British institutions – Strictly no mobile phones allowed, no food, no music,  and they only serve real ales straight from the barrel (no pumps). They don't serve lager! One of the best of these new establishments is 'The Just Reproach' in Deal, Kent. What came as a surprise to the locals there today, was the spectre of two men kissing each other.

To be clear, this was not an amorous act. One of the two was a Frenchman and the other an English author, writer of the travel / father-son psychology book 'Long Road, Hard Lessons'. But it still caused quite a stir. Fortunately landlord Mark Robson saw the funny side.

"It's not how you would expect to see two men greet each other in my pub, and to be honest I can't see it catching on as a Micropub tradition," he said. "Martyn Hillier, might have something to say about it if it happened in his place!"

Martyn Hillier is the infamous landlord of The Butcher's Arms in nearby Herne village. He opened the first ever Micropub a number of years ago (2005 I think). He's quite a character and is known as something of a determined traditionalist.

Needless to say the beer and the atmosphere in the above mentioned establishments is first rate. Check out the websites: