‘Venture into Russia’ by Lawrence Bransby

Subtitled ‘3 Motorcycle Journeys’, as a Scot this seems to be good value!

The book itself is printed in clean easy-to-read script and nicely laid out. Being a writer of long standing before he started on motorcycle travelogues, Bransby’s knowledge and use of English is excellent. Both these things get ‘Venture into Russia’ off to a great start.

The first journey has Lawrence attempting to reach Archangel on his slightly dilapidated ex-police BMW R50/5 which he brought over from South Africa, where he and his family are originally from. The vagaries and eccentricities of ancient electrics made me wonder why his language wasn’t more colourful; maybe it was at the time.

His second attempt, two years later, heading for Murmansk, was a much more successful affair. This time on a new KLE500 there were no electrical gremlins and the trip was designated “mission accomplished”. His descriptions of the landscape and peoples encountered are excellent, as is his portrayal of the cold.

On the third outing, some three years later, he is joined by his son Gareth on his (1987) XL600 as they head for Archangel once more, via Hamburg and Murmansk. They encounter bureaucracy, amazing places and some very interesting, if somewhat dubious, people, but embrace it all! Lawrence communicates all these experiences with style and exuberance.

Unusually this book doesn’t have any photographs except the front and back covers, but this really doesn’t matter as the text is really engaging. Colour plates are expensive, but thankfully he didn’t go down the road of poorly reproduced B&W prints within the text pages. There’s a website where you can view all the photos in glorious colour. I look forward to reading more of his travels.

Review by Tich MacDonald
Paperback pp
Published by author (2017)