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Lesley Choyce travels further afield for the subject of his latest book

The Lawrencetown author's new book, 'Around England with a Dog', is now available
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Around England with a Dog, the latest book from Lesley Choyce

From documenting a definitive history of Nova Scotia, to penning a paperback account, to Peggys Cove’s fascinating past, award-winning author Lesley Choyce has certainly carved out a name for himself as one of the province’s leading preservationists.

That’s why his latest book, Around England with a Dog, at least appears to be a bit out of character with his most iconic works.

“I think it’s just different territories,” says Choyce about the quirky new travelogue capturing a month-long trip in the United Kingdom with his wife, Linda and the couple’s West Highland terrier, Kelty.

“It’s a similar kind of voice where I’m looking at history — not as a historian but as a storyteller, (and) not looking for necessarily the big moments of history, but the kind of unusual, everyday stories about ordinary people and how that, in its own way, shapes the history of a country or the history of a province.”

In the book, the Lawrencetown-based author and local surfer documents the many unusual places, people and history he uncovered as the trio criss-crossed Old Blighty in search of good food, good stories and of course, “a place for the dog to pee.”

“It falls under that very broad category of creative non-fiction,” explains Choyce when asked to define Around England with a Dog. “I think it’s meant to be an entertaining, storytelling travelogue where people are travelling along with me. When I read books in this genre, that is what I want — I want to sit down and travel around with the writer who’s doing it.”

As such, readers will be treated to many odd tales that range from simple, everyday adventures including a confused magpie (and a possibly an even more confused neighbour), to being escorted away from a British military base by an armed guard, to discovering an oddly treasured artifact of English Romantic poet, William Woodsworth — one of literature’s most central figures.

“They preserved the man’s socks,” exclaims Choyce, noting the discovery was made in a museum in Grasmere, home of the “Tintern Abbey” poet. “Who would ever think of doing that? Except for the British, of course!”

The truth is, the inspiration for the book was actually born in the United Kingdom itself.

As Choyce admits, it was after reading a book by Tony Hawks entitled Round Ireland with a Fridge, that he was inspired to take a similar quest.

“He lost a drinking bet with a buddy so in losing this bet, he had to hitchhike around the perimeter of Ireland with a small refrigerator,” says Choyce. “The interesting thing in his book was that people would pick him up hitchhiking and almost always, no one would ask him why he was hitchhiking with a refrigerator — our (quest) wasn’t quite as funny as that.”

Even so, Around England with a Dog certainly provides an entertaining perspective on English history and culture — one might even say with a Nova Scotian eye.

“We ended up zigzagging from place to place and covered just a lot of territory, and probably saw more things than most people in the UK see in their lifetime,” admits Choyce. “(Because) if you are up north in the Midlands, Cornwall seems so far away that you’d never go there.”

As for Choyce, he’s back to his beloved Lawrencetown Beach in Nova Scotia and undoubtedly working on his next book.

After all, he’s already authored more than 100 books of literary fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction and even young adult novels, in addition to running Pottersfield Press and teaching courses at Dalhousie University.

Sure, the talented scribe is still busy even in his 70s but he’s always looking for the next story.

“I think that is the job of the writer and I am very, very privileged to do that,” insists Choyce. “All our lives — they’re either interesting or they’re dull in accordance to how we tell the story. My life isn’t any more exciting than anybody else’s. It’s just that I sort of go looking for the unusual or interesting things that are around.”

For more information on Around England with a Dog, visit the book’s website.

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