What’s important about me? I’m passionate about travel and writing. I’ve written and edited over 30 guidebooks and quantities of articles for magazines, websites and newspapers (some award-winning). I grew up in Zimbabwe and get back to Africa whenever I can. I am the wrong side of 50, definitely larger than life, epileptic and arthritic (so sadly no longer designed for bounding like a gazelle across the plains). I also teach English as a foreign language, which I thoroughly enjoy, live with my partner in a pink medieval house in Colchester, have a cat called Muesli and a dog called Cello. Oh – and I really love ice-cream!
If you want to know more about me, please go to www.melissashales.co.uk.
For some 20 years, while writing half a dozen guidebooks and quantities of articles to different parts of Africa, I dreamed about doing a grand Africa overland trip. I also fell in love with long-distance train travel. In 2009, I was lucky enough to discover the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, a magnificent organisation set up as a grateful nation’s tribute to the great man. This inspired and inspiring organisation gives upwards of 100 travel scholarships a year to people from all walks of life to follow work-related dreams, asking only that their travels are of benefit to their own careers and to the British people. I was lucky enough to win a Fellowship award which has allowed me to meet an extraordinary group of people amongst my fellow Fellows from coppersmiths and dance therapists to engineers and midwives, people working with dementia, agricultural research and community radio. But most importantly, for me, it has given me the opportunity to fulfil that longheld ambition and start on the journey that is Steel Safari.
The Steel Safari Website
When I first started the website, it was with the idea of creating something to accompany the book and talk specifically about ‘that’ journey – but I’ve come to realise that that is too limiting. I don’t want my steel safari limited to Africa. And come to that, I don’t necessarily want to limit my safari to the rails. The word ‘safari’ means journey in Swahili. In effectively relaunching the site, I am growing it in breadth to cover train travel worldwide, to take in the spirit of safari. So if my trusty Tilly hat gets replaced by a pith helmet somewhere down the tracks, I’m off tracking lions, but I’ll be back on track soon (and that’s quite enough puns).