Woman's hands holding a book in her lapWhen Lucy first meets Mr Tumnus, he explains to her that “all that lies between the lamp post and the great castle of Cair Paravel on the eastern sea” is Narnia. In stepping beyond the lamp post, she suspends disbelief and begins to explore a new world. As readers, we do the same thing when we fall in love with the characters and events in our favourite books.

Beyond the Lamp Post exists to take that exploration further, using literary works as the basis for real world travel.

Although the chances of tea with Mr Tumnus or a walk with Aslan may be remote, lovers of The Chronicles of Narnia can set their path for Northern Ireland, the childhood home of C. S. Lewis, whose memories of the place inspired him in creating Narnia.

And why stop there? With millions of books and thousands of destinations on offer, there’s always something new to read and somewhere exciting to visit.

Who’s behind the Lamp Post?

Hi! I’m Jo, a Kiwi traveller with a serious passion for literature. I’ve visited more than 50 countries so far, and read more books than I could easily count. I love the way that books draw me in to places that I have never been and make me interested in events, cultures and relationships that I have never experienced. I also love the way that they teach me about the places I am going, and remind me of the places I have been.

Jo sitting outside with a pile of books

11 reasons why I created Beyond the Lamp Post

  1. As a kid, I always had my nose buried in a book. Or several books. Plus the one in the car that I read to my mum and brother whenever we drove somewhere. (Not even kidding).
  2. When I was 11, I visited Shakespeare’s birthplace – voluntarily. And bought his complete works while I was there.
  3. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and also studied theatre (alongside my “real” psychology degree).
  4. I went to Maryborough, Queensland, purely because it was the birthplace of P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins.
  5. For my 30th birthday I spent a quiet couple of hours curled up in Shakespeare and Company book shop in Paris. It was the highlight of my day.
  6. After reading Anna Karenina in my bunk while crossing Russia by train, I sat at the grave of renowned theatre practitioner, Konstantin Stanislavski and promised him that I would stop neglecting my passion for literature.
  7. I travelled to Kars in the far east of Turkey because I once read Orhan Pamuk’s Snow and wanted to see where it was set. It was nothing like I imagined.
  8. When I couldn’t find a Merchant of Venice walking tour in Venice, I did some internet research and took myself on one.
  9. I recited Juliet’s ‘wherefore art thou, Romeo’ speech on her balcony (but quickly, quietly and subtly, because there were other people around and I wasn’t brave enough to do it at full volume).
  10. I read Hamid Ismailov’s The Railway whilst driving across Uzbekistan (even though it’s still banned in the country. What a rebel!).
  11. Santa still brings me a book every year.

So if you’re a lover of books and of travel, welcome. I hope that you find inspiration here, whether that be through a new way of seeing a place, or a new place to see from the comfort of your couch.

The posts I’ve written here are a combination of my own experiences and recommendations, and the books and places I would like to explore in the future (with all the research already done here, ready to buy the tickets and go!).

If you have book or travel recommendations, I’d love to hear them, so make use of the contact form, or the Facebook page to get in touch!

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12 thoughts on “About”

  1. Hi, Jo.

    You are a true literary fan. You’ve had some amazing adventures (like: reading Anna Karenina while traveling across Russia by train. That is a DREAM!)

    So excited to read about these adventures. Like you, I’m passionate about literary travel. Your site is like a goldmine for me. I could spend hours on here. Really. So much to explore.

    Looking forward to your upcoming adventures, too!

    • Hi Alicia!
      Always glad to meet another literary traveller. Initially I wasn’t sure there were that many of us, but I’m now getting to meet more and more and it’s really exciting.
      Russia was great (not just Anna Karenina, the whole country), but I was surprised by how much I was able to indulge my literary loves there. I also read The Master and Margarita as I was leaving, and was annoyed with myself for not starting it earlier and using it to explore Moscow and St Petersburg. There’s always next time!
      Anyway, it’s great to have you here!

  2. Jo, I absolutely love the concept behind your blog! In college I went on a literary tour of Ireland that was life changing. For me, the highlight of the trip was reading a passage from Ulysses at James Joyce Tower. The experience was amazing.

    Now, my husband and I are planning to home educate our children following the Charlotte Mason method. We hope to provide many opportunities for lit themed travels, like the tour of Ireland I experienced. I’m looking forward to following your blog for future trip ideas!

    • Thanks Lacey. I haven’t read Ulysses (yet) but remember being very overwhelmed reading the description of an eternity in Hell in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man so I know Joyce has quite the way with words! I’d love to go to Bloomsday too – the festival where they re-enact Ulysses in Dublin every year.

      I had to go look up the Charlotte Mason method, but it’s great! Let me know if there are any specific books or authors you want to cover and I’ll see what I can do.

  3. I was scared of Ulysses till I got it as an audiobook off Audible. It’s wonderful to hear it read to you. I’d read Dubliners & Portrait of the Artist but after that I got them as Audible downloads as well. Now I’m hooked on Joyce. What a unique voice! Though I see he looks to be studied more in USA than here in UK.

    • Did your audiobook have an Irish accent? I feel like it would have to or it wouldn’t be the real deal (not that I read it with an Irish accent in my head, mind you). I started reading Joyce as part of my literature degree in New Zealand, and you’re right he really is something special!

  4. Oh its so nice to find a fellow voracious reader! I found The Quiet American inspired me to travel to Vietnam, and then years later in Cuba i read Our Man in Havana on a balcony in Havana. Its such a great way to get another aspect on a place!

    • There’s something really special about reading a book in its setting. It makes both the book and the place come alive I think.
      You’re so lucky to have been to Cuba. It’s been high up my wish list for a long time now!

  5. Your website is such a delightful find! It has reminded me of all these wonderful books that I too studied waaay back in my university English lit degree days. I’m travelling right now and have been in Tanzania for the last few months. Without thinking, I just happened to start reading Circling the Sun, about the aviatrix Beryl Markham, set in Kenya with lots of overlap of characters and settings from Out of Africa. When back in Canada I often read books set in East Africa–because I missed it so much–but not necessarily while I was actually here. It really does enrich the experience. Next destination is Cambodia, so I’ll be on the lookout for books set in SEA. I’m thinking this ‘reading on location’ will become an addiction.

    • Thanks Lori! It’s great to have you here 🙂 There is something really special, I think, about reading these books in the places they are set. It enhances both the travel experience and the book. Have you read First They Killed My Father, by Loung Ung? It’s the memoir of a Cambodian woman who was a child during the Khmer Rouge years and it’s a must read for visiting Cambodia, particularly if you’re going to the Killing Fields or Tuol Sleng.


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