Travel writing is no sweat for Sawbridgeworth dad David Tucker
The death of his father made writer David Tucker realise the importance of seizing the chance for adventure – but his family haven't always seen eye to eye with him, as SINEAD CORR discovers...
The loss of his father at an early age shaped author David Tucker's life and gave him a healthy sense of his own mortality.
For the Sawbridgeworth dad, that translated into a firm belief in carpe diem, an insatiable wanderlust and the material for a new book.
Of Sweat and Other Joys – "a family adventure through pockets of Asia" – tells the story of a family with three young children and their journeys over several years through Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Vietnam. On the way they encounter amazing beaches, stunning jungles and fast-paced cities.
While 45-year-old David considers Asia one of the most colourful, beautiful, friendly and amazing places on Earth, his book shows that sometimes his children and wife saw things differently.
He was born in Margate, Kent, in 1974 and moved to Australia when he was a baby, spending half his life down under before returning to the UK.
The IT leader for PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) in London has lived in Sawbridgeworth with childminder wife Zoe for 12 years; they previously spent seven years in the Antipodes.
The couple are parents to Maya, 15, Louis, 13, who both attend Leventhorpe School, and Noah, 8, who goes to Reedings Junior School.
David said: "My dad, Norman, was a doctor in Walton Prison, Liverpool, and always wanted to write books. He planned to do this once he retired. Unfortunately, he died suddenly from a heart attack at Victoria train station at the age of 52 in 1995.
"I was only 21. Whilst it was a very sad part of my life, it gave me a healthy sense of my own mortality and made me realise the importance of living life to the full each day and to not 'put off' adventures to the future, because those times may never come.
"My passion has always been to see and experience the world in all its colours. Zoe and I travelled around the world, particularly Asia, and lived in Australia before we had children.
"When children arrived, we took a few years' break from such adventures and settled in Sawbridgeworth. However, as soon as the children were old enough, we took them to Asia and it was these adventures that are detailed in the book. One 'tension' that comes across in the book is that whilst I am passionate about such travel, sometimes my family saw things a little differently."
The book covers three separate trips to Vietnam, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.
"We went away for three weeks on each trip, so three weeks in each country, and travelled independently," said David. "As I love travel and adventure, I organised all the trips myself and researched all the places by reading blogs and internet articles to try to work out the best places to visit with children."
Youngest child Noah was just three when they took their first trip to Sri Lanka and Maya was 13 by the final jaunt to Cambodia.
David said: "The children always loved the wonderful beaches and animals in that area of the world, so a few days on the coast and jungle were always essential to a successful holiday. Conversely, old buildings and climbing hills were always a great source of despondency for them.
"When we were in Angkor Wat in Cambodia, I remember looking around Ta Phrom temple. This is a temple that's shown in the opening scenes of Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie. It was a temple I wanted to see for almost 20 years, having first seen it on an advertisement in Bangkok in the 90s, so I was thrilled to finally see the place.
"My children, however, saw it very differently. They refused to look around and sat in the shade in a futile attempt to get cool. When I tried to encourage them to look around, they asked philosophically, 'Why are we here?' I looked at them and realised they looked miserable, like they were on a geography field trip whilst suffering from a fever.
"The book finishes with me wondering what my children really thought about travelling through Asia and accepting that they're wired differently from me. However, as a dad, my hope is that through their experiences they're inspired to also take some risks, go on adventures of their own – even though those adventures may have a different flavour than mine."
To protect their privacy, he has changed their names and others in the book, which took two years to write in his spare time. It includes illustrations by Katy Frost, from Fyfield, and the cover was designed by Andrea Thorpe, from Bishop's Stortford.
David is planning his next writing project and another globetrotting trip.
"I have a novel set in India that's finished, but not published, and have another travel book about the Mediterranean currently due out next year.
"I volunteer for a Christian charity called OM (Operation Mobilisation) and I'm off to Rio de Janeiro in a few weeks as a volunteer."
* Of Sweat and Other Joys is available for Kindle, to buy from Amazon or can be ordered through bookshops.