The Jolly Pilgrim is a travel and philosophy book which uses a tale of contemporary adventure travel to deliver a modern and optimistic worldview in a way that is scientifically literate, fun and packed with information.

Here are the book’s unique selling points:



The Jolly Pilgrim reinterprets the human world from first principles: that we’re a fallible species of carbon-based life forms living in a mysterious universe without a rule book.


  • Current environmental issues are reframed as the beginning of a phase of environmental instability which became inevitable with the invention of agriculture, 12,000 years ago.
  • Contemporary religious systems are reframed as the current form of a spiritual inheritance which has been continuously evolving since humans became behaviourally modern, 60,000 years ago.
  • The credit crisis is reframed as one in a long line of learning experiences implicit to working out, from scratch, how to manage a planetary economy.

With modern life set in that larger historical and evolutionary context, life seems even more meaningful, and the travails of the present day appear less frightening.


The backdrop for this insight into the human condition
is a mirage of … picturesque retreats and exotic paradises.
Each place is described vividly … conveying a genuine interest
for the history, politics and geography of a place.
– Abbie Grace, Xmediaonline



I’m an optimist about the human project and the trajectory of human affairs.

The more I learn about global society, and the narrative which brought us to where we are, the more I believe that our collective future will ultimately be bright and that there is something wonderful going on here on planet Earth.

Around the world, there is a widely held belief that civilisation is doomed, and the world in decline: an assessment which simply does not fit with my empiric understanding of what’s happening on this planet.



You’d have to go a long way to find a travel story as multifaceted or bang-per-word intense as those in The Jolly Pilgrim.

In it, I cycle 6,500 kilometres across Europe; spend 12 days in a Croatian infection hospital; swim the Bosporus from Europe to Asia; am assaulted by Cambodian motorcycle thieves; am twice attacked by killer bees; hitchhike across Australia; spend long periods in Istanbul, Sydney, Quito, Zagreb and Buenos Aires; and explore subcultures including Australia’s Goths, Turkey’s intelligentsia, Ecuador’s Amerindians, India’s business classes, France’s bohemians and the Peruvian party set.

A lot happens.


A real-life odyssey. A jolly read indeed.
- Travel Ideas magazine



The standard method of writing a travel book is to plan it, embark on the journey, take notes, return home and write the book.

Conversely, The Jolly Pilgrim was a spontaneous literary creation. The first chapter starts with an email written in 2005 after cycling across Kent. The two-year narrative which follows is spontaneous, raw and was recorded in real time.

You’ll see a real person, evolving through an around-the-world journey, which ends up catalysing a mission: to set out a call to arms for the human race to be more honest about itself.

It’s not the sort of thing one could make up.



The difficult-to-replicate asset I had when writing The Jolly Pilgrim was that two-year stream of public correspondence. It allowed me to hang the second, reflective narrative off that hard spine of storytelling in imaginative ways, and give each chapter a unique narrative flavour.

Part 1 starts as a gentle travel story of a bicycle ride across France. By part 10, this has metamorphosed into a hypothesis regarding the long-term nature of the human project and an attempt to mind-meld with the reader.

Other travel books don’t do that.


A crazy cycle trip across Europe resulted in a grand exploration of the world.
- The Essex County Standard


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