Described by some as "genius", "exquisite prose" "wonderfully surreal" and "Marmite", highly recommended by the Ted Simon Foundation and Overland Magazine, the latter writing "Notes from the Road Volume IV’ is an observational classic, the author's acerbic wit pin sharp".  The book describes a summer journey across west, central and eastern Europe without a map and little comprehension of road signs. Twenty seven beautifully written chapters to stimulate and amuse; whilst on a deeper note Ukraine's revolutions are revisited. 

The book slips neatly into a wax jacket pocket; doubles as a notebook for your own journey. 

Recent reviews

Volume IV

Volume III

5 stars notes from the road By Ramblin Russ
A thought provoking Travel Tale.
It took me a little while to finish this little book. I was only halfway through it when I needed to put it down and concentrate on something else. Returning to it was an absolute pleasure as I slipped seamlessly back into a tale of a country with problems, but problems that were being described, by the author, without any political "axes to grind" or petty profits to be made. The descriptions of the countries travelled, and characters met, are given in an individual style as if the author is chatting with you over a coffee in a roadside cafe. The stories are personal, but pertinent to all of us living on this shrinking globe and are told in an individual and thought provoking way.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone with a taste for travel

5 stars notes from the road By Bill B
A great read. A very human insight into long distance motorbike travel through parts of the Ukraine.

I really enjoyed this book. It provides a window into the people and culture of an area I did not have much experience with (the Ukraine). I gained some new insight and perspective regarding an area I hope to visit someday. In this day and age we are constantly bombarded with what is sensational, books like this remind us what is real. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series (VOL III is on the way).

5 stars notes from the road By Missing Button
A really entertaining read. Wonderfully descriptive and self-deprecating.
Fabulous read. I truly loved it. I laughed out loud at the wry comments and situations described and cried too, several times. Derek has captured little slices of humanity throughout. I've already passed this book on, as I did with volume 4,saying "you must read this". What mad-cap adventures. What heart. Lovely. Lovely. Lovely. Treat yourself to this little book. You won't regret it.

5 stars notes from the road By Seth Masia 
Great short read. 
Derek Mansfield, a 69-year-old curmudgeon, is a master of the ironbutt commute. He appears to do an annual round trip from Staines (a western suburb of London) to Kiev, these days on a Moto Guzzi Stelvio. The route varies from year to year; this volume describes ramblings through France, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine, not necessarily in that order, and of course back again. After many such trips he has places to sofa-surf everywhere, and always meets new folks. If his off-the-wall wit is as engaging in person as in print, you'll want to meet him, too. A short read, but full of accurate, often hilarious, observations on solo touring and the colorful people he encounters. Mansfield describes succinctly the realities of post-Soviet geopolitics, and doesn't even find black humor there. I want to read more, but can't find how to acquire Volumes I, II and III.

5 stars notes from the road By David Coulson
Landmark for it's genre 
"Suddenly a piece of music or art or literature can arrive on the scene that becomes a landmark for it's genre and becomes a must hear, see or read. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Jupiter's Travels were landmarks and now Notes From The Road by Derek Mansfield is the latest. Multi layered prose offering insightful counterpoint of humour, excitement and tragedy combined in an almost subliminal thread of adventure that we can relate to, or aspire to. A unique and beautifully packaged reading experience."

5 stars notes from the road By Tania Walters
Fantastic book, love it! 
I love adventure and true stories and I ride so I had to buy this book, I love it not put it down yet really interesting and makes me laugh and cry. Nice Easy Read Came Beautifully packaged big thumbs up makes me want to travel and would make a great gift too '

5 stars notes from the road By Paul C
Looking for Volume I... maybe it goes up to XI
The cover reminds me of a little leather notebook I often carry. I don't write or draw in it very often, but when I do it will be something I value. Derek has a gift of being able to ramble concisely. This volume is at once packed with flavour yet light enough to hunger for more. Like my Mom's lemon soufflé, to be enjoyed at any time. A single spoonful, or the whole thing! Open it up and enjoy the journey. Some of the best things come in small packages.

5 stars notes from the road By Chris Michaels
Probably one of the best travel books available.
This is a real treat, a sarcastic and witty tale, heartfelt and inspiring, for all bikers, travellers and those looking for adventure. Derek Mansfield is definitely up there with the hero's of Ted Simon and the comedy of Terry Pratchett, a brilliant read and an inspiring tale, looking forward to the next instalment. Personally wrapped and sealed with a very kind message, great for gifts.

5 stars notes from the road By Sam Manicom
I really like being surprised. When it's by a tale of travel and motorcycling, so much the better!

This book is like Dr Who’s Tardis! It’s small on the outside but big and unique on the inside. I learned, I laughed, I sympathised and I was surprised. It’s very easy to give the book 5 stars.

5 stars notes from the roadBy Sam Manicom
It's a page turner! 
I bought this book quite some time ago and didn't read it until this weekend. Having read Derek's first book I was enjoying the sense of anticipation. I also wanted the free time to devote to it. I knew that'd be important because this author somehow squeezes in an amazing amount in a short space.What do I think? It's a page turner that's packed with information, humour, descriptions, self-deprecation and some of the best descriptions of people 'met along the way' that I've come across in a long time. I'm delighted to have this book as part of my collection. It's a keeper for sure.

5 stars notes from the road By Brian Mclean
Fab little treasure of a book. Highly recommended

5 stars notes from the road By Billy Biketruck
Like reading Adventure? Check out Derek Mansfield’s latest. Proper storyteller!

5 stars notes from the road By Cliff Williams
Another wonderful read, written in Derek's unique style.
I found Volume IV to be a very enjoyable and inspirational read, so whilst at the NEC motorcycle show I made a point of meeting Derek Mansfield. Another wonderful read, written in Derek's unique style. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

5 stars notes from the road By Tony W.
Superb. A great read.
Superb, a great read. Handy pocket size so can take on my motorcycle travels well worthy of 5 stars

5 stars notes from the road By Pip
One of the best
One of the best motorbike travel books I have read. Very sorry when it came to an end.  Fantastic, well bound book

5 stars notes from the road By Paul C
The Volume lessens, the book thickens. Derek grows as a writer here. He clearly displayed his colours in VOL.IV. In VOL.III they are given secure roots. Derek shares more of his life which adds substance to the journey without over sentimentality. The journey is interesting. The people he meets are fascinating. People we know, but with different faces, different lives. His style continues to be concise. Short sentences abound. The book reads like a top class taster menu. It fills you up but leaves you wanting more. Before reading Vol. III I was of the opinion that photographs added extra flavour to a travel book. While the included images are interesting I feel the words painted the better picture. Derek sows the seeds eloquently for an earlier Volume. His occasional references to an adventurous trip on what convention would have us believe is an inappropriate steed. Perhaps that is Vol.II?

5 stars notes from the road By Strummerbus
The new Beat Poet?

This is a curious little book. What hides behind the unassuming cover, and the seemingly baffling chronology (I've read volume IV which came first, volume III is the second...) is an intriguing tale of Mansfield's travels across Eastern Europe and Asia on his motorbike. But unlike other such, perhaps more famous, bike journey books, this isn't a book about motorbikes, or indeed foreign places. This is a book about people. The people he meets on the way and their lives, mirrored with his own which give a fascinating insight into humanity across different cultures that I've not encountered in any previous such travel books. The writing style is rhythmic, the beats pounding like those of his bike engine, short and snappy, easy to read and I guess how he fits so much into such a small book. At times I am crying with laughter, at others sharing his pain. But mostly I belly laughed through the whole book, his turn of phrase and descriptive writing a delight to read. I am left wanting more - I suspect there are countless more stories inside the authors head. I think I could spend many an hour in the pub listening to him recount tales of his journeys and the people he meets. Over coffees, of course. I can't wait for the next one. Or is it the previous one? I am a chronologically challenged but 100% signed up fan of Mansfield's writing, recommend you too get on board for the ride.

5 stars notes from the road By Paul Holroyd
Great read

I bought this book at a bike show during the summer. The book format is slightly smaller than your regular paperback. But none the worse for it. It has no glossy cover shot so common now to grab the readers eye. Even the paper feels different , a glossy smooth affair. I enjoyed this book. Why ? He tells of simple tales and casual meetings on the road. The generosity and kindness of people he’s never met before is offered to this self- effacing grey haired traveller simple because he needed help. As weeks pass a new friends network develops via couch surfing or simple meeting by chance at the side of the road. I keep a copy of Jupiter’s travels on my bookcase And will be putting this little book along side Ted Simon classic. Notes from the road V III is a great read of 360 pages. If you’ve not got a copy I would suggest you take a chance on this book. You could do worse for 12 quid.

5 stars notes from the road By Myriana
I expected the newest vol. III to be like that, after reading vol. IV a year ago. That feeling after finishing each of short chapters: literally you can't have your cake and eat it. The “cake” is funny, juicy, sweet and bitter at times. The choice to resist temptation of reading more, of surrendering to words, gets harder as you run short of pages that remain to be read. As I devoured sentences I wondered what’s the force that pushes Mansfield forward in his motorcycling travels. Many would say enough is enough. But he is an addict to the unknown that attracts him, offering new friends, new challenges and new adventures. Still it seems that gaining the balance in his two lives, on the road and “regular”, both fascinating and challenging at times as he shares and understands his limitations, and as brave as he is, he still knows when enough is enough; the demarcation line drawn by experience and love. Gods of the roads must like him, as they test him, challenge him and honour him offering life full of serendipity, unexpected encounters and perfect coincidences. Cannot wait for the next volume, whichever timeline Mansfield is hopefully going to choose for his next book - I wouldn’t be surprised if he threw the dice for the volumes’ number, as he does sometimes on the road to determine his route. At the end of the book I had just one feeling - I wanted more.

5 stars notes from the road By 1066 motorcycle tours 
I really enjoyed this book. 
This pocket sized tome records Derek's varied experiences on his journey to Mongolia from London and return. The man himself could be described as an individualist. After all, who prepares for overland travel by researching the most popular machine use an then chooses a Moto Guzzi Stelvio that some countries haven't even got a record of as a vehicle? What kind of chap spends many hours researching the best technological rider wear, buys it, and then decides on a wax cotton jacket coloured red to match the bike? And, most significantly, who relies on a smart phone loaded with maps that breaks down more often than it functions? The answer to these and many other questions are held within the unassuming cover of this instalment of his adventures. Derek's main source of accommodation is 'couch surfing' which serves to immerse him much more fully in the lives of the people he meets and provides a far stronger flavour of the socio-economic situations which impact upon them than a traveller using a 'more conventional' place to repose. When talking to him you can get some sense of his psychological landscape. Statements such as 'don't take life too seriously, you'll never get out alive' convey several perspectives on the human condition that are echoed in his prose. Derek's books are different, as is he; his writing style being Influenced by the works of J P Donleavy and Jack Kerouac. I really enjoyed this book, as much for its divergent nature as the tale itself.

You can buy the book here


  • Suddenly a piece of music or art or literature can arrive on the scene that becomes a landmark for it's genre and becomes a must hear , see or read. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance , Jupiter's Travels were landmarks and now Notes From The Road by Derek Mansfield is the latest. Multi layered prose offering insightful counterpoint of humour , excitement and tragedy combined in an almost subliminal thread of adventure that we can relate to , or aspire to. A unique and beautifully packaged reading experience.

    Posted by David Coulson, 09/03/2017 10:41pm (7 years ago)

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