When Vauxhall production planner Alistair McGuinness was made redundant in 2002, he never imagined he and his wife Fran would end up emigrating to Australia.
“My plan was to spend the cheque on an overland trip I’d been dreaming about ever since I was a pupil at Putteridge High,” he said.
“Like many adolescents, I spent my youth staring out of classroom windows, imagining myself discovering nomadic tribes and trekking to the seven wonders of the world.”
He envied his classmate Mik Scarlet who at 16 was already networking with Gary Numan and well on his way to making it as a pop star.
Now, at the grand old age of 48, Alistair has finally realised those early ambitions of world travel.
Not only that, he’s put all his adventures down on paper so that his young sons – Noah, who is nine, and seven-year-old Sebastian – will be able to read them in the years ahead.
His entertaining travelogue Round the Bend: From Luton to Peru to Ningaloo, a Search for Life after Redundancy is available at John Smith’s Bookshop in The Mall, as well as on Amazon.
It is also in the top 10 of The Bookbag’s self-published memoirs.
Alistair decided to write it partly because he wished he’d asked his late father, James (known as Sonny), more about his life on the high seas.
His own tale of derring do began when he was handed his P45 more than a decade ago.
“It was a moment full of raw emotion and confusion,” he recalled. “When the workers found out they were being made redundant, they stormed the directors’ offices.
“But for me it was like being given a golden ticket to see the world. I clocked off that last day and Fran and I headed for Heathrow.”
First stop was Ecuador, followed by Peru and Bolivia. Their travels then took them up Kilimanjaro and across East and South Africa on an overland truck.
They finally put down roots in Busselton, Western Australia, where Fran gave birth to their two boys.
Alistair is now employed as a business improvement specialist at an iron ore project.
And although he and his family celebrated Christmas, Aussie style, on the beach with cold beers and barbcued prawns, he admitted: “I still miss seven pints of IPA at my former local The Jolly Topers, followed by a chicken kebab and pre-weekend football on TV.
“But a balmy evening in Australia is also good. The sunsets are magical and the pub is an easy ride from my front door.”
>Round the Bend by Alistair McGuinness is published by Matador and costs £9.99.