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Read about award-winning travel writer, Neil Matthews experiences when he traveled to Japan with Audley.

Neil in Japan with Bungo

Neil in Japan with Bungo

"Each character is named after a place"
Neil Matthews

My book, Journeys from Wimbledon Common, recounts my travels to places associated with kids' TV stars – and the world's best-loved environmentalists – the Wombles. Elisabeth Beresford, who wrote the original books, named each character after a place; Bungo got his name after a Japanese location. But it wasn't that simple.

Most Wombles characters' names refer to places that are easy to find. Orinoco is a large river in Venezuela, Bulgaria is a country, Tobermory is a village on the Scottish isle of Mull and so on.

Bungo next to a Bullet train in JapanBungo, on the other hand, is a centuries-old name for a district of Kyushu that no longer exists. Luckily Joanne Hoban at Audley was immensely helpful in planning the journey for me and my wife Helen. We took a boat across the Bungo Straits to Kyushu, and we found a Bungo Bridge in Kitakyushu. And Bungo himself came with us...

Journeys from Wimbledon Common explores whether each place with a 'Womble name' shares any characteristics with that particular Womble. It also finds signs that the world may finally be embracing the message of recycling and environmentalism that the Wombles preached over 40 years ago.

Bungo the Womble is a bit bossy, but our Japanese hosts weren’t – everyone we met was charming. On the environmental front, Kitakyushu is a fascinating place – it's one of the world's leading eco-cities. And we got to try bracken jelly in Kyoto, the type of food the Wombles would eat!

Journeys from Wimbledon Common, published by Palace Park Press, is available as a paperback or e-Book.

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