Hi lovelies. I’m Brenda St John Brown, coming to you from my tiny village in North West England. I’m the author of Swimming to Tokyo, and the Castle Calder series, and I thought it would be fitting to focus my random things around one of my absolute favorite things—travel!

I’m one of those people who would rather save for a trip than spend on a sweater, and I’ve been lucky enough to have a few travel-heavy jobs (thank you, frequent flier miles!) and a husband whose job moved us to the UK where cheap flights are cheap (Our first trip abroad when we moved here was to Verona, Italy and our flights were £58 round trip. For all three of us!) and Europe is right on the doorstep. But, I’m rambling. Let’s get random and talk wanderlust!

  1. Swimming to Tokyo was inspired by a real-life adventure! I taught English in Tokyo for almost two years. I have a million stories about my time there, but one of the funniest is about the one time I tried to buy a bra. The saleswoman brought her measuring tape out to the middle of the department store and started shouting my measurements across the floor. Needless to say, that was the first and last time I did THAT.
  2. I hated fish pre-Tokyo—like, absolutely would not choke it down if even it were the only thing available and I was starving. Needless to say, I learned to eat it because there’s really no avoiding sushi in Japan. Now I like most fish, but I’m still wary of sushi.
  3. There’s Domino’s Pizza in Japan and mayonnaise is a standard topping! When you call Domino’s like I did—in very halting Japanese—and don’t know a) that mayo is a standard topping or b) how to request to leave it off, it’s shockingly bad when you find out.
  4. I went to Melbourne, Australia for 3 weeks for work and one weekend my coworker and I rented a car to go see the Twelve Apostles (which are gorgeous). While driving, we hit a kangaroo! Awful, right? We called the police because we weren’t sure what to do and the police officer came and broke its neck so it wouldn’t suffer. Apparently hitting a kangaroo is kind of the equivalent of hitting a deer. I wouldn’t recommend either if you can possibly help it.
  5. Eleven years ago, my husband was asked to move to the UK for a year to 18 months…and here we are. We lived in London for several years and then moved to The North and live in the quintessential English countryside with a pub down the street.
  6. Living in London, the Eurostar is incredibly convenient and the company runs sales where you can go round-trip to Paris for about £40 ($60?) as long as your dates are flexible. Before The Boy was in “proper” school, we took of advantage of this every year and it was pretty fab. I still really really want to write a book set in Paris.
  7. The whole Europe-on-the-doorstep thing means when American friends are coming to Europe, we can sometimes plan to meet them. Italy’s been a firm favorite and Tuscany is as gorgeous as I thought it would be. Also, the wine! My husband—who’s a pretty particular eater due to food allergies—also highly recommends the wild boar. I’ll take his word for it.
  8. Speaking of food, if you’re ever in Hong Kong, the pigeon is really good. Ask for the dish that the chef recommends, but don’t ask what it is until after. I’m 100% positive I enjoyed my pigeon because I didn’t know it was pigeon.
  9. All that traveling and I’m still a nervous flier, which means I’m absolutely NOT falling asleep mid-flight. I might doze for an hour or two, but mostly no. Which is a bit of a bummer when I get home and realize I’ve been awake for over thirty hours, BUT it also means plenty of time for reading. Besides my passport(s), my other must-pack item is my Kindle. Fully stocked, of course.

And that’s me in a nutshell. Thanks for hanging out with me on the Spencer Hill blog today and I’d love to see you over on my website at