Burnham-On-Sea author Michael Turner has just returned from an incredible journey across Egypt, retracing the steps of British civil engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Michael, 67, has spent a month following the same journey that Isambard took with his wife, younger son, and a doctor, travelling by train and boat over 750 miles from Alexandria up the River Nile to the Nubian Desert on a temple and tomb tour.
The Burnham-On-Sea author is currently working on his next book, called ‘On The Tracks of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’.
Michael told Burnham-On-Sea.com that the trip hadn’t been without challenges: “The army and police stopped me from taking photographs for the book in a town that’s not frequented by foreigners. The well preserved Temple of Dakka was Brunel’s most southerly point.”
“In Cairo, Brunel visited the surviving Citadel and chartered an iron-hulled dahabeeyah – a house boat with lateen sails fore and aft supplemented with oars.”
“At Aswan, Brunel fitted out a wooden boat to ascend the ferocious current of the First Cataract that the High Dam has now tamed; behind which, Lake Nasser has supplanted the River Nile.”
“At Kafr el Zaiyat, Brunel inspected the newly opened railway bridge over the River Nile. Due to a dam flooding the Nile valley, UNESCO moved all the temples and tombs to higher ground.”
“Foreigners are only permitted to reach the monuments by boat, which involved me taking a four night voyage. Furthermore, the region is remote and unspoilt, so few visitors visit these antiquities.”
For his forthcoming book, Michael says he is the only author to write more than the “customary paragraph” that biographers usually allocate to Brunel’s four month journey because he photographed the eighteen temples and tombs that Brunel and his son Henry documented.
“I also photographed the Temple of Khonsu at Luxor and noted the exact detail Brunel applied to his drawing such as the chipped corner of the top plinth.”
“Numerous Brunel biographies are extant; hence the enormous challenge it is to publish one that is different.”
He adds: “My book will contain over 160 original photographs from the iconic structures to the most modest, remote, dilapidated and forgotten, copious maps and a chronological table that documents Brunel’s life day-by-day.”
So far, with his camera, Michael has also been ‘Brunelling’ in Britain and Egypt for 167 days – with France and Ireland pending.
Burnham-On-Sea author’s global travel
Burnham-On-Sea.com has featured Michael many times over the years. In 2020, we reported on his book on American singer-songwriter and musician Gene Pitney.
In 2018, the Burnham-On-Sea author recounted how he interviewed Winne Mandela. The same year, we reported on his gruelling trek through Mongolia.
In 2017, we reported on his epic 1,200 mile hitch-hiking investigative journey from Zambia to Zimbabwe. Michael also recounted the day he met the late Mother Teresa in 2016 on her death.