Publisher: Radar/Octopus Books
Format: Ebook, Audio and Hardback (6 July 2023)
Source: PDF for review via Netgalley
When Travis Nelson arrived in London, he expected to embark on a new life and a new job. Coming from California, he’d uprooted his wife and his cat, Sigrid, and planned to be here for the long haul. Then Covid-19 struck. Travis’s new job vanished as the company cut staff. For two years, and through successive lockdowns, he was stuck in limbo in an unfamiliar city, trying to find his way.
To keep himself occupied, Travis set out to discover his adoptive home. He bought a bike and began cycling through London’s streets and parks with his unusual travelling companion, Sigrid – his deaf, Norwegian Forest cat – who came along for the ride. But what started as a way of injecting routine and purpose into Travis’s life in stressful times, created an internet sensation. When Travis began posting videos of the pair’s rides on social media, he drew in another community of people looking for moments of joy in an anxious world.
In this charming memoir, Travis charts his adventures with Sigrid. He unlocks a hidden London seen only from cyclist’s viewpoint, as well as finding friendship and hope. Most of all, it is the story of one man’s relationship with his feline companion – one that has given him direction and a sense of belonging at a time when he felt lost.
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invite and to the publisher for the pdf via Netgalley.
I will admit to naturally being more of a dog person but having said that I do like cats and this appealed straight away. The beginning of the book tells about Travis’ early years and family issues. It wasn’t an easy life and he had to work hard for every opportunity, teaching himself programming in his parent’s attic room. This led to various opportunities in Silicon Valley until the dot.com bubble burst.
A job offer from an old colleague led him and his wife Bianca together with his two cats Ylva and Sigrid from the US to London and life was good until Covid, furlough and then redundancy struck. Travis is honest about his mental health and history of depression and it was so saddening to read of the effect that this had on his and his family’s life – immigration and financial worries being an additional concern.
I loved reading about his cycling adventures and explorations with Sigrid, his deaf Norwegian Forest cat. (I wasn’t aware that cats with blue eyes are more prone to deafness). Sigi’s personality shone through in the writing, as did Travis’ love for his cycling companion. The book documents their life together through lockdowns, making travel for Sigi safe and comfortable and how he was able to use the growing social media attention to highlight causes close to his heart, I especially enjoyed the recounting of the visit with Sigi to a deaf school. It was clear that money and self promotion wasn’t a driving factor but that more importantly getting out exploring with Sigi, improved his own mental health whilst people’s positive interactions when encountering Sigi in her bicycle basket seemed to brighten their day too. For those wondering whether Sigi also enjoyed these outings, it seemed from her body language that she did and it was clear that Travis’ concern for her welfare was such that he wouldn’t be doing this if it caused her distress or harm. She lapped up the public attention – although her tolerance did not extend to dogs!
There were a few bits that went over my head – not being a cyclist, the detail about fixed gear and road bikes didn’t mean a great deal to me although this would no doubt be of interest to others. I was there mainly for the ride, and was entranced by the pair’s adventures whilst cycling around London and beyond. After reading the book I followed Sigi and Travis on their social media platforms and there are many videos to enjoy. The book is written in an engaging and conversational way and is such an enjoyable read.
Recommended for cycle fans, cat lovers and well, just anyone who loves an uplifting personal story.
Travis Nelson is a software engineer, lifelong cyclist, and a pet lover. His short videos of bike rides and adventures with Sigrid have been enjoyed by millions of people around the world. This is Travis’ first book.
Find Travis & Sigrid on social media: