Tony – Growing up in Bristol, UK, Tony always dreamt of exploring the world after reading the National Geographic and watching American films as a child. Before beginning his world trip at the age of 26, he was a sales engineer in Manchester, UK.
Tony’s mum – Smart, funny and independent, she worked for The Skirt Shop in Bristol.
Tony’s dad – Also a keen letter writer, and a police inspector in the Bristol Police force.
Nigel – Tony’s brother, who was 10 years younger. When Tony left to travel, Nigel was 16, studying and living at home. A keen athlete, he later represented Britain, throwing the Javelin at international sporting events including the Commonwealth Games.
Linda – Nigel’s longstanding girlfriend from his school days, and later his wife.
Carol (short for Carolyn) – Tony’s younger sister by five years. When his trip began, she was a nurse at Guys Hospital London, and engaged to a dentist who was training at Guys.
Kipper – the family dog.
Mam – Tony’s elderly grandmother, who lived in Wales.
Mrs Hince – Neighbour to Tony’s parents. She had a home phone, then a rare luxury.
Colin – Tony’s best friend since they acted together with the Bristol Youth Theatre Workshop. Before their trip, Colin was an industrial catering manager in Oxford, UK. He was 25 when their travels began.
Mr and Mrs H – Colin’s parents, who amazed Colin when they came to America with their Methodist church group, and met up with Tony and Colin in New York.
Vi – Second cousin to Tony’s father. She had emigrated to America many years before with her husband, who later died. Funny and feisty, she ran a ‘mom and pop’ American diner in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, and had found new love with American Herb.
Herb – A car transporter driver, Herb was Vi’s long-term American boyfriend. A thoroughly nice man who doted on Vi.
SKF – Swedish global manufacturer of ball and roller bearings, with manufacturing plants in many countries around the world. Tony had been an SKF sales engineer in Manchester, UK. When Tony resigned to travel the world, his managing director provided a letter of introduction to any branch of SKF around the world. This enabled Tony to get a well-paid job with SKF in America, along with Colin, who was hired to work with Tony as a two-man team.
Jackie – Tony’s wife, who he met several years after returning to the UK. A talented artist and former teacher who now dictates Tony’s letters using voice recognition software. Which means she is now nicknamed The Dictator. 😊
Tiffany – Tony’s daughter, a features journalist who set up this blog to share her father’s letters and photos. Busy scanning Tony’s stunning colour slides (from later on his trip) and uploading letters and images online.