The Stranger's Guide to Talliston

By John Tarrow

A Young Adult fantasy adventure inspired by 'Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home', Talliston House & Gardens

Wednesday, 14 March 2018


And so the time approaches for your first journey into the timeless no-man's land that lies within Talliston. Here are a few more words of wisdom for that journeying from The Stranger's Guide... 


Before entering the immortal labyrinth of the house it is essential that you spend time in preparation for your adventuring. Think of this as with the same respect as packing as for a Grand Tour or epic around the world journey for it may be the same time before you return (albeit to the exact moment you left). While travellers upon Brunel’s SS Great Britain arrive laden with trunks and cases, there are no porters or bearers on this voyage. The key is to pack lightly, allowing for swift and unencumbered movement, yet while also being mindful that you will be traversing through many different seasons and terrains. Think: All weathers and all times of year.

Following is the current list of items I take upon my expeditions, with notes and reminders. I will cover more on the subject of food, water, maps and currency along your route in later pages.


All of the places I have so far encountered are forward from the date I am familiar, so deciding the best attire has been beset with problems. One thing is clear: forget gentlemanly finery such as frock coats and waist cotes. Instead go for more ordinary wear, leaning towards darker, plainer fabrics that are less conspicuous to the casual eye. Bring items you can wear or remove in layers.



Hats should be cloth and chosen for warmth

Eyeglasses – and spare set if you wear them


Outer Layer

Waterproof coat with deep pockets

Scarf for face in snowy lands

Tough long trousers without flares. Favour belt over braces.


Under Layer

Cotton shirt. No ties or cravats

Peasant style vest or under-jacket

Long under garments

Long woollen socks



Leather gloves or woollen mittens



Sturdy walking boots or high shoes with buttoned sides over laces




Keep to a single pack, satchel or seaman’s bag




Field glasses

Pocket knife, preferably folding

Pocket watch


Survival Equipment

Water flask or skin

Matches / tinder in waterproof tin

Small candle for fire starting

Cup or bowl



Miscellaneous Essentials

Maps and guides of cities and regions visited

Notebook or travel journal

Graphite pencils

White chalk

Needle and strong thread

Small cloth or towel

Salt and pepper


String or twine

Also: specially created to link with the novel, we have a new way to travel the labyrinth of the house and gardens. Follow the link below and you'll find glorious images from each location, plus hidden butterflies that unlock tantalising fragments from the world of the story.

Click here to explore the labyrinth of the house and gardens.

A note of clarity: these images and text are not from the novel. They refer to the book within the book. In the story, thirteen-year-old Joe finds this leather-bound volume in The Old Rectory in 1852. While I was writing Joe's adventures, I was also creating the guidebook he carried. Maybe one day this companion will exist, but for now there is one copy, kept at Talliston. To this end, I will refer to real novel as The Stranger's Guide To Talliston and the fictitious guidebook as The Stranger's Guide. Confused? Think The Shadow of the Wind... and you're there!

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