My Adventurous Life: How Malcolm, 86, travelled the world after a year in bed

PUBLISHED: 08:56 16 May 2020 | UPDATED: 09:37 16 May 2020

Malcolm Metcalf

Malcolm Metcalf


We appreciate hearing from our readers who are happy to share their life stories. When Gina Long received an email from intrepid adventurer and charity hero Malcolm Metcalf aged 85, it made her day. In 1953, Malcolm had a serious illness and was taken to the Old Norfolk & Norwich Hospital, where it was discovered he had Tuberculosis of the spine, which was rare then and unheard of today. She was keen to find more about him

An Amtrak train - Malcolm loves traveling on themAn Amtrak train - Malcolm loves traveling on them

It really was a year that changed young Malcolm Metcalf’s life. Malcolm wrote, “I was just 19 years old. I was told that I would have to lay in a plaster bed for a while, little did I know it would be for over a year. After having an operation on my spine, I had to have twelve weeks of daily injections with the drug Streptomycin.

“I must say, I was well looked after by all the wonderful doctors, nurses, and staff. One day my twin brother gave me a book on travel, after I had read it I vowed that if and when I did get better, I would do some traveling of my own… Well, I did get better and eventually did travel and I have made up for those lost months of my life.

“I have been to 54 countries, hitch-hiked 14,000 miles overland throughout Australia, through Holland, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore to Perth Australia. 
I have been to the USA 22 times, through 43 states, and have travelled over 200,000 miles on the AMTRAK rail system.. Last year, I published my 200 page book, called My Adventurous Life.”

Malcolm's favourite thing about East Anglia is the Old Buckenham Air ShowMalcolm's favourite thing about East Anglia is the Old Buckenham Air Show

What’s the impact of Covid-19 for you and how are you adapting?

Coronavirus has had a large impact on my busy life. However, I have adapted well. I wake up every morning at 5.30am. I always tend to start the day with a one mile walk to Gorleston Harbour and back, where I see very few people. I have seen some spectacular sun rises and I was even fortunate enough to encounter my first swallows of the year on April 19. For the last three weeks, my time has mainly been occupied by filling out large scrapbook of my countless adventures. I have copious amounts of photographs, train tickets, timetables, and memorabilia of my 200,000 miles of riding the AMTRAK rail system across America. I feel children today, could also make scrapbooks about these unprecedented times, to remember in years to come.

What is your connection to East Anglia?

My Adventurous Life by Malcolm MetcalfMy Adventurous Life by Malcolm Metcalf

I was born in Gorleston-On -Sea, Norfolk in 1933 along with my twin brother Trevor and lived with my sister Pamela and my parents Violet and Alf Metcalf.

What is your East Anglian Heaven i.e. what do you love most about East Anglia?

I love to travel around East Anglia using my bus pass. I often visit many attractions, like nature reserves, and explore the beautiful medieval churches.

What is your East Anglian Hell i.e. what you hate most about living here?

I do not have a hate or a hell about living here.

What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?

The American 100th bomb group Museum at Thorpe Abbotts and standing on top of its wonderful control tower.

What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?

Old Buckenham Air Show.

What is your specialist Mastermind subject?

The colleges of Oxford.

What is always in your fridge?

I always have a block of mature cheese and a jar of Colman’s Mustard.

What’s your simple philosophy of life?

The simple things in life are the most rewarding.

What’s your favourite film?

The Good the Bad the Ugly.

What was your first job?

I was an apprentice dental mechanic.

What is your most treasured possession?

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A fairground China vase given to me by an American soldier in 1944.

Who do you admire most?

English broadcaster and natural historian, Sir David Attenborough.

What is your biggest indulgence?

Indulging in far too many delicious grilled herring.

What do you like about yourself most?

I have raised over £20,000 for local hospices, by travelling all over England on several buses, through 33 counties in 29 days. A grand total of 125 buses!!

What’s your worst character trait?

That I forget people’s names.

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

That’s easy …The United States of America.

Best day of your life?

Being able to get up and walk again after spending over a year lying flat on my back in a plaster bed in 1953-1954.

What’s your favourite breakfast?

Porridge, cereals and eggs on toast.

What’s your favourite tipple?

A wee dram of single malt whiskey.

What’s your hidden talent?

Studying spiders.

What’s your earliest memory?

Climbing a fence aged four, slipping and cutting the top of my eye, which resulted in stitches in the Old Gorleston Hospital.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Chattanooga Choo Choo, by Glenn Miller.

Tell us something people don’t know about you?

I don’t like pasta or marmite.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?

I thought about what I could do for readers of the Q and A during these unusual times. Well perhaps, write a letter to me about your lives, hobbies and interests, or an email. I always believe everyone has a story about their lives. So, my address is, 43 Magdelen Way, Gorleston on sea, Norfolk, NR31 7BW and my email is I would love for you to get in touch.

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