Four poets travelling the length and breadth of the country in a people carrier? As tours go, it was never likely to be like Motley Crue. But Shore To Shore - featuring Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy and others - has a more noble objective than excess and (self-)destruction: the simultaneous promotion of contemporary poetry and independent bookshops.
Like their record store equivalents, indie bookshops are under increasing pressure and facing ever greater challenges and threats, so many need all the help they can get in order to survive - which is where Independent Bookshop Week and its various initiatives, such as Shore To Shore, come in.
Of the 600 or so shops that have closed in the UK in the last 12 years, one of those is Appleby's, a childhood favourite in my home town of Morpeth, which underwent a painful and enforced transition to a discount store with added cafe before finally closing its doors. I've said it before, but my current home of Abingdon is quite remarkable in being a town of a similar size that supports not one but two independent bookshops, Mostly Books and the Abingdon Bookstore - both of which seem in rude good health. Long may that continue.