Alan's Blog




To Travel or Not?

My dear Grace is heading for the Philippines in the not too distant future. What a stressful time this is for her – and for me. The difficulties of travelling, particularly by air, are, to me, not worth the effort. Of course, thanks to the restrictions imposed by this so-called pandemic by tyrannical governments wanting to exert even more control over our freedom than at any previous time in history, she hasn't been able to visit her family for some years, so she has good reason to endure the stress and difficulties she is facing.

Yesterday, we booked the Covid test she has to take within so many hours of travelling. We also booked her train ticket from our local station to Manchester Airport. Remember that Manchester Airport is where the boss resigned and walked off the job recently because of the chaos caused to passengers attempting to fly away on holiday once some of the restrictions had been lifted – and where the airport were unable to re-recruit sufficient staff to cope with the numbers after kicking out thousands of staff during the pandemic.

Even in 'normal' times, before the pandemic, also at Manchester Airport, JP and I would have missed our flight to Zurich had the 'plane not been delayed purely because of the mad chaos of getting through the security measures at the airport – see our blog at URL:

Grace had originally asked me to take her to the airport, something I was more than willing to do, but it seems likely that the train service may well be the best option to deliver her to the airport on time – even with the somewhat poor service we experience in this part of the world. This is because the M6 / M61, along which we'd have to travel, is more like a car park on a Sunday than a motorway. Getting Grace to the airport on time would be extremely stressful and would force us into setting out on the journey several hours before she had to be at the airport. What should take little more than an hour is more likely to take several hours. I know this with certainty as I've had to travel south from here a number of times on a Sunday and it is always a big problem and a very slow journey.

I well remember in times long ago, in the 1950s and early 1960s, before motorways and long before security searches in airports at a time when only the rich and famous could afford to fly, there were far less restrictions and we were able to enjoy far more freedom than we can nowadays. In those days, my uncle Jack had a Ford Thames van (400E), similar to the one shown below, and used to visit clients in an around the Lake District and would take us all out for the day in his van. Unlike now, there was almost no traffic in the Lake District in those days and one could enjoy the peace and quiet of this wonderful landscape and hardly see a soul all day.

Photograph above courtesy of URL: 1964 Ford Thames 400E van. | Displayed at a Southend and Dis… | Flickr

No seat belts to wear in those days and I, as a little lad, used to sit on the engine cover located between the driver's seat and the passenger seat. My mum or dad used to sit on the passenger seat, Uncle Jack in the driving seat and the rest of the family sat on armchairs carried out from my grandparents' home and put in the back of the van. How times have changed! Few restrictions, more freedom and a more carefree way of life. My family had no money to spare so we carried all our food supplies as well as water and a methylated spirit stove and a kettle for making a brew. What fun everyone had in those days of simple pleasures.

With all this experience of travelling to go on, I've decided not to travel at certain times or on certain days and not to travel by air. If I can't just get in my car and go, I won't be going anywhere. Far too stressful for me.

Of course, this does impose certain limitations as to my destination but as there are so many places to visit within driving range it isn't by any means unendurable. Once the restrictions imposed by the tyrannical European governments have been lifted (IF they are!) there are many places within Europe that are well worth visiting - and maybe even live in a warm destination one day. Having our lovely Kanga to look after restricts the places where we can cross over to another country as we are really stuck with the Dover to Calais route, this being the shortest journey across the water. Kanga isn't allowed into the passenger areas so has to be left alone in our car or caravan for the crossing and this is something she hates. Having been a seafarer for many years we've always travelled by ship, but I cannot condone the recent disgraceful action by the penny pinching P&O Ferries of firing 800 of their staff, so I can't support this company any longer so an alternative has to be found - possibly DFDS or, perish the thought, the Channel Tunnel!

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