I love travelling. I love seeing what’s going on around me and comparing different places with home.
But despite living near an airport, flying is the one major form of transportation I’ve never used.
I’ve travelled in many different forms, including having a donkey ride on a beach and a pony trek (when I was a child), but have yet to be above terra firma.
My main transport locally is Xelabus.
It was a relief when Xelabus came into Hiltingbury as there was a period when it looked as if there would no bus service at all.
I learned to drive 10 years ago (I’ve just had to renew my licence for the first time) and this has come in useful for visiting family who live in areas where public transport is limited but I like to combine driving with using the buses and/or trains and/or walking when I can. I think it’s the nearest I’ll get to being a green driver.
I never felt the urge to learn to drive at 17. Where I was living at the time was well served with buses, which took away the necessity. I am glad I can drive now. Whenever cuts in public transport subsidies are mentioned, I dread what will happen to the Hiltingbury service.
One of the nice things about living in Chandler’s Ford is the ease of transport connections from rail.
By being able to link to Romsey, you can head off as far as Cardiff in one direction. By linking to Southampton Central or Airport Parkway you can link to the Isle of Wight ferries, London Waterloo and stations from there (I picked up the York train having used the train to Waterloo, tube to Kings Cross, then direct train from there to York). Going in the opposite direction, you can head to Weymouth.
I love using the train (though wish First Great Western would put more coaches on for the West Country route via Romsey, Salisbury, Bath and Bristol and further afield to Cardiff for a grand day out to the Doctor Who Experience).
The London Transport Museum is a good place to visit and when all is operating well, the Tube is a marvellous way of getting around London. But despite all this, the nearest I’ve ever got to being above ground has been visiting The Spinnaker Tower (highly recommended as you see for miles on a clear day), which has the huge advantage of being stationary!
My longest train trip in one day was going from Chandler’s Ford station to York to visit the National Railway Museum (which is well worth a visit). It was a long day but it was a fascinating experience.
The collection of locomotives and memorabilia there is very impressive and, as a lady on the short side, I was cheered up by realising everybody looks small when standing next to those engines! The museum has everything from a replica of Stephenson’s Rocket to the huge King George V locomotive.
National Railway Museum:
A smaller but very good railway museum can also be found at Swindon and is helpfully called Steam as you know what to expect!
STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway, Swindon:
Steam train trips include the Watercress Line (one of my family’s post-Christmas traditions) from Alresford to Alton and later in the year, if we are holidaying in the “right” area of Scotland to do it, the Fort William to Mallaig run, which is probably better known as the Harry Potter train route. The scenery is magnificent but we have yet to spot a flying Ford Anglia (see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets!).
Sailing and General Transport
I’ve sailed (mainly thanks to the Isle of Wight ferries!), I’ve walked, I’ve cycled (I was never that keen, I prefer a good walk) and I’ve got around by car as a passenger and in more recent years as a driver.
I also recommend taking the Harbour tour around the Portsmouth Naval Dockyard as that is very informative.
Scotland’s east coast is well served with a variety of small ferries serving between blocks of mainland. On the west coast there tends to be massive bridges such as the ones at Cromarty and Inverness (wonderful views from both).
I have been skiing, many years ago, and used cable cars but I still haven’t flown!
New Year Resolutions
I don’t make New Year resolutions (I know I’m unlikely to stick to them so can’t see the point) but where others might do parachute jumps or bungee jumping for charity, maybe mine should be to fly. Not on a microlight (I did not envy the person at West Bay, Dorset on New Year’s Eve who was being buffeted about on a very windy day though I suspect they found the experience exhilarating), certainly not from a hang glider (big fancy kite in my view and about as safe as one – I.e. it isn’t!), but a nice comfortable seat on one of the smaller jets taking off from our local airport. I’ll try to get around to it. It just won’t be today!
Changes in attitudes towards Travel since the 1970s
Travelling and attitudes towards it have changed considerably in my time, especially cars. In the 1970s my father owned a red Ford Escort estate which had a huge boot and various cousins and my sister and I would travel in that boot and think nothing of it! No seat belts (they were only law for people in the front of the car then) and had anyone hit that Estate at the back, well the consequences would not have been good. In the 1970s people just didn’t think of that.
Now looking back, and certainly with increased traffic on the roads now with the correspondingly increased risk of accident, the thought of this makes me shudder.
My father remembers further back when I was a babe in a cot, I was in the back of his then Mini Cooper in a crib when his car hit a pothole, I flew forwards out of the crib (again no restraints and legal then) and he caught me. This is the kind of flying I don’t want to repeat!
Perhaps we take travelling for granted.
The Christmas story reminds us of the journey to Bethlehem which must have been an uncomfortable nightmare for the pregnant Mary. I can also envisage Joseph being in a state of anxiety wondering whether they would make it to Bethlehem before the birth.
Jesus used the story of the Jericho road in the parable of the Good Samaritan as it was renowned for being a dangerous road, home to bandits and the like, and nobody travelled alone. They didn’t dare.
One of my favourite novels has an epic journey right at the heart of it – The Lord of the Rings.
I also appreciate if I’m to fulfil one ambition, that of going to New Zealand to visit family and that renowned beautiful country, I will have to fly.
Despite recent tragedies, flying is one of the safest forms of transport around (it is far safer than road transport) and it is only the fact I’ve simply not got around to flying that has stopped me taking to the air. Will 2015 be any different? Right now I don’t know.
So yes one day I hopefully will fly but for now I’ll keep walking, driving, using the bus and train and so on. After all one pleasure in life can be to meet with your fellow passengers and moan about the state of public transport and/or the roads. There’s always plenty to talk about there! Somehow I think there always will be…
Beach Boys – I get Around:
Note: Don’t miss Allison’s next post on Friday 7th February 2015.
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