Polish Sunday.

After some travails via the ordeal that is Squeezyjet and a replacement bus service from airport to town the opportunity explore Krakow presents. Replacement bussing takes one round the houses, which – with a near pillion to drive’ – is plenty interesting. Alighting at the train station – albeit a train free station today – I’m soon ditching the ‘case at a pleasingly central hotel. Shunning maps, books, Google, I put best foot forward and see where the mood takes me. I find this tactic diverting and arresting because you don’t know where you’re going, what to expect, the force/flow/fancy taking the helm.

Disclaimer: Clearly I’ve not discovered Krakow. From the look of it, plenty of folk have beaten me to it. But I am new in town. New to Poland.

Crikey, it’s rather lovely.

I also note that those making a drunken scene in the old town are Brits.

In the evening several young fellows inquire to my well-being in Polish and then helpfully translate when they clock that my grasp of their language is zero. Apparently I look like I am in need of a lap-dance. Such kind chaps, looking after an older fellow. “Thanks for you concern, but this bracing air is all I require my good man. Good evening to you.”

Odd really, I never get spoken to in Arabic in Dubai. But here I get spoken to in Polish… How can that be?

I walked for hours, punctuated by weapons grade coffee, baked goods and a dinner of most of a pig, breaded.

Next day at the office, the locals chuckle at my experiences. Apparently, they enjoy a good whinge about air quality is a thing here: Rural Poles will burn anything. The way we Brits complain about the weather, the Poles do smog. (I just commented on how warm it was.) In bemusing juxtaposition to Brexit fuelled xenophobes, you can imagine what a Krakow native thinks of the Brits “cammin over ere drinkin arr beer, pukin on ourrr cobbled streeets, fillin arrr lapdancin’ bars. Who do vey fink vey are, eh?” (Although why they are heavily accented like a Cockney cabbie in my imagination is anyone’s guess.)

And all this without reference to, ahem, the darker tourism here: the infamous forced labour camps, Schindler’s factory, Soviet rule. IE: the horrors of the twentieth century.

Still, work hard by day, wander the old town by night following an early dinner. Am not an instant local, but am instantly relaxed by the vibe here. How come it’s taken me 49 years to visit?

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I have never been… to Poland.

Until this coming Sunday when I pop my Polish cherry: an inaugural trip to Krakow. Really? That can’t be right? A slightly curious sensation due to the blurring, simplifying, editing effect of memory nagging gently that I’ve “done” Europe.

“Done.” Faintly ridiculous as a tourist notion. For starters I have trouble swallowing the word “done” in relation to travel when people actually mean visited. “Done” oft misses a contextualising prefix: briefly/once/almost/passed through/changed-planes-at-the-airport/school trip/business trip. What’s worse? Dropping it in with a casual one-upmanship flavour.  Yuk. (Or maybe that’s merely a bias I have trained myself to listen for in conversation?) Consider for a moment the sheer wrong headedness of one considering to have “done” somewhere. It implies a full data set. (I’ve accidentally lived in a small country town for approaching 13 years and have no sense of a complete working knowledge.) Places evolve. Simple stuff such as new places to eat mean any valid local info’ is – at best – only fleetingly correct.

Another ingredient to throw into the mix is that this is a work jaunt. The classic double-edged sword of experiencing a place on someone else’s coin, yet insulating the traveler from learning the lay of the land outside of the surreal business orbit.


Following weekend in the pub: “Yeah, I’ve done Krakow.”


So as I sit here prepping for work, I also am checking practicalities like mondey, public transport, locations and – inevitably – reviews of stuff. At best, my visitation outside of the client office will be limited to Sunday afternoon and evening on foot. The weekday evenings could well be swallowed up with work or a solo self-guided walking tour of the town. There is potential for some client led dinner and a beer shenanigans, but that’s just potential right now. (It’s also potentially awful as you get trapped into a forced social situation.)

Typically, the modus operandi for the work travel gig is to use public transport where possible, try to eat local food in independent joints, walk around and drink it all in. After a day at the client coal face, that room service burger and Coke is mighty tempting. Getting out of the hotel is the crucial first step. Set mind to “open” and stride forth. (Much of the material for this blog is accidentally gathered thus.)

So by next Friday night I’ll be pooped from a full-on work schedule, but also armed with a flavour of a place that was new to me on arrival.

Can’t wait to experience it.

PS: Krakow top tips welcome.

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New PB: 29 hours at the airport

If only the headline above was a legendary yarn telling of a mammoth lads binge in the DXB BA lounge.

If only.

Let’s use a timeline…

Wednesday. Went to bed hoping for a good night’s rest ahead of the (big finish!) final day with the client trialing new material in Dubai. Early start planned, settled down for kip.

01.30: Initial stirring from a deep sleep dreaming of cement mixers, which I then realise is actual loud noise. Road planing works begin outside the hotel.

05.30: Might as well get up because they are indeed dedicated workers with quite the talent for industrial white noise.

05.35: Emerge from shower to notice they’ve stopped. Silence. Shrug. Sigh. Possibly weep just a little. Checkout of hotel and store luggage.

07-00-18-00: Client facing work stuff with associated jazz hands, concentration, charm offensiveness. (Exhausting, yet quietly nailing it. Yay.)

18.00-23.00: Dinner with colleague who is staying on, watch ridiculous CGI movie in boutique cinema @ hotel, mooch, kick heels, head to airport for 02.25 flight to London on a pensionable Boeing 747.

23.30: Report writing at airport following bewildering security rituals. Eyelids drooping.

00.45: Go to gate. Really rather ready to go home. Resigned to the inevitability of sleeping in a travelling chair in a tube adjacent to 400 other weary bodies.

img_20190221_022700This is the bit where it goes awry.

01.30: “Delay” legend appears on display screen. No information available from terminally clueless ground staff (pun intended). A general sense of dread creeps into my dawg tired being. Screen goes blank. Nervous crowd of passengers coalesce to be told precisely nowt.

05.00: We are sat aboard the now fixed 747, delirium mixed in the tiredness.

05.25 Cap’n comes over the PA. We were to be pushed back 3 hours ago. With a casual lack of accountability uses that special BA captain voice to tell us we are not going anywhere. The “wrong part” was ordered. We are the opposite of fixed. We are a cancelled flight. We are to disembark. Buggah.

Interlude: am writing this in a hotel robe in a neatly appointed “cell” hotel room where 14 hours of my life will elapse.


Airside Hotel Infinity Corridor

06.00-09.00: Queuing with a plane’s worth of angry, exhausted people. Many are missing connections to the US. Others more fat of wallet re-book the few remaining seats with Emirates. The ground staff have huddle after huddle that provide few answers. We are going nowhere.

Counterpoint: Of course, it could be worse. The plane could have malfunctioned midair. We have WiFi (even if everyone is too banjaxed to use it).

Passengers talk, four fellas drift together. Of my new compadres, one was rebooked on this flight following a cancellation at midday. TWO cancellations in one day. I let out a low whistle.

My new friend also knows – through bitter, fresh experience – of the on-airport “airside” hotel. We make a bleary-eyed break for it. 90 minutes later, we are checked in sans luggage. At thus point I have been awake for approaching 30 hours. My body doesn’t know what meal is next. I kind of pass out only to come to with a sweaty start of someone who doesn’t know when and where they are. My head throbs.

My PC status bar shows that I have very little battery left. It also shows I should have been home with my family three hours ago. But I’m not. I’m in a robe, on a bed, in a air-conditioned box, in a 21st century transit stasis in the middle east.

What was the name of that Tom Hanks movie?

No,  no, not Forrest Gump.

Prologue: Went through the whole process again the following night only at 05.00 on the second occasion we were wheels up and heading to London. Needless to say we made it home eventually. My reward? A stinking head cold and a lament for wasted time.

Still think business travel is glamorous?

Thanks to the Dubai Drifters for getting me a lounge pass before we boarded the second time. Cheers!


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Why no pictures of Swindon?

I had a serious case of the Saturday night blues this week.

The Saturday night blues Ian? Surely some mistake?

Most definitely not an error dear reader – although thanks for asking – because I start work on Sunday morning with an oh-seven-forty pickup. I don’t mind really and am hardly making complaint, but it’s that “here it comes” feeling as a week-long project kicks off. (It’s akin paddling out into a big swell on the surfboard. You know it’ll be exciting, but it’s daunting and exhausting to start with. (Except I’d rather be surfing on the whole. Obvs.))

In case you didn’t know, in the UAE – along with a raft of mainly Arab states – the working week is Sunday-Thursday. Confusing. For starters a well know restaurant chain may want to rebrand: TGiT. Hey, maybe after Brexit we’ll get to work every Sunday when we’ve, y’know, taken back control?

For yours truly it’s a Friday daytime flight out. Factor in a four hour time difference and stick two fingers up at the flat earthers. Eh? Well, because after flying for seven hours you arrive the next day (Saturday) in the wee small hours. After forcing a too-early-to-sleep bedtime, fitful snoozing, grappling manfully with a morning by the pool and a full day of warmth before working all evening in preparation for Sunday morning. Ouch but not ouch.

Thankfully, work works well. A great relief. Good to be part of a functioning team.

It’s Sunday night now and we finished work at 21.00 (local). In all honesty, even though I’m not sure what day it is – only my calendar insists it’s Monday tomorrow – it’s been a long’un. I’m not so sure of anything right now: cognitive powers are slippppiinng.

Work is work. It’s just a different location, right? So why no images posted from Runcorn, Basingstoke, Swindon?

What I am sure of is that a commute home from Swindon doesn’t offer views like these:


And the view from a Hull Premier Inn bed doesn’t feature the world’s tallest building:



13th floor bedroom view: ROVE Downtown Dubai #nofilter

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Basking in Bilbao: pintxos paradise

Sorry, but we did bask – Basque? – in the sunshine for a few glorious days. Bilbao locals amazed that we saw the mysterious yellow orb as it is known for near horizontal blatter that would make a wet Swansea weekend look welcoming. Twice as rainy as London for instance. Sunglasses set to smug then.

Top Tip: Book early, during a flight sale, off season. After bagging embarrassingly cheap SqueezyJet seats – IE: the car parking was more costly than 2 X return flights (but that’s Brizzle airport for you) – and a no frills hotel we were good to go. We even drafted in GT to look after bairns in our absence.

Top tip #1. DO NOT – under any circumstances – Google “Bilbao Airport Crosswinds” if you are a nervous flyer before traveling. Why? Oh, no reason…

Top Tip #2. A3247 Aeropuerto bus! Get in. €3, drops you outside the front door of your budget hotel (closer than a taxi could park). Deliriously happy about this. #itsthelittlethings

Top Tip #3. Visit the Guggenheim, get there on a pre-booked ticket as it opens its doors. It is totally worth the hype. There are probably pictures aplenty below to prove it.

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Top Tip #4. Strategically place an auld work colleague as an ex-pat there at least 10 years prior to randomly visiting. Most wonderful to see J and also to get his insider knowledge over many iccle beers on Friday night.

EG: Did you know there’s no letter C in Basque? They use TX instead. So we say “peen-chos” where it’s written pintxos.

Top Tip #5. Pintxos.

Top Tip #6. Actually, can this go before 5? Be aware I don’t mean this in anything other than a straight, functional, practical sense. Ready? If you are a fussy eater, don’t bother with Bilbao. If you are a fussy drinker, ditto. Even if you were fluent in Basque, you’d struggle. Sure, there are vegan/gluten-free/ joints and whatnot, but the essence of a superb social Bilbao night out is bar hopping with a cheerful “Rioja por favor y dos pintxos por favor” whilst gesturing at the dazzling selection of snacks on the bar. In return for this elan? You get great wine and delicious finger food.

That last sentence? That’s an evening in Bilbao. There’s so much competition between bars that they survive by offering bloody excellent local wine – cheaply, by the glass – or good beer, good cava. A G&T is not only costly, it’s missing the point. Pair your random beverage with their own twist on what makes for a gourmet mouthful. The opportunist visitor can flow around the town nibbling and quaffing like a pro. Like a rolling perfect street food/wine festival. Sitting down to dinner seems superfluous.

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Top Tip #7 Sunday late morning wine and cheesecake? Txakoli. “Chaco-lee.” Perfect hair of the dog material.


Tip Top Tip Top of  the Tips: Take the most beautiful person you know with you and reconnect.

Oh and in Basque there’s no A in Bilbo


Next time… The Transporter Bridge!


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2019? Mind ALREADY blown

No need to travel this year gang.

I mean, why leave town when the future has come to us?

No, no, I’m not talking about politics. The latest technology perhaps? Again, no. Netflix binge? Whilst I am immensely enjoying the MARS docu-drama – in conjunction with the National Geographic they tell me – that’s normal business now: no news there.

What I am referring to is Veganuary. More specifically to the pinch-me-is-it real INNOVATION that is (are?) the Waitrose fish’less’fingers.




Ohhhh. Yeeeahhh.

And although we haven’t eaten them yet, I am so very super-excited that I’ve gone online to be the maiden reviewer on Waitrose.com as you can see here:

fishless fingers

Whilst I haven’t opened the plastic packaging yet, it’s already a catering coup at chez Biere. (Am not sure an endangered turtle is going to see the irony in vegan fish’less ‘fingers as he chokes on a wrapper that takes eons to bio-degrade when it somehow gets into the food web, but you can’t please everybody.) What I can definitely say is that they are quite delicious by dint of the fact I am deffo saving the planet by eating them.

fishless fingers packaging

They even have special apostrophes on the pack: see!?

Yay Veganuary.

In the store I had quite an exchange with a lovely ‘Partner:

Me: Hullo, do you have, er, Fishless Fingers?

Partner: [Walks a few steps to the chiller shelf and gestures helpfully.]

Me: Oooh, thanks. [Pause.] Are they sustainably sourced? [Nothing. Short pause.] Dolphin Friendly? [Nothing. Short pause.] Crikey! Three-pounds-nineteen? It’d be cheaper for me to buy my own trawler! [Snorts I.]

Partner: [Blank expression.]

Me: [Cheeery, now armed with Tofu ‘fingers] B-byeee!

Twenty-Nineteen is going to be awesome, I can taste it.


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Loyalty schemes: what a time to be alive!

[WARNING: contains sarcasm. #firstworldproblems #getagrip]

Like most mortals these days I have membership of various loyalty schemes: supermarkets, airlines and such. Diligently and routinely offer my credentials when purchasing? Tick. This, of course, is a triumph of human gullibility over the understanding of, say, mathematics. Willingly partaking because getting something for nowt is winning, right?


Knowingly complicit in this sham I actively avoid seeking out the cost/benefit analysis due to… what exactly? Well, a fondness for not crying because of the futility of existence and a strong aversion to peeking behind the curtain of 21st century capitalism for starters. Depression stalks me all to readily without actually, intellectually confronting, knowing and internalising how little value these scams are.

Did I say schemes? I meant scams. Or was it the other way around?

Slartibartfast: Perhaps I’m old and tired, but I always think the chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say “Hang the sense of it” and just keep yourself occupied. […] Science has achieved some wonderful things, I know, but I’d far rather be happy than right any day.
Arthur Dent: And are you?
Slartibartfast: No. That’s where it all falls down, of course.”

Douglas Adams (1979). The hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, published by Pan
Books. Chapter 30, where Arthur Dent and Slartibartfast discuss the possibility of a
greater meaning.

In the last few days though, two organisations – in particular – have twitched the nib on the irkometer to spike the graphs. Step forward Hotels.com and IHG Rewards Club.

But wait! As a regular traveler, surely a well chosen loyalty scheme makes sense? Yes, yes. It sometimes does. Over countless nights/miles/coin spent away from home enough credit has been accrued to claw back an occasional night gratis, er, away from home. Woop – and indeed – woop. Ride that system boy! Live that dream!

… [sigh]

And yet the irking is real. The game is not being played satisfactorily. It flicks the needles not because of the what, but the how.

Consider Hotels.com. They send “exclusive 50% off” stuff for “one day only” on a tediously frequent – pretty much daily – basis. (For brevity, not to mention grammar pedantry, I will omit their use of exclamation marks. Not because they are grammatically wrong, more that the sheer frequency gives me a headache. Like CONSTANTLY being in a “HIGH FIVE!” environment. As Tiggerish as I can be for extended periods, extreme punctuation kills me. Not quite as bad as the forced smiles we are forced to witness at the end of strenuous musical theatre number. Obvs. (I only mention this for context. Still, a kind of PTSD ensues.)) Noted also are the promise that “Lower prices that aren’t available to everyone.” Really? Perhaps a lone goat herder in Mongolia doesn’t qualify during a particular phase of the moon? Maybe ‘that’ death row inmate in some deep south US penal colony on a random Thursday every third leap year? Do tell.

“I remember the day distinctly, it was the only day that year that Allied Carpets were not having a sale.”

Ronnie Corbett

I wouldn’t mind so much but these #superduperdeals – made that hashtag up, but you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise – are always applying to somewhere I’m not going to.

When I’m not going there.

It’s almost as if the marketers are trying to tempt me to spend money… Imagine!

(My punctuation that one.)

So what has squished my gooseberries today? Some algorithm has robotically noted that I’m off to London this week. True, I dabbled with the idea of making an overnight of it. Cue eMail “offers” and “50% discounts” that are frankly nothing of the sort. Still thinking of going? Aw, feck off. Am just going to leave a screenshot below from earlier this year. You will note the USD – really, USD? – I saved by being in the club.

hotels.com savings galore

Then IHG folk are, if anything, worse.

Bear with'. Rant looming.

If you travel frequently yet sporadically on business, you often get to choose your digs. So choose IHG, right? Lots of choice. Sort of. However, the method of booking may well be dictated by employer/contracts/client. IHG Rewards are only awarded if you book how they want you to. Spending a calendar month at one of the properties are we? Computer says no. Circa zero benefits pal because you didn’t play properly when booking. IE: Your loyalty as a customer is instantly disregarded by a loyalty app.

Go figure. (Luckily, the actual, physical staff at said property are more accommodating.)

The scheme is, putting it mildly, fickle. The marketing comms with their impossibly handsome stock-photo models almost goading. Merely applying for their credit card will turn me into a points laden Brad Pitt! OMFG, my instant ubercool lifestyle if I lay my head at X for a night! And so on. Am not usually schmuckish enough to fall for these “deals”. Usually.

Yesterday, I shamefacedly fell for “Our biggest thank you yet” which involved this:  “simply Tweet or Instagram a picture at home or at any IHG hotel using the hashtags #HomeWithIHG, #RewardsOffer and #Ad and including @IHGRewardsClub. Then, visit ihgrewardsclub.com/ClaimMyPoints to get your 5,000 points.”

Dear reader, I avidly pressed buttons, hashtagged photos with verve, sacrificed a rare mammal and – yay! – drank its blood, got a tattoo, licked gravel, electrocuted my plums and undertook several other unprintable rituals. The result? A marketing TRIUMPH for the deities of IHG. Behold (below), 15 people like it. FIFTEEN.

IHG Club Insta

Nice hotel. Lovely staff.

Before I take the rest of the week off, I check my account with puppyish gaiety.

To whit, nothing has happened. Wot no points? And I still don’t look like a film star…

#firstworldproblems – I know

#getagrip – Okay, okay

Only, in both cases above, this is meant to be a fair exchange. Right loyalty schemers? Well, it just isn’t.

Luckily, for the more rational moments – or perhaps whilst on a transit delay having lost the will to live – you can check what’s worth what.

Try: https://thepointsguy.com/ or – loathed by many in the industry – https://www.moneysavingexpert.com

Right where’s that myWaitrose card? After venting my spleen I can feel a pointless drive to town to get a free coffee coming on…

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Please consider other users when using this planet

Contrary to popular belief there is still a lot of space, even in this Isle. For instance, I can walk across fields outside my back door for ages before encountering another homo sapien. Even when there are people around I can choose to zone out in a crowded place.

That said, some folk have a talent – let’s call it that shall we? – for invading ones space. Some road users do it. Some take up extra space on public transport. Some peg out acres of territory on Cornish beaches. Some people are inappropriately LOUD.

So whilst that’s in Blighty, clearly there is a cultural calibration to this. For instance, try traveling in India using British rules of acceptable personal space. You’d go potty within an hour of arriving. Somewhat ironically, in Texas walking within the same wide, corporate corridor as a colleague elicits an “excuse me” from them as if we’d physically bumped into each other. Aren’t they supposed to be a brash bunch? With loads of, y’know, space? (I had to check: no, it’s just a proximity warning mechanism/faux politeness. No reflection on m’corridor walkin’ skills y’hear.) Japan? Crammed and spacious all at once with weapons grade respect/politeness. There are in the region of 7 billion of us, rubbing along is surely a necessary skill.

A skill lost to some.

Allow me to transport you to a splendid indy cafe on the high street in rural Marlborough. This snug establishment serves good coffee and outstanding savoury scoff. The cakes are sublime too. By inclination am a keen supporter of the small business. This particular one offers a tip-top venn of delicious tucker, convenience, natural light, cosy atmosphere and independence.

Nursing a coffee on a autumnal Friday morning, relaxing into the vibe, a happy place away from it all. For a short while before the day’s list of stuff necessitates action. There are less than a dozen patrons, which makes it just-right occupancy: profitable for the proprietor, good service, nice lo-fi buzz. Bliss.

Then it begins.


[Quietly] “Good morning, which coffee did you want?”


[Engaged, patiently and cheerfully] “So that was one flat white and one cappuccino?”


I start. Before the first syllable of the above skirmish. It might be the caffeine. A quick self-inventory. Coffee, smartphone (silent), breathing in-out, haven’t farted, sat in solo-booth in far corner. Personal sitrep in a word? Unobtrusive. At this point I make a mental effort to analyse the sounds I can hear. There are tunes from the sound system – good volume balance between audibility of music/artist and easily spoken over – and several chats in progress. Traffic passes the window, but is barely a whisper. I can see lips moving around my neighbour tables and hear the gentle hubbub of voices. But these customers are choosing to converse quietly.

Ahhh, I get it: the breakfast partner of our foghorn customer is deaf?

Yet, somehow, I don’t think she is. The stream of noisy consciousness thus far wasn’t exclusively for the benefit of them. Our customer is stood at the counter loudly and plummily blurting a broadcast loud enough to fill a drill hall.

Am aware my chimp has moved it’s DEFCON setting up a notch without being asked. I sense it’s not alone in this now somehow more confined space.

The foghorn carries on. Am no longer ascertaining the details as it’s just a torrent of  posh noise with the occasional “DAHHHLING” thrown in. Apparently it’s a complex food order, despite the concise menu. I can no longer concentrate on my own serenity either. My chimp – helpfully? – considers standing up and yelling – by which I mean properly slowly, big jaw movement, shouting – “S….T…F…U.!

Luckily (?) my British human intervenes and I sit stock still.

Yes, yes, yes: quite the Victor Meldrew these days aren’t we Mister Beer?

Very probably.

When the verbal conflict of the order is over I am in mind of Stephen Fry’s unforgettable General Melchett. What might that character’s offspring/family have been like?

Momentarily a lovely atmosphere washes back in like a gentle tide. As quickly it’s gone as a new, now tete-a-tete, tirade begins. Be grateful that the gory details of this individual’s family’s complex medical issues are not repeated here. A whole cafe of people now know about them. Ewwww. Driven through a sense of repulsion, my Welsh underdog/inverted snob wanders into mind: I thought the toffs had stronger genes than us mongrels? Oh dear, my Celtic chimp is turning this into class war.

Then, a minor miracle of traffic wardenery.


[Exit stage right, slamming door behind.]

And with that dear reader, the noise is gone.

I stand up and proclaim “Praise be! … Praise be for the meter maids of Marlborough town!” The cafe bursts into spontaneous applause.

Well, that last bit didn’t happen. But we all quietly felt it. Being a real man, a true Brit, I drained my cup and left before the posh PA system returned. Discretion being the better part of valour and all that.

Am sure Brexit will sort all this out.




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Travel: Is it worth it?

Downloaded the BBC Sounds app. I listened with great interest to “Lynne Truss on travel: Is it worth it?” (from Radio 4. (Trusst – sorry – me it’s better than the mediagasm that the news programmes are having over Brexit today).

The first episode is a one-to-one is with Geoff Dyer who writes beautifully on – among other things – travel matters as befits a man who has spent much of his life on the move. (A man with a “wandering eye.”) With a smiling nod to my last post on criss-crossing, I note he’s from Cheltenham where we lived for almost a decade. Eloquent and with “a wagging tail” he referred to Annie Dillard who wrote;

“We are here on the planet only once and might as well get a feel for the place.”


Of course, I knew my own answer to the question in the headline before listening but it was heartening and fascinating to hear the take of another as if in conversation. And he put it better than I ever could.

Am looking forward to the forthcoming brace of episodes in lieu of any actual traveling…

BBC Sounds? It works for me, but check out this delicious Twitter exchange.

Jenny Eclair BBC Sounds

W1A: life imitating art? Or the other way around?

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Criss-crossing our paths

First born has recently returned from a trip with the Rangers* to Marlborough Massachusetts and locale. A child no longer.

Part geek, part concerned parent, part on-call taxi service I tracked the progress of her transatlantic flight as it made landfall heading to LHR.

(Several ways of doing this these days on the internets. I tend toward the easy to use – yet mind boggling – https://www.flightradar24.com/. Easy to use? Just search for the flight by it’s call-sign (VS12/VIR12E on this occasion) and watch it make progress. Mind boggling? You can lose hours just randomly tracking flights to/from obscure locations just by clicking on the iccle aircraft avatars. Also, zoom out: so very many planes. I’ve heard it said that at any one moment these days, there are over a million people airborne. What a time to be alive. (Yes, a great work avoidance device too. Also, have you seen – OMaG – https://www.vesselfinder.com/?! My day wasted, right there…))

Criss-crossing #1

First up, the trip involved a spot of NYC which is where we were (en famille) this time 12 months ago. Lovely for Josie to find her way around Manhattan without Mom & Pop weighing her down. Riding the Staten Island ferry, mooching around Central Park. Cool.

Criss-crossing #2

As their Dreamliner (Flight VS12) made it’s into British airspace I noticed it went plumb overhead Auntie Susan’s pad in Mumbles, Wales. A beautiful clear autumn morn, where the locals wondered what a giant white hand icon was doing hovering above them. (The bluey line across the image shows the aircraft routing.)

VS12 routing

VS12 routing over The Mumbles and Wiltshire

Criss-crossing #3

Then the flight made a direct run across Wiltshire. Where Josie was following on the screen map – they are very good on the 787 – and took a photo out of the biiig window purportedly of Marlborough. Can you see us waving back?


That be Marlborough that be I reckon

Meanwhile, yours truly was leaning out of the loft window taking a photo of her.


Wot no zoom? VS12

Criss-crossing #4

As the flight was transferred to the guidance of the LHR tower it’s routing took it over Surrey (ultimately taking a big u-turn over the City of Laaaandun for a Westerly final approach to Heathrow). I even took a wee screenshot and clumsily annotated it:




  1. the hospital Josie joined the human race in September 2001: Frimley Park maternity unit
  2. the house we lived in then: 1 Cromwell Road, Camberley
  3. the flight she was currently on October 2018.

17 years ago, carrying a bundle of joy from 1 to 2 I didn’t pause to think she’d be passing by the front door. Especially not at 10,000′ clocking 330knots.

Criss-crossing our paths we jolly well go.

*Rangers? Bigger, tougher, more angsty, less manageable Girl Guides.


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