Thoughts of a Lockdown

Travel Talk

A dismal 50 shades of grey winter has taken its toll. And the rain – it’s never stopped, bringing misery and life changing events to many. Biblical proportions. The days have been short, the nights long. Off to work in the dark. And back too. Driving home on the motorway, dazzled by headlights from vehicles in endless queues. Stop start all the way home.

Butterflies And now this virus. We have all been affected by Covid-19. Families and loved ones separated by social distancing. No hugs, no kisses! But as I sit down and write this there is hope on the horizon. It’s a balmy spring day. Trees are budding. The dawn chorus of birdsong is exceptional. And springtime is the best introduction to this daily warbling spectacular. Dew sparkles on freshly mowed grass. Newly born lambs are gambolling in nearby fields. Butterflies mesmerize as they flutter. Rape oil fields will soon carpet the UK in yellow patches. So don’t get too down-hearted and take a look at nature. We have all the time in the world to observe it. Spring is a time of rejuvenation and a time of hope. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. The world looks different when viewed at walking speed.

I have spent extra time in the garden. Mucky hands but lots of satisfaction and much better quality of sleep too. Hopefully this activity will bear fruit – pardon the pun. Soon we should be eating newly planted veg. Fresh and earthy, served with pride. I planted my rocket seeds in a couple of seed trays last Monday. By Thursday there was activity as at least 11 green shoots had appeared. Just call me Elton the Rocket man!

We are reading more, once again discovering the joy of books. The crime novels of Stephen Booth have taken me into the beautiful rugged Peak District and it’s a bonus and delight to be able to recognize places mentioned in print. Simon Reeve’s autobiography Step by Step is an exceptional read. As are his TV journeys – all accessible on BBC iplayer. I have also returned to my other two heroes of travel – Bill Bryson and my fellow Yorkshireman, Michael Palin. Such talent.

Yorkshire Dales With most flights grounded now the skies are oh so quiet. No noise pollution, except the occasional ambulance taking some unfortunate person to the Doncaster Royal Infirmary. So do take time to stop and listen to this wonderful silence. It won’t last. Once lockdown is over then that will be it – a frenetic world reborn full of vitality, sound and pollution.

The world may have temporarily shrunk but it is still out there. In all its glory. Time at home gives us all time to prepare for our next trip – whether home or away. Or if you are lucky, maybe both!

We silver travellers want to travel. Don’t we? It’s in our DNA, our often-creaky bones, in our whole being. Adventure before dementia. Whilst chilling at home it’s good to reflect on trips gone by and people we have met and remained friends with through the decades. So get out those photos, digital or printed, and reminisce. Have a lockdown daydream. Smile and reconnect with countries visited and peoples who have welcomed us. Go on try it! It will do you a world of good and help you get through the next few weeks.

Bamburgh Castle Favourite places, meals, museums, views, drinks, walks, flights. A favourite hotel? Plan to go back. Half the joy of a holiday is the planning. A favourite castle? Bamburgh – we are planning to see you later in the year – come rain or shine we will be there. And Lindisfarne too – our island of tides – and utterly gorgeous. Gardens aplenty to look out for. Breezy Knees near York is a revelation and a brilliant day out.

My essentials of life include someone to love (tick), something to do (tick) and something to look forward to (tick). The articles and reviews on this award – winning site are an excellent starting point for planning a holiday. Everyone at ‘Silver Towers’ are all happy to help and advise. Do get in touch. Whilst waiting why not learn a new language? Que? I hear you say. Free courses are readily available. Oh and don’t forget Google Translate. So useful when abroad. We were astonished the first time an Italian waiter transformed an incomprehensible menu into something more mouth – watering and understandable.

I wonder how the world of travel will look when things improve and we get the green light to move? Many travel agents, hotels, restaurants and airlines may go to the wall. Will your favourite still be there? Will the stronger swallow up the weak? Probably. And will this lead to increased prices due to lack of competition. Probably – it’s survival of the fittest.

Fred Olsen Balmoral in Norway And before I forget do, please support your local airports. Don’t let them disappear. You will miss them if they go. Thankfully in Yorkshire we are blessed with a multi award-winning airport – Doncaster Sheffield Airport. It goes from strength to strength.

Will anyone take a cruise this year? The reports of Covid-19 on board will undoubtedly put many people off. And there will be bargains galore as cruise lines compete to attract potential clients. Floating petri dishes? Not what we have seen over the years. The hygiene on board is beyond reproach.

Staycations will be much more in demand over the next couple of years. Many will want to wait and observe if Covid-19 reappears next year in a mutated form. For this reason, I believe people will wait until February or March 2021 before booking next summer’s treat.

And what about travel insurance? Will prices go up? Absolutely, as those remaining companies try to recoup losses from this year. Many ‘cheap as chips’ firms will go out of business. Make sure your future policy has travel disruption and airline failure as part of the policy. Will we get cover for Covid -19/20/21 etc., and other virus cover? Do check carefully. We will probably have to pay an extra premium but it’s a price we may have to pay.

So much to think about. But doing something always makes you feel that much better. At the moment take your time. Look around, take a really good look and observe the natural colours, shades and hues of Planet Earth. Daffodils and tulips lift the soul.

Keukenhof Garden It is such a colourful world in which we live. Colour is the fruit of life, and a reason to travel and observe and enjoy.

Coarse and fine, volcanic black, pure white and golden beaches. Often untamed wilderness. Ronseal tanned skin. Intense blue sky. Lavender covered fields, dense rainforest, manicured lawns, Keukenhof tulips. Turquoise seas, green copper domes, Rastafarian hats, multi-coloured jogging shorts running by. The exquisite Northern Lights. White horses of The Camargue. Vineyards, undercover rhubarb. Olive, lemon and orange groves. Fresh strawberries. Banana and peach. A fruit salad in glorious technicolour.

Tree lined boulevards brighten cityscapes. Silver birch and oak. Wide open spaces. The magical Black Forest – good enough to eat too. Blood red Tomatoes, Dubrovnik’s terracotta roof tiles. The Blue Train in South Africa. The piercing coal-black forgiving eyes of our two Golden Retrievers – darling Holly and Beth. Orange robed Indian pilgrims. Lecce’s magnificently decadent pink stone. Balsamic vinegar and olive oil, extra virgin of course! The whitewashed houses in Santorini set against a backdrop of volcanic cliff.

Lemons Lobster pink Brits, shell-suited and shell-shocked. Brightly painted Bergen houses contrasting with the pure white wooden homes on Stavanger down the coast. Graffiti stained streets, artisan created mosaics. Venetian black gondolas, honey toned limestone, crystal clear glacial lakes. Neon signs that lighten the gloom – epileptics look away now. A heavy steaming inky black coffee, my favourite drink. Every coffee bean has a story to tell.

Silvery sardines on the barbie. Gilt-framed artwork, smoky dark wooden panelling in historic heritage dwellings. Tricolored bunting. Red and white check tablecloths. Scottish tartan. Shimmering seas. Multi-coloured fishing boats bobbing in hypnotic rhythm. Medieval architecture and frescoes. Cobbled streets, shiny from centuries of foot fall. Heather clad Yorkshire moors, wisteria covered Cotswold stone. Orange and mustard yellow lobster pots. Spectacular white limestone rock formations.

Cotswolds I could go on but it’s up to you now. There is a big world out there. You don’t have to be rich to travel well.

Ray Bradbury once said, “Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made”.

Finally, I will leave you with a useful tip from my fantastic nan, Lily Fay, a wonderfully wise lass, “Don’t take out your dentures when you are eating crisps!”

So what are you waiting for?

Type Harcombe into the search box, top right, on Silver Travel Advisor’s homepage to read more of Dave’s reviews on his global adventures.

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Dave Harcombe

Travelling pharmacist

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