Round The World With Grandad

Grandma’s Travel Map

Grandma has been to: United Arab Emirates, Antigua and Barbuda, Albania, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Aruba, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba, Brazil, Canada, Switzerland, People’s Republic of China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Egypt, Spain, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Gibraltar, Gambia, Greece, Hong Kong, Croatia, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Isle of Man, India, Iceland, Italy, Jordan, Japan, Cambodia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, South Korea, Laos, Saint Lucia, Sri Lanka, Lithuania, Latvia, Morocco, Moldova, Montenegro, Madagascar, Myanmar, Malta, Mexico, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, Serbia, Russia, Sweden, Singapore, Slovenia, Slovakia, Senegal, Sint Maarten, Swaziland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Trinidad and Tobago, Taiwan, Tanzania, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay, Vatican, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Vietnam, South Africa.
Get your own travel map from Matador Network.

Gambia is closed

Closed for Business

Sometimes it feels like the world is closing for business. The Foreign Office advises against travel to parts of :-

Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), Cameroon,

Colombia, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Haiti, India, Iran,

Israel, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malaysia,

Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of the Congo, Russia, Saudi Arabia,

Sudan,Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda,

Ukraine, Venezuela and Western Sahara.

Of course I’ve been to the safe parts of many of these countries, often with mainstream travel companies without a problem (and without telling my children of the F.O. advice!)

But worse than this the Foreign Office advises against all travel to Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic,

Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo,

Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo,Iraq, Libya,

Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Palestinian territories, Somalia, South Sudan,

Syria, Tunisia, Yemen and now Gambia.

This means for your own safety  you really have no choice, you just shouldn’t go.

Some of these countries were (apparently) safe not that long ago. We had a fabulous holiday touring Tunisia a few years ago but I missed the boat on some of them.

I wasn’t any good  at the hippie  thing even in England and I’d never have made it to  the hippie trail’s ultimate destination of Afghanistan.

Now many of its treasures are destroyed even if you could go there safely.

I left it too late.

And Now Gambia

While it’s OK for me to moan about places I can’t go to its the Gambians I really feel sorry for. This wonderful country is sometimes known as Africa Lite because English is widely spoken and there are western standard hotels.

Its only six and half hours from London with no time difference and as a cheap winter sun destination its unbeatable.

I am sad for the lovely people we met when travelling around the country.

Now thousands of tourists are being brought home.

The tourist industry that provided 20 % of the countries income will be lost, maybe for years.

Everywhere we go I try to ignore the politics of the country – we have no right to an opinion about the politics of somewhere we only spend a week or two. But just by talking to our young guides the tensions within the country were clear. Now amid a state of emergency many Gambians have fled across the border to Senegal.   Senegalese troops are waiting  hoping to force  Yahya Jammeh to step down and hand over the presidency to the rightful election winner.

This may happen quickly or the country might descend into civil war.

Either way for the moment the lives of people we met and befriended just a short time ago are being destroyed.

We can only hope they can recover and that one day soon we will be able to return.


on the Gambia












You’re doing What! at Your Age!

Someone actually said that to JP last week. Its the first time but have people been thinking it for years? All he’d done was sit on a train for a very long time. Is there an age limit on that? True it was a long way from home- Siberia in fact and for a very long time – days on end between our stop off points but he wasn’t climbing a mountain or swimming the channel, just sitting down.

When I’d got over being indignant I wondered what the aged were supposed to do gardening?  knitting? stamp collecting?



fantasy gardengate

My fantasy garden gate

Peoples Expectations

The person who said this was a highly educated middle aged man. What will he do when he retires- be bored I’m guessing. Surely retirement is the ideal opportunity to do the things work and family responsibilities stopped you doing when you were younger. Some people love being retired and see it as a good chance to wind down and relax. I still haven’t found out what you are supposed to do all day. But I do know if I ever say” I don’t know how I found time to go to work” I’ll need shooting!

I do garden – its hard work and in my opinion not the best thing for elderly arthritic ladies. I do it because I like gardens not gardening. If I could afford a gardener I’d have one and just potter around cutting roses to put in my trug.

Got carried away there but what a brilliant thought.



I haven’t graduated to knitting yet.

but I don’t think I’ll be good at it.     crocheting

I can crochet but that only takes one needle.

The co-ordination required to use two is probably beyond me.

As for stamp collecting everyone my age did it as a child.

I remember Helveta or Swiss stamps were my favourite along with Magyar Posta

so I don’t need to go back to that.





So what to do?

 The obvious answer is more of what I’ve enjoyed doing for years and top of the list is travel. I have been lucky enough to have lots of time of to travel over the last ten years but being retired allows you enough time for the extra long journeys that have always been on the list.

A couple of months travelling around America, going to Australia the long slow way with no long flights and most recently the Trans Siberian express and on to Japan and China.

These are the journeys of the gap year for the young but the good thing about getting older is that you don’t care as much about what other people think and you don’t have to pretend to be cool.

So we do these things trundling along with our suitcases often surrounded by eighteen year olds with impossibly large rucksacks.

old map

Long may this continue.

Urban Exploration

An Age Inappropriate Escapade

When my eldest grandson wanted to take up what I am reliably informed is called urban exploration he thought I might like to go with him and take my camera.


So we set off just before dusk –  a grandma, a grandson, a responsible adult ( my daughter, his mother) and two ultra cool teenagers. As we walked through the new estate built on the hospital grounds we saw the streets named after the old hospital wards and the clock tower incorporated into the new housing.

At one time the hospital was a self contained village with 2,000 patients, the males ran the farm and the females did the laundry and sewing. In 1948 it became part of the National Health Service but Care in the Community meant it closed in 1993.

Now security at the site is almost non-existent the wire fences are down in many places and the local kids seem to wander at will. There is broken glass everywhere, many of the ceilings have fallen in and there are large gaps in the floors.

Grandson got a little alarmed as it got later (which after all was the object of the exercise) and of course the teenagers acted cool. The responsible adult wouldn’t let us go up the very dilapidated stairs or climb through the holes in the walls and she made us leave as it was getting  properly dark. So we made for the safety of the main road and home.

A successful escapade