Monday, 20 February 2017


                      February: dreams of blue skies and sandy beaches

I HAVE absolutely no scientific evidence to back up this next statement, but anyone who reads this fortnightly column knows that's never stopped me before.

Here goes: February is the month when most people book sun holidays.

The reason is simple. It's still cold and rainy outside and here in Northern climes, we are pale-faced and seriously lacking in Vitamin D. In theory, Spring is here. In reality, every bone in our body aches for warm sun and sandy beaches.

And the holiday catalogues, slyly slipped between the pages of national newspapers or delivered weekly through letterboxes, become our favourite reading.

We pore over those perfect photos of exotic places, mentally placing ourselves in the picture, holding a fruit punch and our Kindle, sun-kissed under a straw hat.

At some stage you have to cross a huge expanse of water

That's for those of us who like to travel, of course.

And anyone living on a smallish island hanging off the far western tip of Europe, knows how important that is.

Because the problem with island-living, is that you can't just hop in a car and drive to a different country to experience their wonderful culture/food/people. At some stage you have to cross a huge expanse of water.

And for many, herein lies the problem. Loads of people hate ferries. They get sea-sick, or nervous - or they hate the length of time it takes to travel. Whatever it is, crossing the sea by ship is out of the question.

Decanted all your liquids into poly-pocket-sized bottles

Flying is a different matter.

Anyone experience the annual joy of leaving the country, via airplane, with a family?

You've spent a week rolling the minimum of clothes into the tiniest of suitcases, decanted all your liquids into poly-pocket sized bottles, only to disrobe in front of half the country's population, because even though you are wearing NO METAL, the metal detector at the airport has other ideas!

Those treats aside, many people don't like to fly. Quite astounding, but there you go.

When our offspring were little, we spent two weeks one Summer on the beautiful island of Jersey, off the English coast.

It's everything you might imagine: quaint old villages, beautiful beaches, lovely people, wonderful weather. When we were there, the speed limit for the whole island was about 40 mph.*

Most interesting, the whole island is just under 45 square miles.

Which made it more astonishing when we met one resident who had never been off the island. Ever. He was a young man, about to be married. His bride-to-be was also from Jersey.

He was persuaded to attend a one-day Fear of Flying course

As he had a phobia about travelling over water, they would spend their honeymoon on the island. And set up home there.

The Dad (my dad) also harbours a life-long fear of flying. This, despite the fact that he worked for years in an industry which meant regular trips abroad. 

A few years ago, he was persuaded to attend a one-day Fear of Flying course, given by one of our biggest airlines.

He found himself in a room with a group of people, all ages and backgrounds. All with one thing in common.

It was all going splendidly, until The Dad began to ask questions.

"Do you know that you have a far greater chance of dying in a road crash, than you have of dying in a plane crash?" the instructor said. The Dad stuck up his hand.

"Wouldn't you also stand a far greater chance of walking away from a road crash, than a plane crash?"

The thing is, I can swim, but I can't fly

The instructor smiled patiently.
"Well, did you also know that you have a far greater chance of being on a sinking ferry, than being in a plane crash?"

"I think I'd prefer to take my chances with the ferry," said The Dad. "The thing is, I can swim, but I can't fly."

All of this must have had some effect on me. I travel by plane, but I'm never too happy about it.

One year, pre-holiday, I mentioned my nerves to the sales person in my local health shop. She produced a mild, natural remedy for relaxation.

I figured it probably wouldn't help, but it wouldn't do any harm. I took it an hour before we boarded the plane.

Within twenty minutes of boarding, I was fast asleep. I woke up just as we were landing, helped to organise the offspring, collect the bags and find our rented car. We had a two hour drive ahead of us. And I was the map reader.

The husband later told me that The Eldest, who was about eleven at the time, read the map from the back seat. I snored the whole way there. He was baffled that I was so tired.

In hindsight, I should have foreseen what would happen. I can barely manage a half glass of wine WITH FOOD, and more than one painkiller gives me a disconcerting high.

When it comes to sedatives - natural or not - I am clearly a light-weight.

I still fly.

But these days, I just brace myself.


* I am not being paid to promote Jersey!

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