RDP #55: Travel


Let’s go to Dagenham, the place to see if you ever visit London, and just half an hour away from the London City Airport, if you do not arrive at the rush hour when the roads are packed with traffic and busses. When is the rush hour? It is easier to ask when it is not rush hour so I would say some time at midnight until four in the morning. Do not worry because whilst you are sitting, locked in the stream of traffic, you have an opportunity to admire the local sites.

The shopping centre, Dagenham Heathway

Where is Dagenham? It is a little towards the left from London town, on the east side  and is/was in the county of Essex, but in the meanwhile London has taken over, so you are in a world city. Note the main road, Dagenham Heathway, a mixture of shops, road repairs and even traffic, what could be better. And let us not forget the international population from all countries of the British commonwealth, from the world even.

Café in Dagenham Heathway

There are even restuarants in Dagenham where you can enjoy the gastronomic delights of the area, such as the famous english jacket potatoes with various melted cheese sauces, even just plain butter and there is liver. Liver accompanied with beans in a tomato sauce, chips, sausage and bacon and of course a fried egg, served sunny side up if it does not have a burnt crust. It is all very reasonable in price and you do not have to leave a tip for the service personnel. Of course everything is served with a nice cup of tea. All modern amenities are available directly attached to the restaurant as can be seen by the door on the left where the ladies are each waiting for their turn.

Dad going to place his bet at Joe Corals

Entertainment is provided for in the way of horse racing. The thrill and excitement of a race course and the competing horses is captured at the local betting shop. The gentleman standing with the cap on his head is my dad, and he was an expert. He would regularly study the progress of the horses. He loved horses, although never rode one, his interest was more of a financial nature. Dagenham has everything, thanks to Joe Coral and his chain of betting shops.

Ford Motor Works, Dagenham

And of course there are the local sights to see. Just a walk to the bottom of the main road and you see the Ford Automobile factory. At least it was until it was closed about 40 years ago. It was the main employer in the region since Henry Ford decided to make his cars in England, and he chose Dagenham, or someone did. I should know, my dad worked there for many years until he retired. Had he not retired at the right time, he would have lost his job eventually when the factory was closed. It is now a collection of various buildings which belong to other companies. And there is a river running behind it. If you walk past the wind turbines  you are on the banks of the River Thames although  bathing is not really recommended.  Dagenham has everything.

Have I aroused your interest? Have you realised what you have missed on you trips to London. Yes, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London are nothing in comparison to Dagenham. Hotels? Not really, but there are a few pubs with rooms to let. Dagenham has not yet made it in the tourist trade, but they are getting there. This is a secret tip for only readers of my blog, so make the most of it, before the word gets around and visit Dagenham.

RDP #55: Travel

Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer

What’s your travel style? Are you itinerary and schedule driven, needing to have every step mapped out in advance or are you content to arrive without a plan and let happenstance be your guide?

My Plane to Switzerland from London Citiy

This was a plane I once boarded for a return journey from London City airport to Zürich.

I do not have a style, I have no time for styles. Arrangements for holidays in another country are no longer of interest, my days of family holidays are gone. I no longer need the stress, the organisation, when to go and when to come home. My holidays are at home. I live in the country, our summers are usually nice and sunny, warm, and I am surrounded by countryside. Perhaps the only thing that is missing is a beach, but Switzerland being without coastline, you cannot have it all.

At the moment I am doing my own thing. My dad, aged 98, lives in London and is moving  next week to an extra care apartment, where he will have the attention he needs. He can no longer walk so well, and needs reliable helpers to look after his shopping, washing and cleaning.

Today I was planning my travel style. Time is short, he only knew this week that everything would be OK and he has to move by next week on Wednesday according to the English council authorities that are doing the necessary. Today I was in town in the afternoon buying a few things that I will need. Afterwards I visited the bank and picked up some English money. When I arrived home I was on the computer having a look at flights to London. I wanted to fly next Monday. No problem, within half an hour I had everything, as well as organising my boarding card which the Swiss airline will send me automatically. It was also paid for by online banking. I have also booked my return flight, so now it is all systems go. My long year school friend will be helping me in London and providing my lodging for the week, so what could possibly go wrong?

Mr. Swiss is organising his week. Up to now he has received two invitations by ladies for a meal and a visit, so it looks like he will not be so lonely. I was wondering whether to go on Monday or Tuesday, but he said Monday will be better. You see he is very independent, cannot wait for me to go, so I will have no worries that he will feel lonely and he even knows how the washing machine works and the iron. He can cook and not only fast food.

As I have already mentioned yesterday, my WordPress site will be deserted, unless Mr. Swiss decides to blog, but I do not think he will. He said he would probably make too many mistakes in his English, although we understand each other perfectly (admittedly the home language is Swiss German). It is now evening and I rarely blog in the evening, so will now call it a day. Until Monday I will be here if nothing happens.

Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer

Wandering Pingbacks

  1. Be a Hero | Rima Hassan
  2. California: a fat wave* of options | Andrea Reads America
  3. Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer-How an Introvert Travel (pics) | Journeyman
  4. Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer | seikaiha’s blah-blah-blah
  5. The Happy Wanderer: My Travel Style #DailyPost | The Wayfaring Family
  6. Travel Style | From Journo-baby to Journo-babe
  7. Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer | The WordPress C(h)ronicle
  8. The Unhappy Wanderer | Mara Eastern’s Personal Blog
  9. DP Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer | Sabethville
  10. How to Get a Green Card: A Lesson in Planning and Letting Go | Kosher Adobo
  11. There’s Nothing There & Professor Hamilton’s Advice To Writers | The Jittery Goat
  12. I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  13. love-hate | yi-ching lin photography
  14. Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer’s | My Outlook on the World
  15. I love airports | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
  16. An Uncommercial Traveller | The Ambitious Drifter
  17. Just following the sun… | Hope* the happy hugger
  18. What Sue wrote – wandering happily | Sue’s Trifles
  19. The wandering traveler: Can’t wait to catch my multiple personalities in the rear-view mirror « psychologistmimi
  20. The Happy Wanderer | Eyes to Heart
  21. Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer | Under the Monkey Tree
  22. Spontaneous: Daily Prompt | ALIEN AURA’S BlOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  23. Daily Prompt-Happy Traveler-Not So Much | A Day In The Life
  24. Daily Prompt: My Travel Style | Pinstripes&Lipgloss
  25. The Happy Wanderer I am not | Jennifer Paige
  26. Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer | wisskko’s blog
  27. Traveling Into The Unknown | Lifestyle | WANGSGARD
  28. The Wondering Wanderer ::E.N.Howie’s Motivational Moments
  29. Wanderlust | Bardo
  30. “The Happy Wanderer” | Relax
  31. Minutely Infinite | Wanderers
  32. The Happy Wanderer | Life Confusions
  33. The Happy Wanderer | Lead us from the Unreal to the Real
  34. The Happy Wanderer | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
  35. lord I was born a ramblin’ man | eastelmhurst.a.go.go
  36. The Happy Wanderer | Roving Bess
  37. Ramblin’ Rose | by L. D. Rose
  38. Getting Away | Flowers and Breezes
  39. Alone, I miss out on wonder | Emotional Fitness
  40. Two white girls on a minibus | Lesie’s World
  41. Wandering Together. | Kota and Coffee
  42. A Change in Direction | snapshotsofawanderingheart
  43. A Peace Walk | U Be Cute – Follow the child inside of you…
  44. The Happy Wanderer on a Schedule | 20/20 Hines Sight
  45. How to Vacation Effectively | melissuhhsmiles
  46. Happy Wanderings? | Live, Love, Laugh, Dance, Pray
  47. Pain Tolerance Matters More Than Happiness | Parents Are People Too
  48. Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer | The Daily Post | MetaRead360 Small Press presents
  49. Travelling – Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer | MetaRead360 Small Press presents
  50. Wandering | Blue Loft
  51. Through The Woods | Knowledge Addiction
  52. Daily Challenge: Travel Habits | MTEagles
  53. The road least traveled | Unlocking The Inner Creative
  54. Unforgettable Past – ITARSI – The Escapade! | Views Splash!
  55. Stages one through six, more or less, to the Happy Wanderer Mode. | thoughtsofrkh
  56. Daily Prompt : Somewhere Over The Rainbow | Just Visiting This Planet
  57. Namma Chennai to Amchi Mumbai | Outreach
  58. Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer | RedWhiteandSparkling
  59. Happy Wanderer | EntwinedLife
  60. B.Kaotic
  61. To understand where someone is coming from it helps to travel down their road | Institute for Hispanic Health Equity
  62. Daily Prompt: Forced to grow up | viCKaakin
  63. Unknown ties to McCall, Idaho | Exploratorius
  64. I Guess I am Just Not Cut Out to be an International Traveler | Schizo Incognito
  65. Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer | Geophilia Photography
  66. The Happy Wanderer
  67. Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer | Life’s So Sweet
  68. Happy Wanderer | nowathome
  69. The (Not So) Happy Wanderer – Daily Prompt | A Real Adventure
  70. The Girls’ Guide to Packing for a Trip | meg lago
  71. Happy Wanderer | EntwinedLife
  72. I’m a wanderin’ fool | Willow’s Corner
  73. Sri Lanka in Two Weeks – Part 1: Arriving in Colombo | Shoot the messenger
  74. Sri Lanka in Two Weeks – Part 2: Kandy – Tuktuks, Trains and Automobiles | Shoot the messenger
  75. Be Afraid and Do It Anyway | vic briggs
  76. Happy Trails: Daily Post | Destino
  77. Wherever You Go, There You Are | My Author-itis
  78. Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer | Basically Beyond Basic
  79. The Planned Travel | theauthorwhoknows
  80. “The Happy Wanderer” | wanderlust girl
  81. Road Trip | Cats, Coffee, And Life At Random
  82. Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer | Occasional Stuff
  83. Daily Prompt: Happy Wanderer | That Montreal Girl
  84. A Modified Travel Plan | An Advice Column
  85. Maine Forest Cafe
  86. She Wanders Endlessly | When the Door Closes
  87. Pleonasm, look that up! | Trucker Turning Write
  88. Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer, the road goes on | @ The West Gate
  89. The Wandering Hound | Secrets from the Hound Cave!
  90. Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer « My journey to qualify for the Boston Marathon…and everything in between…
  91. Not All Who Wander Are Lost | The Shotgun Girls
  92. Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer | Nola Roots, Texas Heart
  93. Oh, may I go a-wandering? | Random & Real
  94. Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer | Here I am !!
  95. Daily Post: Gypsy | Morrighan’s Muse
  96. The Wanderer | tuckedintoacorner
  97. Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer | jane sleeps here
  98. Unplanned memory | misschief101

Daily Prompt: On the Road

If you could pause real life and spend some time living with a family anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us TRAVELS.

A Walk through Marrakesh

A street scene in Marrakesh, Morocco, something completely different, but not the place I would go. I enjoyed my week’s holiday there, but just as something completely different. Daily bargaining on the market for my food would not be my thing, and I did try for a year to learn Arabic, discovering that not everything is Arabic. The Algerians do not really understand the Moroccans, the Gulf States speak a sort of high Arabic and Iran speaks Farsi. The Iraqi’s have their own dialect. I think Egypt is about the most normal average Arabic. Even the writing can become complicated when they start leaving out the vowels. So an Arabic country does not come into the question.

The world is a big place and I am a little too much on the golden oldie side to do a Jack Kerouac and jump in a car with some grey haired colleagues and just take a ride across the country. Apart from not being able to find any golden oldies mad enough to go with me, Switzerland is a small place compared to other countries and you would cross it in a few hours, so no adventure. The only pills and drugs I would take would be those that I need to sustain me on my daily way in life, like diabetes pills, vitamin pills and anti-cholesterol pills. No joints at my age and I do not smoke in any case.

To remain on a serious level, which I do not find so easy on these daily prompts, there is a little wish I have. I spent approximately twelve years learning Russian. I visited Russia for a couple of days on a school trip in 1964. It was a Baltic Sea cruise and it was the time when Leningrad was Leningrad and not St. Petersburg and Nikita Chruschov was the man in charge. It was 200% communism, but an experience never to be forgotten. Seeing women doing road work with pneumatic drills was certainly something impressive for an 18 year old and people queuing for a drink (I think it was beer) served from a tank wagon parked on the roadside was also a memory I took home with me.

These days have now gone. I remember the fantastic impression I had of the fountains at the Summer Palace of the Tsar, about half an hour ride from Leningrad, the entrance steps with gold and black fountains. In the grounds of the palace you were surprised with water spouting out of the earth. I heard that after communism was finished, one of the negative sides were that the metal parts of the fountains declined, rust took over, although I believe steps have now been taken again to repair them.

There were a hard core of about eight of us in our Russian lessons, mixed ages. One girl took the chance and jumped to an offer of three months in Moscow to learn the language living with a Russian family. She returned after her three months, still alive, but she told us she burst into tears when she arrived home through relief.

I would still take the chance, if I could, to do it myself. You can really only learn a language if you are surrounded by it and have to use it. That was how I learnt German Swiss German. I have now been living in Switzerland for 47 years; the first 20 years of my life were spent in London. The only chance I have today to speak Russian is with one of the ladies that work on the cash register at my local supermarket. She has been in Switzerland for a few years, was married to a Swiss and speaks German quite well. Naturally she is my victim for trying out the sparse Russian I still know, but she understands me and also helps me with pronunciation and vocabulary.

So, who knows, one day I might go shopping with my life saving equipment of tablets, take the train to Zürich Airport instead of shopping and fly away, next stop Moscow, or perhaps St. Petersburg, or even Yalta would do me. Yalta is a very nice place, the holiday area for the Russians. Winston Churchill and Roosevelt knew why they met Stalin in such a place for a conference; the Russian Riviera. The Russian lady at the supermarket spent her holiday in the Krim this year somewhere in a Black Sea resort and returned to her work looking quite sunburnt. Yes, that would be the place for my language holiday. Learn Russian, enjoy life and take it easy – I might even take Mr. Swiss with me if it cannot be avoided.

Daily Prompt: On the Road

  1. A wandering emerald | MC’s Whispers
  2. On the Road « Geek Ergo Sum
  3. Living in a Teletubby house in Spain… | The Rider
  4. Back to the womb | alienorajt
  5. Daily Prompt: On the Road | Under the Monkey Tree
  6. Daily Prompt: On the Road « Mama Bear Musings
  7. My own moon viewing platform. | The Ambitious Drifter
  8. Daily Prompt: On the Road | Life as a country bumpkin…not a city girl
  9. Ships | Hope* the happy hugger
  10. Daily Prompt: On the Road #photography | ThisCornerOfTheWoods
  11. A Family | Barefoot on Rainy Days
  12. Daily Prompt: On the Road | Charles Ray’s Ramblings
  13. Island Chick [Daily Prompt: On the Road] | unknowinglee
  14. Monarch Butterfly (Travels) | photo potpourri
  15. If Interviewed By Barbara Walters | The Jittery Goat
  16. Welcome to Hobbiton | A Short A Day
  17. Daily Prompt: On the road | My Endless Rants & Ramblings
  18. Daily Prompt: On The Road | Eikons
  19. “On the Road” | Relax
  20. Daily Prompt – Travels | paisleypedlar
  21. Cancel the Babysitter | Honey Did you See that?
  22. 187. Getting Away From It All | Barely Right of Center
  23. Daily Prompt: Travels | Chronicles of a Public Transit User
  24. Daily Prompt: On the Road | lifebeinggirly
  25. Immersed In A Culture | Tony’s Texts
  26. A Side of France Beyond Paris | peonies and pistachios
  27. Beginning of Civilization | crookedeyebrows
  28. Visiting offspring | Sue’s Trifles
  29. Travels | Rebecca Barray
  30. Where in the world is Rob’s Surf Report? | Rob’s Surf Report
  31. Midnight Train: Daily Prompt | Finicky Philly
  32. My Kinda Stupid: Travelling The Hard Way | Just Visiting This Planet
  33. Blossoming in Korea | Broken Light: A Photography Collective
  34. Travellers lost | Random Encounters of an Inquisitive Mind
  35. Don’t Let it Slip | Journey to the Centre of My Heart
  36. Off To The Burrow! | amateurxpress
  37. Eye on the Road with the Heart at Home | In Scarlet Ink
  38. Daily Prompt: On the Road | My Atheist Blog
  39. The Holy Land | Life is great
  40. The Summer “Challenge” | It’s a wonderful F’N life
  41. One Starving Activist
  42. Daily Prompt: On the Road – Adopt me please! | SERENDIPITY
  43. Lesson learnt | The Otter in my Jotter
  44. Daily Prompt: On the Road | The Land Slide Photography
  45. Halo Veronica! | Compass & Quill
  46. DailyPrompt: Australia | viver para contar
  47. On the Road: Venice, a Nonet | Danny James
  48. The Travels I Have Been | Flowers and Breezes
  49. Somewhere Peaceful | Lost in Adeline’s
  50. Daily Prompt: On the Road | cagedbutterfly1
  51. On the Road | The Nameless One
  52. pause to live | sarahscapes
  53. Imagination; Always a Destination…(WP daily prompt) | Daily Observations
  54. Off to join the circus… | notsinglebutnothappy
  55. Up and Above vs. On The Road / Daily Prompt | Communication For Development
  56. UAE; my Disneyland, frankly. | Perhaps yes, perhaps no. Exactly? I don’t know.
  57. RENAME THAT NASTY FEELING | Emotional Fitness
  58. World tour | A mom’s blog
  59. Dear Daily Prompt, You did it again… « RPMAS
  60. ? | A Day in the Life
  61. Daily Prompt: On the Road | Jasper Smits
  62. Daily Prompt: On the Road | To Breathe is to Write
  63. Biking the World | readingwithafeather
  64. Actually I’d rather be somewhere I can escape the unfamiliar. | thoughtsofrkh
  65. Off the Road | The Silver Leaf Journal
  66. Daily Prompt: On the road | The Alternative Dream
  67. a man and his word | Musings of a Random Mind
  68. No way back from Africa: the road to Hunter’s Lodge | Tish Farrell
  69. Daily Prompt: On The Road…to Greece I Go |
  70. Daily Prompt Challenge ~ Travels | soletusknow
  71. Beach House | Incessant Ramblings
  72. Daily Prompt: On the Road to? | @ The West Gate
  73. Daily post: Where in the world | helen meikle’s scribblefest
  74. What if I called Mars home? | Okay, what if ?
  75. Travel with me #photography #poetry | Moondustwriter’s Blog
  76. Our Own Light | Wiley’s Wisdom
  77. Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: My English Fantasy | Staying in Focus
  78. Daily Prompt: On the road to Orkney | Things I See and Know
  79. Daily Prompt: On the Road | Ma rubrique à brac
  80. Daily Prompt: On the Road | 2nd Time Is A Charm

Daily Prompt: Rolling Stone

If you could live a nomadic life, would you? Where would you go? How would you decide? What would life be like without a “home base”?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us TRAVEL.

Riders in Feldbrunnen

Living in the country with a stable near bye is fine if you love horses, are not afraid of them, can easily mount them and climb down again without catching your foot in the stirrup or whatever, then that is the way to go. You also have to know how to ride the animal and not being a rider, the feel of a warm living body makes me nervous, it’s alive. Of course, it might be that the horse is a little nervous and does a kick; you might fall to the ground and be dragged across country until the horse has recovered from his nervous attack. No problem, there is always someone that might see what happens and if it is a “civilised” country then rescue is quickly there by ambulance, or helicopter.

It would be nice to just forget everything and everyone. Just pack a rucksack, wave goodbye and go. A one way ticket to somewhere, who cares where.

Yes, that’s the life. No cares, just I, me and myself. Now do not forget the tablets for your diabetes. You never know. It could be you are in one of those nomadic countries where everyone lives half in the desert and half on a camel. Where would you get your necessary supply of tablets and if you might need insulin, that would be a problem. My experience in Marrakesh, Morocco showed me that the locals live on sugar more or less. They love their tea flavoured with a sugar loaf. The hot tea is poured over it and you can imagine the nice syrupy pro diabetec solution as a result. So no, I will not nomad myself to Africa again.

I have balance problems, known as Menière so the Himalyas do not come into the question.

Let’s go to India. I love Indian food, but it might be that I contact diarrhea, hepatitis, typhoid, or tetanus as well as malaria or dengue fever. I know you can get immunised against all of this. Take tablets for weeks before you go and then everything is fine – or is it. My dad caught malaria when he was in the army in Italy of all places. He told me it is not pleasant shivering the days and nights away. When he came home from his service, he had another attack. Apparently when the “mozzies” get you there is no escape, although he is now almost 98 years old and has other problems. Anyhow, India does not appeal.

There is not much left. I was thinking a nice trip to Istanbul would be fine. They have such lovely architecture and get to know the people but…. Yes, they have revolutions, street fights and are generally not happy with the government. In this connection all Arab countries would be eliminated, they never seem to be happy with any government. The odd tourist, even journalist, gets caught in crossfire and comes home in a wooden box, or in an urn.

I am half English, so London is the place to go. Even then I got robbed on the train when embarking on my journey. That is another story, and it happened on the Swiss train to Zürich airport You are not safe anywhere today.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel. We have such a nice train system in Switzerland, our cable cars are safe and our roads cover the complete country, although now and again, especially in Summer, we have traffic congestion. Beware nomads coming to Switzerland in Summer. We repair the Winter damage on the motorways on the summer days and it might just be that only one way traffic exists in some places.

This brings me to “thumbing a lift”. It is free, you meet the locals and see things you might not see otherwise. Of course the risk of being robbed or assaulted is quite high and if you do not speak the language you could have problem. How many of our happy and carefree nomads have tried to explain their situation in a police station. The police laugh all the time, nod their heads, but do not understand.

As far as the home base is concerned, who needs a home? Just put your tent up where you feel like it, as long it is not forbidden by the local authorities. You might camp in the wrong place. Who wants to share a night’s rest with an ant’s nest? Cooking is so easy today when travelling. Light a fire somewhere in the country. The firemen are quickly there to put it out. Of course if you set fire to a forest you will have problems, but that is the carefree nomad way of life.

Taking everything into consideration, I suppose I am just a little too old for that sort of life. My younger days were spent on holidays in a hotel, in a nice safe tourist place (although they are not always so safe) and my travel was done by plane and train and car. Main thing is I survived to show my holiday photos afterwards.

This probably all sounds so conservative and negative, but not everything is gold that shines, and a carefree life on the road is for me something for a Hollywood film, or television programme, where it is all nicely organised and protected.

Daily Prompt: Rolling Stone

Daily Prompt: The Road Less Traveled

Pinpoint a moment in your past where you had to make a big decision. Write about that other alternate life that could have unfolded.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us OTHER.

View from dad's window towards Oxlow Lane

This could have been the road I travelled: a small side street in Dagenham, on the eastern periphery of London, where my mum and dad settled after the houses were demolished in the middle of London.

I was sure my mum (and perhaps dad) had visions that their little girl would grow up, do everything expected from her, meet a nice guy (emphasis on nice) from London and have a family. Just like everyone else did at that time. I moved out. I have often searched for a reason to tell everyone why, but have not found it, or perhaps did not want to admit why I did it.

I had a good education in a London grammar school, passed my exams and worked in various office jobs in the City of London. I had some friends, spent my spare time hunting for a partner in various dance halls. I was lucky enough to be in London, an interesting world, the days of Carnaby Street, Mary Quant, Vidal Sassoon, Beatles and Rolling stones. What went wrong? As far as I am concerned nothing went wrong. Perhaps it was boredom; perhaps it was a vision of a future life with the right bloke in the right place and of course a family to complete the idyll of life, just everything perfect that put me off, eventually saving enough money to buy your own house.

I had my thoughts in another direction. I wanted out, see what the world had to offer. Ok, I loved my mum and dad, they were responsible parents, but was this what I wanted? Sitting in front of a TV every evening, cooking the same food every week, doing the same things, the things that were expected and fit in the picture.

I made my decision in my teenage years. Find a job in another country, learn to speak their language and live their way. Make life an adventure and not a boring day to day routine, stretching out for the next twenty years.

I did it. Of course mum was not very happy, dad seemed to understanding probably thinking on the lines “I wish I had had the chance to do the same” although after being a soldier for five years and returning to a post war London, Europe was in a state of destruction and rebuilding. He had no chance, but I did and I seized the chance.

It was not easy. Finding work advertised in a newspaper for another country was few and far between. After scanning the newspaper day for day my search came to and end. Secretary needed for Switzerland, import/export, please call. I did, met my new boss in a hotel in the West End of London where he was staying at the time, and two days later I had a job in Switzerland. Had to visit the Swiss Embassy to get particulars done for a work permit etc. etc. This all happened sometime in August, and in December I was on my way to Switzerland by boat and train with a case packed filled with hopes and excitement.

I am now married to a Swiss since 44 years; speak a few languages, Swiss German and German fluently with a couple more for good measure. I can read German as well as English books with no problem. We have our own apartment out in the country and the main thing is I am happy with this situation. I had many ups and downs, but reflecting on it all, more ups.

I could have stayed in London, could have got married and had a family, could have been happy owning a house somewhere in the suburbs of London with a little garden, could have worked in an office in a small town in England, but I did not and have never regretted this.

The only fly in the ointment is perhaps that I only saw my parents once a year through visits: that my children grew up rarely seeing their grandparents and that my dad, now 97 years old, still lives in London and only sees his daughter once a year, although we phone every week.

That’s the way the cookie crumbled, you just cannot have everything I suppose.

This is the street where I now live, on the right hand side, somewhere in a small Swiss village out in the wilds.


Daily Prompt: The Road Less Traveled

Daily Prompt: Trains, Planes and Automobiles

You’re going on a cross-country trip. Airplane, train, bus, or car? (Or something else entirely — bike? Hot air balloon?)

Photographers, artists, poets: show us TRAVEL.

Waiting for the train Solothurn station

I have done a lot of travelling in my life, perhaps not worldwide on tramping expeditions, but enough to get from one place to the other. Today a cross country trip does not interest me so much: too much stress, on the go from morning to evening. It is, of course, much easier to travel from one place to the other, different as it was in earlier days. I can hop on a train at my local station and in ninety minutes or even less; I would be in Basel/Bâle on the Swiss border to Germany and France: been there, done that. The journey to Chiasso takes 4-5 hours and brings me to the Italian border. Switzerland is an island in the middle of Europe with super train connections everywhere. By car it is even easier. No waiting at the station for the next connection, just drive on the motorway and through the customs to another country.

We have a few airports, so the world is at your fingertips. I leave my home in the morning, board the plane in the early afternoon and am at my father’s house in the evening in London. The world has shrunk.

I would now take you back to forty six years ago. The first time I travelled to Switzerland. A job was waiting for me, a new place to live, a new country speaking a different language, and a different way of life. How did I arrive? Things were different in those days. Travelling by plane was an expensive journey. Luggage allowances were limited. I was twenty years old, did not have a lot of travelling experience, just a couple of holidays in Italy and Paris, all with a travel organisation. Now I was on my own.

I decided to travel by train. It was cheap and I could take as much luggage as I could carry.
The first part of the journey was boarding the train in London to Folkestone on the English coast. Mum and dad decided to accompany me on this part of the journey. Of course they had their worries. I think I was the only one that was not worried. I knew that the part to the English coast was the smallest step to take.

I arrived in Folkestone some time in the afternoon and transferred to the ferry across the English Channel from Folkestone to Calais. I was lucky as the sea was smooth enough and the journey took the usual ninety minutes. The next connection in Calais was by the night train, the Aarberg Express, to Basel. The train was already waiting where the ferry docked in. I went through a few customs formalities and there I was all on my own on the coast of mainland Europe in France.

I boarded the train. I had booked a couchette, meaning my compartment in the train would eventually become a travelling bedroom. The train departed around eight in the evening. At some time the conductor came along and showed us how to transform our compartment into beds. There was room for six sleepers, three bunks on one side and three on the other of the carriage. We were a mixed bunch; men and women, various nationalities, but this was my first big adventure. Did I sleep? I think so but not a solid sleep through the night. Now and again the train pulled in at a station, names like Lille, Metz and Strasbourg flashed up from the various stations.

I believe it was around six in the morning when the train finally arrived in Basel – I use the German name for the Swiss border town. I remember my first view of Basel being the Basel Zoo, the largest in Switzerland. Not that I actually saw the animals, but it there were posters nailed to the fence surrounding the zoo where the train passed.

My journey was finished?: no, not quite. I was entering Switzerland with a work permit and the Swiss do not allow anyone to arrive and go to work. You have to be certified as being healthy, meaning that a medical examination was necessary. Of course I had three days to report for the examination, but I was informed by the people in my Swiss job that it would be advisable to get it behind me at the border when I arrive. I arrived at six in the morning and the border control only opened at eight, so I spent a couple of hours wandering around, finding where the medical would take place, drinking coffee and having my first Swiss breakfast in the restaurant at Basel station.

Luckily the building for the examination was very near the station. When I eventually entered, I found I was not alone. There must have been at least one hundred people waiting, from all over the world. Arab countries, the states, other European countries, we all had to be examined and certified. This was a long while ago, but I still have a few memories. First of all they took my passport. Afterwards they took my blood and finally I had a chest x-ray. The Swiss did not want any tuberculosis being dragged into the country.

I was told to come back in two hours for the result.

“Huh! and what about my passport?”

The unfriendly answer “When you come back and everything is in order, you get your passport.”

“And if things are not in order?”

“Your problem.”

I returned after another long wait somewhere in a restaurant, feeling now very tired. I was clean, healthy and ready to go. They gave me my passport: no word of congratulations, nice to see you here. Just “now you can go”. I remember vividly a young American girl where they had found something on her x-ray. Her right of entry into Switzerland was refused. She was in tears; she had a job waiting for her and felt completely healthy. I am sure the results of her medical examination were true, but I really felt sorry for her.

I again went to the main station in Basel, where I boarded the train for Zürich. I arrived at Zürich station where the wife of my new boss picked me up in her car and took me to my new apartment, which was in the same house as she and her family lived.

I arrived around midday and lunch had been cooked for me. I remember unpacking and having a lay down on the bed. I fell asleep and awoke again at eight in the evening. Can you imagine, my internal clock was completely out of time.

This was my first cross country(ies) trip of a lifetime and I am still in Switzerland. A few other jobs and homes later, but I have arrived. I lived 20 years of my life in London and 46 in Switzerland: work that one out.

Daily Prompt: Trains, Planes and Automobiles

The Travel Agency

other worlds

Moving up, moving up
Head over the clouds
A silky smooth layer of fluff
to overcome and float above
Pilot’s thoughts as he sails
onwards seeking new worlds
The moon overcame
so many years before
Now planets, universes far flung
to be discovered for a holiday

which is all very well, if you look at it on the romantic side of things, but being an agent for universal holidays, you do encounter some problems. I remember when I had my first assignment with our first tourists on Mars; red sand everywhere and two moons. When the first customers arrived I had to be there to show them the ropes. At least we had transformed the atmosphere into something breathable so they did not have to walk around looking like the first pioneers of space shuttle discoveries. They had a nice comfortable hotel on the edge of a crater, but they were not happy.

“Where is the sea?” was the first question they had.

“Madam, you see those pumps just in the distance. There you will find water enough to swim. Mars has no oceans, just the water beneath the surface which is pumped daily. Mars is a holiday planet for walking excursions, there is just no planet in our system with oceans except for earth.”

“No thank you, we tried your artificial swimming pools yesterday, but our skin became red from the water, stained from Mars earth. I still have blotches on my legs. Are you telling me that we paid out a lot of money to spend our holidays on Mars, and we should have remained on earth.”

This was one of many similar complaints, so we had to strike Mars from the list at that time. The moons were also not very popular with our visitors. They had trouble sleeping at night.

We had a big hit with Mercury, but the problem was we could only develop the area laying on the border between hot and cold which was not very wide; a planet that revolves with one side facing the sun all the time and the other facing, well nothing really. There were too many tourists either being burnt or freezing to death and that is no advertisement for a holiday.

Eventually we found the ideal solution. We rediscovered Mars and built towers reaching above the clouds. You say that Mars has no clouds. That was the difficult part. Our designers said that we should have buildings poking through clouds with a view of the two Mars moons which would be ideal for a romantic honeymoon.

Thanks to the man’s progress, the clouds were quickly organised. We built a couple of nuclear power plants on the Mars surface with those large chimneys pouring out water vapour. They were, of course, useful for electricity supplies. It was a success. We naturally designed our high buildings with panorama windows. Our tourists are delighted.

“Look at the view Charles, just fantastic. What a lovely place to spend our honeymoon.”

“Yes darling, we are really living above the clouds; and the moons are so impressive.”

Unfortunately one of our nuclear stations exploded last week, and we lost a few honeymooners when the tower came tumbling down, our engineers are working on it.

Where am I going on holiday this year you ask? We are staying on earth. I was given a tip by a friend on mine working on the earth tours. There is a little place somewhere in Russia called Tschernobyl. A few hundred years ago it was destroyed by a small chemical mistake. My contact told me that it is now the best place to go. The food is good, fruit twice as large as you will find anywhere in the world. Animal life is really interesting. You do not have to visit far off planets for animals with six legs or three eyes, they are all to be found in Tschernobyl. They even have camels with three humps Yes, such is modern science and development. Even the earth has its places to relax.