Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Travel

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Visitors from all over the world come to visit this place, Windsor, Royal Berkshire. What to some is the holiday of a lifetime is a train trip of six minutes – if you happen to live near Slough railway station. You cannot get lost because there is only one stop, the train travels all day long between Slough and Windsor and Eaton Central, curving round to cross the River Thames. The elegant station was built so Queen Victoria could come by train to Windsor Castle.

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The station is busy with tourists and has plenty of restaurants and designer shops, so you will feel as if you are on holiday. Windsor Castle lies before you as you step outside, but perhaps you will be having so much fun on holiday in the station you won’t bother.

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But if you consider it is not a proper holiday unless you cross the sea, why not sail to Southampton.

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Take the ferry from the little town of Hythe in Hampshire. Check first on line to see if there are any ocean liners in dock, you will get a great view from the little ferry and it is much cheaper than going on a cruise.

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Hythe Pier, 1881 A strong, light iron pier, 2,100 feet in length…

The railway is the oldest continuously operating public pier train in the world. You can walk, cycle or take the train to the end of the pier and the ferry takes only ten minutes. Stroll out of the ferry terminal and you can explore parts of the old city wall or walk up the road into the centre of Southampton. If you want to shop or go to the cinema there is the Westquay centre with Ikea close by. There are large parks, museums, a university, the lovely Mayflower theatre and a concert hall.

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But if you want to feel as if you are abroad ( and you are not lucky enough to already be Swedish ) just stay all day in Ikea and stroll amongst the wonderful ‘rooms’ pretending you are visiting your Scandinavian friends. Buy all sorts of things you didn’t know you needed and have no idea what they are, but just like reading the interesting Swedish labels. When you tire, visit the restaurant which also has views over Southampon Water and the ocean liners. Soon it will be time to embark for the return trip across the waves.

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Enjoy more travels at my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-five-beach-writer-s-blog/

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Silly Saturday – Topsy Turvy Travel

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Wet and Dry…

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Little and Large

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Be careful who you travel with.

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…and check the road works first.

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Perhaps it would be safer to go by train, but be careful when you go through the tunnel…

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…you never know how you’ll come out the other side.

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Be careful when changing trains…

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Would you prefer to fly…

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…or stay on the ground?

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Two wheels or four?

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Friday Flash Fiction – Jack’s on a Mission.

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‘Don’t let the cold air in Jack.’

‘Sorry, did I wake you?’

‘No, the three alarms woke me.’

‘I didn’t want to be late picking up the other three. I’ll creep out now and let you get back to sleep.’

‘Fat chance of that with you clumping around, anyway you know I’ll be worried till I hear you’ve arrived safely.’

‘No need to worry if you don’t hear, not likely to get reception up there.’

Jo yawned. ‘Is it foggy out there like the weatherman said?’

‘Yup can’t see a thing.’

‘Do be careful out on those winding lanes, thank goodness Phil’s not driving… have you got everything, flask, long johns on, all your gear?’

‘Yes… yes, look I’ve got to go, I want to be right clear of the city before the rush hour.’

 

Phil was waiting by his garden gate for Jack.

‘Hope this fog lifts or we’ll never see it. Did you remember to fill up the petrol this time?’

‘Yeah, ready to go, hope the other two set their alarms.’

 

‘You are now entering the Red Rose County…  at last’ said Phil.

‘Still a way to go yet, keep an eye out for the road signs, I don’t want to miss that turning this time.’

‘Sun’s up and I think that mist is clearing.’

 

Jack felt a thrill as the road climbed and the number of sheep multiplied. Once they were in the car park he jumped out and took in the cold damp air of the moors. After a quick sup from their flasks they started getting the camera gear out; it was time to split up. The four men had planned their positions several days ago, every vantage point had to be covered. Later there would be time to warm up at the inn, get a hot lunch, a few beers and most importantly have a debriefing. Jack strode away from the gritted car park and on to the spongy moor. The sheep took no notice of him, they were used to walkers and sightseers. After ten minutes he was happy with his spot and checked his watch, half an hour to go. He took out a sandwich and the flask and sat on a hillock taking in the silence; nothing but the occasional bleating of a sheep. He had a good team, but he needed to be alone for this part. It was quite a miracle when the sun came out, it didn’t happen often up here. Though the warmth and light was welcome, low in the sky, the sun could cause problems for his shots.

 

It was the same as before, he merely sensed it at first. Still out of sight when he heard it, like a heartbeat, like the blood pulsing in your ears at night. When he was a child he thought it was a train in his head.

Then he saw the white plumes of smoke, switched on the video camera and started clicking away with the camera, following the graceful curve of the rail. The sky was clear as the train crossed the viaduct, he was going to get his best shots ever.

All too soon it was out of sight, Phil would be getting a perfect view from Ribblehead Station platform. The sheep carried on grazing, oblivious to the marvels of Victorian engineering.

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https://www.settle-carlisle.co.uk/heritage/history

Read more flash fiction and longer stories in Someone Somewhere.

Lines On The Washing

Winter has the advantage of long dark evenings, but the risk of tripping over on the pavement – if you are nosey and walk with your head turned sideways to see into the windows of homes where they have not closed the curtains. I love seeing choice of colour schemes and furniture, signs of lifestyles; room full of toys, a cello and music stand or a wide screen television hung over the fireplace revealing to the whole street what they are watching.

Being on a train, coach on the motorway or upstairs on a double-decker bus has the extra advantage we can’t be seen spying on the lives of others; peering into their back gardens, watching a farmer walk his cows over a motorway bridge or busy shoppers ignoring a homeless person in a doorway.

When I was 21 and officially on my working holiday, with destination, career path and accommodation vague, I would look down from train or coach windows fascinated, sometimes envious of other people with their real lives. Going to work, pushing prams, shopping, gardening and hanging out the washing; putting washing on the line is one of the few domestic tasks we can observe, from the person leaning over their tiny balcony in a block of flats to a lone cottage on a hill, the wind ready to tear the sheets from their hands.

Hanging the washing up is my favourite domestic task. This is not a discussion about housework and who should do what. Clothes and bedding need to be washed, meals prepared and homes large and small cleaned; somewhere along the line someone has to do it and my favourite job is hanging out the washing. Yes I know towels come out of the tumble drier lovely and fluffy, but it’s hardly a spiritual experience.

When I am in my little garden hanging out the washing this is the real life I observed so long ago. The fact that I am out there means either I’m basking in the sun or being whipped by an exhilarating wind, either way enjoying nature. Looking up at the sky, observing the birds and tidying up the flowers are all part of the experience and an antidote to the internet; though I often grab my phone to take a picture of birds, flowers or clouds to put on Facebook or Instagram.

Of course you will know from books, films and television dramas that secret agents, detectives and important politicians never need to do the washing. But in my novel Brief Encounters of the Third Kind, Susan is a very ordinary woman in an ordinary London suburb. It is when she is in the garden hanging out the washing that something strange happens that will change her life.