Anne’s Travels around Britain
Your treasurer has just returned from an amazing three – part staycation. “I’m in love with the English coastline and despite reports of huge price hikes and overcrowded beaches, we managed to have cheap accommodation, good train and bus rides, and kept away from crowds and infection throughout”.
Trip 1: A friend said “let’s go to the Isle of Wight”. So off we set by train and ferry. We stayed in a two roomed cabin (self-catering, with outside toilet and shower block shared with one other) at the Ventnor Botanic Garden, for only £350 for the week. We enjoyed delightful walks in the huge garden with its many exotic sub-tropical plants (see the first photo of the many Agapanthus), when we felt more energetic, we braved some challenging, steep cliff walks.
Trip 2: Another friend invited me to visit her friend in Weymouth. We found a splendid seafront with lots of sand, shallow water and outdoor cafes, lovely bus rides and walks on Portland Bill with superb views, an interesting marina, fresh seafood cooked in Spanish style by a Spaniard, a swannery, and a half day bus tour on our Freedom Passes through beautiful Dorset villages to eat ice cream and visit little art galleries at West Bay. Again, only 3 hours direct train from Waterloo with a good discount using a seniors’ railcard. We had a private twin room in a backpackers’ hostel, spotless and friendly for only £25 each per night.
Trip 3: with third friend, involved the luxury of being a passenger in her car all the way to the island of Seil, near Oban in the Scottish Highlands. Bit of a splurge on a farm cottage at £800 per week, still cheaper than many hotels and with a lovely kitchen and patio to sit out. Walks were flat and easy – along lanes with hardly any traffic – or very steep, following the sheep’s footprints on a mountainside with the loch and lots of islands laid out below. Ferry trips to nearby islands were exciting and found us wild orchids, a chatty village green and interesting old slate quarries with lots of seabirds.
And only half a day’s rain in 21 days! Wonder why I used to bother with airports. I could spend the rest of my life exploring the UK.
Isle of Wight Portland Bill Seil Island
To The Rt. Hon Grant Shapps, MP, Secretary of State for Transport,
c/o House of Commons,
London SW1A 1AA
Londoners’ Freedom Pass
I write to you to express my extreme concern that continuation of senior Londoners’ concessions on London’s public transport have only been guaranteed until October.
Free tube and overground train travel, as well as free bus travel, is vital to the wellbeing of older people in our city. It is also crucial to those of us who continue to work, of whom there are many thousands. We carry on working in an unpaid capacity as well as a paid capacity. Please remember that dozens of thousands of London parents depend on grandparents for childcare whilst they work. Punctual journeys often to distant districts are needed for grandparents to continue this important role. Older people also contribute millions of pounds worth of unpaid work to the country’s economy every year, working as volunteers in community facilities, food banks, advice centres, green spaces and hospitals to name but a few key services. The ‘big society’ that your party sometimes dreams of would collapse without them. Yet volunteering may be significantly deterred if older people in London, where distances are vast, could not use trains free of charge.
Post lockdown, mental health and loneliness are issues of major concern throughout the population. Surely this is no time to put financial barriers in the way of family visits?
Whilst bus travel concessions are enshrined within national law, we understand that train travel concessions depend on the fragile finances of TfL. But subsidies towards public transport in London are very low by international standards. Trains have to run anyway for the whole population, so that their use by older people even at peak times does not increase the running costs of the system.
Please do the right thing by older Londoners – remembering that 14% of the city’s population are over 65 and our voting power is considerable – and promise to continue the concessions we so badly need.
Your Name: ……………………………………… (signed)