The Great Travel Bucket List!

Not a bucket in sight!

When I win the lottery tonight, which is highly unlikely, I will start work on my bucket list.

I don’t intend to collect buckets because that seems a bit pointless but, although I might be wrong, I’m assuming there are bucket collectors out there somewhere. This is an altogether more interesting bucket list because it’s a travel list…in a bucket!

So, where do I begin?

India. Yes, I’ve been before, yes, I’ve been both North and South, but a visit to my Mothers birthplace of Kolkata seems to be fitting and I still have a great enthusiasm to see both Gujarat and Hampi, as well as visiting the Ajanta and Ellora caves.

Then there’s Egypt. Egypt is my spiritual home in so many ways and a cruise on the Nile is always thrilling.

I’d like to visit Peru, provided the country is quiet and Machu Picchu is open for business. I can’t imagine how galling it must have been for so many when it was closed recently due to public unrest. If that could be combined with Bolivia, that would be splendid.

Laos is on my list. I’ve been to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam but never quite managed to make my way to Luang Prabang and by all accounts, it’s a very nice place.

I’m warming to Indonesia. Years ago I recall a company offering a pretty good tour there, and it came a close second to whatever holiday I chose at that time. I’d really like to see Borobudur and pet a Komodo dragon.

Part of me wants to visit China whilst the other part thinks not. It’s a vast country and I think the Great Wall and Terracotta pots…I mean soldiers, would be pretty spectacular to see. I guess it is on my list, just not that far up it.

Japan is pretty near the top. It’s a dream destination, but not a cheap one so that lottery win is more and more vital if I’m going to make it there. I must stop watching tv programmes that enthuse about it and make me want to go even more.

Then there’s Namibia. I get strange looks when I say that, possibly because nobody knows where it is on a map. I’m very much one for ruins and history but on this occasion I’d swap them for wildlife and vast sand dunes.

Other countries like Syria and Libya appear on the dream list rather than bucket. Safety being an issue in both and having been so for a while, it’s hard to say when either country might be safe enough to travel in.

And that’s about it. No Europe, as you will have noticed, just because whilst I’m sure it’s beautiful, and Italy has some appeal, I feel it’s too close to home and not exotic enough for me.

So yeah, a few countries, a few parts of a few countries and a lot of expense.

Time for my ‘lucky’ dip to be truly lucky, I think!

Flights of Fancy

Head in the clouds

Have you ever flown First or Business Class?

I was toying today, messing about on websites, trying to find cheap…or expensive airfares, and dreaming of sunnier climes and holidays.

I’ve always flown economy class. Fine for 5 hours or 12 if you get the emergency row seats and can stretch out a bit, not so great when you’re cramped in the middle seat because your wife wants the window seat and the person in the aisle seat overlaps yours by a number of inches.

I’m over 6ft tall and I hate that feeling of being closed in, crushed by somebody reclining in the seat in front of me, trying to sort my legs out from around my neck whilst threatening to spill red hot coffee into my lap and give my genitals third degree burns! It is no fun!

So I look at Business and First, and I watch videos of vloggers travelling in style, telling me how wonderful it all is. Then I look at the cost, have a mild heart attack, tell myself that no matter where you sit, the plane gets you there, and spend the money on other things.

But I always come back to it. Is it worth it? Does paying an extra £2000 get you something to the value of £2000? Better food for sure, perhaps a flat bed, better Tv…and the all important amenity kit! And that’s just in Business. In First you might get a suite and, I dunno, a better quality pair of slippers to stick your feet into.

And different airlines offer different services. Better seats, different configurations, newer planes, a better champagne perhaps, or even a better quality comb in your amenity kit!

I want to try it but the cost is prohibitive. I have to remind myself that Business or cramped and crushed class, the plane is going to the same place and we will all make it in one piece…except one will disembark in a happy manner, manicured, well-fed and well rested, whilst I will crawl off the plane, legs throbbing, arms contorted, wondering what the hell I ate and reminding myself never to fly like that again!

Until it’s time to come home!

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This…


I rarely dream about travelling. It’s not something that occupies my sleeping mind and yet, when I’m awake, I day dream about it, and think about it almost constantly.

The moment the sun casts its golden glow over the rooftops, my mind is racing to recapture that magic moment when I was in India or Sri Lanka or somewhere where the sun shines and it’s hot and I can put aside, even for a fortnight, the dullness of home.

It’s holiday brochure time. The time when I feast on images of exotic lands and then hear my wallet complaining at how much everything has gone up. And it has. The cost of living crisis has impacted heavily on fuel costs and now that’s an additional % you need to add into the equation. And, whilst prices go up, you can guarantee that they won’t be coming down.

As I feast my eyes I find myself pondering on the thought processes that these large travel companies go through when deciding how long their tours should be or what sights they should include. I find myself wondering why they didn’t go to A or B or how they expect you to see everything in 11 days.

And why 11? Why not 12 or 14? Why has 7 days become 6 or 8? I recall the ‘good old days’ of 14 day tours (and longer) but now you are expected to pay more for less and I read through itineraries wondering why they feel the need to squeeze that in but not that, or go there but not there.

I suppose that I dream that I could do better. Perhaps I fool myself there, but it would be fun to try. It frustrates me when I see a holiday I’m enthusiastic about, only to find it’s truncated or they don’t go to that one place I had my heart set on visiting, despite it only being ten minutes down the road.

Still, I have brochures. I have brochures and I will peruse them and dream a little. I will dream there’s still a chance to travel again, to put these last few years behind us and see something of the world, before age and health rule it out completely.

Holidays, travel, airports, sunshine. Sweet dreams are made of those.

Reviewing the travel reviewers

Take a seat

Yes I’m jealous, I’ll admit that from the start but having watched probably a hundred or more YouTube videos of people reviewing airlines and seats, I’m starting to get a tad frustrated with them all.

Sure, it looks amazing but the smugness of some of these guys is really off-putting. They bandy prices around as though everyone has £5K just ready to spend on an eight hour flight and don’t seem to understand the privileged position they find themselves in.

Sure it’s our subscription and patreon and views that help them out but they rarely seem grateful that we do it. The thanks given at the conclusion of the video is said with a ‘look at how brilliant I am’ tone and then that smug grin which says I’m here and you aren’t. I’m sure that some of them work very hard but they fail to remember that it’s their life and we can only watch it, not join it and after a while it starts to grate.

Some videos are just not interesting. Loo reviews are, by the by, the same. It’s rare they find one that’s bad, not in business or first class at any rate. The food is usually good in those classes as well and after hearing someone bang on about caviar and the fact it’s the ‘08 Dom Perignon, that’s being served, you get it rammed home even harder that this is a different league.

Let’s face it, when most of us travel, it’s in economy. Yet very few actually use economy when they travel so to the ordinary person, how relevant are the videos? How many of us can access a lounge or get priority boarding? Or get an upgrade because hey, they’ve been recognised.

I watch the videos because I love travel but I do wish the vloggers were a little more grounded, less full of themselves and, on occasion, less superior. If the crew does it’s job efficiently, stop complaining that they “weren’t very chatty”. They aren’t there to make friends with you. And stop moaning about the contents of your amenity kit with your “Oh, there should have been an eye-mask included!”. Be grateful you’re getting one to go along with the hundreds you already have and give it a rest.

Yes, I’d love to be able to do the same and I have no idea how they manage it but I repeat again, they need to knock the smugness down a peg or two, think about how the majority of us travel and concentrate on that.

But glamour sells and I guess that people want to see what they can only dream of.

So dream away.

Travel has changed…and not for the better

Messing about on the river

As I flicked through a brochure the other day I was struck by one thing, the seemingly unstoppable rise in prices that will soon price some of us out of the market.

Companies that used to offer bargains now offered prices over and above their competitors and companies I felt a certain loyalty to, now seemed unashamedly greedy.

I got it, at least in part. The pandemic had crippled the industry and reduced international travel to a trickle. Tours and flights went abandoned and thousands of jobs were lost. But as the pandemic went into a lull and face masks and other restrictions began to be optional rather than mandatory, the companies that did emerge, rather than trying to get passengers up with offers of lower prices, instead went hell bent for leather into a world only the better off can afford.

I’ve been to Myanmar but always keep a look out in case there’s a bargain to be had. £5000 for 11 days is not a bargain. In fact I don’t know how it is justified. The hotels are good but not amazing, the flights are on good airlines but in bog standard economy and I can’t see the value in the holiday.

Japan has always been expensive but I found one holiday that pre-pandemic, was priced at £3995 for 14 days, was now £5795 but for 13 days. Same hotels, same carriers but an extra £1800 for one day less.

I get it, everything has gone up but even so there is a limit to what people will pay. There’s a reason why the cheaper tour operators can sell their tours several times over and that’s because although your hotel might not be five star and your airline might not be a five star carrier, you are going to get there on a decent flight and your hotel might lack a trouser press but will actually still have all the five star facilities.

I’m budget conscious but not in the way that makes me a cheapskate. I want value for money. If I can fly to Japan on a four star carrier and stay in three star hotels and see everything I’d like to see, then I’m going to do that rather than fly on Japan Airlines and stay in Five star luxury if it saves me £2000. Sure I’d like to fly on the national airline and that five star in Osaka does look fabulous, but if you price me out then so be it.

Yes there always has and always will be the luxury market and prices to match but now more and more companies believe they can charge five star prices and if more companies move into that market then they are snubbing loyal customers and putting themselves at risk of failure. Not every company can offer five star service and the sooner some come to realise that, the better.

Travel has changed and it’s pricing the budget conscious out of the market. It’s losing a significant portion of its customers due to unnecessary inflation and ideas that are above the station of the companies involved.

And I really don’t like the way it’s heading.

Reliving the past.

I’m writing my second travel book. The first didn’t do very well (if you call selling not a single copy not selling well) but I’m not deterred as it’s fun to relive past adventures and recall incidents that I’ve forgotten.

I like journaling my travels. I like to be able to look back at more than images, but also at words. How did I feel? What did I experience? Was it pleasant? Was it spectacular? Did it live up to the hype or fail miserably?

Images are a snapshot, frozen in time whilst the words add a greater depth and insight. I can see it’s a temple but what feelings did it invoke? Was I awed? Bored? Confused? Disappointed? The one thing that does stand out in my travel writing is that too often it relies on a small vocabulary to get my message across. Yes, things are often wonderful and spectacular but there’s more to them than that.

I’m not a good writer. I want to be and I do have a much larger vocabulary than some people but fibromyalgia fog and ADHD certainly impact on my ability to dredge up words that accurately describe feelings and so I retreat into well worn territory when I want to do better. At least that’s how I see my writing.

Perhaps I’m limited by how I travel? The organised tour is perhaps restricting and stifling of creativity as individual interactions and activities beyond the core group are limited by time. Perhaps in order to write well you need to be isolated and separated from the norm so that your experiences are more individual and perhaps more risky, more scary, than those of a group. Yes, there is safety in numbers but is there also a limit to imagination?

I can’t say because I prefer the sanctuary of the organised tour and things still go wrong and there is still some capacity to experience something different. Plus you have your fellow travellers to observe and like or dislike.

I don’t know how book two will go. I’m writing it, not expecting sales but because I want to write it. I would like people to see touring through my Autistic, ADHD eyes. To better understand what I get out of it all.

I’m reliving the past and wondering where it will take me.

I dreamed I was in Egypt…

I call heads!

If I closed my eyes I could almost imagine I was in Egypt once more. Not a single breath of wind, an unnatural stillness seemed to fill the space around me and I was transported back to that land I adore.

The heat has been reminiscent of Egypt and other countries I have visited. A heat beyond the norm, one that feels physical, a barrier to be broken through, unrelenting and powerful. It’s an alien heat; alien because it doesn’t belong here, where our summers are spectacular and hot if the thermometer touches 25.

I am reminded of early starts; starts when the temperature was already climbing above 25, clambering over it, dismissing it as an afterthought as it surged higher and higher, when it was only 7.30 in the morning. I am reminded of breakfasts on the terrace overlooking the Nile, starting the day with as much orange juice as a man can consume and sweating it away, skin shiny and slippery with the combination of sweat and lotion.

I am reminded of happy times. Times when I felt I could be me, or at least times when I didn’t have to be the other me, the work me, the masking me.

And perhaps that’s why summer is my favourite season. It’s a reminder of good times, times under a relenting sun, a hot sun that meant I was doing something I loved. Sun meant exotic, strange, inviting. It meant huge pyramids of stone, ancient temples, lush, verdant jungles, and different languages and foods. It meant hotels of all sizes and pools of all sizes and noise and smells, some admittedly a bit pungent, but above all, freedom. A release from the banal and the ordinary.

Yes I dreamed I was in Egypt. Oh, to see her once again…

That sinking feeling.

I gave up yesterday.

I gave up and threw all the holiday brochures in the bin. I don’t see any point in tormenting myself anymore. I don’t want to see pictures of places I want to see but know I will never visit. It’s all become too upsetting.

My new suitcase will find a use as a dumping ground for clothes and I needn’t renew my passport, which saves some money. And I feel terrible.

I’m so tired of hearing my other half have this plan and that plan and then give up and do nothing because they lack confidence. We have talked it through time and time and time again. I try to encourage her but it’s no good. Does she think I am confident in my books? I’m not. They are in the public domain but if somebody hates them then what can I do?

She doesn’t want to lose weight or get fitter or take any exercise. She doesn’t understand how important travel is to me yet she should because I have told her so, so often. She doesn’t want something to aim for. She doesn’t seem to care.

And I’m tired.

Living here because it’s all we can afford. Can’t have a dog, can’t travel, can’t do anything.

I’ve given up.

What’s the point in going on?

The Sun Has Got His Hat On

I’m in the shadow

Hot isn’t it?

I’m writing this whilst my shirt clings to me like a second skin. I’ve already changed it this morning but the heat seems determined that it should stick to me like some ardent lover, afraid to let me go.

I love heat. I travel to hot countries at the hottest times and yet this heat, this ‘British’ heat, seems almost more oppressive than that which I’ve experienced overseas.

I’ve had breakfast in 45 degrees in Luxor, sitting on the terrace of my hotel just feeling pleasantly boiled. Of course that’s a dry heat with very little humidity in the mix and your skin just crisps like pork rind in the heat.

I’ve been out in the desert in over 50 degrees in Jordan. Again, that’s a dry heat and your clothes stay mercifully dry.

Mexico was hot but humid. I recall the days of walking out of my hotel, dry and fresh, smelling sweetly, only to find that my shirt instantly stuck to me, I was no longer dry and fresh and that my deodorant was fighting a losing battle.

But everywhere I went, I coped.

In fact I did more than cope, I revelled in it. I loved it. I seemed able to adapt to the requirements and heat became an afterthought. It was there but so was this and that; distractions from the blazing sun.

I’m doing okay. Yeah it’s 36 in the sitting room but there’s a breeze and when it blows it’s lovely. But I do feel tired, sapped of energy. And that’s odd because the nights, although warm, haven’t been as cloying and close as they were earlier in the year when we had those two or three days of really hot weather. I’m awake early but that’s not new so it’s not that.

Perhaps it’s a combination of things. Work stress, leaving work stress, benefit stress, life stress, fibromyalgia stress and a whole lot more that’s making me feel it this time around. Maybe I don’t have the nice distractions to occupy me and so the heat becomes more noticeable. I wish I knew.

I love the sun. I love Summer. But this time, I wish I was ready for it.

Bringing it all back…


Strange how you forget things. Things that were once so vivid seem to fade with time and the sights and smells become distant memories. A photograph can only do so much. I remember Luxor but now I can barely recall the heat, other than it was very hot and the sounds and smells cannot be replicated by a still or moving image.

You need words. Words can convey so much that when taken with a photograph, brings fresh impetus to memory and you recall more vividly what you experienced.

I’m writing a book about my travels and the words I scrawled from years ago have allowed me to relive experiences I’d long forgotten. Flights I took, hotels I stayed in, people I travelled with and the sights and sounds of countries I loved. The words, written in much closer proximity to my travels and often from diaries kept contemporaneously, are a window on what actually happened rather than the sometimes misremembered sequence of events and places.


I recall some parts quite vividly and yet others seem to drift into one another. Places I’ve been to before become a collage of images and memories that might not be from the correct trip but, because the background is the same, they blend and become from that trip and not that one, the right one.

But now, armed with my notes, I’m reliving the past in more vivid detail, seeing afresh my travels, seeing them with fresh eyes, laughing and being moved once again. And that’s it, I feel moved. My words move me. My feelings are raw and specific to that time and I feel enthused to write about what I experienced.

I’ll let you know how I get on.