travel Weekend

Chuffed to bits

Retiring University of Lincoln PR lecturer Jane Crofts writes the first of this season’s guest posts that talk mainly about their holidays. If you knew Jane she is far from retiring btw:)

I am a witch!Retirement is now imminent, today being the last actual day of work and the last day on the books is looming large at the end of the summer.

Many of the wise people I know have said to me ‘you are far too young to retire’ but that is delightfully not true, you are never too young to retire! It is a lifestyle choice made by my husband and I (spoken suitably regally if you please). We have never been rich, but we have never had to worry about paying our bills and putting food in the table. We have always been, and plan to continue to be, modestly comfortable. Most importantly, to us, we are planning to be stress free; as far as my natural inclination will allow.

So, for our summer hols; the last one before each day is a holiday, we decided to try a ‘trip’ much favoured by the retired. We both love trains, himself the mechanics of the beasts, myself travelling without driving or flying. We both wanted to visit the West Coast of Scotland and see the fabulous views for ourselves so we booked ourselves onto a West Highland Tour.

We left Lincoln by train heading up to Glasgow, first class of course, to meet up with our party. The joy of the East Coast mainline allows easy internet access and charging points for the electronic paraphernalia that follows us around these days – allowing us to check our journey’s progress, weather predictions and other such obsessions of the Brits on holiday!

We got to Glasgow early to give time to hop on a city tour bus, a great way to look round an unfamiliar place. Fascinating stuff; great buildings, wonderful regeneration projects but for us ‘Lincolnites’  frighteningly busy!

The next morning the party assembled to head to the station for the journey up the West Highland Line to Morar (our base for the next few days). We expected the party to be an interesting mix of people beyond their first flush of youth but it is fair to say we brought the average age down quite considerably! But it was not a problem at all; every group, whatever their age has bores, moaners, entertainers and educators; by far the best informed, most mischievous member of the party was the eldest at 91 years, definitely, young.

The difference in connectivity on this journey from the day before was immediately apparent as the signal dropped down to weak or nothing regularly and as our poor, exhausted smartphones struggled the batteries drained but there were no charging points to be had. The hotel in Morar offered the opportunity to charge up the umbilical cords but the signal there was not any better so we were forced to go cold turkey!

The next three days we travelled by rail and coach enjoying some of the most spectacular scenery the UK can offer. Lochs, Viaducts, Steam Trains, Monuments, Sea, Silver Sands, Mountains and Hills. – stunning, absolutely stunning. The stamina required on the hottest July day in years to sit on a Victorian Steam Train and chug along is considerable, we all made it several pounds lighter I suspect! The line followed much of the route seen in the Harry Potter films, across the Glenfinnan Viaduct and past the island where ‘Dumbledore is buried’.  The coach tour took us to visit Spean Bridge where we were able to contemplate the sacrifices made by our commandos at the monument to their honour and enjoy spectacular views of the snow-capped Ben Nevis, it might have been hot at our level but up there was a different story.

not mount fujiSkye was a bit of disappointment as it was one of the days that played to its reputation as the misty isle; but it did afford and amazing view of a hill doing an impersonation of Mount Fuji. But not a Cuillin in sight.

What fascinated me about our group was the different attitudes to ‘smartphone world’. It was no different from any other random group of people, regardless of age folks loved being connected or hated it. Most had their paper maps out to follow the various routes but many had their smartphones at the ready when a signal was available. The 91 year old spent a fair bit of time talking apps with my hubby.

Travel tech was a challenge on the holiday as I have already observed. In these remote parts internet connections were slow and phone signals generally non-existent; 4G – more like minus 4G! We had taken the decision not to post our travels to Facebook and the like because our house was sitting empty. So I tried a break from the incessant communication that normally fills my day; OK, I confess I did use Messenger to chat to the odd student when I could get a connection, especially as final results were announced on that very hot day!

We travelled with Rail Discoveries, not sure if we will do so again for another few years but it has certainly given me a taste for investigating Inter Rail and the like so I can head further afield without getting on a plane.  And of course, we will have the time to take a leisurely pace from now on without any pressure to be always connected.

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

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