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Monday, 3 October 2022

Question: Have I been around?

It could be all yours but you'll
need a passport and some moola

This is probably going to look like boasting. Well, what the hell? For a citizen of the UK there’s little to boast about now or in the foreseeable future.

A blogging friend, native to the USA, admits to never having had a passport and to have only visited Canada. In contrast (see list below) it seems I’ve been something of a nomad. Some explanation is necessary, however. National Service in the RAF, journalistic work and being interested in snorkelling and ski-ing are the reasons behind some of these destinations.

I did wonder idly whether I’ve visited all the English counties. I think so but can’t be sure. Not surprisingly my knowledge of those in the north betters that of those who call south-east England home. Where, ironically, I have lived for over thirty years. 

At least a week (in some cases months and years): USA (Flitting to and from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington, Oregon, New York, Georgia, Indiana, West Virginia, California, Alaska), Canada, France, Germany, Singapore, Malaysia (then called Malaya), Japan, New Zealand, Scotland, Wales, Austria, Italy, Portugal, Italy, Greece (Islands: Karpathos, Rhodes), Sweden, Mauritius, Switzerland, Venezuela, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Croatia (then called Yugoslavia), Czech Republic.

Ate a meal in: Bahrain, Finland, Thailand, India, Belgium, Holland.

Stayed overnight in: Iraq, Pakistan, Cyprus, Spain, Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon).

Would have liked: The Baltic States (any of them), Hong Kong (but not recently), Australia, Patagonia, Lebanon (pre-WW2), Bermuda (not entirely sure about this).

Pleased to have avoided: Albania, Chechnya, Columbia, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, the others called Georgia (in what used to be USSR/an island in the Southern Ocean), Turkey


  1. I love reading your list of countries that you have visited. I have only been in three countries-- the USA, Canada, and Mexico. I have driven across the US seven times and visited many of the states, but not all. I drove across Canada once. What a beautiful country to travel through. There was a moment while driving through Saskatchewan, the view was so vast, I thought I could see the curvature of the earth. It was magnificent. I would have liked to have visited Europe, but I don't fly or travel by ship, so all my adventures have to be vicarious there.

    1. NewRobin13: I can't say I set out to visit all those countries - with quite a lot of them the decision was made by others. However, retrospectively, I'm glad I did. I am a strong supporter of Dr Johnson's epigram: "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel" so those who say "X (the country they are presently living in) is the best place in the world" lose a good deal of their credibility if it turns out they've not lived anywhere else. This doesn't apply in your case; with flying and marine travel ruled out and it being rather far for a swimmer.

      I concluded that no country is utterly perfect but for me the UK is the least worst compromise. That has worked for several decades but as the UK now seems to be turning right into a mini-Fascist state that compromise is being severely tested. The deputy editor on the magazine I last edited before retirement tells me he's taken on French nationality (as well as British) and I rather envy him. But he is married to a French woman and took foreign languages at a university in France. In any case, at 87 I doubt I could face the disruption.

  2. Intriguing and really interesting! Made me come up with my own lists:
    At least a week, in several cases years: Ireland, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, The Netherlands, England, Wales, Czech Republic (while still Czechoslovakia), Spain, Turkey, Seychelles, Mauritius, Kenya, India, New Zealand
    Ate a meal in: Luxembourg, Andorra, Australia
    Overnight: Singapore
    Would have liked: Albania, Montenegro, Pacific Island States, Iceland
    Avoided: going further west than Ireland, ie USA and Canada

    1. Sabine: Having read your list I'm reminded that I did visit Iceland but only ate a meal there. This was in 1965. Icelandic Airlines offered the cheapest transatlantic flights and I wasn't entirely sure a job awaited me in the USA. Cheap flights because IA still flew propellor-engine planes, the crossing lasted 17 hours, and there was a brief mandatory stopover at Reykjavik at perhaps 2 am.

      I was glad to have avoided Albania because I worried that traces of the tyrant Enver Hoxha's long long rule might still be in evidence. In fact I believe things have changed there and they are now desperate for tourists.

      I'd say that Luxembourg and Andorra are real collector's items. Perhaps you should add in The Vatican in suport of another epigram Multum in parvo.

    2. Luxembourg is where Germans stop for cheap petrol on their way to and from France. But I also did spend a whole day there once and the food was lovely.
      Andorra is where you go on when on a holiday in the French Pyrenees and it's raining.
      Now that you've mentioned it, of course The Vatican. While in Rome on a 2 week school trip, our guide was eager to arrange "dates" with the pope's Swiss Guards and we, five 16 year, olds played along. After a frugal dinner in some boring mess hall, things got a bit too touchy feely and we ran.

    3. Sabine: We've reached the stage where sexual abuse of children within the RC church has become the norm rather than the exception (On which subject I can thoroughly recommend the movie Spotlight - a rarity to some degree in that it shows practitioners of my trade in a favourable situation). But for it to be hinted at in The Vatican seems to be yet another awful revelation.

      I never thought Germans were people who sedulously "looked after the pennies".

    4. Getting the cheapest petrol is a national sport, we even have an app for it, several actually.

  3. Well I have only managed Gemany, France, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Switzerland and Italy in Europe. Since daughter lives in Australia - of course. That led us to take in New Zealand a couple of times whilst down under with her.

    The last, after touring it, both North and South Islands, for a month took our hearts.Had we been a little younger it would have been our country to emigrate to, we loved it all - the magnificent and varied scenery, the sense of it being still preserved in the early '30s, the empty roads (no motorways) and the friendly inhabitants. Good, too, to note that the indigenous Maori were a proud people still and involved in their country, unlike the Aboriginal Australians who generally have been swept into outback reservations by the incoming settlers.

  4. Avus: I fear others responded equally enthusiastically (as we did too) and eventually NZ had to pass laws that prevented people acquiring second homes there. Buy a home there now and you have to occupy it for quite a large percentage of the year.

    We went there three times, for four/five week stints, starting in 1999. The tourist situation has changed significantly with accommodation prices now in the same bracket as those in the UK. Farmstays (one of NZ's greatest attractions) are also now rarer. We took small plane flights on several occasions and those too (especially in the vicinity of Mt Cook) added to NZ's charms.