Grounded? No, there’s plenty to see here

April 16th, 2010 in Flying by Sarah Lee 0
Iceland's volcanic dust cloud grounds us all | Dreamstime

The Icelandic volcanic ash cloud and subsequent travel chaos has taught those of us in the UK one thing – we are indeed living on an island and if we want out of here our options are limited, especially when planes are grounded and our airspace closed down. Thankfully this is a rare and rather unprecedented occurrence else we might all go mad.

Take a look at the early headlines in today’s papers and they screamed of claustrophobic panic: Britain is Shut to the World (The Express), Paralysed by the Volcano (The Mail). Granted neither of these papers are known to shy away from sensationalism but there is a sense that Iceland’s volcanic ash cloud has clipped all our wings.

You have to feel for people booked on holidays and important trips that have been completely hampered by the volcanic eruption (it’s in Iceland, who knew it would cause us problems from this distance, least of all down into East Africa?). But I think it’s led to an interesting turn of events: first of all it’s given the 24-hour news channels something to talk about other than the General Election. Secondly it’s shown just how reliant we all are on air travel and how intrinsic it has become to our lives.

Much of this is due to our love of low-cost airlines – how many of us would’ve jetted off to Dublin, Paris or Amsterdam on a whim ten years ago? Today it’s more common than a wet weekend in Scarborough. And that ability to jet off at a moment’s notice has given us such great freedom over the years that we tend to forget we have to cross open sea to get to Dublin, Paris, Amsterdam and much of the rest of the world.

When you can fly the world is a very small place, but when your airspace is closed and you’re stuck at home (all bar the odd seat left on Eurostar trains and ferries – and they’re filling up fast) you realise what a very small island we live on.

Still although our planes may be grounded until at least tomorrow, it presents us with an opportunity to become grounded ourselves and remember what it was like before we could skip the country whenever we liked. More importantly we could use this weekend to discover a great place here at home. Having been to an event for the East of England this week and found out about all sorts of unusual attractions and beautiful places in the region, I know there’s still plenty to see here.

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