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February has ended on a bright note – weather wise. We’ve had a gloriously sunny day here in the Calder Valley, where it’s felt like spring really is just around the corner. It’s such a relief after the freezing cold and soaking wet weather we’ve had the past couple of months. If this keeps up it’ll make the last few weeks of Covid lockdown almost bearable as I’ll be able to sit in the garden rather than spending most of my time cooped up indoors.

Looking back over my life I can’t think of a time when I’ve been so restricted to one geographical area. Even when I was a penniless teenager I was out and about as I used to hitch-hike everywhere, sometimes even on a whim. Once (just for the hell of it in 1982) I hitch-hiked from Southport to John O’ Groats and then down to Lands End and back to Southport. Surprisingly, it only took me two and a half days. I’ve always promised myself that when I become more of a man of leisure I’ll write a blog about some of those days. Between 1978 and 1988 I hitched around 75,000 miles and kept logs of how many lifts it took me to get from place to place. What a different era that was! I met some fascinating people and had some crazy times. Looking back over my life it’s fair to say that I’ve always had itchy feet, which is why I’ve not exactly enjoyed lockdown – even if it has had its uses. Once this is over, it’s going to be time to scratch those feet again – big time…

Until then I’ll plod on with making the most of lockdown and scanning all the pictures of past adventures. I’ve still thousands of old slides to get through, many of which tell a tale of a different world., which brings me neatly to the picture of the day, which is from one of the latest batch from India. I took this shot in late December 1993.

It’s the old ferry across the Chapora river from Mandrem to Siolim in North Goa. When I first arrived in Goa in December 1985 these little ferries were the standard way of getting across many of the rivers in North Goa, or for crossing the border into the next state (Maharashtra). When I was staying in Arambol, you had to use these ferries to get to the nearest town (Mapusa) which was quite a day-trip. Then, going to change money at the bank was an all-day adventure. That said, the ferries were a relaxed highlight of the trip. We’d pile onto the local bus and didn’t worry if it connected with the ferry or not because you could always sit and watch the world go by whilst the ferry chugged back across the river. Maybe having a chai, or a cold beer in one of the tea shops or bars as you waited. The ferries started disappearing in the 2000s. Most of the major rivers had already been bridged, but it took until 2003 before the Chapora bridge opened. India being India it would take several years for a bridge to be built from start to finish. The transport infrastructure may have improved, but I miss these little ferries as they were from a time when life was simpler and less rushed – and the cool breeze across the decks on a hot Goan afternoon was something to be savoured!

I’ve a favour to ask…
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