Travel – making a stand for business as usual – An extended holiday to France – merveilleux France – took us to Poitou-Charentes this year; warmly recommended and, of which, more will appear on Exploring More soon.
With the referendum vote still dominating conversation I had expected to hear Brexit more than once during our visit – but no, not a single mention.
In the bars, cafes, shops, markets and tourism centres, the locals we met and talked to were their usual helpful, charming, normal selves.
Brexit apart, however, these are troubling times for tourism and travellers alike.
This was one vacation when I was almost fearful of checking the daily news channels.
The sickening scenes from Nice (my three-year-old grandson and his parents had been on the beach there only the week before) and a succession of random attacks in southern Germany demonstrated just how capricious life can be.
We weren’t to know it at the time but our route back to Calais skirted Rouen and took us close to St Etienne-du-Rouvray, another community destined to hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in a few days time.
How easy it is to find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Over the past 12 months, terrorism has wreaked devastation on the tourism sectors of Tunisia and Egypt. Visitor figures have fallen by 58% and 46% respectively after terrorist outrages at Sousse and the downing of a Russian passenger jet in the Sinai desert. The hotel trade in both Sousse and Sharm el Sheikh is reportedly “on its knees.”
Now Turkey, another A-list destination for Brits, has descended into further turmoil after an attempted coup compounded several suicide bombings.
The perpetrators, misfits turned monsters by a medieval mind-set, have undoubtedly made their mark and, in doing so, have made us more cautious. But if the barbarous tactics they employ are meant to divide they are counter-productive and doomed to failure.
Instead they bring all right-minded people together, religious and secular, make us stronger and ever more determined to protect a civilised way of life.
There is, in my view, no better way of doing that than by travelling to other countries, meeting and talking to people, experiencing and respecting different traditions.
The return journey from Poitou-Charentes took us to the wonderful city of Angers for an overnight stay. It was a suitably uplifting Saturday evening in the Place du Ralliement (above), as we joined with hundreds of others to eat, enjoy the sunshine and be entertained – the right response to those who would have us cowering behind closed doors.
Here’s to the next trip.