Wednesday, 17 December 2008

From the Wright Brothers to Heathrow

It's not unusual for me to wake early and if this happens I will as often as not listen to 'News Briefing' at 5.30 on Radio4. For some reason I very often go back into a deep sleep thereafter and this morning was a case in point with me not getting out of bed till about half past eight. Oh how I miss that daily commute! Not.

Back to 'News Briefing'. Each day there is a rundown on the news headlines, weather forecast, review of the newspapers, business and sport reports. If I'm sufficiently with it I get a fair idea of what is happening in the wider world. Right at the end of 'News Briefing' a minute or two is devoted to noting significant events in former years of which that date is an anniversary. This can be quite interesting and one example on this morning's programme was the fact of the first flight by the Wright brothers on 17 December 1903 i.e. exactly 105 years ago. (More about the Wright Brothers in Wikipedia here). It's quite extraordinary how far aviation has come in such a short time.

This all brings me on to ... Heathrow Airport. Today right of centre blogger Iain Dale has had another go at Theresa Villiers, the Tory shadow on Transport, who firmly nailed her party's colours to the mast in opposing a third runway at London's main airport. Mr Dale doesn't beat about the bush - he is firmly agin the Tories on this one. It transpires now that certain government ministers are going cool on the extra runway proposal, there's even a suggestion it should be put to the vote in the House of Commons. Personally I hope that it doesn't go ahead, I know that Heathrow is running at almost full capacity but expanding the facility just seems so fundamentally wrong. Local residents have suffered far too much already and the thought of, and please God it never happens, a mid air incident above the airport in such a built up area doesn't bear thinking about.

One of the outcomes of the rapidly deteriorating value of sterling against other currencies, particularly the Euro, is the fact that holidays abroad suddenly got a lot more expensive. Significant numbers of people jet off to sunnier climes for Christmas and I suspect many will still do this next week as a goodly proportion of them would have booked long ago before the credit crisis really took hold. But what will happen in 2009? Will a lot more UK residents suddenly realise that yes this country has a lot to offer and, assuming petrol prices stay down, a holiday in the home country could look like a very attractive option. After the last two wet summers you would think that a better one should be on the cards too. As a nation holidays are very important to us and are one of the last things we would wish to do without. Tourism in my two counties just might benefit a little next year providing operators maintain reasonable prices.

The worrying low value of the pound could have a silver lining and of course we might attract more foreign holidaymakers to our shores as well!

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