Card clash

If you are using public transport in London, you can use an Oyster card or a contactless credit or debit card. Yes, you can also use mobile devices with eg Apple Pay.

You often see people putting their wallets directly onto the readers. If these contain more than one card that could be used to pay for travel, it is possible that the wrong card is chosen by the machine, or no card or all cards are used. This is the so-called card clash.

Do avoid it by carefully taking your card out before using it.


I have just come back from a holiday in Chicago. I have been there very many times, but always enjoy going again and always find new and rather surprising things to do.

It is a very special place. If you love your architecture then you will find plenty to enjoy. The boat trips down the river were really busy, and are worth doing.

It’s a great place for walking, and the food can be wonderful. Yes, sure there are the rubbish places, but there are some truly wonderful places, especially if you are a meat eater.

What sets the city apart are the people, who are genuinely friendly and polite. Given its size, it is a clean city too.

Definitely worth a visit, if you can. Don’t dismiss it as just another big city, because it isn’t. There’s a chance to see some fine theatre at reasonable prices, and the Navy Pier is one of the biggest attractions in the whole country.

Day trips

I appreciate that summer is nearly over here, but autumn is still a nice time to visit. Schools are back and theoretically it’s quieter and cheaper.

If you do come for a longer period of time, there are many lovely places to visit within an hour of London accessible by train. Buying tickets for trains is a bit complicated these days. Rolling up to a station and buying a ticket at a machine is definitely possible, but you won’t always get the best deals, so look on-line first if you can.

Anyway, here are some suggestions, perhaps worth investigating:

  • Canterbury, in Kent
  • Brighton (by the sea in Sussex)
  • Rye (old and wobbly)
  • Windsor (castle and park)
  • St Alban’s
  • Richmond (river and elegance)
  • Kingston-on-Thames and Hampton Court
  • Colchester (Britain’s oldest recorded town, in Essex)

Of course, if you have more time, Oxford, Cambridge, York and even Durham might be possible.


I used to visit the USA a lot, and other places. I found that it was worth it for me to buy an annual travel insurance. After two journeys, it was basically paid for.

You really have to have some travel insurance. You never know what might happen.

But I have an existing medical condition that is not life threatening but needs medication (pills). So, when I apply for insurance, I tell them what I have. It’s never been a problem for me, at home or away.

Because I have a condition, my insurance goes up. A lot.

And this seems very unfair. I know what I have, it’s being treated, it’s under control, it’s not a problem. A person who has something they don’t know about will get cheaper insurance. Just because you don’t know (and therefore don’t say) doesn’t mean you don’t have it, and you could possibly succumb while you are away.

So, the people who have medical problems and get them under control get penalised, and others with problems do not. Ignorance is bliss, they say.