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Getting from A to B

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The space you need to store a car could easily be converted into useful living space: a spare bedroom or a study, for example

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One of the things that make travel so pleasant in First-World countries is the ease of moving from place to place. Public transport is the accepted way of getting around for millions of people in Britain and Europe.

Many people don’t bother to own a car.

Cars are expensive to own and run.

They take up parking space, often quite far from where you want to be, and they’re liable to be stolen or damaged.

The space you need to store a car could easily be converted into useful living space: a spare bedroom or a study, for example.

Ever since I’ve lived in Cape Town, people have been complaining about the poor public transport system.

In all the years I’ve been here, the system hasn’t improved noticeably.

It’s a sort of a revolving Catch-22 situation.

Not enough people use the buses to make them profitable, so we can’t afford comfortable, air-conditioned buses, so we are offered hot, uncomfortable buses, so not enough people choose to use the buses

And so it goes.

The same with the train service.

The line to Simon’s Town could be developed into a world-renowned tourist attraction, but the trains are dirty, uncomfortable and, frankly, unsafe.

There are no guards to look after the safety of travellers or tell the driver when it’s safe to move on.

During my recent holiday in England, I found it normal to use public transport.

The trains run on time and they are quiet and comfortable. The public address system announces where you are and where the next stop will be, so even if you’ve never travelled on the line, you will not miss your destination.

The bus service in the town of Reading, where I stayed for part of my holiday, has colour-coded buses. Each route has its own colour.

I quickly learned that purple buses passed close to my address. No matter how lost I was, all I had to do was catch the “Berry Bus” and I’d get home.

Other routes had blue, pink, brown or green buses.

Each route is circular, so no matter where you board your bus, you will get to your home stop eventually.

Back home, I have not been into the centre of Cape Town for years. It’s just too much hassle. Chaotic traffic and expensive parking make it easier to stay at home.

Come to think of it, that’s the best place to be. After visiting great and historic places and seeing amazing sights, it’s good to be back on my Fish Hoek mountainside, sipping good, honest Cape wine and sharing the sea view with my two contented cats.

Maybe the most important part of travel is the joy of coming home to the people and things we love.

Last Laugh

A hunter applied for a gun licence and was told he would first have to undergo a competency test to see whether he could use a firearm.

“But I was trained in the army,” he said.

“Yes, I know,” said the licensing officer, “but the difference is that we try to train gun owners not to shoot people.”