The Evening Class;Mind and Body;Armchair travelling

19th February 1999 at 00:00
If you could travel anywhere on a Friday evening - where would it be? A group of 15, from St Anne's in Lancashire, is taking off for Prague and still plans to make it home in time for tea. No Concorde or Tardis is involved. This is armchair travelling.

To be more accurate, it is hard-backed chair travelling. But this does not affect the passengers' spirits. Apart from two newcomers, everyone knows one another and there is a bubbling air of anticipation about the "virtual journey".

Tour guide is Gerry Mayers, a retired Customs officer who talks with infectious enthusiasm and prodigious knowledge. His research is meticulous - he can describe the geography and history of an area minutely and throw in a few well-chosen anecdotes for good measure. Finally, he shows a video to bring the place to life.

As with all good journeys, refreshments are provided. "Who's for wine?" asks Gerry like all attentive flight attendants.

The words of the Czech national anthem are passed around while the music is played on tape. Luckily for the travellers, no one is expected to stand up and sing.

Kathleen Klegg has travelled this way for eight years - and loves it. She has already visited Prague "in the flesh" but still finds that "this is a very interesting way to get to see these places . . . last week it was China."

Jean and Frank Wilson enjoy real holidays too, but admit "we are not very adventurous. So to come and find out about a place gives us more confidence".

After a break comes a quiz and travel news. Everybody hoots at the story of an unfortunate man who fatally misjudged the length of his bungee cord. "Everything is worth learning," says Barbara Whally, "Gerry convinces you that you want to go to see the place."

Next week they're off to Egypt. Except for the couple on holiday.

The class took place at St Anne's Campus, Blackpool and Fylde College, Lancashire. Tel: 01253 352352 ext 5005

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