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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

Travels into the attic

With the UK leaving the EU today, it was rather a coincidence to discover a bundle of my dad’s old British blue passports this week while I was browsing in the attic.

Amongst them was the one issued when I was 3 years old and went with my parents on my first ever trip abroad. My trusty friend, Rupert, came along with me, as he did on every holiday. He’s a well travelled bear!

Me, Dad and Rupert in Switzerland, August 1961. Cool sunglasses, eh?


We went to Interlaken in Switzerland, travelling by train. I remember being terrified of walking across the gap from one carriage to another on the way to the loo, as you could see the train tracks passing underneath at speed through the grill below.

Dad’s travels abroad

Dad was a design tools engineer and regularly travelled abroad for his work, visiting the factories where machines he’d helped design were being set up, to give advice or to act as a trouble-shooter.

So his passports are full of stamps from Spain, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. He went to Germany quite often and had learned a smattering of the language, which he occasionally threw into the conversation at home.


Whenever he visited a new country, he would always bring me and my sister each a doll dressed in traditional costume and we built up quite a collection over the years.

Once he had to go to Russia for ten days. Having heard horror stories of overseas visitors being arrested for taking photographs, he didn’t pack his camera, despite usually doing so, as he was a keen photographer. But it turned out not to be a problem and a colleague who took his camera was able to send Dad copies of photos taken as record of the visit.

On that occasion, Dad brought me back a guitar as a birthday present but it had 7 strings, which is usual in Russian culture. I restrung it so it had only 6 strings - 7 was way too complicated!


Interestingly, in Dad’s earliest passport, there was a renewals page, showing various stamps citing additions or changes, whereupon the passport was then re-issued for an extended period of time. Sounds much more environmentally friendly to me, than to throw a passport away and have to apply for a new one.

In the interests of saving the planet, perhaps we should start doing it again? Oh no, wait. No one would make any money out of it, would they?....



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