*** DEBUG END ***

O unhappy band of globetrotters!

08 August 2014

Leigh Hatts reads a critical reflection on contemporary travel

Making Our Connections: A spirituality of travel
Pink Dandelion
SCM Press £19.99
Church Times Bookshop £18 (Use code CT217 )

PINK DANDELION, writing as a much travelled Quaker, takes a long and closely observed look at travel. Having tried both a hotel and the urban outdoors for bed and breakfast, besides using many forms of transport, he suggests that we need to rethink why we continue to travel in modern times.

He sees the Grand Tour as the first secular pilgrimage, which formed the basis for Thomas Cook's tours. Pilgrimages today he dismisses as package holidays. Their participants are probably obsessed with time.

The definition of a traveller we are given is someone who is away longer than a tourist. He raises many questions about what we see when away. Is the pub ever frequented by locals? Is a view seen only through a camera worth the journey?

Dandelion has read widely about travel. Vita Sackville-West's observation that "there is no greater bore than a travel bore" is just one of many amusing quotations included. David Lodge is obviously one of Dandelion's favourite authors, together with Alexander McCall-Smith and Bill Bryson.

This is a serious book by an academic which is made even more enjoyable by comments on such irritations as railway quiet carriages that are not quiet. He describes airport prayer rooms as "empty sterile spaces, open to all traditions and enriched by none".

The book, while often mentioning the disorientating inconvenience of flight times, dwells on the danger of wanting to be away more than at home, and even needing to be perpetually in the air. The routine of a flight can be easier than facing problems at home. Dandelion is concerned about single travellers' isolating themselves on a plane, however packed, just as they do in a bland chain hotel.

The climax of the book is a return to its start, where he suggests that once no trip for the majority of people would have been more than 30 miles from home. He concludes that he has met more people when on a bus and seen more scenery when walking rather than driving.

He recalls the early Quaker John Woolman, who claimed that walking helped him to avoid worldly distractions of class and race. Dandelion asks whether Paul the apostle would have met the risen Christ driving to Damascus. "We are all called to love our neighbours," the author says, and suggests that community may actually matter more than travel, which only sometimes, as in a family holiday or a wakes week, involves community. 

Leigh Hatts is a former editor of In SE1, a South Bank arts listings magazine.

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

6-7 September 2022
Preaching as Pilgrimage conference
From the College of Preachers.

27-28 September 2022
humbler church Bigger God conference
The HeartEdge Conference in Manchester includes the Theology Slam Live Final.

More events

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four* articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)

*Until the end of June: we’re doubling the number of free articles to eight, to celebrate the publication of our Platinum Jubilee double issue.