‘The Gran Tour – Travels with my Elders’ by Ben Aitken


One millennial, six coach trips, one big generation gap.

I truly admire Ben Aitken for embracing the world of coach travel, normally the realm of older folk on a tight budget. A close up experience of different trips to various parts of the country. Eloquent tales of bingo halls and drinks coupons, set meals and hotel entertainment. But this is more than just a comedic view of how the aged like to traverse the nation with flasks of coffee, finger rolls and lashings of camaraderie.

There were moments of laugh out loud delight, skilfully balanced between snatches of real life recollection, moments of poignant interaction with travel companions. These snapshots feel real and relatable. The loneliness of old age, the sad realisation that the body is failing, the rifts and resentments that you feel after a lifetime of work, family and responsibility. Aitken has delivered a social commentary on how the young have so much to learn from their elders; how the dynamics have shifted and how sharing experiences with people half a century older than you can be uplifting and joyous.

This is a book full of observation with some fabulous one-liners. It’s probably the best advertisement for Shearings Coach Travel, who my own Aunt highly recommends. In this age of post-pandemic ‘staycations’ I’m actually considering this as an option for future excursions. Why not?

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