Friday's Letters: Trains take strain out of European travel

MARK Bradley is right that travelling to Europe by train is a much more pleasant and more interesting experience than flying, and if you can book ahead need be no more expensive (Yorkshire Post, August 31).

My wife does not like flying and we have been all over Europe by train. A quick trip to King's Cross (not usually as bad as Mark relates), cross the road to the magnificent St Pancras and on to Lille Europe in just over an hour.

From there (often from the same platform) trains radiate to all parts of France. Or travel by Paris to get to Spain and Italy, and Brussels for Germany. We always enjoy the trip, which we regard as part of the holiday.

Travelling from Gerona to Leeds, Mark chose to have a three-hour break in Paris in case his train was late and then an overnight in London. This is not necessary – with a through ticket (bookable via Eurostar

or Rail Europe) even if one train is late, your ticket will be accepted on the next train when you change.

Large parts of Europe can be reached in a day from Yorkshire without an overnight stay or sleeper train – for example, Leeds to Montpellier in 10 hours. To Paris or Brussels, the train probably takes no longer than flying. This illustrates just how feasible long-distance European rail travel is.

From: David Reed, Long Tongue Scrog Lane, Houses Hill, Huddersfield.

Lessons to learn over education

From: Jess Simmonite and Vicky Shaw, managing directors, White Rose Dyslexia Centre, The Portergate, Sheffield.

IN response to the article entitled "Yorkshire pupils failing to make grade in primary school tests" (Yorkshire Post, August 26) the Schools Minister Diana Johnson states "we are ensuring that additional support will be available for those who don't hit the expected level including one-to-one tuition and increased support for children with special educational needs".

What isn't clear is when this will actually happen. The Government has been promising this for many years now, and still it has failed to materialise. With the drop in the number of children achieving level 2 at the end of Key Stage 1, and following the SATs results, surely it is time for the Government to start acting on the promises?

Admittedly, the Government has taken a positive step forward in ensuring there will be a teacher in every school who has had training in dyslexia, but more needs to be done.

Here at this centre we see many parents who have had to fight to get their children even the smallest amount of support. This fight has been long and hard, with school refusals at every stage, funding being the principal reason for the absence of help. Schools are not always given enough money to allow them to offer the support needed to children with specific learning difficulties. This means that some children do not learn these crucial building blocks in literacy and numeracy. If a child misses these vital early stages of literacy and numeracy development, it becomes a difficult challenge to ensure they reach their academic potential.

When you also take into account the number of children in the area who are speakers of languages other than English, it becomes imperative that the correct support is given at this key age.

We would like to see the Government promote better teaching, give access to additional funding (which could come from reallocating MPs' expenses) and provide more training.

Immigrants are an asset

From: Mrs Maureen Wood, Ravensknowle Road, Dalton, Huddersfield.

READING about the latest immigrants in Bradford, I was reminded of the last time Polish people arrived in Bradford in 1948/49.

At that time, having passed all my exams, I had hoped to go on to teacher training college, only to discover I was then three months too young.

However, through the good offices of the headmaster at St Joseph's Junior Boys' School – then at Clayton Lane – I spent the next six months teaching in the infants school.

It was at that period that many Polish immigrants settled in Bradford and many of their children came to St Joseph's. A local girl who lived among them soon learnt enough Polish to translate for them but it was interesting how quickly they picked up English.

There is one little girl I could never forget, I think her name was Danuta. Her father had been a professor in Poland but was driving buses in Bradford. The headmistress took Danuta under her wing and spent playtimes and lunchtimes teaching her English. By Christmas Danuta was the best reader in the class. All the Polish children were so keen to learn.

Soon after Christmas we heard that Danuta's father had been offered a post in Canada and Danuta was to leave us. We were all sad to see her leaving but we heard that she did well in Canada, as was only to be expected. I believe she too became a professor.

I am sure the latest immigrants will do as well in Bradford and will be an asset to the city.

Please pick British veal

From: Ms Wendy Mallon, Foston-on-the-Wolds, Driffield, East Yorkshire.

HALF a million male dairy calves are born every year in the UK. The dairy industry doesn't value them: they are the wrong gender for milk production and beef farmers tend to consider them unsuitable for beef production. In 2008, 115,000 calves were killed shortly after birth.

One way of giving male dairy calves a better life is to rear them for British veal. In the UK, I understand more than a quarter of the population eats veal, yet most of the consumed veal is imported from intensive continental systems that do not match British animal welfare standards.

High welfare veal is being produced in Britain. The calves are reared in groups, on straw and receive a better diet. If British veal-eaters switched from imported to British veal, the British farming industry would be able to give more calves a life worth living.

This is why I urge all your readers in Yorkshire to choose British if they eat veal.

Musical intrusion

From: Trev Bromby, Sculcoates Lane, Hull.

THOUSANDS of years ago, a bored hunter-gatherer twanged the string on his bow – he had discovered resonance.

The musical instrument was born.

Over the centuries, it was honed and cultivated.

From that first twang we got the lute, lyre, sitar, balalaika, harp, chord, harpsichord and finally the piano, in its many forms that we know today, an instrument which has brought pleasure and wonderment to millions worldwide.

Why then do programme makers insist on spoiling plays, films and documentaries with the damned annoying plink, plink, plonk, plonk, tuneless, loud, speech-drowning intrusion of which thousands complain every day, week, year and decade? They fall on tone-deaf ears.

To the perpetrators – we do not want this tuneless addition/ intrusion. I have been forced to turn programmes off. I am not alone.

Plink, plink, plonk, plonk, plonk, why?

An instrument of joy turned into one of torture...

Flight path of avation's commercial pioneers

From: John Redhead, Owst Road, Keyingham, East Yorkshire.

YOUR correspondent Margaret Claxton (Yorkshire Post, August 28) asks about the first regular flight between Holland and England. I hope that the following information may be of interest.

The world's first scheduled commercial airline flight took place on August 25, 1919. On that date, a de Havilland DH 16 owned by Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd, flown by Major Cyril Pattison, left Hounslow bound for Le Bourget carrying four passengers, each having parted with a fare of 21 for a one way flight.

The aircraft took off at 12.40pm and landed at Le Bourget two hours, 25 minutes later. At this time, Holland had not signed the International Convention for Air Navigation but regular flights to the Netherlands began on March 5, 1920. These were charter flights by the North Sea Aerial and General Transport Co Ltd, utilising two Blackburn Kangaroo aircraft, G-EAIT and G-EAKQ flying between Brough and Amsterdam via Lympne in Kent.

The first flight by RW Kenworthy, was for Heatons (Leeds) Ltd, the cargo being 1,000lb of ladies' raincoats.

The weekly service carried some two and a half tons per month, but the detour to Lympne for Customs clearance proved too costly for financial viability.

In May 1920, the Netherlands signed the ICAN Regulations and on the 17th of that month KLM Royal Dutch Airlines began a scheduled service flying between Schiphol and Croydon three times per week. The aircraft was a DH 16 borrowed from Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd.

From: Brian Rogers, Ellers Crescent, Bessacarr, Doncaster.

THE letter from Margaret Claxton reminds me of my boyhood in the late 1930s. I lived then, and still do, no more than a mile from the former airport, now sadly only a memory.

As she says, it was a regular service by the airline KLM between Amsterdam and Liverpool, calling at Doncaster on a grass runway. I don't clearly recall the aircraft, perhaps the De Havilland "Dragon."

On track to waste money

From: TE Marston, Cambridge Street, Otley.

SO the Government is going to have a purge on transport spending (Yorkshire Post, August 24). I presume this does not apply to Scotland where they will be doing what they do best, spending our money.

Their latest stunt is the rebuilding of the "Waverley" route, a 100-mile alternative line from Edinburgh to Carlisle only serving two places worth stopping a passenger train at – Galashiels and Hawick,

places about the size of Otley or Ripon.

They claim that banks are willing to lend all this money. Are these the banks with "Scotland" in the title, which ruined our banking system?

Waiting times

From: Dr Bob Heys, Bar Lane, Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire.

LIKE Michael Booth (Yorkshire Post, August 19), I too have experienced lengthy waits beyond given appointment times in hospital out-patients.

Recently at Calderdale Royal Hospital, the delay for me was over an hour, and other patients told me they had waited up to two hours. It appears, however, that Mr Booth is wrong in attributing the blame for such delays to his consultant.

On raising the issue with mine he explained that the problem arose from managers who added patients to the list he had approved without notification, in order to achieve the targets they are set for appointment waiting times.

EU takeover

From: Edwin Bateman, Sedbergh.

THE REPORT that a Tory government would increase Britain's financial contribution to the EU beggars belief.

Criticising Labour for paying more British tax-payer money to the EU is like the kettle calling the pot black. The plan of the EU political lite to take over Britain step by step is almost complete.

Only the UK Independence Party will allow a vote on EU exit, now a democratic imperative. Gordon Brown, in signing the Lisbon Treaty, has given away British sovereignty and independence.

Drinking bans

From: Patricia Schofield, Park Lane, Blaxton, Doncaster.

TRUST the civil liberties campaigners to complain about the new drinking orders to curb drunkenness on our streets (Yorkshire Post, August 31).

Surely, most people will welcome these banning orders. I hope that they are vigorously enforced by the police and local authorities so that our streets become a safer place for us all.

Back to the top of the page