Where readers write back

Happily stranded

We cannot speak highly enough of our recent easyJet experience. We were due to travel back to Bristol from Madeira on 15 April, the day the ash struck, and were told by the airline we had to wait until 24 April . Fortunately, we are both retired so it wasn't much of a problem. The airline accommodated us in the Buganvilia Hotel in Funchal where we were offered three meals per day at their expense. The staff were all very friendly and went out of their way to make us feel welcome.

John and Olive Greenwood

Eastern hospitality

Our holiday in Muscat in Oman was due to end on the morning of the first volcanic-induced delays on 15 April. We were at the airport, checked in, at the gate ready to board – then Oman Air announced unconfirmed delays which, one hour later, became official. They promptly renewed our visas, sent us all by coach to a three-star hotel in Muscat, with full board (sadly no bar or pool, but hey!) and arranged with the hotel owner for day trips out, city tours, beach barbecues, even mosque visits for the Muslims in our party.

They gave us updates by fax every morning at 9am, which allowed us to spend days outside the hotel if we preferred. We were their guests for six days. Pretty good service: we were just economy, not first class or anything posh.

Steve Cook, London

We were in Brunei for a three-day stopover en route home from Auckland. We were obliged to stay on at The Empire Hotel until skies cleared. (Brilliant value, by the way, as you can get an online price of £100 per night, double with massive breakfast buffet.)

Royal Brunei Airlines kept us well informed and assured us that all expenses for accommodation and food would be met by them.

We had a brilliant extended stay until they could fly us home on Thursday 22 April.

Judy Otter, County Durham

Closing the skies: an overreaction?

The former head of research at Rolls Royce, Professor Alan Turner, said on BBC Radio 5 Live that there is no concentration of volcanic ash which will not adversely affect jet engines, it's just that a higher concentration will manifest problems sooner rather than later. Personally, I would give more credence to someone like Professor Turner than Richard Branson.


I work for GreenSkies on the environmental issues of aviation. I don't doubt there is a safe-ish level of ash, which could be determined by combining all forms of observation, from ground lidar [a laser-based sensing technology] to satellite. But last month's problem wasn't really all that much to do with any of this, all of which worked pretty well – the difficulty was having an ash cloud over those bits of Europe with many major airports right underneath.

Jeff Gazzard, London

Putting Hereford straight

The spire of All Saints' church is, in fact, beautifully straight and perpendicular. The internal ironwork was corroded to a dangerous level. Scaffolding was erected and the top, twisted, portion of the spire rebuilt.

Michael Morris

All Saints' Church used to have the world's second- biggest chained library until, supported by the Getty Foundation, it was incorporated into the Hereford Cathedral library. Also, an excellent café has been incorporated into the ancient church to make it a vibrant community focus.

Fiona Mynors

Cuban comments

You say "restoring human rights" might do a better job in saving Cuba than tourism! Surely the human-rights abuses in Cuba all occur at the US end: Guantanamo?

Mertle Hill

We spent two fantastic weeks in Cuba in December. My husband needed urgent medical treatment which was provided quickly, professionally and free of charge.

I just hope that as Cuba modernises, which it so obviously needs to do, it doesn't forget or lose the successes they already have: free, good health care and education.

Helen Webster

A-Z of Ferries

In the last six years we have reached Iceland, Tunisia and the Canary Islands by train and ferry, as well as northern Spain. However, most of the ferries we have taken do not appear in the article. It would have been great to have seen some of these featured and give readers an idea of the scope of non-flying journeys.

Rowena Quantrill

You mentioned a Greyhound promotion from London to the Isle of Wight. I notice that it is only one-way. How much must you pay to be let off the island again?