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a blog by Chris Barrow



There’s been some comment on both sides of the Atlantic about the fact that I haven’t yet disconnected from the web, even though I’m on vacation.

Perhaps the most significant difference in the world of travel has been the arrival of wifi across large parts of the known world.

Our first sailing holiday in the BVI was 8 years ago.

When you arrived on Tortola insofar as staying in touch with home, that was it – internet access unheard of in the capital Roadtown (except for dingy internet cafes), in our marina, Sopers Hole and during the trip.

Anchoring off a beach and going ashore for an early evening beer was the opportunity to chat to the bar-keeper, each other and fellow sailors, often with an American TV channel blaring out NFL football or CNN news.

Our second trip, 5 years ago, changed as we discovered most of those same beach bars, wooden or not, had limited wifi access and so the evening pre-dinner drinks were devoted to getting intermittently connected with home (and in some cases work) through iPads.

Here we are in 2017 with the island covered in wifi and although we don’t set sail until tonight, I’m expecting plenty of web access as we make our way up and down Drake’s Channel over the next 10 days.

It’s predictable at this point to bemoan the loss of inter-personal relationships between families and friends, personified so well in the movie Captain Fantastic (if you haven’t seen it – please do – a superb modern fable on the price of progress).

I seem to recall my own previous blog posts expressing dismay at observing children and adult restaurant diners mesmerised by their tablets and smartphones.

However, there comes a point in time where we have to embrace change.

The web isn’t going anywhere, and the advances in connectivity and device design mean that I can communicate in real time with fellow business consultants in Sydney, Australia, with my eldest daughter studying for her Masters in a Cambridge coffee bar, with my clients who are always asking questions – all from the balcony of our AirBnB villa in Belle Vue, as we watch a beautiful sunrise across the islands.

And you know what?

That’s OK.

Let me give you some reasons why:

  1. for the umpteenth time in the last few weeks – I’m a freelancer – and the business connections and clients with whom I have communicated (on the train to Gatwick on Tuesday evening and here in Tortola for the last 2 days) are the people who are indirectly paying for me to have fun now – I appreciate them

  2. I love my work and so, to quote Isadore Sharpe, founder of The Four Seasons Hotel Group “if you love what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life”

  3. I know when to stop – Annie and I were up at 05:30 this morning and whilst I’m sat here thinking and typing, she is enjoying a favourite hobby and doing some craftwork – we are chatting as we do our thing. We will stop in an hour or so and enjoy breakfast with our fellow travellers Willie and Xandra Maceachen before packing to go sailing

  4. I will probably stay connected as we travel over the next 10 days and YES I will be posting photographs to Facebook via Instagram, because it’s fun so to do

We complained when shops started opening on Sunday.

We complained about the microwave.

We complained about 100 TV channels instead of 3.

We complain about the web and the integration of devices in to every aspect of our daily lives.

They all have the same characteristics – a blessing when used properly and a curse when abused.

The problem isn’t the march of technology.

The problem is the self-discipline of we who use it.

We are an addictive species by nature, we have to exercise caution in the choice of our addictions, rather then preaching about giving them all up. That isn’t going to happen.

I’ll be using the web over the next 14 days, when it suits me.

If I do get around to blogging or posting photographs, I hope you enjoy them – I know I will.

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