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Page last updated at 15:02 GMT, Monday, 19 April 2010 16:02 UK
Iceland ash cloud impact felt in Hampshire and IW

departures board
The volcanic ash cloud has closed airspace across northern Europe

With the cloud of volcanic ash disrupting air travel, people from Hampshire and the Isle of Wight found themselves stranded around the world.

Meanwhile at home, relatives have been trying to keep in touch and workplaces are counting the cost of absent employees.

Missing work

Southampton PhD student Gemma Campbell emailed BBC Hampshire from Rome from where she was due to return last Friday after a holiday with her mother.

They are staying in a B&B but are acutely aware of their holiday finances having to be unexpectedly stretched.

She said: "We are trying to keep all of our costs down and have managed to transfer money out of savings to pay for this."

"It appears now that as long as we keep our contract with the airline that we may be able to claim for accommodation/food so are keeping all receipts.

"This holiday is going to work out costing double what it should have done and as a PhD student, it is not something I can afford.

"We have decided to try to make the most of the extra time here. Thankfully it is 'Culture Week' so all of the museums etc are free.

"People keep suggesting taking other modes of transport home. From here the options would be car (there are none available and would cost a fortune), train (limited tickets, strikes, space on Eurostar issues), ferry (very very long and expensive journey).

"And if we do cancel our flight and resort to one of these methods, we may not actually get home much quicker, will spend much more money and have no way of claiming any of it back."

The University of Southampton said 250 staff and 400 undergraduate and postgraduate students, either on University business or on holiday, have so far been unable to make it back to the UK.

Many of the south's schools have started the new term with pupils and teachers missing.

Brune Park Community College
Brune Park Community College in Gosport has closed its Year Seven classes

Brune Park Community College in Gosport is one of the worst affected. Year Seven has been closed for the week as the school has found it difficult to find supply teachers.

Head teacher Dr Ian Johnson explained: "We thought if we planned for this week we can at least let parents know where they stand. And then towards the end of this week, hopefully things will improve for Monday - hopefully."

One of the teachers, David Rolfe, is stranded in Crete after a cruise.

Speaking on BBC Radio Solent, he said: "At the beginning, we though 'two or three days extra holiday' - fantastic. Now the uncertainly is getting a bit frustrating. There are lots of stories of people here missing weddings, self-employed people losing money."

Meanwhile BBC Radio Solent presenter Jon Cuthill is stranded in Morocco. On his Twitter, @stickjonon he said "still can't find a flight, people getting a bug, it's just started raining and there's no surf - novelty has now well and truly worn off."

Working online

Ian and Corine
Ian and Corine were due to fly back from Taipei with KLM

Ian Ferguson from Cowes is working for Southampton's Mayflower Theatre - from a friend's house in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei.

He said: "My work have been very understanding and willing for me to work online from here."

Ian and his girlfriend Corine were due to fly back to London via Amsterdam and also faced difficult decisions.

He explained: "KLM couldn't let me know if the flight was going ahead until a couple of hours beforehand. I did have the option of flying the first leg to Bangkok, but declined in case we were stuck there - and I'd rather not be, as the political situation there would probably invalidate our insurance.

"My main concern is my goldfish - I'm sure other travellers are in worse predicaments!"

Southampton web developer Ben Hodgson was stuck in San Francisco where he was attending a conference. He was also able to do some work online.

He said: "I've met some great people out here who've offered me an airbed for a few nights, so I'm lucky.

"I have clients back home who I am supposed to be on-site with this week, so it is costing me from both ends - loss of revenue and the additional expense of accommodation out here once I move on from the airbed."

Church volunteers

"I'm just waiting at the end of the phone," said BBC Radio Solent listener Hazel, whose husband Alan is in Kenya where he has been on a volunteering trip with a group from a New Forest church.

Alan's trip had taken him to Nairobi, Kisumu, Homa Bay in Kenya as well as the Rwandan capital of Kigali before planning to returning to Heathrow over the weekend.

Hazel said: "His job means he practically lives on planes, so he's used to travelling - I feel sorry for those poor people who aren't."

Alan and his colleagues' first attempt to get a flight into Egypt in the hope of somehow crossing the Mediterranean.

However they were told no-one was being allowed into Egypt without an onward booking, leaving them stuck at Nairobi airport.

Hazel said: "The church are being very supportive. I'm concerned he will run out of malaria tablets and credit cards can only last so long."

The team are turning the extra time to their advantage by returning to Kisumu where there is a church at the orphanage.

Hazel said: "They might as well use the time usefully."

"Irritation factor"

Iceland eruption
The 2010 eruption has caused travel disruption across Europe

Benjamin Dyer runs a software company, Actinic, in East Cowes. Some of his staff members are stuck in Hungary, having been due to fly back to the UK last Friday.

He described the disruption as "an irritation factor at the moment" with the staff hunting out wi-fi hotspots in Budapest, so they can continue working.

Mr Dyer said: "If it drags on it could be pretty catastrophic. We need to get staff back, and other staff out to India to complete projects. If the problems continue, I don't even want to think about it.

"It reminds us we're not in control as much as we like to think we are. They have run out of mangoes at my local store - my wife was devastated!"

Coach journey

Roger and Rowena Beckworth from Basset in Southampton did manage to return home successfully - having been on a business trip to Milan with other Intoto Kitchens franchisees from the UK.

Coach group
Roger and Rowena Beckworth travelled back by coach from Milan with 66 others

When it became clear they would not be able to fly home as planned on Friday, a double-decker coach was arranged to leave the hotel at on Saturday morning.

However, the journey was far from smooth. A TV monitor caught fire and the on-board toilet malfunctioned - the situation was not helped by two passengers having food poisoning.

Added to that were traffic jams in Switzerland.

Rowena said: "We amused ourselves by silly quizzes and a sweepstake on what time we thought we would arrive at Heathrow and the doors of the coach would open."

Having made the English channel, expecting to travel through the Channel Tunnel, they eventually ended up on the 0345 P&O ferry.

Rowena said: "We got indoors at 7am having been awake 24 hours with no sleep."

Have you, or someone you know, been stranded because of the ash cloud? Has your business or workplace absentee staff? Have you any stories about successfully making back home to Hampshire or the Isle of Wight? Are you stranded here, waiting to travel abroad? Email hampshire@bbc.co.uk or follow us on Twitter @bbc_hampshire




SEE ALSO
Ferry passenger problems at port
19 Apr 10 |  England
Volcanic ash flight ban extended
20 Apr 10 |  Hampshire
White records deadly ash of 1783
19 Apr 10 |  History

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