NOTHING would stand in the way of a 70-year-old Hampshire woman and her dream holiday, let alone an out-of-date passport.

When Christina Bray arrived at Gatwick Airport with two relatives for her first holiday to Italy she was informed that her ten-year-old passport had expired two days ago and she could not travel.

But that was not going to stop her.

Overcoming all red tape and with a £175 hole in her pocket, Christina arrived at the hotel in Italy just seven hours after her astonished relatives.

Christina, a great grandmother from Lupin Road, Bassett Green, Southampton, was being treated by her 82-year-old aunt and cousin to a week-long holiday in Sorrento, Italy, the home of her late mother.

The group arrived at the airport for their 5am flight only to be told Christina would not be able to travel.

Unselfishly Christina allowed her aunt and her cousin to go on telling them that she would be okay.

Resigned to the long journey home to Southampton, she looked for a taxi only to be quoted £132 for the fare.

It was then Christina, who had never travelled alone before and suffers from arthritis, had a change of heart.

She said: "It was 4.15am and I could not go anywhere so I took the train to Victoria Station in London, which cost me £15.

"I had breakfast in a workman's caf and asked them if I could stay until the passport office opened at 7am.

"When I got to the passport office there was already a long queue and they said I could not get in without an appointment."

Christina blagged her way to the front of the queue claiming it was an "emergency" and she had an appointment at 7.45am.

With no documentation other than her old passport Christina was told she could have a new passport by 12.15pm and it would cost her £75 plus £3.50 for some passport photos.

After killing a few hours in the centre of London Christina decided she needed to hurry things along. She went back to the passport office and with a little "gentle persuasion" she was given her passport at 11.10am.

She said: "I took the train back to Gatwick but I did not have a ticket for the plane. I told the rep about the situation and after checking the computer booking system she managed to get me onto a flight at 3pm for an additional £55.

"I had spent all my English money before the holiday had even started."

Meanwhile, cousin Anna Turpin and aunt Anita Citrone had been re-routed to Rome because of strikes at Naples airport. After landing in Rome at 7.30am they had to catch a coach for the five-hour trip to their hotel in Sorrento, oblivious that Christina was hot on their heels.

Anna said: "We were ringing home all the time worried that she had not managed to get back."

Christina's later flight suffered no such delays but she could not remember for certain which hotel she was staying in.

She said: "There was no rep at the airport when I landed so I jumped in a taxi and was given a choice of three hotels. I went for the Michaelangelo."

Christina had guessed correct and she walked into her hotel room just after 11pm local time to find everyone was fast asleep in bed.

"They could not believe I was there," she added.

"I'm glad I did it. It cost me £40 more than the taxi home but I had a superb holiday."

"I think my aunt is going again next year so I hope to go with her."


"Taxi please." - Tassi per favore.

"How do I get to the hotel?" - Come ottengo all'hotel?

"Where am I?" - Dove sono?

"What time is it?" - Quando ?

"Can you help me?" - Potete aiutarli?

"How much is that?" - Quanto quello?

"Passport." - Passaporto.