IN an idle moment, possibly at this time of year when pining for warmer climbs, do you ever thumb through your passport?

I occasionally do when moving piles of stuff around, to carefully return it to its ‘safe’ place to be forgotten ensuring a frantic search the night before travel.

If you holiday further afield than the EU, where your passport will seldom be stamped, your tiny book can fill with inky stamps and forbidding-looking documents in unintelligible scripts.

Your passport can tell its own stories. I sometimes look in horror at the Turkish visa in my passport, without which I couldn’t leave Istanbul airport, but having lost my wallet, didn’t have the $10 to pay for. Several hours and signatures later, and on surrendering my passport, I was lent the required cash.

Thumbing through my current passport, I always feel a pang of regret that when I renewed it eight years ago, I forgot to ask to keep my old one.

So gone are the stamps from newly-democratic Czechoslovakia in the early 90s, and gone was the visa to visit Russia in 1998. This was another trauma which pained me before even leaving these shores.

I sent my passport three times to the Russian embassy in London with the required documents, confirming I had somewhere to stay with cheques.

Back it would come with some problem highlighted (this was before online applications). A series of difficult phone calls to a fearsome and rude Russian woman, who at one point asked ‘Why are you lying to us?’ convinced me that everything I’d read about Russian paranoia was true.

Coming from the Isle of Man, I have a slightly different passport to UK residents. It’s British, but my guarantee to ‘enter without let or hindrance’ comes from the Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man and not the Queen. The Manx navy amounts to a couple of fishery protection vessels, so the chances of them sending a gunboat in the event of said let or hindrance are small.