Where we consider what I’ve done with our year of captivity and wonder if it is ever going to end. Plus we look ahead at what is likely to be available to us next month, and ponder just how much time can slow down when you’re really waiting for something.
I want my year back. I want the trips I should have taken and the money I should have earned. I want to meet the people I should have met. I want to travel abroad, I want to see my friends and I want to meet strangers.
We have now left lockdown and entered Lockdown Lite ™, meaning shops and hairdressers have reopened, pubs and cafes can serve outdoors (massive queues or book weeks in advance) and we can get together outside in groups of up to six.
Queues to get in shops are ridiculously long; has everyone missed shopping that much? Where are they all going that they need all these clothes? I guess if your income has stayed uninterrupted and you haven’t been able to get out and spend then you have money to spare right now. These are the people making BoJo happy by kickstarting the economy.
Once I’d got my hair cut I lost interest in this bunch of supposed freedoms; I am now counting the days until our next step on May 17th.
This is supposed to be our last lockdown ever, but I’m not convinced. I’m afraid that by winter there will be a new vaccine-resistant strain, or current vaccines will stop working and require a top-up, and we will find ourselves back down the rabbit hole.
As if to illustrate this, the UK government has just secured 50 million booster jabs to be given out next autumn. However we still can’t spare any vaccine to help out India right now, or other countries where they are struggling. But don’t worry; as long as we’re all righ,t eh?
If I’d have known how abruptly last summer’s freedoms were going to end I would have visited more places and swum in more oceans whilst I had the chance. I’m determined not to make the same mistake again this year. I have so much fun planned.
Of course we still haven’t been given the official green light to travel. Hotels and campsites in England remain closed (only totally self contained holiday homes are allowed to open). There is still a £5000 fine in place for anyone visiting an airport without ‘good reason’.
We’re just over two weeks away from the big day when travel will be allowed again, which hopefully includes international travel, but still no announcement on which countries will get the green light.
The list is likely to include a whole bunch of countries where permission to travel is largely theoretical (Australia and the US, for example, who won’t let us in anyway), and places like San Marino (where we would have to enter via a disallowed country), In the first wave we are likely to get just Gibraltar and Iceland as our only viable options, although some optimists are holding their breath for Portugal.
Whatever we get, we are going to have to budget for a Covid test to re-enter the UK (regardless of whether or not we’ve been vaccinated) and another test a few days later.
So I don’t think I’ll be racing overseas as soon as we get the green light, however desperate I am. It’s not just the cost of all those tests but the aggravation of arranging them and the queues at arrivals where compliance to all your legal requirements are checked (the irony is that the most dangerous part of any trip, from a Covid point of view, is likely to be the waiting around at the arrivals hall at Gatwick, freely mixing with people arriving from all over the world).
Prices for domestic tourism have shot up, taking advantage of all the people who have abandoned all hope of an overseas trip. There is no way I am spending £200 a night to stay in a drizzly British town, overrun with visitors. However I do still have my tent, so we’ll see what we can figure out once it’s clearer what is happening.
More of Europe should start to open up to us as summer progresses, mainly the usual suspects ( Spain, Greece, Italy) who rely on tourism for their economy.
So all in all I’m still stuck. The things I want to do remain closed off to me. I’m not just talking about travel here, but things like art, visiting friends who don’t live locally (this would be all of them) and taking classes (that aren’t online).
The opportunity to queue for a shop or a pub doesn’t excite me too much. I’ve taken a few day trips but places are busy and the endless queues for everything get me down.
I hate that I’m effectively wishing my life away but I need to get at the next leg.
The sameness is slowly killing me. Every day I work on projects and business ideas that are not really coming together the way I had hoped. I cook my healthy lunch, (I got through lockdown #1 by bingeing on sugar so I vowed this one would be different), I go for a walk (maybe, if it’s not raining), practise my French and watch a bit of Netflix and then I go to bed ready to do the same thing tomorrow.
Some final gratuitous photos from day trips through April