I suppose this is not a huge surprise but the Scottish Government has recently reduced the limit on people from separate households meeting indoors and out from eight people from three households to six people from two households. I had been due to spend a week on Shetland with two birding friends. No longer, so this spells the end of my final holiday plans for 2020, and brings to 100% the percentage of trips I've had to cancel since March. What a year this has been. Or hasn't been.
I would not say I am the type to suffer from depression (although this is apparently an affliction of men my age) but I have to say I am feeling pretty low after this latest blow. This was literally the last one, the one I was clinging to. Just a week, booked up when it looked likely that everything else would disappear - as indeed proved the case. I have no issue with the decision, I am not going to waste my breath trying to justify why my visit to Shetland would be minimal risk, it is what it is. More pertinent was judging the mood - would Shetland Islanders be pleased to see birders from England right now? Almost certainly not. I know quite a few birders who live up there and relations with them, as well as their relationships with the rest of their communities are way more important than a week of birding. We've penciled in 2021 instead, but I am gutted.
|One day, one day...|
Somehow I still have to take something like 15 days of holiday between now and the end of the year, including a mandatory 10 day block. Use them or lose them. The prospect of another three weeks sat at home with the only difference being the exact place I sit does not fill me with joy. In fact it fills me with despair. I thrive on a diversity of interests, I always have. Take one away and for a while I won't even notice, but after a time there is an invisible tug, a calling. I've had a lovely spring and summer at home, my relationship with my plants and garden has deepened and broadened, and I've got seriously into patch birding again, particularly from the house, but my sense is that this is on the wane. Don't tell me how I know, I just do, it is an intensely familiar pattern. In the past I would have been able to delay such a drag by engaging in a constant mix of activities, a weekend away here, a day trip there. Possibly this in itself would have led to a partial switch of focus, but without that variety I sense the decline will be far more precipitous. I feel shackled and I need to get away. Shetland was the release valve.
I don't think it is going to be possible. It only takes a cursory look at the FCO website to see that the concept of "travel corridors" is mostly useless. Half the places on the approved list won't accept UK travellers at all. The other half will, but only if they have taken a COVID test prior to arrival, tests that at the moment are barely even available for people who actually need them. So far I found Italy to be about the only place I could travel, but as we know things can change and often at very short notice. America would have to let me in, and despite the tomfoolery over there still has places I am keen to visit, such as Sax-Zim. But the USA is not on the FCO approved list so once I return I would at present need to self-isolate, a burden which would also be transferred to the family and which would not be fair. Talking about staycations and holidays in England is all very well and good, but it is not what I want to do, not at all. But it may be my only option.