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.
This sort of gripe doesn't endear you to anyone Jono.ReplyDelete
WTF? Is this sarcasm? Please tell me it is as otherwise I'm not sure exactly how you are reading this post Ric. I think you should tell me. Regardless I will rise to the bait, if that is what it is. I've spent six months working 10 hours a day approximately 8 feet from where I sleep. I've had 5 days off since November 2019. OK so I have a job at least, and nobody died, but progressively every single one of my planned breaks with family or friends that are so important for my mental wellbeing has fallen by the wayside. Every single escape from this monotonous slog that I had been looking forward to and that keeps me going has ended up coming to nothing, ensuring that I continue sitting next to my bed staring at a computer screen with no end in sight. This was the last one, the one I was clinging to. I am not chancing my arm lying and going anyway, I am accepting of it and the overriding reason (beyond illegality) that we cancelled was so as not to put people we know and respect on Shetland in a difficult position. I have barely said a thing about all the other disappointments this year, the cancelled golden wedding anniversary celebration, visiting my 95yo grandmother in a home in Ohio and all the rest of the things I had hoped to do. This one was the one, the last one, and to see it too get pulled from under me I am finding particularly difficult to cope with. What is so bad about writing about that?Delete
And I rarely try to endear myself to anyone.
It's tough at the moment, I suspect everyone is struggling in some way. For me it's when I think about the impact on the kids it hits home hardest. As for birding I am lucky to live by the sea in Norfolk which helps, but like you I have lived my professional life largely (but fortunately not exclusively in 2D). If it helps a couple of things I have tried to do that help are to accept that this could go on for a while, take it one day at a time and try and take pleasure in the things around me. As for your holiday I know it isn't what you want but you could do worse than an east coast road trip treat yourself to a winter dawn at Snettisham and the wall of sound at Frampton they can be truly life affirming. Hope this helps in some small way, love the blog btw.ReplyDelete
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Bud, just this afternoon I have booked a big ol' cottage on The Garrison, Scilly. There is room for spare, so far we are 2 definites, poss 3. Ample room for another 3. Get yerself to Penzance Sat 10th Oct in good time for the boat out. Returning the following Sat afternoon, but feel free to quit early if needs be. No shittin', straight up. You fancy a week on Scilly next month just say. Person number 4 would bring the price down from £37pppn to...er...less! You don't even have to talk to us, though we may accidentally meet in the kitchen at some point. Genuine offer, up to you.ReplyDelete
Ooof, love Scilly, and not been for an age. My leave dates run until 14th, so there is a slight overlap. What a lovely offer, many thanks, and I will definitely consider it.Delete
Alternatively, the gaff is currently available from Sat 17th to the following Sat. You could ship the clan with you the week after, or stay on by yourself after we 2 (or 3) have departed. Options mate, there's always options.ReplyDelete
Hi Jonathan, I have been following and enjoying your blog for a while.Here's a crazy idea: East Africa! Tanzania is open and Uganda is opening from Oct. 1st. Fabulous birding. I'm planning to be in Uganda from November for a bit (if situation doesn't change), birding and , I hope, leading a short safari tour. I could hook you up with local birders, or we could do something together. In any case good luck, and thanks for your great blog.ReplyDelete
East Africa has been on my radar for a while, I even bought a fieldguide in anticipation but have yet to manage it. Your offer is sensational and many thanks, even thinking about it has brought a smile to my face, but unfortunately I am stymied by the "all but essential travel" thing - neither Tanzania or Uganda are on the list of travel corridors, so that means the 14 days of self isolation kicks in. For me that is not a problem, but it also applies then to my entire household - so would be incredibly disrupting for my kids, and for my wife who is a teacher, a complete no go. But in the unlikely event things change, how do I find you?!
I too have a blog: https://www.journeystonowhere.com/ you can find contact details there. I'd be happy anytime to share contacts and information, I have spent some time in Tanzania, Uganda and Malawi + short trip to one part of Zambia and briefly to Namibia. There are far greater experts than me but I love Africa and it's birds. Glad to have made you smile!Delete
Best wishes, DavidDelete
Hmmm...Scillies or East Africa, tough call! If you need to contact me, call Uig Hotel on Skye and leave your number/email and I'll get back to you. And enjoy Uganda, you jammy git :)ReplyDelete
Probably off to Gibraltar end next week..nothing is ever certain now! No quarantine and birds migrating across the StraitReplyDelete