Monday 23 November 2020


The sooner this second lockdown period ends the better. I am not a big pub or restaurant goer, I don't go to the gym and I loathe shopping, and so for the most part a national lockdown makes no day to day difference to me. I miss the raves of course, but what I would really like to do is go somewhere different. Anywhere. And that's just not possible right now. 

2020 has not really been the year for foreign travel has it? There were and still are a few destinations that have not had quarantine restrictions at either one of the two ends, but actually I've had no desire to get on any form of public transport and that very definitely includes planes. Plus those quarantine rules can change extremely quickly which worst case could lead to getting stuck somewhere. No thanks, I'll pass. So with that form of escapism off the table I'd instead been getting my 'somewhere different' kicks in the UK, to places I could get to in a car. Mostly this was by myself but on a couple of occasions was with a very limited number of known people who led equally dull and cautious lives. This included some late summer trips to decent birding sites in the South East, and two trips to Yorkshire during the autumn. I hugely enjoyed them all.

On the non-birding front our replacement family holidays this year were largely centered around Scotland - we went twice in the summer to visit family and they were good breaks, and for me also included a bit of good birding. That's no longer allowed - they all live in "Level 3" areas, and travel in or out of those has now been shut down with no end date yet announced. I had a quick peruse of the Scottish Government fine print to see what exceptions there were but we don't appear to qualify for any of them. I did laugh when I saw that the final one on the extensive list of essential travel reasons was prison visits. The irony is not lost on me as a virtual prisoner in my own home....  Perhaps I'll call my parents and suggest that if they want to see their grandchildren then they need to commit a crime just before Christmas.

We're over halfway through the second lockdown as I type this, and I don't think we yet know what kind of follow-on restrictions will be imposed on travel and movement come early December when it is due to end. It is after all a moving picture and the virus does not play by a set of rules. Things might change for the better, but even if they do I remain far from convinced that big Christmas family gatherings are a sensible idea. Kids might get to see their Grandparents for a few days, but in doing might inadvertently be inviting themselves to another family gathering...  30 max if you get my drift. No, I think we might skip Christmas this year for the good of all concerned.

But that does give rise to the question of when we might be able to see our families again. Other than in the summer holidays the five of us in Wanstead have no ability to isolate for long enough to be absolutely certain that we have not brought the virus back from one of three different schools. By the time the 14 days have passed to know we're in the clear it's time to go back. But if it is allowed should we risk it? Without wanting to be too morbid about it nobody's parents are getting any younger, and each holiday that passes without a visit is one we're not going to get back. The counterargument is that we don't want to kill them. With the virus in the community to the extent it currently is the upcoming holiday is a no-brainer, but what about the February half term? Or Easter? What would need to have changed? I just don't have any answers supported by facts. I expect many if not all families who possess any common sense are similarly flummoxed at the moment.

The new vaccines surely hold the key to the locked door, mutations aside. We're all young and a long way down the queue of course, possibly not even in the queue at all. But Grandparents are. Perhaps not very high up it given all the categories that quite rightly need it first, but at some point next year you have to think they will get it. We might be some way behind them or not all all, but presumably only one half of a bubble or a gathering needs to be immune. Fingers crossed all the recent good news on this front is realised.

By the way, many thanks for all the comments on the last post, it was helpful to know that other people took something from it. This post isn't a direct follow-on from that one, but obviously it is partially linked. And obviously much more cheery....


  1. Similiar dilemmas here with elderly parents (though closer), I'm hoping that a) they\ll be high up the list for a vaccine jab and b) that this 'rapid testing' mullarkey might actually get sorted in the New Year and offer the opportunity of quickly ensuring we're virus-free in order to facilitate a family get together.

    1. One of my fears about the roll-out of vaccines is that with this particular government we'll soon see an ability to queue-jump if you stump up the cash. If you had the money, what would you do? Another dilemma.

  2. As someone probably older than your parents (68), I agree with what you say. Used to bird in London using public transport. Have in the last few months been out with my wife (not a birder) but it's a bigger carbon footprint. Happily, the deputy PM B Johnson says driving for your exercise is OK. As for Christmas, it's fantastic that the science shows anything goes over 5 days in December when the rest of the time it's dangerous. Our main problem with Christmas is internecine warfare between the "children". Stay safe! We're off to Sheppey tomorrow - see you there... Paul Francis @angryroadbiker

    1. Bit younger. I am also really pleased that the virus stops being infectious at Christmas - unexpected and great news!