Tuesday 20 July 2021

The rut of the routine

My life continues to be unimaginably dull. Work, sleep, work, sleep. There is some eating and some drinking, and I continue to raise the excitement bar by taking out the recycling once a week and things like that, but really I am in a kind of Sisyphean nightmare where each week is basically identical and then I just start again. I used to survive this by going away frequently. By always having something on the near term horizon that I could aim at I found that I could get through the relentless weekdays without cracking up; these days it is hard to see the next chink of light.

Living on Plague Island doesn't help. I am double jabbed and I can prove it, but going abroad remains a complete minefield (not that double jabbed means I am invincible, far from it - there are worrying signs that more and more people who have been vaccinated are continuing to catch it - but it does seem to be the way we are headed). I investigated going to Iceland, at the time on the green list, and concluded that it was an exercise in folly. Far too many things to go wrong, most of which would be very complicated and extremely expensive. 

I don't disagree with it, but the need to have a test before returning home seems to completely destroy weekend forays. Longer trips would seem to work, but the possibility of a green country becoming amber at any moment and trapping you there, or at the very least ensuring you have to pay for a vastly inflated short-notice return flight is very off-putting. And of course more and more countries are becoming reluctant to let the stupid inhabitants of this country visit them. I don't blame them one little bit, I would put the UK on every red list there is. Actually given the scenes in central London and Wembley a couple of weeks ago I think I'd ban us even if there wasn't a pandemic.

So Plague Island it is then. I've done domestic breaks before and they have been refreshingly pleasant - there are many lovely places on these islands. Excellent, sounds like a plan. Ah. Have you tried booking a holiday cottage in this country recently? What a joke. Obviously I understand the economics of supply and demand, but the situation is completely ludicrous. I had a brief look on a few popular websites this morning for a week away in late August. Not seriously of course, just for research purposes; I knew what the answer would be. One website returned zero results. Nothing at all for our family of five. Another offered me a semi-detached house in Seasalter, Kent, for £2500. Another offered a week in a bungalow in Monmouth for £3052. I think it had a pond. So actually we are just going to visit family in Fife again, it's by the coast, it's very pretty in a non-London way, and frankly it is something different. As ever movements and timings for a large family are not straightforward, and so last week I booked a domestic flight for Mrs L in order to get her back from Edinburgh a little early for work. This morning it got cancelled. That is just what trying to organise anything at the moment ends up being like.

Some people, lots probably, are no doubt better organised than I am. They did book early or at vast expense, accepting of the risk that their plans could dissolve into an expensive non-event. Some will have been lucky and made it to wherever they had planned to go. And who knows, they may even get back again! Others will be quietly raging that with their break nearly in sight, fate conspired to bring it all crashing down. Or perhaps they had made it there only to have come racing back before a newly announced quarantine deadline? Maybe I am too cautious - I am a seasoned traveller but I am unwilling to adapt to the level of uncertainty that now exists.

My point being that the merest attempt to try and change your routine, to do something different, to get out of your personalised rut, becomes an exercise in frustration to the point where it is far easier to throw in the towel, head back to your favourite boulder and get pushing. Which is basically where I am at, sitting in Wanstead with little enthusiasm for much of anything. I need a project, a fresh approach, something different to get excited about. I just don't know what!


  1. Well I'm doing a week in Speyside/Cairngorm area with a mate. 6-12th Aug, Premier Inn the whole way (he's a bit of a tart like that, I'd be happy enough with my tarp and a stream), no worries regards finding accomodation, definitely works out a lot less than £3052 and the Inverness PI backs onto the Botanic Gardens which has indoor ponds, a tropical hothouse AND a cactus hothouse. Get yerself on Trainline and I'll meet you by the Agave scabra at midday on the Monday ;)

    1. I do have Scottish plans, but unfortunately not that week!