Mid 2020 travel reflections

Barton Hills in the Bedfordshire countryside

Oh dear…

Nearly half way through 2020 and what a dreadful and catastrophic year it has been for many on a personal level and especially for those who work in the travel or hospitality industry. While life has changed dramatically for all of us I wanted to begin with a thought for the hundreds of thousands of guides and porters and cooks around the world who are now destitute without the income they rely on from tourists.

Looking back at our post on 1st January 2020 when we were full of optimism and excited by our plans for travel and adventure, who would have thought that just a couple of months later, these would come crashing down so unexpectedly!

Even in mid February my naive idea of coronavirus was along the lines of “It’s just happening somewhere in China… and with little self contained pockets in other countries such as Italy…” Thinking there would be an outcome similar to Swine Flu in 2009 or the SARs virus in 2003 which had no personal impact either to myself or as far as I know the wider travel industry I was merrily booking a trip to Africa… I had booked an Intrepid adventure from Zanzibar to Victoria Falls, over-landing through Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe… this was booked one evening during a work conference for around 200 delegates, all in close proximity within a hotel in Newcastle! How strange this concept now seems…

And for November, Chris and I were making plans for our 10th wedding anniversary and looking at flights and an exciting itinerary in Malaysian Borneo.

RSPB Sandy

Plans for us all screeched to a sudden halt on 23rd March when Boris Johnson announced the UK would be on full lockdown… it is now June and we still have no real idea of when we can travel again, even within the UK. We are tantalised and coaxed by daily emails from the likes of EasyJet, Virgin and Ryanair but at the moment, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is still advising against “all but essential international travel”. Tempting as it is to book something after our little hiatus from travel, even a week in Europe at the moment can hardly be jostled into the bracket of “essential”, and going against UK Government travel advice wouldn’t cut it with the travel insurance companies either.

At the end of March, after a few emails and a bit of negotiating with a couple of hotels we shifted our booked Italy trip from the first 10 days of May to October 2020. That is all we have planned for now and hopefully that will go ahead… we’ll have to wait and see. Thankfully three long weekends were squeezed in at the beginning of 2020; my trip to Israel; our joint trip to Porto and a lovely long weekend visiting our sister-in-law in Devon in early March.

Pretty bluebell woods; found on another bike-ride!

But lockdown for us hasn’t stopped us from exploring! Us UK dwellers are lucky to have experienced the ‘sunniest Spring on record‘ which has enabled us to set off by foot or bike to explore the nooks and crannies of our immediate surroundings 🙂

We’ve had many micro-adventures and discovered the colour and beauty of local areas in the heart of the English countryside. I’ve brightened up this post with some of our favourite Spring photos.

Peacock butterfly

While I usually commute into central London I’ve been grateful to have been working full time from home since 10th March and Chris, a self employed driving instructor has morphed into a house-husband! We took the opportunity, during the earlier restrictions of our ‘one daily exercise’ for wellbeing therapeutic lunch breaks or evening countryside walks.

Riverford organic vegan recipe: Moroccan Carrot, Pea & Mint Couscous

Probably like most people our other main activities have been copious amounts of home-cooking; we are becoming experts in creating delicious organic vegan and occasional vegetarian dishes. And watching box sets… in the past we haven’t turned the TV on for months at a time… now it is on every day as we eagerly catch up on the racy antics of Normal People or the spooky Haunting of Hill House. And we are working our way through the complete series of Cold Feet… that is about 60 episodes right through from the initial series first shown in 1997 to the recent 2020 series 10.

We’ve had our travel fixes with Race Across the World and Levison Wood’s Walking with Elephants and catch up documentaries from Simon Reeves.

Dunstable Downs

Above is Dunstable Downs where we ventured a little further afield in the car; our first full ‘car’ outing which was allowed towards the end of May.

Discovered on a bike ride: a local field of bright yellow buttercups

We are grateful that for us, lockdown has been just fine. A chance to slow our busy lives down and explore the hidden treasures of our immediate surroundings, enjoying the simple pleasures of life and making the most of the situation as it is.

I guess we are anticipating a change in the future of travel and thinking of future travel, those guides and porters and local restaurants and small family guesthouses really will need our tourist dollar as soon as we have the opportunity to travel again.

One of the spectacular sunsets we’ve seen recently

2 comments

  1. I’m not sure if this will be any consolation, but the parallels in our experiences this year is uncanny. In Feb, we planned a month-long trip to South Africa via Brazil complete with the purchase of all airline tickets. And then, it all came crashing down. And exactly like you, early on in the crisis we thought that it was just another China problem that would go away, so our trip was still on. Truthfully, I think we knew that things might get dicey, but we were in denial. And when the EU to US travel ban went into place, we knew that things were unraveling, and we were going to have to postpone our trip.

    At this point LATAM Airlines, our primary ticket holder, has declared bankruptcy, and our trip looks more and more unlikely. But, on the bright side, we and all our family and friends are healthy, and we’ve gotten more realistic about the travel that will be possible in the future. In the meantime, the entire experience has been wonderful grist for the blogging mill 🙂 … but we’d rather be traveling. All the best to you both and here’s to all of us being on the road again soon. ~James

    Liked by 1 person

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