Back under house arrest!
Well, after weeks of freedom I am back under house arrest. This time though it’s from choice. Like many other people on the Island we hadn’t seen our daughter since the start of the year so we girded our loins, departed the rock with our car and headed for the septic Isle.
Despite being acutely aware of the Covid threat I must admit to a sense of elation as we drove off the ramp at Heysham. The port may look like a Second World War harbour after a bombing raid, but it offered a gateway to freedom and the open road. Like anybody born on the Island I love much of it dearly, but I was craving a change of scene and even the M6 sounded appealing – weird eh?
After a lovely overnight stop in Liverpool with my brother in law and his family we were back on the road and heading for Surrey for an emotional reunion – and the first chance to see my daughter and her partner’s new house.
The journey was uneventful and the sun was shining, as it did for all of our two week trip. It was strange re-entering a world of social distancing and masks, but it’s surprising how quickly your brain becomes re-programmed to accept the new regime.
The visit coincided with our 40th wedding anniversary, which hadn’t escaped our daughter’s reckoning. On arrival we were greeted by two huge balloons – a four and a zero. “Whose birthday is it?” we thought.
What followed was a blissful week with all manner of activities she had planned for us including a rented boat on the Thames for a day, a visit to the beautiful Denbies vineyards in Surrey (that’s my girl!) and a couple of lovely meals out.
What struck me throughout though was how well organised places where people congregate were. At no stage did we feel at risk and everybody abided by the rules. We avoided major honey pot areas and didn’t go into London. But it was clear that as long as you exercise common sense, the threat of coming into contact with virus can be minimised.
After a week in Surrey we headed west for a second week in the Cotswolds. The sunshine followed us and the most quintessentially English part of the country, was resplendent in its coat of green tinged with Autumn gold. It reminded us that the UK can be as good as anywhere in the world for a holiday. The pristine, honey-coloured villages of the region and the warmth of the local people were the perfect antidote to the dark, Covid gloom much of the media would prefer us to live under.
A stark reminder though of the global economic chaos the pandemic has caused came as we drove past the Cotswolds airport near Cirencester. As we emerged from a quiet tree lined country road we rounded a bend to be confronted by a long line of huge British Airways jumbo jets lined up – almost within touching distance – on the other side of the hedge. All had their engines removed and were awaiting their fate at the UK’s largest aviation abattoir. The jumbos, along with countless other mighty jets, sporting livery from dozens of global airlines, offered a sobering reminder of the scale of the problems caused.
These jets, worth billions of pounds, will never fly again. They are the giants of the sky – mostly four-engined gas guzzlers that hold hundreds of passengers. Covid 19 has rendered them obsolete. Whilst the earth may breathe a little easier, the sight of these defunct aviation leviathans was both sobering and sad.
It got me thinking about our current relative isolation in the Isle of Man. Whilst the transport restrictions are both appropriate and understandable, they nurture an irrational sense of insularism and mistrust of the outside world. How many times have you heard people vocalising their fulsome support for the Manx Government’s closed borders policy. People who do choose to leave the Island, often for deeply personal and important reasons, are vilified in some quarters, even though they fully abide by the strict quarantine rules on their return. This isn’t a healthy situation for any community.
The Isle of Man is a lovely place to live, but there’s a big beautiful world full of fascinating people out there. Personally I crave the day when we can all once again benefit from widening our cultural horizons and confine this damaging and divisive period to the history books.
I was happy to return to my little Manx cottage and just four of days into my two week quarantine I am not going stir crazy yet, as I have plenty of work to do. My wife is similarly busy, preparing her Baldhoon Designs Christmas creations.
Don’t get me wrong, I will look forward to leaving the confines of my modest plot, and I look forward to my next trip to pastures new. Life is short, we either live in fear or we embrace it. I know which I favour. Bring on the vaccine! 🙂