Apparently, exactly one year ago today I was in Bratislava all by my little old self.
It’s just dawned on me that I haven’t actually been on a plane on my own since then.
Yep, that’s right, with the exception of a couple of teeny tiny tripettes, my solitary sojourns have gone right up the spout.
And that isn’t about to change any time soon.
You will, of course, be all-too-aware of the current stuff of horror movies, namely the rapid and devastating spread of a disease known as Covid-19 which has claimed thousands of lives, drained vital resources, caused lockdowns and fuelled mass panic. It has also, of course, grounded flights, shut hotels and closed international borders.
So that stops travel, solo or otherwise, right in its tracks.
I’ve always been of the opinion that there’s a time to see the world and there’s a time to stay home and keep your head down and get on with real life (check out A time to surf and a time to wax my board). But once a traveller, always a traveller, and even if I am not off exploring somewhere new wanderlust is still always at the forefront of my mind (see Time out: what to do when you’re not travelling).
This time, though, things are different. My personal circumstances are such that travelling most places is out of the question.
To be fair I did have a couple of low-key trips booked – two nights in Bristol to see a gig, coupled with a few cultural offerings – I was hoping to see the Clifton Suspension Bridge (I love a good bridge!) and also do a Bansky Walking Tour. But I took the decision that it wasn’t going to be the responsible thing to do with the increasingly urgent need to slow the spread of Covid-19. A few days after I had decided this the gig was postponed. And, to their credit, both Premier Inn and Megabus honoured refunds on non-cancellable bookings (I only hope that such a policy is not to the detriment of their workers’ pay and conditions).
I also had a hedonistic hop booked to my beloved Hull. I was going to do some walking and have a nice dinner and a soak in the bath.
I’m obviously disappointed on both counts. But these places will still be there once we’ve got a handle on this horrific, sneaky illness.
As I get older I try to sound as positive as I can – so I’d like to tell you that my good news is that before all this kicked off I read that our beloved burgundy passports were about to turn blue.
I was absolutely determined that mine was going to stay the colour of wine.
Due to expire any day I got my application in sharpish.
And boom! Here it is!
Complete with a really grisly photo.
Which, to be fair, took many, many attempts before I got something which was acceptable (no glasses, no hat, no smile, no baring my teeth, no black dripping down my face).
If I’m being honest with myself and you lot, there’s absolutely no way I shall be using said passport this year. This particularly nasty virus is going to take some pummelling in to submission – and even once that’s done I will still have plenty of Long Baggage to sort out before I can begin to think about hopping hither or thither for any length of time.
That said, I am on a bit of a mission.
I decided some time back that, despite not being a bucket list kind of girl, I did want to have something to aim for – and in the end I landed on ’50 before I’m 50’. That is – I want to have visited 50 countries before I am 50 years of age.
At my last count I had been to 42 – and that big birthday isn’t actually very far away – so I’ll need to get my skates on once I decide it’s time to get going again.
In the meantime there’s lots to see and do – and learn about – and talk about – and write about – even if it’s only from the comfort of my beautiful aegean blue armchair.
Yep I might not be packing my case right now but I am certainly brimming with ideas.
In the meantime I would urge you to please, please, PLEASE take care and heed the advice:
If you go out then stay away from other people.
Keep your germs in tissues and keep your hands washed til they’re red-raw-sore.
Protect your loved ones.
Don’t be a complete knob and buy the entire shop. Remember – the world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.
We can beat this – but only if we all work together, separately – if you see what I mean!
Solo travel might be at a standstill for now – but I, and all the others like me, will soon be back doing what we do best.
Stay sensible. Stay calm. Stay positive.
This too shall pass.