26. Who’s for tennis?

Madame and I no longer play tennis, but would it have helped us to move Down Under? Obviously not is the answer. At the time of writing Novak has been released from his less than ***** hotel, but is being threatened with deportation, reconfinement – and worse by angry Aussie citizens. What has this to do with us? Well, only that it has taken us nearly two years to obtain a visa for the ‘Lucky Country’.

The titles of this blog ‘Free from lockdown’ and ‘Will our way of life ever recover?’ are looking somewhat jaded after nearly two years. Production ceased last summer in anticipation of life returning to normal, but then the savage Delta turned up, followed by the milder ‘Oh my God’ variant, now officially known as Omicron. It might be classed as ‘milder’ but the speed at which it spreads is disconcerting; daily cases exceeding 100,000 in the UK and France. British skiers have been banned from France to the fury of hotel keepers who rely on the income from across the Channel.

No danger of crowded slopes for this lone skier. Part of a rock carving in Norway dated 2500BC

We managed to break out and visit the UK in September on family business. Not a journey we would wish to repeat. The hurdle of the PCR test was enough to tax one’s resolve (then the anxious wait for the result) followed by completion of the tortuous Passenger Locator Form. Taking the ferry from Bilbao was chosen as being less stressful than driving the length of France to a northern port. That was the idea.

Jumped through all the hurdles – passport check, negative PCR test, PLF form and customs and finally relaxed under the shadow of the cruise ship (a day and night counts as a cruise). Not counting one’s chickens, means that we should be careful not to rely on something that we may not get or that may not happen, which is what we should have done. About to line up for boarding we were pulled aside by the Guardia Civil.

Tourists driving through Spain in the 60s to this once tiny fishing village of Benidorm learnt to be wary of the Guardia. General Franco may have allowed tourism to develop because he needed foreign currency, having backed the wrong horse in WW2, but you could still find yourself behind bars for a minor traffic infringement. To protect yourself you would be issued with a Spanish Travel Bond in case your vehicle (or even you) were impounded.

A pre-Monopoly version of this really

Anyway, this is digressing. For reasons that we shall never understand the Guardia wanted to check that the number stamped on the engine block matched that in the carte grise, the vehicle registration book. Why they picked out an elderly Peugeot, the only French registered car driven by Brits in the entire Spanish boat, remains a mystery. Just imagine the scene; us standing there, surrounded by five Guardia, while cars drove up the ramp with everyone having a good look. Embarrassing frankly. Last on board did mean quick disembarkation in Portsmouth though – after we had had our temperatures taken. Not sure what would have happened if we were above normal.

It was time to relax and enjoy dinner, which, it has to be said, was worthy of any medium range restaurant. An announcement interrupted it to say sailing would be delayed by an hour. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Back in the cabin a second one dropped a bombshell with the news that two of the crew had tested positive for Covid.

This French flag refuses to shrink; if it seems different it is because the President unilaterally changed the blue from Cambridge to Oxford, although some would dispute that Cambridge is truly blue. Why the flags? To complicate matters further it was announced that Britain, Spain and France would all have to agree that the ferry could sail. Do any two out of three agree about everything? No. So, were we condemned to sail up and down the Channel for the duration of the confinement? We went to bed. Five hours later we could feel movement and we heaved a sigh of relief.

Why resurrect this blog, when even the daily visit from the People’s Republic of China dwindled to nothing? Never a day passed without their visit. Maybe it was because there was an unexpected flurry of interest, 35 hits the other day from Germany, the USA and Lithuania. We (i.e. the World) are not entirely free, nor has our way of life recovered and it may not do so. Working from home is the new norm; the world is divided into vaxxers and defiant anti-vaxxers.

April 2020

Kissing is frowned on; tough on the French. We have to tolerate masks and don’t like people standing too near us. It has all but stifled social mixing, but don’t mention

A Happier New Year.

Published by Down Under diary

Down Under diary

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