So much for this being a travel blog!
After house sitting in Oxford for three months, the plan was to travel all over Europe, with a finale of meeting friends in Crete. I would try to get around without flying, since flying leaves such a huge carbon footprint. I spent days mapping out train and bus routes, checking fares and timetables, poring over maps and guidebooks, and making lists of sites to see in each location.
It was all I thought about for a couple weeks. I felt tension as time passed—I needed to book things now or prices might go up!
I tried to pay for a tour of Bulgaria but the website wouldn’t cooperate. When I contacted the company they asked me to call their US office the next day. I don’t recall what exactly was announced that evening on the news, but something clicked in my head and I realized the tour would never take place.
But I could still travel around the UK, right? Wrong. Inexorably, the plan closed in until I deleted my itineraries, crumpled up my paper lists and burned them in the fireplace, and shelved the guidebooks.
Well boo hoo, I’m still better off than 99% of the people on earth.
After a month in Scotland with Lynn and Richard and four dogs and two cats and what sounds like dozens of mice having a fiesta in the walls of my bedroom every night, tomorrow I will return to Oxford.
Yesterday I went for a last walk across the fields near the house.
In a span of 45 minutes, the sun was so hot I had to strip off my hat and scarf and gloves, then dark clouds raced across the fields, the temperature plummeted, and it rained.
I will miss the wide-open spaces, the pure air and water, the quiet. And of course, the company.
I’ve lost track of how many times I have been to Scotland. Each time I leave, I wonder if I will ever return. I try to really focus on the here and now so I can dial up memories of the land and people if I never come back. So far, I always have.
I haven’t worn makeup for a month.
Well okay, maybe a little pressed powder and eyebrow filler. But that’s nothing to what I used to plaster onto my face. I think I look okay. Is this a case of finding my natural beauty, or of lowering my standards?
I booked a flight to return to the US on May 25. My first two flights were cancelled and I am trying to mentally prepare myself for this one to disappear too.
I try to think through all the “what ifs” that could go wrong and what I can do to prevent them. I’ll need to get from Oxford to Heathrow airport. In normal times there was a bus that ran every 20 minutes, all day, every day, to Heathrow. Now it’s down to once an hour. The 25th is a bank holiday. What if the buses stop running? What if a bus pulls up and it’s already full, since they are only allowing one quarter of the usual number of passengers? What if I have to hire a taxi to take me to Heathrow? Will there be one available? How much would it cost? Maybe I should try to get to Heathrow the day before, just to be on the safe side. Are any of the airport hotels still operating?
And on and on. I’ve got a week to figure it all out, but even so, much of it is just unknowable.
I feel like I have already written all of the above, and maybe I have. It feels like I’ve devolved from telling interesting travel stories to essentially writing diary entries.
“Dear Diary: Today I combed my hair. I feel so proud of myself!”
I hope you are well and keeping up your spirits. I hope we are all traveling again and telling stories soon.