Saturday, April 09, 2022

A return to the fold

 It seems I've missed a week here, but there was a very good reason for that. This time last week I was with my family in the UK and I have to confess blogging was the last thing on my mind. It's been three years since I've seen any of them, so it was with much eager anticipation, although slight trepidation, that I set off from the Netherlands on Wednesday, March the 28th.

Why the trepidation? Well, since March 2020 I've lived in something of an isolated bubble, only seeing my immediate family and just a few friends most of the time. My teaching has all been online, and I haven't been used to mixing with throngs of people at all, so I was a bit hesitant about being 'out there' among airport crowds and on busy trains. It seems that being a recluse comes easily to me; it's even cumulative. Not really the misanthropist I've always claimed to be, I've nevertheless had no problem with our somewhat unsocial existence for the last couple of years. 

Imagine my relief, then, when the train to Schipol airport was quiet and there were empty seats in front and behind me. I was even more grateful that the airport, one of the biggest in Europe, was also very calm and relaxed. I was very quickly through security and found I had more than two hours to wait for my flight on Sleezyjet, sorry, Easyjet. With the unusual lack of bustle, a seat in an empty row was easy to find and so I settled down to read. The flight itself was far from full, so it was a comfortable hop and a skip across the Channel and I arrived at London Luton airport forty minutes later but actually earlier than I'd left, thanks to the UK time difference.

I was even through passport control in record time, much to my sister's surprise, and since there were no restrictions or checks, I ended up having to wait for her to pick me up.  

It was lovely to be with her and her husband again. We had a really special few days; we walked, we talked, we went to her life drawing afternoon together and attended a presentation about the Glasgow School of artists. Then on Saturday, we drove to Lechlade-on-Thames to have a pub lunch with other members of the family: one of my brothers and his wife, and one of my sister's daughters and her boyfriend. It really felt like a return to the fold to see them all in such gorgeous Cotswold surroundings. The sun shone, the clouds did scudding things and the Thames was lined with narrowboats. Bliss!

Here are a few photos to give you a better image.

The Great Ouse runs past the end of my sister's garden. This
quay is almost at the head of the navigation, something I
very much wanted to see and the destination of one of our walks



Lovely clouds and sunlight as we walked back to
my sister's house

Family: the only one missing is my brother-in-law, who'd
headed home on his motorbike

The Riverside pub at Lechlade

Despite the chill, there were still boats out and about

Gorgeous narrowboats moored near the pub

The clouds were stupendous, as were the reflections

All too soon, it was Sunday and departure day. My flight was scheduled for 15.30pm, so my sister and I had time for another lovely walk along the river before she took me to the airport. From there it all went downhill. The airport was very busy, and my flight was delayed an hour. Adding that to the later arrival time because of going the other way, I didn't get back to Schipol until 18.30. Then I discovered all the trains were cancelled due to a major electrical problem. The only one that was running was the high-speed train to Brussels, which would leave me in Breda rather than at Oudenbosch station, near the Vereeniging. It's not that far from Breda (about 25kms), but I boarded the train not even knowing if I'd be able to get to Oudenbosch by public transport on a Sunday night. 

Well, my wonderful guardian angel took care of that and to my huge relief, I got on a bus at Breda station shortly after 9.15pm, which arrived in Oudenbosch at 10pm. I eventually arrived back on the Vereeniging twenty minutes later, nearly ten hours after leaving my sister's house. What a journey! Still, I was very lucky to have made it, as I left hundreds of stranded passengers sitting on the concourse at Schipol without the means to continue their journeys. The following day, the news was full of the problems people had experienced, so I've sent my guardian angel some celestial flowers for looking after me!

It was all worth it, though. The Channel isn't very wide, but it's still an undertaking to get across to see my folks. I was very grateful all the paperwork for going to and fro has been dispensed with, though. I have a feeling it might have been a lot worse if I'd had to have health declarations checked, PCR tests done, and a Passenger Locator Form to complete. Whether they've been wise in lifting all these requirements, I don't know, but it certainly made life easier. Mind you, the following day Easyjet cancelled over 100 flights due to the number of staff who were off sick, so I have my angel to thank for ensuring my return flight actually took off. I really do owe her one, don't I?

Have a good week, allemaal, and I'll be doing my blog rounds over the next few days.

24 comments:

  1. Oh, Val! This so exciting. There is nothing like a family reunion, especially after the lockdown. So happy that your guardian angel had you covered! Lynn

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    1. Thank you so much, Lynn. It was really exceptionally lovely to see them all. My guardian angel worked overtime to make sure it all went smoothly! I had to get back as I had a class to teach, so I'm very relieved I made it.

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  2. Wonderfully written and lucky you had a special angel you could travel easily

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    1. My angel was such a blessing, Kathleen. She really made sure things worked out alright for me. Thank you for your comment, my dear!

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  3. Hi Val, so glad you had such a lovely, if short visit/reunion with your family. Your photos are super and the area is beautiful. Hopefully it won’t be such a long time before you are able to see your family again.๐Ÿ™๐Ÿคž๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ˜ Lorraine xx

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    1. Thank you so much, Lorraine. I'm very sorry I didn't get a chance to call you. It was all a bit rushed, but yes, I had a really lovely time. It did us so much good to catch up with each other. I'll chat to you soon, though, I promise! Xx

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  4. Aww...I'm so glad you got to see your family, Val, and that the weather and travel were reasonable - except for getting back! But you did indeed have Someone looking after you and taking care of you. God bless. (Steph)

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    1. Steph, it was quite remarkable. I don't know how I would have managed if I hadn't been able to get back, and I felt very sorry for all the other stranded travellers. Thank you, my dear.

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  5. I much enjoy your blogs, Val, and particularly this one, because you went back to "my England"! How super to see your family again, how special. Loved the photos, too. I wonder if I'll ever get to see my family again, what with advanced age and such a long journey anywhere from Australia. Hopefully they'll come here! Anyhow, loved your blog, as usual. xo

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    1. Oh thank you, Shirley! That's so kind of you. I'm sorry for the late answer but I had internet problems over the weekend. I do hope your family get to see you before too long.

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  6. Bravo, Val! I'm so glad your journey over was peaceful, gladder still that you had such a lovely time with family. But what a nightmare return! You really did have your guardian angel present on that last leg! Another wonderful bog and gorgeous photos. It's lovely to have you back home safe and sound. xx

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    1. Aw, thank you, Beth. It was a truly wonderful few days and worth every fraught and frazzled travel moment!I'm glad you enjoyed the photos, my friend! xx

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  7. It's certainly very worrying going amongst people again. Most people I know are back to "normal" again going to cinemas, pubs etc and generally behaving as though the Pandemic is over. We are still not mixing and the danger is the longer we wait the harder it will be coming out of this situation.
    Good that you were able to get to see your family, lovely photo's and looking at those great skies I suspect you had similar weather to ours in Lincolnshire. Take care ๐Ÿ˜Š ๐Ÿ• ๐Ÿข.

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    1. Thank you, David. Yes, I think I'm a confirmed recluse now. The crowds were very worrisome, but the trip was worth it in the end!

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  8. I'm glad it all went well, Val. The photos are lovely. You certainly had the best of British weather for the season!

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    1. Thank you, Roger. It was lovely, although I was a bit surprised to see snow on both Thursday and Friday morning!

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  9. It must have been great seeing your family again. What a journey to get home . It's as if the services didn't know it was Easter holidays . It's always the same.

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    1. It was marvellous to see them again, Anne. It's been far too long, but we made up for it. I hope I can get back again before the end of the year. As for the travel chaos. It's a chicken and egg situation, isn't it? I do hope the poor souls who were stranded reached their destination!

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  10. Val, you've managed to make me smile more than once while reading this! I certainly agree with you about not missing the "madding crowd", and isolation has suited me quite well. I become easily overwhelmed in city, airport, and such settings, but I've learned to deal with it by creating my own bubble and living within it while in busy places; reading helps immensely, too!
    And how wonderful for you to be reunited with family! Your photos do great justice to the Cotswold area, even though I've never been there...
    I especially like the idea of a wee pub by the water's edge! I did, however, notice that you've been attracted to the waterways. It's interesting how we search out the familiar in the less familiar.
    I, too, offer up big thanks to your guardian angel, and send mountains of love to you and Koos! xx

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    1. You too, dear Dale. Yes, reading is the perfect withdrawal technique, isn't it? I managed to read half a book on the way there and the other half on the way back :) Being with my family was wonderful and it was really great to reconnect. I'm always drawn to the water and am thankful that my sister and brothers are too. Sending oceans of love to you and Gene, my friend xxx

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  11. Absolutely wonderful to read that you have seen your family, after a long three years. The pandemic has made many of us somewhat reclusive and I am another one. It has become a little more difficult to push oneself back out into the world. Your flight over was a dream, but sadly going back quite the nightmare. Your guardian angel was working well, and I was impressed to read you did get home that night. Beautiful photos of the English countryside, I would never tire of being there, and enjoying a visit to that pub. Happy Easter Val.

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    1. Thank you so much, Patricia. It really is more difficult to join the throngs again, isn't it? I'm so pleased you enjoyed the photos, and yes, we are mostly blessed with a very good public transport system in this country, so even in a crisis, I managed to get home.

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  12. How great for you to catch up on your family, always special to be with loved ones. Super photos. All good wishes.

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    1. Thank you very much, Mike. It was a trip to remember in more ways than one.

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