Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash
When Boris decided it was green for go to The Balearics, we were fast out of the traps. Still not quick enough to avoid market forces and Easy Jet’s price hike as Northern Ireland and Scotland confirmed the rumour before Shappers finally granted our wish and joined the party. We soon dealt with the loss with a bit of stockbroker thinking. In buying an upward trend, there were still plenty who’d paid even more. The first glass onboard was all the sweeter with that thought in our silly heads.
As I’m sure you can understand, there’d been growing dismay in the Barra-Hows’ household during June at the very distinct possibility that summer was off, adding to the poor show last winter. You’re quite right of course, we could have tried to make a fist of it and booked a week in Wales at an overpriced bungalow outside Tenby or discovered a tent bedecked with sarongs, an abundance of joss sticks and daytime classes in the lost art of coracle paddling. But the thought of too much Bara Brith helped down with pots of Earl Grey tea, whilst waiting for the weather to break and more due, had us clicking away like a pair of shorthand typists.
A Barra-Hows’ holiday is equivalent to army manoeuvres. The logistics were further complicated by a new testing regime and personal locator admin being required. One party of 4 was booked to fly from Bristol, 5 from Gatwick, rendezvous, Ibiza, 10:00pm local time.
Trouble arrived a few days before departure when the Spanish Health Minister, no doubt cajoled by Fritz and the Frogs to punish good old Britannia, decides that entry now requires a negative PCR test for presentation at check-in. It’s not clear whether the good old antigen, used everywhere here in Blighty, will now cut the mustard. A scramble ensues. I dispatch one daughter to Bristol airport to see how the land is lying while paying the Spanish embassy a visit in London.
It was a solid, worthwhile building in Chesham Place with no sign of life. I finally found a notice at the tradesmen’s entrance around the side, in the local lingo, with another address. The grubby business of talking to the public is half a mile away, where I discover the queue. They seemed somewhat under-prepared to be bombarded by a Johnny foreigner like me, who appears to know more than they do.
“Talk to Easy Jet.”
“How odd, they said talk to you.”
“Checkout our web site.”
“I have, it’s out of date.”
She shrugged, I shrugged. It’s honours even but I’m none the wiser.
Daughter 2, our concern all along, had more luck, although not the sort we were after.
“If you don’t have a negative PCR, you won’t be allowed on the flight.”
She caught the plague over 50 days ago. She’d been struggling all year, but finally nailed it last term, catching it from her university chums, presumably with the help of the more contagious, delta variant. A worthy achievement for year one we concluded.
The good old EU already has a policy for their citizens who’ve had a dose, but no one appears to care much about my dodgy daughter. Boris has nothing in place with Spain, so she’s an unwelcome alien, unable to enter the country. (I’ve always admired the US’ border control signage, referring to all of its international visitors as aliens. You know what they’re thinking and what’s likely to happen if they don’t like you).
Everything is negative
The issue is she’s testing negative with her regular antigen tests, but NHS recommendation is not to take a PCR test for 3 months, because it could be positive. Which means further isolation for her and those about, despite being safe as houses. What to do?
While still digesting this tricky situation, we hear that the EU hasn’t approved the AZ vaccine being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. Fortunately, me and the Memsaab had vaccines manufactured by the Sprouts which are fine. That little trick has now backfired in Brussels when they realised that half the EU has AZ vaccine manufactured in India.
Remorse, well not really
We’re feeling pretty rotten about having to leave one of ours behind. But not rotten enough to cancel in favour of Tenby. A further conversation with Easy Jet reminds me that our flexible airline is not offering a refund on her ticket. That’s the final straw and we decide that she has to come. She’s the safest of the lot of us. Boris would understand, after all it’s the spirit of the agreement that counts. We’re trying to help Spain out here, like lots of British families, despite these unwelcome obstructions.
Any smugness on the cost of airline tickets has evaporated with the immediate need to upgrade all the children to PCR tests with super-fast turnarounds.
Test is negative
Fortunately, daughter 2’s test comes back negative - clean at last. Our travel documentation is now the size of a small book. Each passenger has a locator form, boarding pass, passport and negative test certificate. The old dear at Gatwick was wonderful. Overwhelmed by our homemade copy of the Iliad, she was soon handing out our fit to fly slips like wedding confetti.
In Ibiza, there’s a separate queue for us Brits which included another fit to fly check, even though we’d already flown? The Iliad was again helpful and after cursory inspection, too much Greek I presume, was returned and we were ushered on our way. It was heartening to see a return to the good old days, with every passport needing to be stamped again at border control. Quite right too. No one wants foreigners wandering around the country without a stamp.
Here comes the sun
The weather was as expected for a Mediterranean island in July. Less expected was the return of the comprehensive buffet breakfast. Aside from a bit of mask wearing and the England football team winning their semi-final, normal service had resumed.
Matters took a cloudier turn on our return. Before receiving further test results (the 48 hour one after flying), we’ve been asked to self-isolate. The bloody cheek. Someone on our flight, and I know exactly which group it was, has tested positive. What’s happened to air filtration on flights removing 99.97% of airborne contaminants including viruses.
The golfs off, various luncheons are cancelled. It’s a bloody disgrace. I’ve now heard that Tenby’s 3 beaches are actually rather pleasant and the weather’s set fair.
I wish England was like Spain - even though we had our 2 jabs of pfizer months ago we would have to prove pcr test and 10 days og quarantine!!! (which could be shorted to 5 days with another pcr test, but our tickets for London is for a 5 days trip - with the curent English numbers its not likely to change in the near future?!)
(will Ruaniar be more service minden?!?)
See more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/16/englands-covid-unlocking-a-threat-to-the-world-experts-say?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other