Who Won the Week (18 July 2021)

In response to Fandango’s Who Won the Week posts, I have been looking at my own newsfeeds.

This is a story very much in progress, so I’m not sure whether I’m talking about someone who won the week or who lost it.

Let me tell you about my odyssey.

Since my stroke, I have travelled about ten miles unaccompanied. On the bus, into my local city of Salisbury. I spend most of my time at home. The UK had all these COVID lockdowns and I was meh… because I was mostly at home, anyhow.

I even allowed my passport to expire, although aside from being a travel document, it is also a useful form of ID. I applied to renew it a few months ago.

I also have some American friends who are visiting Europe. It might seem weird to travel now, but they have their reasons. And right now they are up on the north coast of France. That was a trip I used to make frequently, but not since the stroke.

When I heard about their trip, we talked about what-ifs, but the timing was off. The wait time for renewing UK passports is up to ten weeks.

But the passport arrived far more quickly, three weeks ago. A meet-up became possible, we were all excited by the prospect, so I made plans. Bearing in mind how far I have travelled since the stroke, this was/is a big deal. But I recognised that getting over to France would be much easier than getting to the USA, so it was “now or never”. Also noting the timing, it would be just after the UK relaxed its COVID restrictions.

I booked the crossing, thinking that everything would be, well, plain sailing! The trip is scheduled this coming week, just for a few days.

I got up yesterday – this is how fresh it is – to learn that while the UK will relaxmost of its restrictions Monday as planned, restrictions from France will stay. Straight away I was in panic mode: this meet-up is not going to happen.

When I composed myself, I found out what this actually meant.

  • 10 days’ quarantine at home on my return
  • A COVID test at the start. They’re called PCR tests, a lab test, the most accurate available.
  • A further test at the end

The quarantine does not matter as I had no plans to go anywhere, anyhow. And I discovered yesterday that companies provide off-the-shelf test kits.

These conditions are just so they will let me back in the UK at the end. You get home, quarantine at home, swab your nose at home, post it off. This is all okay – it is an expense I hadn’t expected, but no matter. And, since I don’t need the kit until I get back, I ordered it in ample time.

France also has rules for entry, which changed just today! (like the UK, they were due to relax some restrictions, but paused). Another PCR test called “fit to fly”. PCR tests are only valid at the moment you take them, so France stipulates that visitors need to take them no more than two days before travel (I later heard it was three). So to sail Wednesday, I had to take the test Monday or after. But PCR Tests are lab tests, so I also needed to allow processing time.

France also requires a certificate to say I am fully vaccinated (called a COVID Pass here). Plus, I had to self-certify that I have no symptoms, and have not been in contact with anybody who does.

These rules were due to be relaxed by the time I travelled, but I got a text Sunday lunchtime they were staying in place. With the rise of the variants, everyone is getting twitchy about going back to normal

.Again from a standing start – I never even knew PCR tests existed yesterday – I booked my test for Monday. It’s still cutting it fine. Test Monday, results promised by Tuesday evening, to sail Wednesday morning… Plus, the small print: while they aim for next evening, it might be longer. If it takes longer, I’ll literally have missed the boat.

So that’s where I’m at. If they let me in I won the week hands down, because I’ll meet with my friends, which will be unreal. If the test doesn’t come through in time, I’m just as big a loser. All this effort, for nothing.

Something I have noticed as I have gotten older: I know that I have done all I can. There is no point in worrying – the test result either arrives in time or it doesn’t, there is nothing I can do either way. And yet I feel incredibly anxious about this. Does anybody else find this? It’s not something that bothered me aged twenty but now, it does. I’d write it off as a “stroke” thing but Mrs Bump says the same.

On the trip itself, I can’t describe how big a deal this is – in hospital after the stroke there were so many things I thought I would never do again. Just getting into Salisbury, to watch the world go by, took a year. 5½ years later, I’m tripping across to France again just like the old days. I’m travelling alone on the ferry to the meet, so in more ways than one, a dream come true. It’s so much easier to live life sitting on my sofa, but so much more rewarding to be active.


  1. I hope you’ll get there tests back in time. It was the same for me when I was traveling back home from America. They said it can take longer but the results were available in 12 hours. All the best. I hope it is a wonderful trip.

    Liked by 1 person

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