While I’ve never expected to be feted as an intellectual and wouldn’t have attained educational pinnacles, would never have become a brain surgeon or a marine biologist, I consider I’ve enough know-how to read a set of instructions and manage basic technological tasks. In other words, reader, I am average- a judgement that dogged me throughout my school days, stated with monotonous regularity on all of my school reports.
So, armed with my average skills and intelligence I’ve plunged into the murky melange of preparations we need to undertake before we set off on some foreign travel. The raft of covid precautions necessary before taking off anywhere is said to have become ‘easier’, which leads me to wonder who on Earth managed to go anywhere at all beyond these shores in the last two or three years.
Since the plague began we’ve limited travel to our own borders and wandered throughout the UK only, which has been lovely, of course and there are still many places we’ll be visiting or re-visiting this year and in years to come. Last Autumn, however, in a rush of misguided optimism we booked a trip, an excursion which is now imminent enough for me to have begun departure procedures and to discover just how complex the whole business is.
Simply ascertaining what must be done makes my brain hurt. I begin to read the airline advice, soon getting to the click here and click here and click here parts, until there are so many ‘click heres’ I think I won’t find my way back to the original page.
I know we must get a covid pass, obtained via the NHS app [which, by a miracle I have installed]. I begin to leap the hurdles I must cross: email address, password, [I remember it!], then photo of ID [which I failed last time], then I must send a video of myself saying some numbers or holding them up. I do all of this, only to be told I must wait for verification. By a further miracle I pass the checks. I opt for every version of my vaccination pass, figuring that I’ll cover all eventualities. I trust hard copy more than my phone and my shortcomings with it.
Next: Tests, I know that we must test before flying. I know that this must be PCR and that ‘only government approved companies’ may do it. I won’t go into the government part, or how they are able to approve anything at present [this for UK readers]. I know we must have post-return lateral flow tests and that, again they must be officially approved. We don’t live anywhere near a test site. SIGH. I get online and order said tests. £135. …
The box of tests arrives. On inspection, I can see nothing to indicate that we have PCR tests, although 2 of the boxes do say lateral flow. These are for our return, even though they say ‘fit-to-fly’ on the label [!]. I call the company, Randox and wait while I’m given a series of lectures about what Randox can’t help me with, before I get ‘options’. In fairness, the kind woman who eventually answers does help, and tells me I have the correct test kits as well as mentioning the ‘passenger locator forms’ we must also do. On reading the test instructions I also learn that we must register our tests before sending, or dropping them off.
I get online and search for the ‘drop-off’ locations, which appear to be in some highly improbable locations, our 2 nearest being a] a motorway service station or b] a disused Ryvita factory. Hmmm…
Our departure, should we even get that far, is still a week and a half away. And nothing more can be done until 72 hours before, when we must undertake tests and send [or drop off] the packs.
We’ll be away for just 4 nights, reader…and I’m wondering…is it going to be worth all this effort? I’ll let you know…