A Big Step Closer to Freedom

Well, major milestones all around this week! Yesterday, Monday, 17 May, we hit the third step on the government’s “road map” out of lockdown. One of the changes in this restriction-easing was that restaurants and pubs are now allowed to serve people indoors.

Personally, I’m not yet ready to cozy up inside a roomful of strangers without masks on, but it appears plenty of people are, which is certainly good for the service industry. And given that the weather here this spring has felt like it’s been March for 79 days now, the outdoor dining has not been especially pleasant.

I’ve done it several times, huddled up in a winter coat or sheltered under a tent, but it’s not exactly ideal.

Weddings and funerals of up to 30 people are now allowed, and I’ve seen people heading to both already, though it’s only Tuesday. My elderly neighbour in a suit, off to a funeral. A bride in her gown, vaping outside Wandsworth Town Hall.

Although my Culture Club can’t go back to the theatre yet, the museums have reopened, and we have rebooked a few of the art exhibitions we had tickets to before lockdown. So we can actually do something a bit more cultural than just meeting up for dinner or drinks.

Anyway, hopefully I’ll now have some more things to post about besides felt mice. Remember when I used to blog about other things, like traveling to new places?

While I’m excited to be able to do more things in London again, I think the thing I miss the most is traveling out of it. We wanted to use our brief time here as expats as a chance to see more of Europe, and we haven’t done that since January 2020.

I was looking back through some photos from 2017 yesterday, and was struck by how many places we went that year alone. Considering we had an infant at the time, it’s kind of jaw-dropping. Majorca, Vienna, Antwerp, Marrakech, Amsterdam, Ireland, Scotland… plus a couple trips to other parts of England. In just 2017.

At least we made the most of it when we could. We didn’t let having young children stop us from adventuring, and I’m very glad of that, especially now.

Our plans for summer travel remain murky; will we or will we not be able to go to Italy? But the other big news from this week is that we are one step closer to being able to travel again: M and I finally got vaccinated!

Pfinally Pfizered!

We’d been trying to patiently wait our turn for the NHS to call up our age group, as we’ve seen Americans much younger than us already have their second shot over there. That was a bit frustrating. But waiting paid off, actually; as pretty much everyone older than us here received the AstraZeneca vaccine, which seems to have a much higher chance of experiencing side effects, and a risk of blood clots. Half the people I know felt really sick after their first jab of AZ. Plus, the U.S. has yet to approve it.

But when they announced they were calling up 38- and 39-year-olds, they also announced that under-40s would be offered other vaccines, which made the wait worth it, in my mind. It’s been 27 hours since I got my jab, and the only complaint I have is a sore arm. Phew!

So now the question becomes, when can we get the second dose? The NHS is only allowing people to schedule their second dose for 11 weeks after their first dose, at the earliest. Which means our appointments aren’t until August, and then of course we won’t be considered fully vaccinated until a couple weeks after that.

We hope there will be a way to get the second dose earlier, so that we are fully vaccinated before our planned trip to Italy, and can say andiamo. But we’ll see. If this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that making plans is rather a fool’s errand.

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