Grounded!


Well, there goes another month on house arrest. It’s like being tagged with an anklet but without the ASBO (a court order which can be obtained by local authorities in order to restrict the behaviour of a person likely to cause harm or distress to the public.) A travel blog seems pretty irrelevant at this point. Nobody is going anywhere for the forseeable. Indeed holiday hopes have been dashed for millions. Deposits have been lost, dreams have vanished and I predict a tsunami of claims for the losses. As it’s nobody’s fault, I can’t see how it’s fair that bookings and flights should still be charged for. At the same time this state of affairs is putting hundreds, if not thousands of travel companies in a perilous position. It’s a nightmare scenario.

Put in perspective, the loss of life is considerably more devastating. In the last month thousands have left the planet and the number will rise before this pandemic has been vanquished. It’s an unprecedented situation so it’s hard to predict what the outcome will be for the future of the industry. For sure, some companies will go under. Some will struggle to stay afloat and some will benefit. One thing is for certain, people love to travel. So the desire to do so will never be quashed.

That’s the bad news but being positive, there are some heart warming and life affirming things happening. I should point out that the following is my take on the situation and is by no means shared by people experiencing much more difficulties than I am. I consider myself fortunate.

Every evening at 8pm, without fail, residents throw open their windows, shutters and doors. Applause rings out, ships hooters and car horns blast out a celebratory tattoo, along with the whistles and shouts. It’s a moving tribute to the essential workers who keep the wheels turning. The health workers, supermarket staff, refuse collectors, the police and anyone who is putting themselves at risk. It’s a heartwarming five minutes of appreciation for these usually unsung heroes.

Occasionally the peace and quiet of the day is disturbed by a distant aria sung from a balcony or a rooftop. The sound echoes around the district and then the applause and cheers follow. A momentary break from the birdsong and the breeze in the trees.

At first the near silence was eerie but as the time has gone by I’m starting to appreciate the peace. The subliminal sound of the planes departing and arriving every two minutes no longer disturbs. The low hum and thrum of traffic is silenced bar the occasional bin lorry collecting the garbage. The air is clear and the aroma of nature is no longer masked by traffic fumes. I can sometimes pick up the faint scent of the sea. In New Dehli, one of the most polluted cities on earth, where many people routinely wear face masks to filter out the filth, something rare and wonderful has emerged: a pure blue sky. Because there are so few cars on the road, few factories belching out black smoke and almost no active construction sites to create clouds of choking dust, pollution levels have dropped to remarkably low levels. At night there are stars. During the day the air is so clean that, for once, you can’t taste it, free of the usual smoky metallic tang. It seems planet Earth is getting a respite from chocking to death.

There’s time to think, to take stock. Time to do those niggly little jobs that one always seems to put off. Reading is a pleasure that usually takes a back seat. The anxiety of wasting time has vanished. There’s all the time in the world at the moment and once you get used to putting the brakes on, reading or just daydreaming isn’t a guilty time-wasting pursuit. There’s a calm rarely experienced in the day to day heater skelter of ‘normal’ life. I expect a spike in births come December. After all the devil finds work for idle hands.

I hope that May’s blog finds me waxing lyrical about dream destinations but I fear we’re not quite out of the woods just yet. So, in the meantime I’ll continue to make the best of it. Say safe and ‘Wash yer ‘ands”… I can just hear my mother shouting upstairs, beckoning me down for tea. Seems mother did know best after all!

Danny Frith is Director at SkiBoutique. SkiBoutique is a luxury ski chalet agency based in Switzerland.

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Comments (7)

  1. Jan says:

    I’m definitely missing the chance to travel, but now really appreciating my local neighbourhood and feeling very lucky that I have somewhere natural and pretty to walk and reflect.

    • Jake says:

      Yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing too. There’s a lot of wisdom in something like that, being able to appreciate what’s around you or getting to explore your neighborhood with new eyes. I guess with our “normal” lives, we sometimes forget to appreciate what’s right in front of our noses.

    • Dan Frith says:

      Jan & Jake,

      Thanks for your comments. Unfortunately in Mallorca any form of outdoor exercise, be it walking, cycling or jogging is strictly forbidden and strictly enforced. However I do have great views from my rooftop terrace and at times the skyscapes are breathtaking. I feel for those that only have small windows and cramped accommodation.

  2. Anthony says:

    Consider yourself lucky if you’ve got a balcony! I hope there are people singing out on balconies next time I visit Europe. It’s a beautiful sight, and I hope people do it more often in the future. I hope that concept sticks around, for sure.

    • Dan Frith says:

      Anthony,

      Thanks for your comment. Balcony concerts are definitely an upside. It would be great if the practice was sustained. Some of the talent is exceptional. My winner so far is a very old lady, obviously an ex opera soprano belting out O Mia Babbino Carro. I confess that it bought a tear to my eye.

  3. B. Swanson says:

    I have been getting tired of staying home all day just watching movies, scrolling through my cellphone, and browsing the internet. I’ve done almost all those trending online stuff like TikToking and making Dalgona Coffee. The boredom is driving me crazy and will get me even crazier because of the uncertainty of when this “hunkering down” will all end. I want to celebrate small victories, as they say, especially when I read data showing good signs of recovery from different countries all around the globe. At last, we can see the process of flattening the curve and I’m hoping the results will get better as time goes by. We may not like being indoors for a couple more weeks or even months but I know that it is for the greater good. Let’s just hope that all things will go the way we want it to be so that we can enjoy the outside world as soon as possible.

  4. Dave says:

    These are indeed tough times, and I understand that having a travel blog is nearly impossible right now. But there are definitely rays of hope from places around the world who have dealt with this pandemic in ways that were best for the well-being of the public and their populations. They are leading the way forward, and I think there were some important lessons to learn. Like how lucky it is to be able to travel anywhere at all.

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