Life in the Loire after lock-down. 13 October 2020. Back to Blighty.

It’s a year since we managed to get back to the UK and it’s been particularly hard for my parents since the lockdown. Both 90, they are, frankly, incredible. Both 100% and resolutely refusing to accept old age, they have however, gone down-hill since Covid came to town.

My Mum has fallen twice in the past 6 weeks and we felt I should make a trip over to spend a bit of time with them (albeit in quarantine).

And so, today I made the long journey by train back to Lincoln, my birth town (or should I say city).

A quick train to Paris by TGV, a light lunch with Rosie who popped in from Versailles to see me on the way through, a metro ride from Montparnasse to Gare du Nord, the Eurostar from Gard du Nord to St Pancras and finally, the last leg, a train from King’s Cross changing at Newark arriving in Lincoln in the good United Kingdom (is it any more?) bang on time at half past eight.

I had a slight panic half way through the Eurostar journey when I received an email telling me that all the trains up north had been cancelled due to someone throwing themselves on the line earlier in the day.

All sorts of scenarios ran through my head. What would I do? Where would I go? It was a tense couple of hours until I could ask for more information when I arrived at Kings Cross.

A young man came up and asked me if I needed any help. “Do you need any help Miss?” he said

“Miss?” I replied. “My goodness, this mask has clearly taken 35 years off me”.

He looked a little embarrassed and pointed me to two ladies whose job it was to assist those stranded in London. Was I going to be added to the list?

Well, no thankfully. As it turned out my train was running as planned. I nearly hugged them and quickly made my way to Marks & Spencer to buy something for dinner.

Aah – dear old M & S. What did I see beckoning me from the other side of the shop? A ready mixed double gin and tonic in a tin. Chilled and ready to drink. That will do nicely I thought and popped one in my basked along with a salad and a bag of chorizo crisps (yes, very finely sliced chorizo slices that are “air dried not fried”). I hesitated as I passed the tiny chilled bottles of wine. Should I pop one of those in too?

Final journey completed I arrived in Lincoln just as Dad swung into the station to collect me.

No hugs or kisses. Keep your distance. Don’t touch my luggage. I’ll sit in the back. This is a bit weird.

Dad tooted wildly as we drove into the drive. I stood ringing the doorbell and eventually Mum came out. She hadn’t heard a thing.

Brief hellos, no hugs or kisses. Don’t touch my luggage. Upstairs for a shower. Back down.

Large glass of wine in hand we sat across from one another with appropriate social distancing. I made it.

And so a week of confinement begins…