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Finally Pre Florida - November 2021

Life is for Living.

This is our new mantra and if you could see our schedule for the next 12 months you would see that we are trying to make the most of it. We have holidays, trips and events galore. Our schedule is already very full.

For some people the pandemic has pushed them the other way. Frightened of planning or booking anything, just in case. We have taken the opposite approach. If things get cancelled or postponed, then so be it. We want to have things to look forward to and not miss out.

Of course, we still take precautions and are sensible. We assess the risks and do not want to put ourselves or anyone else in danger. We stick to the rules and guidelines.

I just don’t get all the doomsayers who seem to delight in finding one piece of new negative news they find to frighten people. They take delight in using out of context facts to justify not doing or planning anything. They all like to try to out doom each other. I have been accused of being over optimistic but surely life without hope is no life at all?

I have noticed that I am now getting shorter in my thrift with people like that. Last week I met up with a friend who I had not seen for a couple of years. Literally the first thing he said to me was that it was good to see me as he thought we would be locked down again within a few weeks and wouldn't be allowed to meet. I immediately responded by showing him that the actual figures had been in decline for the last 11 days in a row, but he was adamant he was right. I just do not understand people's attitude like that. We ended up agreeing to disagree.

It also amazes me when people choose to take the advice of brilliant people like Chris Whitty, but then choose to ignore it when they want to because they think they know better, and it suits them.

I suppose much of it is down to interpretation. Karen & I, read the guidelines for what they are. We don’t do anything that is against advice. Now we know that some people won’t go the theatre or cinema yet, and that is their personal choice. But then we hear them doing other things which we think we would certainly be very wary of doing ourselves, but it is about choice and because it suits them then they see no harm in it. We certainly don’t judge them for not doing so but do feel judged ourselves quite often.

So, Life is for living. What is the point of Life if not to enjoy it? Just don’t use the pandemic as an excuse not to do anything. As Robert Louis Stevenson wrote 'To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive'.

Anyhow after all that, Karen tested positive for COVID. In fact, she was going down with it whilst we were on our last trip to Ireland. Despite testing negative the day we left. She was convinced it was just the 'Super Cold' that was doing the rounds. She was quite poorly, and the positive test came almost a relief as she at least knew what was wrong with her. It was like a bad flu for her. She was out of action for about 2 weeks but happily is back fighting fit now.

I was out meeting a friend when she got her test back. Karen told me to carry on as per the government guidelines. I checked with my friend who was happy to do so. As someone who is double jabbed and had no symptoms, I took the recommended advice of getting a PCR test the next day. I was confident it would be negative (which it was) as I had had a negative LFT on the day of Karen’s positive test.

I didn’t isolate from Karen at home either as we kind of figured that I would have caught it from her anyway if I was going to and that would like shutting the stable door after it had bolted. Again this is in line with medical guidelines.

Some other people’s reactions to Karen being positive bemused us almost as they might catch it from either of us through osmosis.

Karen was still not feeling great after her isolation period was up, and although she was by then testing negative, waited another 5 days before she met any friends and even then gave them the option to postpone – None did.

I was worried about her after the initial test and was greatly relieved that after a few days when I saw signs of improvement. It wasn’t until sometime after I actual thought about the what if I had caught it then as well. I have no idea why I didn’t. We did wonder if perhaps I had been asymptomatic and gave it to Karen. We will never know. It does seem more likely though that she caught it a school and the timeframes from Track & Test seem to confirm that.

So, the start of this blog must mean we are off again. This time to Florida. We had pushed back our trip to Nov 8th in the hope that Sleepy Joe would indeed open the borders in early Nov. However just 2 days before his announcement BA cancel our outbound flight. Bizarrely they left our inbound flight in place. We decided to sit tight and were delighted when the 8th was confirmed that borders were open.

The problem was that BA for reasons only known to themselves wasn’t going to resume flying to Orlando until the 15th. So, we cancelled our BA return flight and instead rebooked with Virgin. This meant that we could fly out with Neil which made logistics much easier. We had to fly via Detroit on the way out but heigh ho we were off to Florida.

The paperwork needed to enter the country was not clear until about 10 days before we were due to fly. It was all very confusing for a while. Eventually it seemed providing you were double jabbed then you could enter with a fit to fly certificate issued up to 3 days before your flight.

To get one of these you needed to have a supervised either PCR or LFT test. Now the latter are much cheaper, and we were also worried about a PCR test still showing positive for Karen as they can do for up to 3 months later. To make things more complicated by now Karen had also been issued with a Recovery Certificate on her NHS app which apparently you could use instead of a PCR test.

In the end we opted for a service through an organisation called Breathe Assured and took our tests with a very through Nurse based in South Africa over Microsoft Teams. We all tested negative, and we were duly issued with our certificates whilst on the call.

Then there were various passenger attestation forms and our NHS certificates we had to upload before we could check in. Now forms, processes and paperwork do not bother me but even I found it all quite stressful at times.

Karen wanted to take advantage of it being half term and started packing early whilst she was not working. I decided to do the same. Never again. A week later I couldn’t remember what I had put in and kept double checking it. I think it took me double the time of doing it rather than starting a day or so before.

Other things of note since our last trip were trips to the Theatre, Audley End, the first empty and clean of the Hot Tub, the Fire & Water festival in Yarmouth (the best thing I have ever done in Yarmouth and only £1pp), and the Fireworks at Hellesdon High (again really good value).

It was at the fireworks I got the news from Barry about the sacking of Daniel Farke which left me sad and pleased at the same time. I think with this record in the Premier League it was the right thing to do, but just didn’t feel like the Norwich thing to do.

Before we left, we had a final catch up with Barry & Ellie before they went on their much-rescheduled trip to LA, which was nearly scuppered a couple of times because of their cats but that is a whole other story. The amusing thing was that in changing our flights we would now be flying 20 minutes after them from the same terminal, so we hoped to meet them after security for breakfast.

Finally, then at about 5.45pm on Sunday we set off to the airport. I had booked rooms at the Ibis at T5 at a bargain price of £31 per room. It was clean and felt safe but that was about it. Karen disagreed about the clean bit of that sentence, but I only look at the bed and bathroom. It did save a 4.30am drive the next day though. Karen watched the Strictly results on the iPlayer on the iPad before had lights out at 10pm.

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