Invoking Carpe Diem, and luck

Invoking Carpe Diem in France

The blue skies, the great snow, the joy of the French Alps

Unexpectedly we found ourselves in the French alps last week, and it was glorious. When I say ‘unexpectedly’ I don’t mean that we were kidnapped. Nor did we fall through a split rock, nor teleport, although all of these options would have required less paperwork and testing. It’s more that with so many holidays postponed, cancelled, re-scheduled and postponed again – including this one – we couldn’t quite believe we were actually on a plane to Geneva.

The mountains will always be there

We’d earmarked last week for skiing as far back as last summer, but not had the confidence to book flights, just in case the rules all changed again, or one of us was struck by Covid, or isolation rules. So, we’d done nothing. We’d resigned ourselves to just working through our holidays. ‘The mountains will be there next year’ we thought.

But on Thursday lunchtime our friend – the one we’d be staying with – called again. He’d heard a whisper that the French Government would soon be relaxing their ban on British tourists. Could we still come? Would we?

Could we? Would we? Soon, regret began to dampen our excitement

Our initial reaction was no, there was too much to arrange in such a short time. And anyway, haven’t I used up far too many inches here banging on about ‘shortening horizons’ and ‘being happy with my lot’? But I checked flights, just in case. Then I checked the weather forecast for our resort. Within half an hour we’d invoked ‘Carpe Diem Mode’ and said yes. I then turned the house upside down to find my passport.

That gave us 48 hours to wade through the paperwork required to fly from Edinburgh to Geneva, then drive into France. We’d need passenger locator forms, one for each country, then a third for our return home. They’re free, but tortuous to complete. Regret began to dampen our excitement.

Tests, tests, passenger locator forms, apps

We needed faffy Lateral Flow Tests to prove we were healthy to fly out, and faffy and expensive tests to take on Day Two after our return. And we needed to be able to prove our full vaccination status to authorities in both Switzerland and France.

A word of warning – French QR readers don’t like the NHS Scotland Covid Status app. Our friends, vaccinated south of the border, sailed through checks at ski lifts. We had to plead for special treatment (“look – you can see we’ve had three jags”!), then download French App – ‘TousAntiCovid’.

But the joy, the fun, and importance of living for today

But was it all worth it? Despite inevitable injuries (damaged shoulder, me – twisted knee and ankle, him) we had the time of our lives. The snow was fantastic, the skies blue, the resort deserted, which is why the French needed us back. But best of all, the company was superb.

Our skiing pal starts his cancer treatment today. He’d not told us before, but we now realise why he was so keen to get away. The mountains will always be there – that’s for sure. But will we always have the opportunity to fully enjoy them? Carpe Diem indeed.

Well, well well…

Munlochy’s Clootie Well on my last visit before the clear-up

Few places give me the heebie-geebies more than Munlochy’s Clootie Well. But I often feel compelled to visit, to wonder at all the cloots that have been dipped in its apparently healing waters and left to rot, to take away the pain of the person whose cloot it was. The well has links to St Boniface and has been a place of pilgrimage since Celtic times.

There’s a definite atmosphere at the well – I’m sure you feel it too. The eeriness isn’t helped by some of the non-cloots that are left behind; on one memorable occasion, an entire false leg.

But the area has been ‘tidied’ by some over-zealous ‘helpful’ soul, and I find myself saddened. Of course, we’re all encouraged to do our bit to Keep Scotland Beautiful, but even the Wombles would have had more respect than to clear up this important area of local folklore.

The luck of the draw

One of the things holding us back from travelling to France was the fear of catching Covid, becoming unwell (and stuck) over there, or bringing it home. So far, all our tests are negative – we’ve dodged that bullet again.

Not so lucky, Daughter number 2. While we were in crowded airports and cable cars, she was at work and popped to the gym twice. She’s just tested positive. Covid is everywhere. Endemic, I think the term is. She’s young, but immuno-compromised. It really is just the luck of the draw these days.

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