May 14, 2022

Fiona McIntosh returns to England in search of new stories

Well, most of you know I've been to the UK recently. I wanted to get life going again after the couple of years of uncertainty and waiting. I wasn't in London for much more than a few hours. This photo was snapped, waiting at lights, on my way to Heathrow Airport to come home but I was so thrilled to see Big Ben looking clean and majestic after years under scaffolding and wraps.

All of my time was spent in Wiltshire. My base was Salisbury - and will be for the next few years - and although I had only a few days on the ground for meetings etc, I did get the chance for a day trip to Bath and of course was smitten. It means I simply have to write a book set in and around Salisbury and Bath and so I think I shall head back later this year with that in mind, so watch this space. I can't wait to start exploring further into all the gorgeous towns and villages of Wiltshire and beyond in that western side of UK.

In terms of overseas travel it isn't as difficult as we probably all imagine. I was certainly daunted as I left Adelaide on a domestic connection to Melbourne for my international flight.  There is no requirement other than vaccinations and proof of that carried at all times. Every country varies.  For me, travelling to UK, it was simple as UK makes no special demands or forms, etc. So long as you are vaccinated,  you can travel. However, you do need to fill out a special form on line called your Digital Passenger Departure, which is all about re-entry into Australia.  Don't leave it to the last minute - the airlines will demand it and you won't be able to board without it.  You can download the app that I found troublesome or you can fill out the form online.  They suggest you carry a printed version around, which I did but never needed. You have to upload all the info including your international vaccination certificate (blue version).  When I got back to Adelaide they cull the people who have been overseas and that's in order to give travellers a RAT kit and form.  You can do the Covid test at home but then you have to upload the result, either way, to the government website.  That's SA Health so it's going to vary state to state what the requirement is - make sure you know.

I was on Etihad this trip because my husband managed to seek out a really good deal about six months ago when few people were booking.  I was very fortunate to have Business Class on all sectors but that same trip today is probably an additional five thousand dollars and I wouldn't pay that. I'd rather have the money for winter boots at the other end!  That said, if you can justify the spend, then there's no doubt it's worth it. You do move around in a wider space, can stretch out and sleep, plus you have the lounges in every sector to use and again that separates you from moving around more crowded spaces. It does not stop babies from crying in the cabin, ha!

Crowds simply can't be avoided in somewhere like London or Bath especially if you want to enjoy complete freedom so it really comes down to the individual taking personal precaution. I sometimes felt like the only person wearing a mask but I wore it whenever I was out and throughout airports and all flights.  I washed my hands constantly, I used sanitiser all day long and I was aware of keeping my distance in every situation.  I did use the London Underground once...but at a time of day when it wasn't peak.  When it was peak, I walked and I caught a bus once when the distance was too far to walk. 

Glad to say that I managed to do that overseas trip and return Covid negative.   Good luck to all who are gearing up for international travel. I felt like a crash test dummy for us as my husband will join me abroad later this year as I get busy researching the 2024 novel.

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