The week things went back to ‘normal’

We’ve been free from mandatory pandemic restrictions for a while now. Covid increasingly feels like a distant bad dream for many (though not all) of us. It’s much easier for us to feel that normal life has resumed.

I’ve been negotiating that journey at my own pace over the past weeks. I kept wearing a face mask longer than many as a courtesy to others, but finally stopped over Easter. My social life isn’t yet back to what it was – which wasn’t all that much to begin with – but our family calendar is noticeably filling up once more.

However, this week – more by coincidence than design – properly feels like The Week Things Became Normal Again™.

All five of us are involved in trips that would not have been possible during Covid. Isaac and Toby are both on separate residential outdoor activity courses during the week. Heather is taking Kara to Liverpool for a big cheer competition all weekend. And I’m travelling to Copenhagen today on a work trip, returning on Friday morning.

Flying again

Pre-pandemic, I travelled overseas for work maybe a couple of times a year, plus family holidays. This is both my first flight and first time out of the UK since January 2020 – an unprecedented hiatus. To put this into context, the last time I flew, the UK was (just) still an EU member. No Time to Die and Top Gun: Maverick were both scheduled for mid-2020 release. And Nadine Dorries was an idiot. (Oh, hang on, she still is.)

I’m quite excited at the prospect of getting back on a plane and visiting another country, even if it’s just for work. Before Covid, I flew just often enough for it to be routine but not a burden. Okay, not everything is exactly as it was – I’ve had to upload Covid vaccination documents as part of the pre-flight process, for instance – but it’s near enough the same. Passport. Credit cards. Remember to check in and secure a window seat. Pack 58 different adapters and charging cables. You know the sort of thing.

What’s still to come

It’s great that we’re all doing something this week and taking a collective (though separate) step forward. The boys had missed out on these annual residential trips in 2020 and 2021, so that’s a big tick. And while Kara has done some competitions in the interim, this will be the first time she and Heather will both spend the entire weekend maskless.

Just as enticing, though, is the prospect of what else ‘normal’ means going forwards. We had a summer holiday in France planned for August 2020, only for restrictions to postpone it a week beforehand. The rescheduled 2021 trip fell through earlier, but felt like more of a gut-punch because it was our second cancellation. But we’re feeling much more optimistic about this summer. (Fingers crossed!)

While we enjoyed filling the gap with several UK-based holidays that we might never otherwise have done – we’ve road-tripped everywhere from Edinburgh to Cornwall to the Sussex coast and various points in between – we were never under any illusion that this was ‘normal’. But hopefully this summer we will finally have our European holiday. And this week, in its various guises, feels like a major stepping stone as our lives become normal again.