Chalkmarks: Acropolis at night

April newsletter: A postcard from home

IT’S BEEN 13 months and seven days since I last travelled. That was to Greece—way back in March 2020. I’d been to Athens: I saw the Acropolis, ate souvlaki, downed a few mastikas and explored Plaka. I stayed on Syntagma Square where at night the Parthenon was lit up like a jewellery box (above).

By the time I landed back in London, coronavirus was spreading around the world. A few days later, the UK went into lockdown. I put away my suitcase and stayed home. Months later, when news came there was a vaccine, the world went berserk. I got drunk straight away on fresh water. Everyone was smiling from morning to night. We all hoped the world would begin to recover and reopen. But it’s not turning out that way.

Onward to April 2021 and there’s a heavy atmosphere swirling. There is the awful news of a new double mutation. Detected in India, the new variant is similar to that found in California, South Africa and Brazil. Elsewhere, the facts have also been hard at work. There are surges in cases in the countries which were quick to rollout the vaccine such as Bahrain and Chile. In Europe things aren’t looking much better with cases still high in France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain and Greece. 

We thought we’d get a lucky break this summer but these data leave the government at a loss for words. The traveller at a loss for dates. International travel hasn’t been ruled out but protecting how far the UK has come in reducing infection rates is a good investment. I wonder what advice those ancient Greek philosophers would give to Boris Johnson ahead of 17 May, the date he is expected to tell us if we can travel again.

Aristotle said that adventure is worthwhile. That being the case, I’ll keep counting the days…dreaming of sitting in an airport, boarding a plane and hearing my favourite words “cabin crew to cross check”.

Thank you for reading — Natalie Chalk

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