This morning I visited Gina, my travel agent, and booked a trip to the UK and Europe, which I last visited six years ago, an inordinate gap in my travel schedule. My preferred accommodation in London, an apartment in Belsize Park, was unavailable, so I opted for a hotel which is even closer to Belsize Park underground station, limiting my time in London to eight days instead of two weeks, given that my beloved cousin Leila is no longer alive, but sufficient time for me to catch up with family and friends and have tea ay Betty’s in Harrogate. I will be spending a week with Clive, mostly in Somerset, where he lives, but also overnighting in Cornwall.

I love train travel, so will book a Eurail pass, which now includes post-Brexit Britain, whereas previously I had to get a separate Britrail pass (go figure). I have also booked an eight day Rhine cruise between Amsterdam and Basel, from where I will return directly to Amsterdam by train, spending four nights there and using my rail pass to travel to the Hague and my favourite art gallery, the Mauritshuis, and to the many splendid old towns and cities which I love. From Amsterdam I travel to Bruges, haunted by boyhood memories of its beauty, for a two-night stay. Finally, I will spend five days in Malsch with family, before flying home from Frankfurt. In all, I will be away for just over five weeks – making up for lost time.

I paid a deposit for the airfare and river cruise. The insurance quotes of nearly $3,000 and over $4,000, provided by Gina were outrageous, doubtless influenced by the pandemic. On my last visit to the UK, I was not yet 75, a threshold for insurers, but now I am 80, another threshold. The cancellation cover offered in the lower quote was parsimonious. Gina suggested I look elsewhere.