Heathrow Airport London Long Immigration Line

Having left the quiet Frankfurt Airport, our son encountered the opposite situation at Heathrow Airport, where the immigration queue was manned by only two people. This left people waiting in line without food or water for up to seven hours. It took our son six hours in the queue. We will have a chat with him this evening and we will surely hear some more details as well.

More about this here from the BBC News Business with the headline: “Heathrow Airport seven-hour queues ‘inhumane’, say passengers”

This was the immigration queue at Heathrow Airport on 28 Feb 2021 around 9pm.

Thomas had to be at the Frankfurt Airport by 2pm, no snacks are being served on flights, and yes, one can go without food or water until midnight. That is when he got back to his flat in London.

Some of the hold-up was caused by passengers not fully prepared for entry with the new regulations. One of them being having booked the two COVID-19 tests beforehand, and showing proof of it.

His two COVID-19 tests for entering the U.K. came to a total of £ 210 after some comparison shopping. Some test centers charge as much as £250 per test. All this, among other required entry forms, was done well before his flight.

His airport taxi reservation, which is usually around £40, tacked on another £5 for each additional 15 minutes. I’m sure he will let us know what his total bill came to.

He also had to miss his TESCO food delivery as none of his flatmates were home.

He made it back to London. That’s all that matters for right now.

Snowy Oberursel in December 2020

On the morning of 1 December, we were blessed with the sight of the first snow in this season. This was taken from the Balcony, a.k.a. Maria’s Beer Balcony. Right now, the beverage to be enjoyed on the balcony is Glühwein (mulled wine).

I sent the same photo to my adult children right away. They both live overseas. Well, the one in London lives just over the seas, but with the U.K. and its looming Brexit, the country is moving even further away from the continent.

This was the response from London. This is Southwark, along the river Thames.

This was the response from Tallahassee, Florida, to our snow in Germany. Thunderstorms moving in.

Tallahassee, Fl

Last, but not least, these two metal birds are a symbol for both birdies having left their nest.

For more about kids leaving home, see Chicken Soup for the Soul: Empty Nesters.

Click here for a selection of metal birds for your balcony or garden,

Pubs Are Open in the U.K. as of 4 July 2020

The Corona lockdown started in the U.K. in March, which was one week after Germany started its own.

As of yesterday, 4 July 2020, pubs and hairdressers are open again in the U.K.. Our son, who lives in London, finally went to the hairdresser yesterday. I got to see the before and after shots – I’m glad he had the chance to go. He did not go to the pub, but took this photo while passing by this one, Blanca Road Brew Co.

Understandably, young people, after all that time of isolation, have more of a need to go out and socialize.

We ourselves had our first outing in a beer garden in Germany back in mid-May, but there was plenty of spacing and precaution.

… all’s well that ends well.

Notes from London on an April Day in 2020

This guest post is written by Thomas Shipley, who is riding out the time of COVID-19 in London.

A fog shrouds the world outside my window. There is no one outside and all is quiet except for the chirping of the birds. Inside, I find myself in a haze of unreality. I am not in a Stephen King novel. I am not in a Quentin Tarantino film. I am in the year 2020. Wildfires ravaged the Australian bush, Trump almost started World War III, and now humanity is facing a global pandemic. Worldwide shutdowns of travel and business. London is under lockdown. I am, though, allowed to leave the house to go grocery shopping.

I step outside into the cool British spring. As I breath uneasily under my face mask, the condensation causes my glasses to repeatedly fog up. I am in the heart of London – a city of millions – and it is eerily still except for the occasional passerby. I get to the local supermarket. I see a frail old woman in an aisle that was once was fully stocked with items such as laundry detergent. The store clerk sadly tells her there is none. Panic buying. We are scared, so we forage like squirrels do acorns in order to survive the winter. No toilet paper or hand sanitizer anywhere to be seen. Many basic necessities lacking. Is it selfishness? Perhaps. Yet, it is hard to undo thousands of years of human evolution. The pandemic eats away at the polite façade of our social order. I discover that crises such as this bring out the worst and best in people.

Staying inside for days on end, I lose my sense of place and time. I catch up with old friends that I haven’t spoken to in a long time. We have long conversations and we laugh. We talk about the virus. It infects our conversations. I wonder how long the pandemic’s grip on our daily lives will last. How long it will be until I am again able to hug my family and friends, dance, commute, and travel. I scroll through my social media feeds. Everyone is posting memes to relieve themselves of the anxieties that we feel in these unprecedented times. And yet – they are not so unprecedented. I remind myself that such plagues have regularly upended our sense of normality for thousands of years. The Antonine plague in ancient Rome killed many around the stoic emperor Marcus Aurelius, and yet he persevered. None of this is new. This too, shall pass.

I am grateful that I have the luxury to remain inside and isolate. Grateful, that I live in a developed country with a robust health system. Grateful for each day that I get to experience on this earth. I do not wish for easy times, but that I am strong enough to brave them. This pandemic has exposed our vulnerabilities. We had forgotten how fragile our existence is. We must learn from this and prevent it from happening again.

Sun setting in London on 03 April 2020

Eating and Drinking in Bari, Italy

I had the chance to tick off every item from my personal list of things to eat and drink while in Bari.

Panzerotti are a popular street food, and the light filling of some tomato/light cream mix surprised me. What looks like a calzone is actually a deep-fried turnover.

Panzerotti

Passing through the market area on any day was a colorful feast for the eyes.

artichokes

I also got to try the region’s famous Arancini (stuffed rice balls, coated with bread crumbs, and then deep fried).

arancini

This drink, Negroni, was a recommendation by a contributing editor of The New York Times. Negroni is a concoction of Gin, Vermouth, and Campari. We had it with our lunch, and afterwards I felt as if the sun shone a bit brighter. 🙂

Bari, we had mostly blue skies and sunshine in late November.

Our rickshaw tour guide had recommended this Espressino freddo, which is a combination of espresso, cocoa powder, and milk. This was very nice.

Espressino freddo

Last, but not least, I tried the famous Focaccia Barese, which is like a slice of pizza, but without any cheese. This is a great snack!

Focaccia

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