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  1. My last post from England back in December was a very worried one and we did indeed have a seriously bad few months. However, with a strict lockdown and a fast vaccination programme, things are now looking much better. Schools went back this week; shops, hairdressers, gyms etc scheduled to open early April; pubs and restaurants for May. The government are being cautious this time around (about flipping time!) and this timetable could be delayed if the cases surge again at any point. Most of my contemporaries (60 ish) and older have had their first vaccination (apart from the refuseniks) and ages 50+ and second vaccinations for the early vaccinees are underway. I had my vaccination done at a newly set up mass vaccination centre in a local theatre. Obviously the vaccinations are being done by professionals, many of whom have volunteered to do this and are putting in long hours, but there are lots of unpaid volunteers managing the car parking and queues and admin and disinfecting the premises etc. This really feels like a wonderful mass community effort to get us out of this crisis, and having sometimes felt despairing and ashamed about how the U.K. has handled the pandemic, I’ve sort of had my faith restored a little bit.
  2. There’s some major political stuff kicking off in the EU re vaccine supply, so we need to be a bit sceptical about the motivation behind some of the statements.
  3. Things feeling quite frightening in the U.K. right now. We have this new strain which we think is causing our big increase in infection rates. 40 countries have blocked travel from us to them. That’s completely understandable but is a bit panic-inducing. As you can imagine, the scenes at the airports and ports are fairly dramatic. We have localised restrictions, with Scotland, Wales, London and large parts of the South East of England banned from mixing with family at Christmas which is obviously upsetting a lot of people. Those of us in areas who are allowed to see family at Christmas, have been told Christmas Day only with no overnights, which is a problem for people who don’t live near their families. Half the country has bought too much food expecting to be hosting Christmas, and the other half doesn’t have any food in because they thought they were staying with family. Local Facebook groups are full of posts offering their now unwanted pre-ordered turkeys and seafood platters, or begging someone to deliver a Christmas dinner to their elderly relatives.
  4. Things getting worse again in the U.K. Having had a really bad time of it in the spring, things were improving over the summer, but now we are on the cusp of the second wave we were all warned about. Infections going up dramatically, but regional rather than national. University cities are hotspots. Lots of controversy about the treatment of university students, some of whom are being forcibly quarantined in their halls of residence. Deaths still low but increasing and we know from the first time around that there’s a lag between infections and deaths, though maybe if the infections are mostly young people this time around, the death rates won’t be as bad as in the spring. Current lockdowns aren’t as comprehensive as last time and are regional rather than nationwide like last time, but we’re to expect a new announcement on Monday ☹️
  5. I expect your “glares of disdain” sent her home feeling even more miserable and harassed than she already was - a little empathy wouldn’t go amiss.
  6. If the child was sneezing, it’s a cold, not Covid, and masks aren’t mandatory for young children (because trying to get children to comply with correct and sustained mask wearing is like trying to go on a cruise during a pandemic). Not trying to be argumentative, but caring for children through all this is difficult enough without being judged by random strangers who have no idea what you are dealing with and the daily difficult decisions and difficulties you have to navigate your way through.
  7. Here in England, we’ve just had new restrictions announced. Lockdown had worked well and we were lifting restrictions but, unfortunately, that’s resulted in a sharp increase in diagnosed cases (though mostly amongst young people at this stage). In my own county (rural, remote) after a month of no new cases, we’ve had 2 new cases this week. I know we’re lucky, but this has been a blow, after feeling like we were heading in the right direction. My attitude is not being helped by the fact we should have been flying to Venice to board Constellation this weekend ☹️.
  8. I think it something even more fundamental than generational or leadership or personal attitude - something in the national psyche about which takes precedence: individual freedoms or the communal good.
  9. Here in the U.K., the situation is improving. Our deaths have been the highest in Europe, and still near the top worldwide, though it seems likely those numbers are going to be massively overshadowed by the growing numbers elsewhere. I am very fortunate to live in a rural area which has been relatively unscathed, and I do not know a single person who has been affected. We’re in a sort of semi-restricted state but it’s not really being enforced so people are making their own decisions. The majority are being cautious but the media is full of reports of mass gatherings: beaches on sunny weekends; youngsters drinking in city centres and at illegal raves; football team supporters celebrating successes. Compulsory mask wearing in shops starts tomorrow. We haven’t had the politicisation of mask wearing that the US has had, but both shop staff and the police have said they can’t enforce it nationwide, so we’ll see what happens.
  10. We’re in Norfolk, England, which is a rural and coastal area of the UK. We’re very lucky as there have been very few cases locally, but we’re under the same lockdown as the rest of the UK: stay at home except for essential work and shopping and for exercise once a day. Shopping has been difficult (shortages and restrictions in the supermarkets and near impossible to get deliveries if you can’t shop in person) but this is starting to improve. We have two small shops in our village which we’re very grateful for, though there have been occasions when we couldn’t get milk, for example. We have local volunteers doing shopping and delivering medicines for people who are unable to do this themselves. We are booked on the Constellation out of Venice in September, but I’m not optimistic ☹️
  11. In fairness, that’s the size of chair that there’s always been in the standard M class balcony cabins - it’s only Aqua & Concierge that had sofas. Also, am I right in thinking that Kelly Hoppen only designed the suites, not the other cabins, so isn’t responsible for these issues?
  12. That’s useful thank you. I’m glad I asked on here - you’re very helpful.
  13. We have a port stop in Athens in September. Our number one must-see is the Acropolis but we would also really like to visit the National Archeological Museum, which I understand is a long way away from all the other attractions. I have been researching organised excursions and have not been able to find one which does both the Acropolis and the Archeological Museum, so I think we’ll have to do this independently. Does anyone have any advice about the best way to do this? Are the hop-on-hop-off buses any good? Are there massive queues at Piraeus to get on the HOHOs? I would be grateful for any advice.
  14. You can turn up any time within the dining room opening hours. Sometimes you’ll be seated immediately. At peak times, you may have to wait: they’ll give you a buzzer so you can go to a bar nearby while you wait. The first two nights tend to be very busy. At peak times there can be a long queue to request a table and then a wait for the table as well. After that, it settles down and you can often get in immediately. You can can request a table for two or a table with others. Often, if you request a table with others, you’ll get seated more quickly, as most people on Select Dining prefer not to share with strangers. The tables for two are very close together, so you are effectively eating with others anyway. Sometimes your neighbours are willing to be sociable, sometimes not.
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