“Can I have your name and number, please?”
The customer looked confused.
“Sorry, what number?”
“Your phone number. You know, for track and trace” the waitress replied, patiently.
“Oh yes, of course. Do you know that I have been away 5 days, and this is the first time I have been asked that?”
Every other customer in the café looked up at that, incredulous, as well they might. We had been away for seven nights by then, and had to provide contact details at every café, museum or other stop.
Aside from that, though, tourism in the UK is possible, just a bit different. Spontaneity is out, as pre-booking is a must for most attractions and for evening meals. Masks, spare masks and hand sanitiser are now part of the essential travel kit, though there are hand sanitiser points at the entry to everywhere you might go.
Our hotel in Gatehouse of Fleet feels very Covid-secure. Not only is there hand sanitiser at the entrance, and staff in masks, there is a strict one-way system round the building. You need to descend and exit via a side door before walking round to the front and in again in order to go to breakfast. All non-essentials have been removed from the room, but a wipe-clean box containing mugs, teabags and coffee will be delivered to your door on request. The room will not be serviced during our stay, though clean towels will be left outside the door if you ask for them. The lack of a daily visit from housekeeping is not too much of a hardship, to tell the truth. I am one of those people who make the bed and tidy the room before leaving for the day anyway, and its quite refreshing to know that you can return at any point without getting in the way of the domestic staff.
Not everywhere is open, but we are able to enjoy the gardens at Broughton House in Kirkudbright and the Threave Estate. The bookshops of Wigtown are open (wear a mask and keep in your bubble in the bookshop bays.) With pre-booking we can visit the fascinating Gem Museum in Creetown, or discover the artistic heritage of the artists’ town at Kirkudbright Galleries.
It remains a mystery how the café customer has not encountered track and trace.
‘You’ve been in Scotland for five days, and not been asked for track and trace details?’ asked the flabbergasted waitress.
“We’ve come from Northumberland’ replied the customer. Perhaps they do things differently there.
But I somehow doubt it.
We travelled to Gatehouse of Fleet in September 2020