The first time I flew to and from Asia from the UK was in 1995 and on every occasion since the flight path has either been over Siberia or China. Never has it followed the North Pacific, over Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, and onto western Scotland as it did this time. Russian airspace closed = 14.5 hours, excluding the journeys from Nagoya to Haneda and then Heathrow to Worcestershire.
It was our 2-year old daughter’s first flight and it was the most challenging flight I’ve ever done. Anyone that has experienced a daytime long haul flight with a young child will understand. But it was the final hour in the car as we passed Oxford that was the hardest – I’ve never felt so much guilt from putting her through such a long journey that she knew nothing about and had no control over. But there’s a limit to the number of Zoom calls, pandemic-related border restrictions, and flight alterations resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine that you can take before realizing enough is enough. It was time to go.
So finally! – tearfully, joyously, desperately! – we are back in the UK for three weeks. My parents have now met their youngest granddaughter and my relief is beyond words. She was adopted when the world going into lockdown, borders closed and travel ceased. Now, after more that two years and still in the depths of jet-lag she has fought off the tiredness to play football with her cousins in the garden, been out walking the dog in the local fields, past the sheep and the swans, and got to know the other half of her family.
She loves it.
Introducing our daughter to my parents feels like a substantial milestone in my life. Yes, fatherhood for me began back in March 2020 but it has taken until now to really get started. The relationship with my parents has more substance and feels less abstract than it has over recent years.
When asked what he was thinking shortly after meeting his granddaughter my father, who has started to struggle with words due to a serious illness, replied,
“She’s a beauty.”
So visit your parents while you still can.