AM on my first post lockdown holiday – a staycation to Ullapool and Shetland, the first to fulfil an obligation to a book festival (not exactly a hardship, since it was recorded in the wondrous Ceilidh Place) and the second to stay with a long standing pal who moved to Shetland six years ago.

It’s wonderful to be back on the road again, and to travel through the most magnificent scenery en route to the ferries.

Yet I absolutely get why folks in desirable parts of Scotland are ambivalent about the return of the tourists.

Obviously people renting out properties or running hospitality businesses are desperate for trade to pick up again after their lost year.

Equally many other locals are fearful that places which have contrived to be Covid free may be put at risk by visitors from parts of Scotland and the rest of the UK where the virus still has a hold and the latest variant threatens to threaten the carefully calibrated return to “normal” life.

The ferry company advised a Covid test before departure – and I have to say the pack I ordered from the Scottish government arrived the day after it was ordered – yet in the same breath the company said the check was only advisory, not compulsory.

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However masks were, and social distancing enforced, including drivers only returning to their vehicles in groups of half a dozen or so, as per the number given out when embarking.

Yet all the way north, most especially the North Coast 500 route, the road was full of folk with English number plates indicating that they had given up thoughts of foreign holidays in favour of the Scottish variety. And, since I am doing precisely the same thing, I can hardly complain.

For all that there is the nagging thought that the more people from more regions who holiday here, the greater the chance of unintended transmission.

For the same reason the thought prevails that it was little short of madness for the UK government to delay a ban on incoming travel from virus laden India long enough for tens of thousands to climb aboard planes to the UK. No trade deal is worth risking more lockdowns and another assault on the NHS.

So here I am in level one territory, suitably grateful, yet lingeringly anxious. And me a doubly vaccinated woman at that. Who’s just tested negative. Suspect I won’t be alone in staying nervous. And careful.

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