England Grand Tour (2021): Day 20: Going Home

With today being the final day of the trip for me, we decided to go out for a slightly more substantial breakfast than usual. The venue was Boston Tea Party Stokes Croft, on Cheltenham Road. We had an outside table, and I was soon enjoying poached eggs with smoked salmon and avocado. We returned to Bruce’s flat by a different route and I made sure that my packing was complete while awaiting a sensible departure time. In due course, I set out for Bristol Airport by bus. No need for big farewells: we’d be meeting up again in exactly two weeks’ time!

The airport was like a ghost town, at least initially. Even the Aspire Lounge, which should have been open and had no signs indicating the contrary, was in fact closed. The good news was that it was ridiculously easy to find a quiet corner in the main concourse and just settle down. The most interesting aspect of today’s flight was observing the effect of easyJet’s new luggage policy (introduced from 10 February 2021) on passenger booking choices. From that date, all passengers were entitled to bring a small carry-on bag, but only those buying ‘Upfront’ or ‘Extra Legroom’ seats were able to bring a larger bag into the cabin. While the effect may have been predictable, it was also a little annoying: there was a huge increase in the proportion of passengers paying to sit near the front – so much so that volunteers had to be sought to move further back, in the interests of achieving proper balance of the aircraft.

Once satisfactory balance had been achieved, the flight proceeded without incident, and I passed the time with a small bottle of white wine and a packet of easyJet’s highly addictive Cheddar crackers. After touchdown at my home airport, the trip ended in the same way that it had begun, with a ride on an Edinburgh tram.

Final thoughts

At just shy of three weeks, this was a substantial trip carried out without leaving the shores of Great Britain, focusing on this island’s largest country. As mentioned at the outset, it was never designed as a comprehensive look at England’s many attractions. Huge areas of the country were missed entirely – good news, as it leaves all the more scope for future exploration! Rather like a jigsaw puzzle with more than one possible solution, our itinerary was put together from an array of small pieces: the remains of cancelled or postponed plans, vouchers for flights booked but not taken, and other vouchers and credits earned through skilful playing of the ‘loyalty game’ in its various forms. And at every stage, we tried to be guided by The List, that mental catalogue of travel aspirations that perversely never seems to shrink.

The result was a long awaited and much needed re-entry into the world of travel. And while both Bruce and I crave the day when international travel will once again be feasible, it was also a reminder of some of the gems that are available right here in GB.