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October 2020…

First of all, we do hope that you and your families and friends are keeping well. Normally at this time of year we write to tell you of holidays that have taken place and our plans for the future. However, we have all been caught up in this ghastly situation with thousands of holidays cancelled throughout the world and any sort of planning is tricky at the moment.

What a strange year it has been. This time last year we were all a bit worried about Brexit but who could have guessed what was to follow. Being under lockdown from March to the beginning of July was a shock. All of our planned trips were cancelled although at the time of writing it looks as though we may get to Puglia with a small group.

We haven’t been able to do any recces either, of course, so it has been hard to plan for 2021 but we start off at the end of March with a few days walking in Norfolk – this time in the North West of the county. This is Part 2 of looking at ancient landscapes formed after the last Ice Age. We stay in a comfortable hotel and enjoy some lovely days off the beaten track. It is likely that some social distancing will still be in place but if you fancy a change of scenery and would like to join us then do let us know promptly.

We had hoped to travel to Morocco in March, but it seemed sensible to postpone it to the following year. Georgia however will take place in June 2021. Our trip to Sicily has been rescheduled for September 2021 and in November we shall be going to the Azores – that mysterious group of islands in the middle of the Atlantic. Prices and details to follow.

For 2022, as mentioned, we hope to return to the Anti Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Other destinations include Montenegro and Kefalonia in springtime and our holiday in the UK will be to Teesdale in Co. Durham. Again, further destinations and details will follow.

Many of you will have had trips that were cancelled. Those of you claiming refunds after FCO advice will have found it rather frustrating no doubt as the various insurance companies turned out to be worse than useless. Money has gradually been forthcoming from the airlines and tour operators but it has been rather slow. Insurance policies that cover Covid are now available.

Sadly, we can’t even hold our usual Reunion this autumn as groups of over 6 people are not allowed to gather together at the moment.

The main thing of course is that we and our families and friends keep safe.

Meanwhile a few snippets of interest… It is thought likely that Coronavirus occurred because of our mishandling of animals used for ‘bush meat’ and Chinese medicine. Calls for further controls on these activities appear at long last to be taken seriously. It has been suggested that the virus first appeared when a pangolin (a highly endangered species) was bitten by a bat (for meat) in a market and the poor pangolin was then eaten and its scales used as a medicine.

Some reasons to be cheerful… For the first time in four years Australian farmers can plant a winter crop. The devasting fires were followed by a huge amount of rain so the agricultural industry breathed a big sigh of relief as regular growing cycles can begin again.

As a result of panic buying a bakery in Helsinki has saved itself from financial ruin by creating a cake that looks like a roll of lavatory paper. The design has been a great hit on social media and now the company have hundreds of orders.

The Southern Jetstream is getting back on track as there are less CFC’s in the atmosphere. Also, the ozone layer is gradually healing and should be completely closed by the 2030’s. Love them or loathe them – our wind farms are now producing a significant proportion of our electricity.

We were pleased to read that large areas of Mozambique have been ‘re-wilded’. The story is a perfect example of the role that rewilding plays in the restoration of landscapes. Declared a national park in 1960, Gorongosa had suffered many setbacks over the years, losing most of its wildlife during the protracted civil war. The Government, with support from public-private partnerships, focused on restoring the park and the rewilding project was undertaken with hundreds of animals moved into sanctuary to give them the space and safety they needed.

Ethiopia set a tree planting record by planting 350,000,000 in just one day. This is part of a larger effort to restore the drought-prone country tree coverage by planting 4 billion native trees.

Closer to home… we have made a donation to Norfolk Wildlife Trust to help them with the purchase of an extension to the wonderfully varied Thompson Common Nature Reserve. This is one of Norfolk’s many biodiversity hotspots. Richard remembers that when the first part of the site was bought the Trust had to purchase the hundred unruly miniature Shetland ponies that lived there!

CUSTOMERS COMMENTS – We receive lots of lovely letters from many of you and we thought the comment below sums us up well:

“Many thanks to you and Richard for the chance of a most enjoyable visit to Corsica – a chance to ‘travel slowly’ and absorb the wonderful landscape and meet with great company.”

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