Jonathan & Denise >
This was just over a fortnight ago, but already it seems to be from a different era. Back then, there was still no end in sight for Scotland’s coronavirus lock-down. And with Uist still having had no known cases (which is still true, even now), we were concerned for what would happen when the islands were finally opened-up to visitors. It may seem melodramatic, but our concerns were reasonable enough to persuade the authorities to grant us special permission to use the ferries for a there-and-back day-trip to Oban, on the mainland.
The ‘essential purpose’ of the trip was the signing, witnessing and notarizing of our new wills for both Scottish and Spanish jurisdictions. The only solicitor in Uist was not willing to meet with us, and the nearest practical option was to go to the mainland.
The trip was just one step in a fairly lengthy procedure that has already taken a couple of months, and won’t be complete for another month or so. Had either of us fallen seriously ill during this process, and in particular one of us was in intensive care – sedated and with artificial ventilation, it would already be too late for the other to get a lasting power of attorney. And what if it was bad for both of us?
The ferry left at 7am : we were aboard as foot passengers. Due to the social distancing requirements, the capacity of the ferry was limited by the seating layout, rather than area of the vehicle deck, and with about 8 passengers in all the huge ferry was said to be pretty full! The others were truck drivers, and crofters taking cattle to the markets in Oban.
Alas, it was a dreary day, with occasional drizzle, so we stayed below decks, reading. The ship arrived in Oban late – and then there was difficulty berthing … we arrived at the solicitors 25 minutes late. the necessaries were somewhat rushed, but solemn swearings were solemnly sworn, real ink flowed from real ink pens, rubber stamps were officially stamped, and wax seals were embossed … the one thing that didn’t happen was any shaking of hands. The streets of Oban were almost deserted as we ran headlong back to the ferry, past the closed shops, silent railway station, shuttered seafood stalls. We were 10 minutes late, but they did say they’d wait for us!
On the ferry back, the passengers were squeezed in like sardines : there were 11 of us! The skies were less soggy, and we went on deck, briefly, to breathe in deeply the mild sea air, and take in the passing scenery. The ship berthed back at Lochboisdale at 7pm. A long day for a 30minute appointment !
This was Denise’s first trip to the mainland by ferry since – no, not before lockdown! – since about 2008, we think.