First things first, I swear to you all that my blog is still alive.
I know that it is quite common for people to start one up, be heavily invested in it for a few months and then just let it die.
I have no intentions of doing this, my lack of posting has nothing to do with any drop in enthusiasm for the blog but rather because I have simply had some seriously important matters to deal with over the last month.
If you are someone who knows me in real life, has read the about me page or keeps up with my social media, you will probably know that in January this year I married my lovely wife Bipa.
You may also know that she is from the stunning country of Nepal, somewhere I have had the pleasure of visiting twice now (to be covered in future posts).
I won’t delve too much into the details of how we met here as that is all prime material for this blog and if I save it for later I’m sure that at some point I’ll be able to stretch it out over a few weeks.
So, on to the explanation.
Around October last year Bipa applied for and was granted a visa that allowed her to come here to get married. It only lasted for six months and our intention was for her to return to Nepal at the end of May, after which we would begin the process of applying for a more permanent visa.
We were absolutely thrilled and so, near the end of last November, I headed down to Manchester airport to welcome her back, aided by my Uncle Jim, as the thought of driving into that maze of roads worried me more than a little. (Spot the Highland driver here).
I brought her home, we had a wonderful few weeks and when the wedding came, it was amazing.
If it seems like I’m brushing over all this it’s because, again, I will save those details for the future, this post has another purpose.
We had nearly five weeks on our own in a good friends cottage and then another few months at home with my family before she was due to return home in May.
However, this plan was derailed ever so slightly by a nasty little bug, you may have heard of it, it’s been in the news a bit lately.
All flights to Nepal and most other places were cancelled very quickly as the world came to a standstill trying to prevent the spread of this virus (what a job we’ve done).
Bipa was fortunately informed that her visa would be extended, from the 24th of May to the 31st. Not a whole lot of time and as the final weeks of May unfolded the airlines were still showing no signs of operating normally.
Many panicked phone calls were made to the home office with the only advice being, “Wait for a few more days”.
Eventually, with very little time to go, the visas were extended another month.
We all had time to relax for a few weeks, until the same problem arose at the end of June. Again, at the very last minute the visas were extended.
Then at the end of July, because most countries were opening their borders, people stuck in the UK were told they had a month to leave.
However, Nepal had no intentions of beginning flights before that time was up so we applied for something to allow her to stay past this deadline. A flight was booked in early September, and then cancelled by the airline.
We were regularly in contact with the home office and were were verbally reassured repeatedly that, if we hadn’t heard from them otherwise then Bipa was “okay to stay” without receiving any black marks against her next visa application.
Another flight leaving on the 27th of September was sourced and booked and we were assured with confidence that it would not be cancelled.
Next we had to produce a negative PCR test for Bipa to be allowed to travel.
The only place we could get one was Glasgow which is a three and a half hour drive away from home.
We went for the test, which needed to be done within seventy two hours of boarding.
The flight was on Sunday and the testing clinic were confident (although “No Guarantee” because obviously they don’t want to get themselves into a litigation situation), that the results would be with us by Saturday evening.
Off we went on Saturday, with my dad driving in order to give Bipa and me a few more hours to focus on each other. . Once again staying with my Uncle Jim. The evening came and went, with no email from the test lab` .
We went to bed, very concerned but hopeful it would be there in the morning.
In our panic we called everyone we could think of who might be able to help, bear in mind this was a Sunday so most places were closed, (the clinic that carried out the test being one amongst them).
We were advised to go to the airport and that Bipa should speak to a representative of the airline. I couldn’t join her in the airport terminal because of all the current regulations, so I had to leave her there by herself to sort things out on her own.
Just about the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I felt so helpless, deserting her to an unknown fate.
I thought I had become used to heartache, not this kind though…..
She was told by the airline that she couldn’t fly without a negative PCR result but to wait until the last minute, just in case it came in at the eleventh hour. If the gate was still open they would allow her through check-in even if it had officially closed.
For two hours we sat waiting at my Uncle’s house, convinced that we would all, Bipa included, be heading back to Scotland later that same day.
Then, incredibly, fifteen minutes AFTER the check-in closed, the email came through and she was able to board the plane.
Up to that point I had been so stressed I’d almost forgotten how upsetting the situation was.
Once Bipa was safely on her way and we were heading back home the ton of bricks finally arrived.
When would we hold each other again?
Which is exactly why asking my dad to drive turned out to be such a good idea.
So, Bipa is safely back in Nepal, we miss each other more than you can imagine and are hoping this time apart won’t last too long.
The upshot of all this is that these have been the most stressful few weeks of my entire life and remember, I woke up one day minus a leg.
The fact that, even despite the heartbreaking circumstances, my wife managed to deal with and overcome such a stressful situation, all while being completely alone in that airport makes me a very proud husband.
That is why I haven’t posted in a while, I personally feel like I can forgive myself for allowing the blog to slip through all that and I hope everyone who’s been keeping up with it can too.
P.S. I want to say thank you to all the airport staff, from the people at Qatar Airways to the woman in the shop who led Bipa through the back corridors to get to the gate quickly. Everyone went above and beyond the call of duty to help my wife.
Stay safe and be excellent to each other.