Another delayed return

06 March 2021
The flight I took today is one that I was originally supposed to take in the new-year but with ever-changing regulations over travel, the booking was changed a total of four times delaying the return flight by nine weeks. Factoring in Covid-19 clearance tests the round-trip is now somewhere north of £300 compared to the €60-80 typical of pre-Covid flights. As things stand there is an outside chance of this being my last “return” trip because the way things are going there is little to come back to.

Cutting thresholds close

Of the last eight months all but about eight weeks has been spent in the UK, which is so long that I am a matter of days away from being tax resident in two countries at once, which would cause a whole host of headaches for both myself and my company. It is a solid five months and counting since I even set foot at what is supposed to be my normal place of work and I expect this to reach and exceed the full half-year before I do so again. When I joined I was provided with a top-of-the-range workstation which I was even allowed to spend a considerable amount of time customising, but its 368-and-counting day uptime has seen very little actual work due to difficulty shunting files back and forth.

Bus stop

Even a few years ago when I worked somewhere that permitted work-from-home, it was never really something I ever did regularly since at the very least I liked going in to use the gym — in fact I remember my stated criteria for a long time was normally to stay in if temperatures were below -2°C because this is when the railway station became unpleasant. Last spring I even had a stretch of going into the office 2-3 days a week when most of the development team's desks were getting cobwebs, but now I wonder if I actually want to go back at all.

What is home?

I have been away so long that where I am returning to feels like home in name only and I am not even sure I even still have everything there for a long stay. So far two shipments of stuff had been packed and sent with the amount of stuff shipped basically being at the limit of what I could dispatch without a massive personal strain — things such as space for the packing process and moving the boxes down to the hallway for the movers — and a significant portion of what is left are things that I really should dispose of and replace. What is left is now at a quantity where actually moving somewhere else locally is nothing of the strain it was this time last year but that does not mean I will be able to easily secure somewhere cheaper and/or more suitable.

Bus stop

I am more and more often having the strange combination of missing things back “home” yet also knowing that I will likely never go to many of them again. Sometimes I think of acquaintances who may have moved on and even if they have not, without regularly going back to my old haunts I am unlikely to cross paths with them again, so I have to come to terms that a lot of people I would like to meet I may never actually do so again. Looking back the moving out process I did last year is looking ever more like the psychological if not the physical leaving-point, because everything since then one way or another has been decline. Like when I left Bristol all my thinking had become towards the new life elsewhere.

Bus stop

Going digging

One of the things I did while back in the UK was digging up some of the stuff I stashed in the attic back in 2012, all of which is an effective time-capsule of things prior to New Zealand. In fact one of the creates I took down because it was in the way of some wiring work was one full of electrical stuff from my undergraduate days. A few of the bits were even first-year vintage. Right now is not the time for a clear-out but given how infrequently I think back to the days prior to New Zealand, having a proper sift post-Covid is well on the agenda. A good portion of the stuff is things I kept for usefulness rather then sentiment such as my old ADSL modem, which having dug up I then found out is a technology in the process of being phased out.

Old ADSL2+ modem

I still plan to go ahead with Project Oldé which is a long-standing plan to put together a machine for the pre-Windows era of games, but as a general rule it is not worth trying to cobble together infrastructure from older components. Yes the D-Link DWL-AG530 is still a respectably fast PCI-based 802.11 adapter but most ISPs give you a hub that comes with such functionality built-in, and with two- & four-port gigabit PCI-Express Ethernet cards being pretty cheap now a D-link DFE-580Tx 4-way 10/100 network card is not worth keeping around. If I actually need something running Linux to act as a fancy firewall/gateway/switch a RaspberryPi with some gigabit USB-Ethernet dongles would get the job done.

The future?

Back in November I had come to the realisation if not the acceptance that Covid-19 would be lasting a whole lot longer, but that was when life was vaguely functional and before all the crazy post-Christmas lockdowns came into effect. It is now clear that in practice I will not be moving to London until pretty much next year, and even just winding things down is going to take far longer than my previous worst-case scenarios, as government and the civil service had stopped even trying to hide broken promises related to things people need to get on with their lives. I was approved for dual-citizenship over a year ago but the department concerned has blatantly just taken a long-term holiday, because even promised emails have not materialised a whole two months on. In the meantime planning is impossible even in areas where it should not really be impeded. The inability to even put a time-frame to anything has been troublesome for my professional life and outright detrimental for my personal life because things cannot wait indefinitely.