Grounded! What did a year without flying do to the world? | Travel

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On 14 March 2020, I left my home in the Orkney Islands to drive to Edinburgh international airport. I was due to travel to Germany for a research trip. Full of nervous anticipation, and making frantic last-minute preparations, I hadn’t paid as much attention to the coronavirus crisis as I might have, but events were developing so quickly across Europe, it was dawning on me that international travel might not be an option for much longer.

By 5am, as I boarded the ferry, the radio bulletins seemed apocalyptic. On board, passengers sat separately, in their own private islands of paranoia. I wore a mask over my nose and mouth, and cleaned my armrests with a baby wipe soaked in Dettol. In the toilets, the ship pitching beneath my feet, I scrubbed my hands for 60 seconds and examined my own reflection. Grey, I thought. Anxious.

Four hours later, I stopped in at my parents’ place near Inverness, where I ate some lunch and checked emails on my phone. I had a…

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