So near, so far ...
In the global scheme of things, to use that overworked phrase, losing our summer holiday to COVID is small beer. As I write, we should have been finalising our packing, throwing the Hobeck cat into care, and heading north to Scotland for our first holiday together as a newly formed hybrid family.
Instead, despite over a year of vigilance and self-restraint, two of our number are locked away in their bedrooms fighting the virus. They're young and should shake it off before long - although the steady rhythm of their coughs is an audible reminder that COVID has a nasty habit of hanging about. Rebecca and I are clinging on to the fact we're both double-jabbed, hoping that this is enough to soften the impact of the virus should we catch it, but I sense both secretly fearing that a Pfizer jab is the modern-day equivalent of a medieval nosegay in the face of the plague.
The psychological impact of what's happened has been considerable. We'd all projected possibly unrealistic levels of hope and expectation on our planned week on the Isle of Arran. Josh dreamed of cycling the island's 50 mile coast road. Luke was looking forwards to putting his A-level Geology to use, and Toby was looking forward to hitting some of the island's seven gold courses with me. For Rebecca, it was an opportunity to step off the Hobeck/publishing hamster wheel for the first time in two years. A chance to take stock. To breathe.
Two positive PCR tests ended those dreams this week. Instead, we're at home, sealed away, fighting guilt, boredom, anger, regret and of course, the virus itself. Those of us who are physically healthy are bearing the mental impact; those who are sick long for an escape from their rooms and their symptoms.
We still dream of a break, but a series of unfortunate timing issues mean there's no window in the remainder of the school holiday for us to go anywhere. We sense we need to do something, not least for the three boys who need a change of scene and to see something of the wider world this summer. As for Rebecca and I, we know we need a break to renew our energy ahead of a blisteringly busy Autumn release schedule.
Still, at least as Rebecca says: 'we won't have to fight off the midges this summer.' We'll have to wait until 2022 for that pleasure it seems.