Muddling through 14 days of quarantine

We knew quarantine was a possibility when we set off for France but is the enforced 14-day self-isolation we now have to endure a price worth paying for a trip abroad? Certainly, I felt refreshed from travelling in France in our campervan again, I enjoyed being back in mainland Europe, following an unplanned path, hearing different languages and discovering new places. Not everyone will think we should have travelled but we tried to be sensible and chose France because the Covid-19 cases were low when we left and we were cautious during our stay. We are able to quarantine, there is nowhere we have to be, so yes, it is worth it but I wouldn’t want to do it again and quarantine is tough. My first thought as I wake every morning is how many days we have completed and how many are left and I am only grateful that this self-isolation has an end date.

I understand how much worse this could be and there are many who have to be in quarantine for longer and for reasons other than a selfish need for a holiday abroad. I am humbled, remembering my house-bound neighbour in Salford. She remained mostly cheerful but rarely went anywhere, had a paid carer who called in once a week for some cleaning and basic shopping and I would visit and complete an internet shopping delivery for her regularly. For two weeks I am experiencing her dependency and I am not enjoying it. I am frustrated that I can’t even nip the short distance to the paper shop for our weekend newspaper while grateful to our kind neighbour who willingly does this. I texted him on Saturday morning and minutes later saw him heading off. He delivered our papers through the letterbox, ‘Should I leave the money in a bowl of vinegar?’ I asked.

At least, unlike my ex-neighbour, we have the IT skills to do our own internet shopping. We don’t usually have supermarket deliveries as our local Lidl is so handy but I signed up and got our first delivery the day after we arrived home. A second delivery should see us through the 14 days and will break up another day but I can’t really get used to not being able to bob out for something forgotten or just desired. This feels more like house arrest than quarantine.

Every day feels the same seen from the same place and I am grateful that the Tour de France had to move to September, as watching the cycling and the wonderful French scenery gives some structure and variety to our day. Our Renault needs a new van battery as it is now coming up for six years old. After an internet search I was excessively excited to find out that they could come to us and fit a new battery on our drive. Hurrah to a day that isn’t another Groundhog Day.

I am happy carrying out a spot of light pruning with the warm sun on my back but generally find gardening more of a responsibility and duty than relaxation. Gardening does get me outside, provide some exercise and pass the time. In these strange times, working in the front garden has become most interesting as I can linger and watch the rest of the world going about its business. I was lurking in the front garden pretending to be gardening when I heard the familiar clink of an empty aluminium can rolling down the street. On automatic I ran out to the road to pick the litter up and put it in our recycling bin. Walking back the 50 metres with the can I realised that could have cost me a £1,000 fine for leaving our home and garden!

We practice tai chi every day for balance and strength but it is the rhythm of walking that I miss the most. Even during lock down we could walk and we covered many miles. Through this quarantine I am like a caged animal pacing around our tiny garden and bungalow. In hindsight we should have booked a holiday cottage in large grounds for at least some of this self-isolation. I appreciate our quarantine is for the good of the wider public health but it isn’t doing much for my own mental and physical health.

In Iceland returning holidaymakers are not treated like lepers. Icelanders are given two coronavirus tests seven days apart, if both tests are negative they only need to quarantine for seven days. On the Isle of Man residents can pay for a test and only need to self-isolate for seven days if it is negative [a risky option as maybe 20-30% of negative results are false]. Unfortunately, England can’t be bothered to come up with anything more humane than 14 days of self-isolation.

We were so careful in France the chances of either of us being infectious with coronavirus is small but if we do have the virus is 14 days long enough to self-isolate? One study suggested that 97% of people will display symptoms within 12 days of transmission [99% will display symptoms after 14 days]. Let’s hope neither of us develops any symptoms as that will make our quarantine even longer. With too much time on my hands, I worry that we might be one of the around 80% who are asymptomatic and wonder why, if travelling to France is so dangerous, no one in authority thinks we should have a coronavirus test.

Reading novels is getting me through these hours and days. They take me to different places and [most importantly] to a world that hasn’t got a clue what coronavirus is. I can curl up in an armchair and lose an hour or more reading, my mind in another place. Without books I would be truly lost.

Am I looking forward to completing the 14 days and being free once again? Of course. And what wonderful thing do we have planned for our first day of freedom I hear you ask. I had thought a walk on the beach to see the view across Morecambe Bay, veggie fry-up at Rita’s Cafe, a browse in the Old Pier Bookshop and coffee at the Beach Bird would be the perfect introduction back into the world but it turns out we have something more mundane to do. My partner needs a dentist appointment and the only date available was first thing on the morning of our release, so our first post-quarantine trip will be travelling back to Salford [no NHS dentist has space on their list within many miles of Lancashire] for a dental appointment. Life has become so topsy-turvy since March 2020 that after 14 days of staying in, even the dentist will be an exciting escape.

Author: Back on the Road Again Blog

I write two blogs, one about my travels in our campervan and living well and frugally and the second about the stories behind the people commemorated in memorial benches.

12 thoughts on “Muddling through 14 days of quarantine”

  1. Oh Carol, I hear your angst & stir crazy suffering and it’s clear you are stucking to the rules that many will dodge – so all credit due to you both. It’s a strange experience & when we returned from the US in March we were kept going for exercise by Joe Wicks & his workouts (which were fine for him but not for me – I danced lot and sang a lot with on-line Rock Choir life saver videos & zoom classes). I think there’s a lot of “all in the mind” about quarantine, so maybe seeing it as an opportunity to learn something new about yourself while you’re in enforced standing back mode? Writing is good – sorting out old photos likewise – and the opportunity to start a new project – what about a travel book based on your experiences over the years?? Frankly I’m more than a tad envious of your trip to France, which we won’t visit this year but it doesn’t mean I’m not pining just a little for the serendipitous discoveries of new places in mainland Europe. I write this in the van, on a superbly located site in North Devon while the wind howls gently and cloud shrouds the headlands and seaviews. France it aint, but it’s good to be away anyway and the walking’s been pretty good so far. Go gently….

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  2. We are on day 7 of our quarantine. I went to Spain to check on our house after not being there for 6 months. I left on an air bridge and two weeks later it was withdrawn. So I stayed another 6 weeks. If I was there why not. I’d have to quarantine on return so best to make the most of Spain. It’s frustrating but rules are rules and we are sticking to them. The frustration Like you is that we have shops within spitting distance. But we have had online deliveries. Order no 2 comes tomorrow. The biggest annoyance is that after filling in the forms online for border control no one checked anything. Day 7. No checks at all which I understand is normal. Will I go back and have to quarantine again. The answer is yes. It’s all about common sense. Being safe. And having a modicum of normality.

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    1. Thank you. That must feel good to be half-way there. I can see it made sense to stay in Spain once you were there, we were aware we wanted to make our trip worth being in quarantine for! No one has checked on us yet. I gather they claim to check 20% of people by telephone so there is a lot of trust that people will follow the rules.

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  3. Thankfully I haven’t had to completely quarantine yet. For a few months we did have self-isolation for the entire Province which really cut down on our cases. I won’t be able to travel outside of my Country at least for the rest of this year as I can’t afford to miss 2 weeks of work, but I am pretty much still isolating (except for work) and I have taken up some new hobbies as well (knitting, coloring, reading, hiking, etc.).

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  4. Thanks for sharing your experience. It is interesting to read about and I’m glad you’re making use of your time. While I am not sure about the logistics of 2 weeks off work, I would love to be home for 2 weeks. I would get so much done!

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  5. Crazy that we have to quarantine if we come back from certain countries now. I’m currently in Spain and have been for 2 months because I would have to quarantine at my grandparents in the UK and I don’t want to bring anything back home. Hopefully things will get back to normal in the upcoming months but who knows!

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