At a time such as this it feels like one should record some thoughts about Covid-19, the pandemic and the lockdown we are experiencing.
At the outset I should be clear, I don’t have any particular expertise to offer on these topics or any wisdom on how to get by for that matter. But I will record a few thoughts, of my own for two reasons. Firstly as a record for me to look back upon one (better) day and secondly as it will give me something to do. We have now been in lockdown for some 21 days. Yes, it has taken me that long to get to the “blogging about it” stage.
My youngest sister, Vic, has been diligently and wonderfully video-blogging to us all each morning and evening via Facebook. I’ve had other friends who have been merrily posting daily updates to various social media platforms also. I’ve done my usual visual spamming of Instagram and Facebook with pictures of Sumner Beach, Cave Rock and the ocean. Please look at my Instagram photos, I think they’re rather lovely. I admit my frequent photographs of aged Land Rovers is not to everyones liking but the ones of the beach are occasionally pleasing.
It is still rather surreal how quickly this thing kicked off. We started 2020 normally enough. We saw in the new year with friends at Tata Beach and it wasn’t long after that that my daughter Molly and I headed off to the United Kingdom. Molly had enrolled at Exeter University where she was to study until May and then ‘do’ Europe as her sister Annie had a few years earlier. I had a wee holiday on the back of accompanying her and settling her in to her university accomodation. I was able to catch up with some relatives and stayed with friends. My holiday was all the more enjoyable as I was joined by my Canadian friend, Bill. We explored gin distilleries, cathedrals, castles, Roman ruins and played in Land Rovers. I travelled from the UK with Bill to Canada for work and then came home to Sumner. The world was well at that time.
Upon returning from the UK and Canada the next adventure was seeing Katie, our youngest, commence high school. She rapidly embraced the routines and excitement of busing in and out of college, meeting her friends in the village and taking up some new school-based sports.
I had a range of activities in my calendar to look forward to and to mitigate my general dislike of working from home. I had a tramp with my own high school friends planned for April. We were booked to walk the Humpridge Track in Fiordland. After that Katherine, Katie and I were to travel to Nelson for Easter to meet with Annie and celebrate her birthday by exploring markets, beaches and the lovely Tasman District of New Zealand.
We were very lucky to have great friends visit from Wales. Tim and Rachel had long planned a long holiday in New Zealand and Sumner was part of their itinerary. Katie and I joined them in Kaikoura for some whale watching (a postcard perfect day and plenty of marine mammals on display). Tim and Rachel came and stayed with us and we all enjoyed great weather and lots of laughs. They headed off to Akaroa for some rest and relaxation and the world news started to get a bit more serious.
Tim and Rachel returned from Akaroa and we spent some time with them before seeing them safely on to a flight to Auckland. They flew from there to London via Hong Kong and straight back into the unfolding Covid-19 isolation for the UK.
and then it all went to poo.
Like so many others we had been reading about the Novel Corona virus, Covid-19, affecting Wuhan and other parts of China. We became more concerned when it appeared to be spreading in Iran. We were certainly very focused when it was evident in Italy, especially in the Veneto region as Molly had travel planned to Venice with her university friends. We cautioned her against travel to that area and asked that she consider going at a later time.
The virus spread.
Molly was increasingly losing her new friends as they were repatriating to their home countries. We talked and decided to bring her home. It was a really awful time for us all. I wasn’t sleeping at all and was overthinking everything. I couldn’t cope with the idea that Molly would be stuck in the United Kingdom, so far from us all.
We purchased a ticket for Molly to return home on Qatar Airlines via Doha as that avoided the uncertainty of being prevented from transiting through Australia. Australia, like New Zealand, has closed its borders to non citizens or permanent residents.
Molly eventually arrived home on Sunday 22 March and was required to go into 14 days of self isolation at home. I collected her from her flight and we toe tapped in the absence of being able to hug hello. I was in tears. It took a few days but the weight of the worry was physically lifted from me. We were so lucky to have her home in New Zealand with us.
Here to it got serious, quickly.
I began to sense that our country would go into some form of lock down. The media reports were pointing to that possibility. I took a punt and booked a fully transferable flight from Wellington to Christchurch for Annie. I booked it on the morning of Monday 23rd March for her to travel on the Tuesday 24th. Our Prime Minister announced the lockdown at 1:00 pm on the 23rd. The lockdown would take effect from Wednesday 25th at one minute past midnight. Within minutes of the announcement all the flights in New Zealand were booked.
So again we were lucky. Annie flew from Wellington and joined our bubble for the duration of the COVID-19 Alert Level 4. It was very pleasing to have our family whole again and in place for the weeks ahead.
The first few days of the lockdown were a novelty and were a bit bumpy. Tensions and emotions were high. The stress of having had the girls in different places and especially the worry of Molly’s distance had taken a toll. All of our girls are social creatures and Katie was suddenly devoid of her posse of school friends. Annie similarly thrives when surrounded with her flatmates, friends and work colleagues. Molly had been extracted from her traveling companions.
It took a few days to get into some routines and to come to terms with the new reality we found/ find ourselves in. Remember of course that we all lived through the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. I certainly found a series of emotions I thought had been buried resurfacing under this new drama. The sense that we had no control of what was going on, the massive interruption to our simple lives and plans, the grief for all the things we’d lost (travel, experiences and events).
And so we are all well. We live by the Pacific Ocean in a lovely little village in the South Island of New Zealand. Our country’s geographical isolation has been beneficial for once. We are well fed (too well fed at the moment), our home is comfortable and well provisioned. I work from home as does Annie. Katherine is being paid. Molly and Katie are continuing their studies via online channels.
Our wider families are well and safe at home or in care.
We are lucky. Very very lucky.
More thoughts later…