Having arrived back from France on Friday, I am now in home quarantine for 14 days. Before taking the business trip I thought, “easy, it’s only 14 days”, but I had forgotten it would start with a weekend! I thought I would note down my activities and lack of adventures from each day so that I could recall this surreal experience in the future.
This blog post will expand over the next 14 days, so if you want to encourage me please keep on coming back for updates. I’ve got lots of books to read, but I will certainly miss going out in the park for walks and runs.
I am on the Eurostar and have just exited the tunnel. An official government announcement is broadcast on the speakers on behalf of all of the UK health authorities – quarantine for 14 days, don’t mix with people outside your own household, you will be fined, etc. After the announcement I hear a business man on his phone arranging to meeting clients on Monday and saying he wasn’t going to bother with the guidelines. I was really shocked, as I was fully prepared to do the quarantine myself and like everyone on the train had filled in an official government passenger locator form.
I knew that from the moment I left the train, I had to minimise my contact with other people. As per the government guidelines, I planned to take an Uber home, rather than use public transport. Yet, the next announcement as we neared London St Pancras International informed us that the London Underground would be directly to the left as we left the Eurostar arrivals area. Talk about mixed messages!
The Uber arrived quickly and took about 45 minutes to snake through traffic to home. I phoned my wife a few minutes before arriving so she could leave the house and meetup for dinner with friends, without me, and without having any confusion over contact issues. Then, on arrival I entered our house, knowing that I would not be going out through the front door for two weeks! Microwave meal and cleaning followed.
I also had to take my laptop apart as it had taken the best part of a full sugary drink to its innards during my travel back. When it happened the screen went all funny and the power indicator light flashed various colours I had never seen it do before. I quickly unplugged the power cord and battery but I was worried that it was a goner. However, I was determined to give repairing it a try as I had no easy way to get a replacement over the coming weeks.
Then it was off to sleep after a protocol had been decided between my wife and I on her return.
Waking up I was ready to have a nice relaxing weekend. It took me a few minutes to remember that I was in quarantine. Then it hit me. No going out for a run, or walking in the park with my wife and dogs. Instead, my wife could do all of these things (as rules allow household to still go out, just not me), leaving me behind.
No worries, I had a laptop to repair. The last step I had carried out before going to bed had been to “wash” the parts of the laptop in distilled water and highly concentrated alcohol. I had read about this technique online but was not sure where I would get the ingredients from. Then I realised we are all carrying them around with us at the moment, as they are both the main component of hand gel. It worked a treat, and all of the sticky sugary residue was cleaned off the motherboard, wifi card, memory, etc. Only the keyboard was still sticky. A couple more attempts using this magical liquid sorted this out. By the way, I should say, “don’t try this at home”. I only risked it because the laptop was basically destroyed and I had no way to get a replacement because of quarantine. Also, I have a background in technology so I had a rough idea what I was doing.
The good news is that despite its drink problem, the laptop is saved! After about an hour of various diagnostic tests, I moved on to booting the operating system after re-entering the Bitlocker encryption key. Everything is good.
I spent the rest of the day reading in the garden. So thankful that I have an open space within the property! Then it was TV and connecting to our online church that is based in NZ. Our Saturday night is their Sunday morning.
Another nice day weather wise, but I am stuck in doors. Today I plan to do a little work on my blog and also continue reading a book. I volunteered to do lunch, cooking mince and making chilli con carne. Tasted good, even though we had to substitute mayonnaise for a lack of sour cream.
I decided to do some exercice in the garden. Our garden is very small, about 5m by 7m, with a little side return as well. Even so, I was determined to do some running. By jogging on the spot, and running in very short laps, I managed to run the equivalent of 5km in 30 minutes! I also did 20 sit ups and 20 press ups (across two attempts) and stretches. Hopefully I can improve this over the next coming days.
In the evening my wife and I decided we would throw together a combination of eggs and beans on toast, together with lots of tomato ketchup. We then sat down to watch some TV. Life story of Captain Sir Thomas Moore was on, followed by a new drama, “The Singapore Grip”. Watching a drama based in Singapore made me want to go on a holiday to the tropics. Then off to bed. Survived another day. Tomorrow is a work day, working from home.
So, initially I’m thinking that today will be easy. I’ve got lots of work to do, so that will keep me busy. However, as I get up earlier than at the weekend, for work, the dogs look at me wanting their walk. It’s normally my job each workday morning, but of course, I cannot give them a walk, so I let them out in our small patio garden. Then its feeding, with my wife taking the dogs out a little while later.
Sitting down at my home office, I am relieved that the laptop is fully working. Then its down to work. The first time I start to struggle today with the quarantine is when I get near to lunch time. Normally I would go for a walk at the nearby park, but today I have to content myself with sitting in the garden. I am determined to get as much sun as I can while it is still out. So, I spend about 45 minutes sitting outside, reading some work material. I also remind myself that my trip to France was successful and I got to see some beautiful sights walking around Paris by night. Then I had some soup for lunch with my wife.
We had expected a Tesco supermarket order to be delivered, but it is late. Checking the app, we find that it has been accidentally ordered to be delivered to my wife’s parents house, which is about an hour and a half drive away. Their address was in the app as we have been helping them through the previous lock-down, with shopping and various other things. A lack of Tesco order is a big problem as I cannot go out. We have a bit of food in the fridge and my wife can go and get a few things from the local shop, but we’ve already spent the weeks food budget on this wrongly directed order. Oh well, mistakes happen.
In to the afternoon and I have more Teams meetings and various work activities. I find myself standing during more of the calls, although I often have to stoop down to write notes. Then we are into the evening.
I’m certainly finding the evening to be the easiest part of the day, as I can just relax and watch TV, have a meal, socially distanced from my wife, and read a bit more of my book. We watch a Vera on catch-up. It is the most normal part of the day.
I cannot believe it! The Tesco order that we accidentally sent to my wife’s parents never arrived. The driver could not find their house! So, we are getting a refund. Yey! I’m so relieved about this as it has saved us £80. My wife is going to head out today and get us some supplies from a local shop and we will reattempt the Tesco delivery next week, to our house.
Lots of meetings today, so the day should pass by really quickly. However, the weather outside is looking so summery and it is really tempting to go out for a quick walk. No!
So, I’ve got through to lunch time. Glad to be sitting in the garden for a bit. We are low on food as my wife has not been able to go out for shopping yet. I’m feeling a bit guilty that my business trip is causing my wife to have to do a lot more work, but she is being a trouper. So lunch is a cheese and peanut butter sandwich. Tastes nice. I keep on reminding myself that there are a lot of people in this world who are going through much worse than this.
Looking forward to this evening as we have church home group and we will be connecting with friends on Zoom.
Waking up to another weekday. The dogs have started ignoring me as they have adapted to me not taking them out for walks. Feels a bit sad that I’m no longer the favourite – maybe I never was, but they were always good at making me feel special :-).
My wife is out for the full day today, so it is just me and the dogs (but they are ignoring me). As usual, I have quite a few meetings on Teams and lots of other work to do. However, with no change of scenery, it is getting a bit monotonous.
I’ve decided to do another run in the garden today at lunchtime. So, its changing into my running kit and doing very small laps in our postage stamp of a patio garden. To mix it up, and not get dizzy, I do figures of eight, laps anti-clockwise, then clockwise, and then straight ups and downs. And various combinations of this. I manage to run for 30 minutes again, but this time the fitbit is only showing 4.2km – I don’t think it is designed for the wearer to be doing lots of short bursts in such a confined space. Certainly feeling like I am a prisoner now, with the world continuing outside the door.
In the evening, my wife is back from being out all day and we sit down to have dinner and watch a move on Amazon Prime. I cook sausage and mash, and the movie is Draft Day, starring Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner. Costner always looks so serious in his movies, but Garner has her trademark smile. Don’t really understand NFL, but it passes the time.
Struggling to sleep tonight. This is very rare for me, but I guess its because I have not had enough variable activity today. Still over a week to go…
Starting to feel a bit same-y. Get up, do work, have lunch, do work again, tv, then sleep. No going out.
I spent about 30 minutes in the garden at lunchtime and then a little bit in the early evening, but it was chilly today. The nights are also drawing in noticeably quicker than in the summer. We had spaghetti bolognese for dinner which was very tasty. Trying to watch my weight though.
Although this is day seven of quarantine, it won’t technically be seven full lots of 24 hours until tomorrow afternoon. This is because day 1 was the day that I arrived back in the UK, and this only happened in the afternoon. This quarantine certainly feels like house arrest. Very frustrating to know that there are another seven days to go before freedom. Or maybe I should think about it now as a seven day countdown…
Read a news report that suggests scientists are proposing a full lockdown in October to stem the general increases in the virus across Europe and the UK. I hope that I get at least a couple of weeks of freedom after my current quarantine and before the lockdown, if it happens.
Please bring in this vaccine asap!
Last day of the working week. Looking forward to tonight as we will be connecting to our best friends on Zoom. They only live about 5 minutes walk away and we usually meet every Friday night for takeaway at each others homes. However this week we are doing it on Zoom because of my quarantine. Everyone is having to adapt because of me. They are happy to do it, but I don’t like imposing things on others.
At lunchtime today I spent some more time in the garden, reading a book about a caravan. It is set in New Zealand and it is a fun exploration of the country through the eyes of the caravan itself.
Evening has arrived! We connect on Zoom and have a great time. Although our friends have Nandos, my wife and I have the left over spaghetti bolognese from yesterday. Opened a nice bottle of wine (birthday present from our friends). It was great catching up and I’m really looking forward to seeing them in person next weekend!
So excited that its the weekend. I can choose what I do all day, as long as I stay at home! So plans for today are breakfast with my wife (socially distanced), write a blog post about innovation, catch up on some recorded TV, lunch, read my book, and exercise in the garden. Then dinner, TV, church online, and bed!
Not exactly what I would choose if I could go out and about, but its not too bad. I’m really getting into the book I’m reading about a caravan in New Zealand. It reminisces about its previous experiences, and in doing so it reminds me of the places I have been, and where I would like to go when I next visit.
I have also enjoyed doing some exercise. In a normal day I would do at least 10,000 steps, but during this quarantine, I am often doing less than 1,000. So, carving out some time to do proper exercise every few days is really important. Today I did 30 minutes of running around in random combinations of short circles and lengths, and 30 sit-ups. I’m not expecting to get any fitter from before quarantine, but I at least want to retain my fitness. It would be good to lose a bit of weight.
My wife is being amazing during this lockdown. She is still able to go out, but she is also doing lots of things to show that she cares. All of them are very kind, but some of them are not helping in the health department – cake anyone? But in my wife’s defence, when she suggests healthy eating, I do not look that enthusiastic 😊 .
Church this evening was amazing. The message was about how Jesus is very relational, and how during his time on earth he spent a lot of time eating with and communing with people. It was a reminder that isolation is not good for us. I am so looking forward to being able to invite people around for meals in the near future.
Did not sleep well last night. Although I am trying to be active during the day, I am not getting enough stimulation to give me the good nights rest afterwards. I went downstairs twice in the night, as I heard that just laying in bed is not good. But this didn’t make much difference and I think I only managed about 3-4 hours sleep.
My wife is planning a chicken roast today. Really looking forward to this, as we have not had a home made roast for ages. Chicken, with streaky bacon on top, potatoes roasted with olive oil, and vegetables (carrots and broccoli). A bit of cranberry sauce on the side, and it tasted amazing.
Afternoon is a bit of a daze. Both full from a tasty lunch, and tired from lack of sleep. I decide to sit outside in the garden as much as possible to get some vitamin D. I continue reading my book about life in New Zealand, and soon I find myself getting on the iPad and search for dream destinations, planning how I would spend some time abroad.
Early night tonight. Going to bed at 9pm. The “Singapore Grip” on TV can be recorded and I can watch it another day.
Seriously, is this not over yet! The second working week has started since I began my home quarantine. I am getting super frustrated. Making it worse is that the government are now talking about reintroducing various levels of lockdown.
Today the chief scientists are on TV telling us how scary this covid-19 situation could get again if people fail to abide by the rules. I am abiding by the rules and really hope that at the end of this home quarantine there will be at least a little time that I can experience freedom before having to lockdown as a country.
Wakeup, work, lunch, work, dinner, TV. Not an fun day today.
Ok, I’m back in the rhythm of working. Lots of meetings on Teams, documents to read and decisions to be made. Rumours about a lockdown are in the news, with the Prime Minister speaking at parliament later, and again on TV tonight. I am hoping that I get to finish quarantine before lockdown starts, but I am reminding myself that lockdown was not as bad as quarantine. At least during lockdown I was able to go out for proper exercise and also to shop for food.
The announcement is made – earlier closing of pubs, table service at restaurants and other licensed premises, reduced sizes for weddings, and stricter enforcement of the rules, but we can still see friends, as long as we do not go above groups of 6. Although I am glad that I will be able to see my friends this weekend, I am also not sure how any of these actions announced today will stop the spread of the virus.
Separately, I get on the phone to book my wife and I in for our annual flu vaccine this Saturday. I can see there being a high demand for this soon, so it is good to get it done.
Evening has arrived and the news is now reporting that Boots is rationing the flu vaccine and not allowing any new appointments unless you are on the governments vulnerable list or over 65 years old. Seems to contradict the advice earlier this year that everyone should get the flu vaccine, and that it would be free for those over 50. Hoping that because we are already booked in that we will still get the vaccine. I really do not want to have to take time off work for flu, or cause panic in the local neighbourhood with people miss-interpreting flu symptoms for covid-19.
Watched “Us” on TV this evening. Recorded from Sunday. It is about a married couple and teenage son who are holidaying in Europe. Making me miss travel already, with its scenes at Gare du Nord and the famous Parisian tourist spots.
Getting really close now! Its Wednesday and I’m out of quarantine on Friday. Yay.
Normal working day today. Meetings and analysis. The weather has turned from being fantastically sunny for the last few weeks, to suddenly reminding us that we are actually in autumn. Rain stops play, and I cannot sit out in the garden to read my book at lunchtime. So glad that this had not happened earlier in the quarantine.
Door bell rings mid-afternoon and I have a bit of dilemma. I’m not allowed to accept visitors, so I look through the spyhole. In the distance I can see a good friend, at least 5 metres away and on the public street, so I open the door a crack and find he has left a treat of a doughnut and brownie for me to enjoy later. The doughnut is huge. Very much appreciated!
A bit of TV watching in the evening – Sue Perkins in a documentary about the Mexican/USA border wall. Quite an interesting take on the situation, literally looking at both sides of the wall, and the arguments for and against.
Today is my last full day in quarantine. But it is not quite the end of it. As I arrived back in the UK on a Friday afternoon two weeks ago, I need to stay in quarantine until this Friday afternoon, to do 14 full days.
After another 5km running around in my tiny garden, I took my monthly blood sample for BioBank. I am a volunteer in a scheme that tests the same proportion of the UK population every month for about a year to see whether Covid-19 antibodies are becoming more common and whether they stay in the body. This is unrelated to my trip to France or my quarantine.
Each month I receive a testing pack in the post. I then do a bit of exercise to get the blood flowing and then fill up a special little vial, which is then sent back to the lab for testing. Unfortunately I do not get to find out the results for myself. Instead we all find out what proportion of the population have antibodies in a press release later each month. It is a bit of a pain (quite literally), but it is helping science understand this new virus and how it makes it way through the general population.
It was good to hear the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, use the BioBank data in his briefing this week when he said 8% of the UK population and possibly 17% of the London population now has Covid-19 antibodies. The study will continue to see if the same people keep the antibodies, and the number hopefully grows.
This evening it has been raining and its got dark early at about 7pm. Winter is coming!
It really is the last day! Late afternoon and I will be free.
Lots of meetings today, and more analysis. Decisions to be made etc. Receiving lots of congratulations messages over Teams from my colleagues in France. They have been very supportive during my quarantine, and they appreciated me making the effort to go over to Paris.
Lunch was a bit boring as I could not go out in the garden because it was really windy. Just made myself a cheese and peanut butter sandwich. Strange combination, but it tastes nice.
So the time has finally arrived. As I leave the house, using the front door and path for the first time in two weeks, I both feel and look a little dazed and confused. I can imagine slightly what it must feel to be a hostage or prisoner and then be released into the world again. Yes there is excitement and relief, but there is a little fear – fear of the unknown and perhaps an instinctive recollection that being outside means we need to protect ourselves.
Also its cold – I appear to have gone into quarantine during summer, and exited during winter!
Thank you for reading this post and showing your support. It has been a challenge, more that I thought before going in. If you have any similar experiences, it would be interesting to hear about them in the comments.