- Countries Visited: 35-40
- Travel Wishlist: America & Japan
- Locked down in: Kent, United Kingdom
“It’s safe to say that I’d be happy to never do an online quiz again”
To begin my lockdown story I think I will have to start back in June 2019 when my partner left me home alone with a bottle of wine and a credit card. I purchased ticket’s to Coachella 2020 (A large Music Festival) as well as flights to and from the USA. In April 2020 we were due to do a 3-week campervan tour around California, finishing our trip in Las Vegas.
I was working as a Procurement Officer in the Science Museum of London, this involved travel from Kent into South Kensington where the museum is based. My job at this time involved a lot of high value purchases where I am to advise internal and external stakeholders of our purchasing requirements…. I will stop there as I know it will sound like a bore to continue, unless you like spending money?!
Fast forward to February 2020. I have never felt so ill in my entire life, I had a high fever, I was sweating whether hot or cold, my nose was blocked, but the cherry to top the cake was that I could not taste a single bit of food or drink. I immediately contacted my workplace and was told to self-isolate for 2 weeks. At this time, the UK government was not testing anyone that was not considered a key worker so I will never really know whether I had actually been infected with COVID-19 or I has some other flu like symptoms.
In the beginning of March I received a call from my boss stating that Science Museum Group were closing its doors to the public and that we will be required to continue our jobs from home. At the start I did not know what this would involve, and I started to ask myself questions. Would I have a job at the end of this? What if I can’t afford to stay in the UK? Will my partner be okay working in a sales role?
Luckily, I soon was informed that my role was safe and that I would continue to work throughout the lockdown. I was now only processing business critical criteria, so this mean things like PPE and screens for when the museum was to reopen.
My partner was also required to work from home, so we were now starting to spend 24 hours 7 days a week together, which for any couple is a massive test to the relationship. Yes, there was bickering and a fight every now, but I think that it strengthened our relationship and at this time we were still allowed out to go for long walks, exercise and go to the pub.
We heard the news that our trip to America could no longer go ahead. With infection rates soaring in the Californian area, Coachella being postponed to October we decided that it would be best to move our entire trip to October. I had been so looking forward to this trip. That night I sat down and just cried, it was so stressful to call up all our bookings individually and change them. I had always wanted to go to America and this was probably going to be my last big trip before I decided to finally settle down, save money to move back to Australia and most like get married and have kids. But we still had October to look forward too!
May 2020 Boris Johnson announced that with immediate affect we will be going into a hard lockdown for at least 4 weeks. This meant that we could not leave our house except for the following; Shopping for essentials like food and bog roll!, Medication, to exercise your dog only places you could walk to and only for 20 minutes and to check on anyone shielding. My partner and I were actually really underprepared as we wanted to avoid the shops as much as we could and whenever we did go everything had already been cleared off the shelves due to pandemic panic buying. Shopping for essentials actually became really, really hard at this point – you had to book weeks in advance for click and collect and delivery slots were near impossible to obtain so the only thing to do was to brave the shops. I used to go down on my lunch break as I thought it would be quieter. I was wrong, I was so wrong. One day I waited and hour and half just to get into the store.
By now my friends and family in Australia were starting to feel the strain of the virus. It was devastating to know that it had made it to my island home, and I started to fear for my parents, brother, and friends. It was absolute agony to know that if something were to happen to them, I couldn’t be there, I could not help, and I could not fly home. If my circumstances had been different in the UK, I believe that I would have flown home for good, but I have a family here, I have friends here and most importantly I have a mortgage. Some nights I was kept up at night constantly checking my phone, messaging my friends and parents to check up on them. However a good thing did come out of this. Friends that I not seen in a long time, some for over 2 years, and I had time to catch up via zoom. We had time to talk about each other’s lives, find out who’s dating who, who is expecting and most importantly know that they were safe and healthy.
Roll onto June and we are still in lockdown, my mental health is starting to depreciate, and I feel trapped in my own home. Although lockdown rules had be lightened where we could now drive to take our dog to our favourite walks and that we were allowed to exercise for up to an hour a date as long as we maintained a 2 meter distance, it wasn’t enough for me. Living on the other side for the world to where you are is hard at the easiest of times, let along being locked in the house with your partner nor being able to see anyone else. Work required us to take day off work here and there as to not build up our leave for the end of the year so I decided to take days off where I could to make long weekends. I began to focus on my mental health, I would spend time in my garden in the sun playing with my puppy rather than hunched over a computer screen being frustrated that my internet had cut out again. I began to bake. Baking gave me so much of a release and I soon became really good at baking home made bread. The only downfall to all of this is that my partner and I were drinking every night of the week. I think one to just cope in general and tow as we had nothing better to do, so this needed to change to. We began to eat healthily, cut out drinking and exercise. For awhile this worked, for awhile we started to feel our minds become ‘sane’ again, but it wasn’t enough. I needed to get out of the house, I needed to start showing before work and I certainly needed to start putting aa bra on for my team’s video meetings.
Then my uncle died of a stroke.
To this day I still don’t think that it has really set in, I haven’t cried, and I probably need to. I don’t know how I should be acting. I do not know what the normal way to react, I just feel empty and selfish. I can’t attend his funeral and all I can think about is that I should’ve been in Australia, I should’ve been there for my family and for my uncle, my mental health starts to depreciate again.
My partner and I seem to be getting into arguments over the silliest of things as anything is setting me off at this stage. It was a good few weeks before I started to not feel this way.
By July the UK was slowly starting to open up again, at the start of July pubs and restaurants were to open again and the eat out to help scheme was bought in. Throughout this time I think my partner and I had attended 2 pubs, these were only due to taking the dog on long walks and having a nice frothie in the middle and we went out on one date night. Other than that at the time we wanted to stick to the rules, we wanted to remain safe ourselves and also for those we has come in contact with. We were also now allowed to see one other household outside and inside. We began meeting up with my partners family to go on long walks and to have dinners, to just feel some sort of sanity again.
Then we cancelled our American trip. The emotions that came over me were severe. I was devastated even though I knew it was the right call to make. I had been waiting for years for this trip, I had saved and I just thought, what can the world do to me now? Selfish I know, but I felt it was going from worse to worse and nothing would ever make it better. Luckily we pretty much received a full refund on all of our booking except for one deposit which went back into out saving pool.
Come August both my partner and I were feeling the pressures of being locked together for so long as well as trip cancellations and not a lot of fun going on in our lives. So, I told him to take off and extra day as there was a public holiday coming up. I spent an entire day making a ‘stage’ and setting up our back yard. For 5 days we had our own mini music festival, it was such a release, so much fun and for the first time in months we were smiling, laughing and having fun.
My partner was then told that he had to begin working from the office again, I was hesitant. I didn’t think it was a good idea and I thought it might impact us on being safe from the virus.
My aerial gym had also opened back up which was amazing, I could leave the house and work out doing something I love in a safe environment that was sterile and all of our instructors were now COVID trained.
Some exciting news came out that England was opening even more, that we could finally have a holiday, that I could finally go camping! I looked online and Wicked Campervans were having a 50% off sale. I called my partner and booked right away a 2-week trip around the coast of England. We booked campsites that had brought in COVID restrictions so that we and people around us would be safe. We also downloaded and app on our phones that told us free campsites and roadsides that we could stay on along the way to eliminate the risk of infection. We collected out van, packed and off we went. The trip was AMAZING and it was exactly what we needed. It was our first holiday of the year and our puppy’s first holiday ever, we went to the beach, we hiked in the forests and we even managed to shower every now and then. Although the trip was amazing I still couldn’t help feeling guilty. Victoria, Australia was in lockdown. My friends and my family were seeing me outside having fun whilst they could do nothing but sit at home. I thought, hey I had done my time, I did lockdown why should I feel guilty, but it was just there inside me like I was rubbing it in that I could travel again, I could camp again and they could potentially be infected by the virus.
The virus was nowhere near gone from the UK, in fact it as soon as lockdown ended COVID began to spike again. I immediately locked myself inside again only to go out to train, shop or walk my dog. I was angry, I was angry that I though the UK government had let us out too early, I was angry that I could get sick again and I was angry that some people were not taking the situation seriously.
Bring forward to now, local lockdowns are happening you can’t see any more than six people and more of our small holiday retreats are to be cancelled again. I am still working from home and will be for the foreseeable future. Boris has put us in a state of emergency for at least 6 more months leading us into next year and I am terrified that I don’t know what is going to happen.
Will I ever be able to return home to Australia? When will the vaccination be available? Will I be spending Christmas alone? What happens if another strict lockdown happens? Am I ever going to be safe out in public again?
While so much is unknown still I will be glad when live can finally go back to normal and I won’t have to participate in another zoom quiz again.
I think it is now time to add some pictures of my cute pets!
UPDATE 23rd March 2021
Wow, how is it March 2021 already!?
I left my readers back in November 2020 where there was so much uncertainty in the UK it was scary.
On the big lead up to Christmas the Prime Minister decided to do a hard lockdown for 2 weeks in the hopes that the growing COVD-19 cases would diminish and that we would once again be able to see friends and family and spend time together. This was false hope. We had stayed put all year, abided by the guidelines and stayed home, we did everything that the government had asked from us and we still had our Christmas’s ruined.
Chris and I had set out roughly a week before Christmas to buy the bulk of the food to freeze as it was due to be held at our house this year. Little did we know that as soon as we arrived home from the shops we would turn on the TV to find that Christmas was in fact cancelled. The anger that I felt finding out that my last Christmas in the UK would be ‘alone’.
I was determined to make this as good of a Christmas as I could for my partners family, so we still cooked all of the food and did a present and food drop off in a pub carpark on Christmas eve. The next morning we had a schedule planned and an all-day zoom link. We started off with mimosas and some bacon sandwiches moving onto a few games, cooking lunch and then still managing to eat as a family. The afternoon was filled with some more silly games and an afternoon nap!
It actually turned out to be one of the best Christmas’s I have ever had. We ran it all online not only did I get to see my partner Chris’s family, but I got to see mine all the way from Australia and everyone got to join in the festivities and games.
After Christmas it was announced that the UK was to go into another lockdown where you were only to leave your house for medical, food or emergencies. You were allowed outside to exercise, however you were not to meet up with anyone. It was actually crazy, people were getting fines for sitting on park benches with a coffee as they were not actually exercising.
Once again Chris and I had to get creative with what we were doing to entertaineourselves at home as we were slowly running out of films and shows on Netflix, Amazon and Disney+. We couldn’t have any more festivals outside as it was too cold, so we had a pub crawl where each room in our house was named a different pub. My favourite was the Squatters Plop. I bet you can’t guess what room in the house that was?! We have also had Alcohol tastings with one of our favourites being the £5 bottle of wine game. You have to go to the shop when you are buying your food and choose a bottle of wine under £5 to taste. We have also borrowed some equipment from Chris’s company and been to Raves via VR (virtual Reality) as well as setting up a cinema in our spare room for Chris’s birthday.
Most recently we have hosted escape rooms via zoom and also a watercolour painting and wine night.
These nights activities have actually been the only thing that is keeping me sane. Being an extrovert, I have found it very hard to sit at home with only Chris, a dog and a hedgehog to communicate to.
Just before Christmas we found out that Chris’s partner visa to move to Australia had been approved. Yay! We immediately started to plan our big move.
This led us to some very destressing times already and were not even close to moving yet.
“Australia shuts its boarders to international flights”
“If it was my kid I would advise them to stay put”
“You should never have left the country”
“You are what is killing us all”
These are only a few of the comments and remarks I have seen on posts of stranded Aussies trying to get home, including myself.
Imagine waking up one morning and seeing that your entire country has turned it’s back on you just because you moved overseas. Imagine trying to book flights and being turned away when hundreds of tennis stars are being let in even after testing positive to COVID.
I was heartbroken. I was so scared that I would not be able to return to Australia which would cause Chris to lose his visa, which wasn’t cheap. Things did start to look better for us though!
We have flights booked for the 2nd September, we started the process to get our dog to Australia and we found a new home for Mr Snoop Hog.
We are now, once again, at a halt and at a loss. The Australian government does not want us back and does not care about the destress they are causing.
We applied for an import permit for our dog that was supposed to take roughly 20 days. We applied for this on the 27th January. After 5 weeks of chasing and calling being told that we were on the last stage and we will have a decision soon we woke up to an email stating that our permit application is now on pause with little to no information of that is going on. We were selected for a special test, which because our permit is paused, they can take as long as they want look into it and approve it.
We have also received nasty emails pretty much telling us to just ‘shut up and wait until you are contacted’
It is absolutely heart breaking. My own country does not want me.
It makes you feel Un-Australian. It makes you feel like you have done something wrong.
The only option we have is to sit and wait. We are running out of time to be able to book our dog into quarantine this year and fear that we may have to leave him behind until he has his permit approved.
Whilst we are awaiting the permit we have decided to get a few bits of work done on our home to make sure that it is ready to rent out. I have put up curtain rails, installed a new oven and even started to pull out all of the bushes in the garden. By the time I am done I think I will be a self-certified handy man. I have even started to pack up boxes slowly to be shipped and give the whole house a fresh coat of paint.
This kept me entertained until the 8th March where the UK government released a stage by stage plan to finally release us from being locked up at home.
8th March – Allowed to meet one other person outside for a coffee/Socially
12th April – Gyms and Retail begin to open back up and you can have up to 6 people in your garden or an outdoor setting. You can go away on holiday within the UK however it has to be same household only.
24th May – Museums to open (YAY!), you are allowed to meet up with 2 households or 6 people inside or outside your home. All retail shops and businesses open again.
25th June – UK open as normal.
Although this is a brilliant and slow plan to get us back open, vaccines are going well and the cases are not lower than they were in summer last year it is a big stretch for anyone to think that we will be back to normal anytime soon. I am excited for it to happen, but not 100% convinced.
For now our aim is to just soldier on play by the rules and hopefully everything works out for us to be able to relocate back to Australia in September.
Until next time.