When the Coronavirus entered British shores, back in Spring 2020, the Isle of Man closed their borders. Residents couldn’t leave, and visitors were prohibited from entering. For seventeen months, Phil couldn’t return to his homeland. For seventeen months, we could only seen his family through a screen. And it was odd being kept apart. Our little nephew and niece grew inches and learnt to ride bikes and read books. And Phil’s Mum ended up in hospital four times! We’d postponed our 2020 family holiday to August 2021, in the hope that we’d be able to get together by then. But in the months proceeding, it didn’t look likely. The Delta variant swept England, Celia looked too weak to travel, and the borders remained closed. We expected to be holidaying alone. But amazingly, by their due travel date, the stars aligned, and the family reunion in Norfolk was a go. 🙂
Although I was full of excitement about the holiday being on, a little voice inside started fanning my anxiety flames; reminding me that we’d be sharing a house! We’d booked the accommodation pre-pandemic, when drinking tea on the sofa was normal, when dinner parties were held indoors. But since then, the world had changed- and I’ve only once -and very briefly- been inside another person’s house! Yet, now, I was due to be living in the same holiday cottage for a whole week! Sharing sofas and chairs and food and tables and space and air. Yikes!
But luckily, and thankfully, Phil’s family were cautious and careful. The adults were all double vaccinated, and wore masks during the journey over. We all did lateral flow tests on the day of travel, and repeated them a couple of days into the holiday. We didn’t hug the adults, we kept windows open in the communal rooms, and we didn’t go into each other’s bedrooms. When sharing cars, we wore masks and had the windows down, and amazingly the weather was wonderful, so we were able to spend most of our time outside!
And it was a brilliant holiday. Such fun. Having spent a year living in monochrome, life at the moment feels like a bright technicolor roll. 😀 The first couple of days, still recovering from an infection, I took it easy. But by Sunday, my wonderful body was on top form and eager to join in everything. And so I did! 🙂 We played cricket and Smite and snooker and had scooter races around the grounds. We feasted on a monster BBQ, ate ice creams whilst bird-spotting Egyptian geese, and celebrated Phil’s birthday with doughnuts and a meal out. We explored some local sand dunes (i.e. BMX track for my scooter! 😉 ), I went into a supermarket for the first time in eighteen months!, and six year old Mei-Yan became a fab apprentice dog owner- taking charge of games and walks and tricks! We played pirates at the beach, paddled in the sea, and the littlies buried Phil in the sand! And as I had my off-roader -for the first time ever- I was able to drive my scooter across the beach! Wahoo! (Though it turns out it doesn’t like all sand- I needed pushing out of some soft yellow stuff later in the week! 😉 ). But my favourite day was when we captained a boat on the Norfolk Broads. Lottie slept all day, rocked to sleep by the gentle sway; but Kepler was a real sea-dog, constantly on look-out, with his ears flapping in the wind! Adorable!
Phil’s Mum had treated us to an amazing luxury holiday home, so for the first time since getting ill, I went in a swimming pool and hot tub! For the past eight years, I’ve avoided both, as the hot temperature zaps my energy and makes me poorly, the chlorine steals my breath, and my oxygen needs seem impractical with water and the public. But amazingly, wonderfully, thankfully, with my body currently at a medical peak, and with my oxygen supply on a long tube, it all worked out well. Really well! I loved gliding through the water, and floating with my face up; I felt light and free and surprisingly able. Although I initially forgot how to swim ( 😛 ), I was soon swimming a few lengths of breaststroke! Yay! Very proud! 🙂 And I adored the hot tub. After a day of activity, it was lovely to relax in the warm water… or splash around, escaping the underwater monsters (the children discovered how to control the bubbles! 😉 ). After watching from afar for years, after missing out for so long, after crashing post-bath so many times in the early years… I was beyond happy to be joining in and enjoying the water for once! 🙂
And despite my initial reservations… as soon as we arrived, I stopped worrying about sharing a house. Yes, it would have been safer to have not gone, but I can’t live the rest of my days in a shielding bubble. Nor hide myself away, waiting for a pandemic end that many never happen. Instead, I need to think of the risks and mitigate against the worse of them… BUT then be brave and carry on. And so, that’s exactly what I did. 🙂 We opened the windows and kept apart and tested ourselves and wore masks… but then ignored Covid and enjoyed the holiday! Yes, we could have been much more cautious -not being in the same room, not sharing food- mitigated against all danger. But what’s the point of a family holiday, if you’re not together? We chose to be safe, but not obsessive. And consequently, the holiday felt normal. Wonderfully normal. 🙂
And another advantage of sharing a house with others, you get made a lot of cups of tea! 🙂