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  • Writer's pictureChesterton House

Lockdown Tales From John and Janet

Two of our clients, John and Janet, tell us of their experience of the pandemic, including rushing home for the start of quarantine, being isolated for months on end, and finding ways to make the most of lockdown.

Lockdown started rather differently for us, as when it was announced we were in Thailand, not due to return until March 28th and via Kuala Lumpur whose airport had already been closed. So as Thailand was closing all around us – bars, local restaurants, hotel gyms etc. we set about changing our BA flight home.

We got through relatively easily but we were charged £2,000 to change our flight to go via Bangkok on March 24th. This extra cost was more than we had paid for the original return flights. At our last hotel in Phuket, we were 2 of about 10 guests and we were upgraded to a villa with a private plunge pool – all very nice, but I must say this stay of 4 days was one of the longest 4 days of our lives, despite all the staff being amazing, food being great and location brilliant.

The journey home was long. We had to get to the airport by 4:30 am to check-in for our local flight to Bangkok. We had a 3-hour wait in Bangkok, but when we got to the gate the boarding card reader buzzed, the check-in girl tore up our boarding passes and handed us new ones – 1b and 1c. YES, we were in business.

We had a lovely flight to Heathrow, we slept on the plane which was just as well since we were faced with a 5-hour drive back to West Wales (no hotels open). I don't think we've ever been so pleased to get home.

Home to West Wales

We are quite active people, we go to the gym 3 times a week and I swim in the sea every day (yes I am mad), but we are 10 miles from the beach, so no swimming under lockdown (anyway the Welsh Government basically banned all swimming because in their view it is dangerous) so we had to find some way to exercise.

Living in West Wales is challenging for walking. Our house is roughly 650 ft above sea level and virtually all roads head downwards from our house. This means that for every mile we walk we go up and down on average 100ft, with most of the up at the end.

So since March 29th, we have walked 1098 miles and up and down 110,021 ft. That's roughly equivalent to scaling Everest 3 times from sea level. No wonder I have worn my walking shoes out but am having to make them last as there are no shops open yet to buy a new pair. On the plus side, we have seen a lot of our local countryside in close up rather than in fleeting glances as we drive by. Lots of our friends have been following us on Facebook as I have been posting pictures of our local flora, fauna, and views seen on our walks.

Unlike England our lockdowns have been more restrictive – for example, when non-essential shops were opened we were still limited to 5 miles from our house. Great - there are no non-essential shops within 5 miles! The nearest supermarkets (only Tesco and Morrisons) are also 18 miles away. Thank goodness for online grocery shopping.

During our walks we have seen some amazing flowers in the road banks – daffodils and snowdrops now, a whole bank of orchids in May, bluebells by the million, lots of mushrooms and fungi plus the River Teifi in full flood.

Most of our walks have been on the country lanes – there is little or no traffic so perfectly safe. Bizarrely, although we live in a very rural setting, the nearest footpath is 1.5 miles away, so not very helpful.

As I mentioned, I swim in the sea every day (no wet suit, boots, or gloves), so when the last lockdown was announced on 20th Dec here in Wales, I had to do something. I bought myself a large paddling pool (8 ft x 4 ft by 15 in deep, only £22, thank you Mr Amazon). During January I dipped in my pool every day.

This was quite an experience as the sea temperature varies very little during the winter around 7 or 8 deg C, but my pool varied from 8 deg to just under 1 deg when I had to break the ice - quite a challenge. I have some great pictures of me in my pool in the snow!!!

Now, at last, we have a little more freedom, I can swim in the sea again, we can walk the coast path and soon I may be able to buy some shoes. We have survived and let's hope this is the last lockdown.

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