Saturday 7 March 2020

My Corona

I have just returned from an amazing birding trip to Thailand with three good friends of mine. For reasons of carbon emissions I limit myself to one foreign holiday per year. I used to travel much more, but I actually look back on these less frequent trips with much more fondness.
Unfortunately, because of our responsibilities on the smallholding, my foreign trips are never with Sue, one of the downsides of our good life.

The Thailand trip was complicated even before we went by the onset of corona-virus. The cheap flights we had booked went via Guangzhou, China. Expediency dictated that we rebook more expensive flights via the Middle East, a call which was justified on our return as the original return flight showed on the info boards as cancelled.
I won't go into details of the Thailand trip any further, except to say the company was good, the weather was hot and dry, food and accommodation, all booked on the hoof, were great and the birding was dawn till dusk - and often beyond for finding owls and nightjars - and brilliant.

While I was in Thailand with not a drop of rain the whole time and temperatures of 37 degrees (C not F) unfortunately Britain continued to be battered by storms and lashed with rain. This made things hard for Sue as sheep paddocks became flooded and the land became even muddier.

Sue sent me pictures of our 'land'

I felt a bit guilty that I was enjoying myself in such tropical conditions. One small niggle was that I developed a sniffle and a cough. This happened last time I travelled abroad too. It seems to start the minute I hit the air pollution of a big city and I don't think air conditioning helps it much.
As you can imagine, we jested about this being corona-virus for much of the trip. I know it's a tragic matter, but you have to keep things in perspective. Over 3000 people have now died worldwide of the virus compared to 40000 per day of TB and goodness knows how may of flu. But what's scary is that this is new and nobody really knows where it will go.

The fifteen day break progressed and the cough lingered as corona-virus started to spread around the world. Most of our time was spent in the countryside where we saw  few people wearing face masks and caught snippets of news when we could get WiFi.
But Bangkok airport was a different matter. Masks everywhere, check-in questions about China and even a separate departure procedure for flights to high risk areas. British government advice had evolved too and it was becoming clear that my protracted cough may have repercussions on my return.

So after a 39 hour journey back home I rang 111 on Tuesday morning expecting long delays, but got through to somebody after just a couple of minutes. There followed a further three phone calls. At one point I was told a team in full protective suits would be coming to the farm - what consternation that would cause amongst the neighbours! However, that was downgraded and by 1pm I was surreptitiously positioned in my car in the drop off bay outside Peterborough City Hospital.
I stayed in the car awaiting a phone call from Ben, who then poked his head out from the frosted door on which was a poster entitled CORONA POD. Ben had a full gown, face mask and visor and protective trousers and shoe covers.
I furtively snuck into the corona pod. There was no-one else present. I answered a few questions, swabs were taken and I was handed information about self isolation.
Results should be back in a couple of days, but even if they are negative I still have to remain isolated for two weeks.

I have moved into the downstairs bedroom, which thankfully has a bathroom too. Sue leaves food packages outside the door for me and when I make trips to the kitchen every door handle, knob and anything I touch needs to be wiped clean. Thankfully we have a dishwasher which eases complications with sharing utensils. All my rubbish has to be kept in one bag and double bagged when it is full. If I test positive (about 0.000001% chance) special arrangements come into place for its disposal.

Looking on the positive side, I have plenty of time to write my blog. And to update my bird lists, to monitor my seeds, to start off new planting and to catch up with all the jobs that were delayed by my absence.

I get two weeks off work and don't have to interact with people.

The house will be super clean too. When I do venture outside my hermit cave I carry a bottle of disinfectant spray and wipe every surface I touch.

ed: I didn't publish this blog post for fear of crosses being daubed on my front door!!!
But it has now been confirmed that I do not have corona-virus. Even better, advice has changed regarding my need to stay in self-isolation for the remainder of the two week period.
Presumably this is something to do with the fact that UK now has significantly more cases than Thailand.
On the plus side, I can now sit in the same room as Sue again, stroke the dogs and cats and I don't have to wipe every surface I touch. On the negative side, I am expected back at work on Monday and have to interact with other humans again.

Looking Back - Featured post


Ten years and a thousand blog posts! Enjoy. Pictures in no particular order.  

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