I have been lucky enough to travel to the UK in September to visit my family. As most of you will know I have lived in Guernsey for the almost 30 years and now all four of our children are settling within the UK. We made the choice to go and see them over September with the understanding that we would have to isolate for at least 9 days on our return. At the time of booking, we thought we would be given a test on day 7 and released around day 9 and as my husband and I were returning together we knew we could isolate in our whole house and garden and not just one room so it would be ok. We are also very lucky to be working for ourselves and able to continue to work online so the plan was set.
We had a lovely month, managed to see everyone apart from my Dad (79) as a local lockdown meant we were not allowed to travel to see him. However, this story is not about being in the UK it is about our return to Guernsey and the funny stories that have arisen from our trip back and subsequent Isolation.
I was talking to Barney Jenkins re Softlink (I hope you spotted your name in your quick scan of this blog!) and was laughing about our return and he said I should write a blog post about it. I decided that it would be nice to add something personal to this blog and as there is a very tenuous link to libraries i.e. Click and Deliver, so here we go.
Whilst we were away we found out that we were now heading back to 14 days compulsory isolation, without a test, due to the changes in levels of Covid where we had visited and here is how it is going.
The journey starts
On arriving at Southampton airport for our 19.45 flight home we discovered that there was no cafe open. Not a problem for us adults but I would imagine a problem for families if they were not aware of this beforehand as we were. We were told to use the vending machines... Chocolate, sweets and crisps... then comes the dilemma... We are in masks, we are not in a cafe, we have to keep our masks on... how do we now eat all this chocolate we have bought?... with difficulty!...to be honest, I was relieved that no-one could see my chocolate smeared face under my mask.
Arriving in Guernsey
The flight went well and everyone behaved themselves. Strangely the flight attendants were not allowed to sell drinks and snacks but were allowed to sell duty-free! Not sure of the reason behind this one but who am I to judge? (It has subsequently been pointed out that as we were not allowed to remove our facemasks this was probably the reason for lack of food and drink being sold, so I am now less bemused by this!). We are also made to listen to an announcement at the end of the flight reminding us of our legal obligation to observe the isolation rules and risking a £10,000 fine. It did make me feel like we were on a convict flight but everyone was in good spirits to be home so this too was fine. I like to think that everyone was smiling under their masks like I was... yes really!
Anyway, we are all enclosed in a small plane for 40mins and on arrival at Guernsey airport, we are then made to social distance in the queue. Fair enough, let's start as we mean to go on but then my husband and I are told we should also have to stand separately. We explained that we were going home to isolate together but this was not acceptable so for the next hour we stood 2 meters apart in the queue. I found this strange but then thought that maybe it was for my own mental health. I was, after all, going to be spending the next 14 days alone with this man and maybe they were helping to give me some space now... who knows.
This queue eventually arrives at a line of 10 cubicles where passengers are made to hand in their forms saying where they had travelled to and reminded about the rules. Of these 10 only 3 were open... just saying! Rob and I were allowed to go into the same cubicle at this point and told again that we had 14 days ahead of us. We were asked if we had arranged food deliveries and it was explained how we could find information. We are to be released at 12.01 on the 11th October and if we wanted to go for a midnight walk we can...I know he was only being friendly but have you seen the weather at the moment?
If you have ever arrived in Guernsey on a Sunday night you will know that getting a taxi is very difficult. We had planned for this and had booked a taxi but unfortunately, it had been cancelled and we were left having to brave the taxi rank with our fellow passengers. We were not allowed to phone a friend, we could not use public transport (not that there were many buses on a Sunday night either) and the 2 hour walk was too far... I am not sure if we were actually allowed to do this anyway... So here we were with at least 20 other travellers in the same position. The taxi shelter only allows around 10 people in it at the best of times... add social distancing and we now have at least 15 people standing in the cold and dark watching the airport close up for the night...
Thankfully there were 2 very kind taxi drivers who were prepared to keep coming back to the airport to take us all home. They picked up and took home and kept coming back for us. We were about 3 from the front when the person at the front of the queue said they had no cash and the taxi could not take card payments... the whole of the queue started shouting that they had cash, including us! Unfortunately, the old lady in front of us also had cash so she went first... I am ashamed to say I would have left her standing at this point but delighted that she got home first... truly!
So 2 and a half hours later, our usual arrival in Guernsey takes around 30mins once you have collected your bag, we arrive home and ready to do the next 13 days... One great piece of news is that our travel day is day 1.
Having already planned for isolation we did have enough food to manage for a few days on our return and lots of our friends had offered to get us what we needed. It was not long however when we realised we were going to run out of essentials. Instead of asking friends, we decided to try out one of the shops who we knew was delivering. Forest Stores were great! Not quite Tesco online order and delivery, but a very local service. Email them your shopping list and wait for it to be delivered the next day. The receipt is in the bag and you phone them to pay, I love they trust you to pay afterwards. I have to be honest and say that I was not sure how this really worked and messaged a friend who had also used them. She told me that my shopping would arrive the next day even though I had not heard from them and she was right. Planning our next shopping experience today... with 6 days still to go.
We are being very carefully watched to make sure we are doing as we are told. A phone call from the States to check on our mental health and to make sure we are staying in has then been followed up by a visit from the local police, is certainly keeping us on our toes. Luckily when the police ran the doorbell I shouted through the door that I was isolating and checked out the window before I opened the door. He also wanted to see Rob and would not take my word that he was upstairs... Rob was made to come to the door and questioned. It was all very nice and it was good to speak to someone face to face, at a distance of course and he left with the reassurance that we are not planning to go anywhere in the next few days.
Click and deliver and my right to vote.
But how does any of this relate to my title of click and deliver and voting? Well, Guernsey is in the middle of an Island election. For the first time ever we have Island wide voting having gone from local parish/ districts selecting their own candidates to the whole island being able to vote for all of them. This has led to reading 112 manifestoes (what else does one do when in isolation?) and then voting for up to 38 of them. As this is not a process we would like to do at a polling station we chose a postal vote.
As our youngest is still at university and he still can vote in Guernsey he had arranged a postal vote too. Earlier last week we were talking to him about how we would have to post it onto him so he could post it back. At this point, we realised we would not be able to do this as we were not allowed to leave the house to go to the post box... It did not occur to us then that this would mean we would also not be able to vote either.... fast forward to last weekend when I tweeted if anyone had any ideas that would enable us to vote (as much as the idea of not having to read 112 manifestos was tempting...).
Olivia, who I used to work with a the Guille-Alles, messaged to say that she had heard on local radio that if someone brought a box to the door with the lid off and stood away whilst we put our votes in, they could come back with the lid and quarantine our voting envelopes for 72 hours and then post them. It made me smile that the local library was able to help even when I didn't ask them directly... Libraries truly are wonderful. After laughing at the extreme measure we were going to go to do this I realised that this is exactly what libraries are currently doing all across the UK to get books into the hands of children. My click was to phone my friend, my collect was from friend collecting, isolating and posting my vote and it worked like a dream... Thank you Maggie!
So here I am with another 6 days to go, it is raining outside so staying in is not too hard. I am running a training session this morning and have work to do this afternoon. We are currently in the middle of two Amazon + series This is Us and The Americans so we have something to watch in the evenings. The new shopping list needs creating and yes, we are still talking to each other. Maybe we will get to our 30 year wedding anniversary on the 3rd November after all :)