The worlds view of England is changing. Between Brexit and the disaster that is the handling of Covid 19, I feel like a stigma will be attached to U.K passports from now on and for years to come.
But saying that, as a quarantiner in the South West of England I can say that it certainly has its upsides, too. I headed back from Vietnam, where I was living, on the 23rd March 2020 with a heavy head when things were getting serious with Covid 19 in this country. On the same day that I landed in Heathrow, the announced the lockdown in England, phew, I was very lucky to be able to get on a plane that late into the pandemic! I was settled in south east Asia so I was devastated to leave, but things started to look up after a while.
Growing up in Somerset, I have always thought it is the most boring place the whole world, fields, cows, flat cider…How can that be exciting to a teenage girl?
Well now I have matured (slightly) and being back in my family home means I can fully appreciate the plus points of living in the south west, especially during the quarantine period of 2020.
I have loved living in a city, I love the hustle and bustle of daily life, I love having lots of people around me and I love the variety of things to do, but I am a country girl at heart. The peacefulness of the countryside speaks to my soul, it is the place I feel most at peace and at home. I love the beauty and the nature and I love the space!
This pandemic has amplified my anxiety, not just because of the deadly virus, but also in a personal way. I have so many questions about where my life is headed – where will I live once this is over? What will I do for work? There are some huge uncertainties we are all facing right now, but together we can get through this!
Space is crucial right now. We have been quarantining for about 2 months as I write this and of course, Covid has been a real struggle for not just the U.K. but the whole world. I have spent the majority of my adult life living in tiny flats in high rise buildings with no outside space so I am really feeling for everyone living in a cramped environment right now, I can only imagine what it is like to be QUARANTINED in a little city flat.
The countryside has the one thing all city dwellers are craving during this quarantine – space! My decision to move into my parents’ house in the countryside means I have access to plenty of space to do all sorts of indoor activities (hello living room yoga), a little garden, home grown produce and an all-round wholesome countryside vibe. England is also having an unseasonably warm spell right now, with highs of 26 degrees Celsius and we can’t enjoy it properly! This is the perfect weather for beer gardens and barbecues with friends and family, not being trapped to the confines of your own quarters. Another reason that I feel so fortunate right now is that I have a garden, at least I can see some vitamin D in Somerset whilst I know many people are struggling with having to stay indoors.
Even if you don’t have a garden, there is an abundance of outside space in the South West where you are pretty much guaranteed not to see another soul – fields, parks, anywhere! Social distancing is easy when you rarely have the opportunity to be near someone! Jokes aside, I feel blessed to have this on my doorstep and I feel blessed in this moment to not have to worry too much about my personal safety.
There are so many lovely walks to be had around Somerset, the farming culture means lots of fields, orchards and beautiful places to walk around! Walking has become such an essential part of lockdown life for many people, it has given us a break from the daily monotony of being confined to four walls and allowed us that bit of freedom that has sparked essential hope in many people.
Walking around Somerset has rekindled my love affair with photography, I have seen so many beautiful things in the last few weeks which are just on my doorstep and I want to be able to start sharing them with the world. It has ignited my creativity! Spending time with myself when I am walking has meant lots of time for thinking creatively and for planning blog posts, it has truly helped me to kickstart this blog, a creative outlet that my soul has been crying out for.
Near the beach
Need I say more?
I am one of the very very lucky ones (in my opinion) because I live 5 minutes away from the beach, I can feasibly go there for walks or exercise during quarantine without travelling and this has been a lifesaver over the past couple of months. I know it is a cliché, but the sea is such a peaceful place – to be able to dip my toes in the water has massively helped to calm my anxiety and clear my mind. I love being able to go to the beach and feel that sand beneath my feet and imagine myself in a much more tropical setting, I know many people would kill for this luxury. I also have the blessing of (when the lockdown measures begin to be eased) being close to other stunning beach destinations, the likes of Cornwall and Devon are no more than an hours’ drive so I can start exploring local beaches before I leave the country and resume my travelling adventure.
The country air
Is it an old wives tale that the air is clearer in the countryside? I imagine not since there are way less cars and forms of transport in general. Quarantining in Somerset has been great as I have spent barely any time in the countryside over the past couple of years, my lungs have become somewhat sullied by polluted city life and having this abundance of country air is helping me to feel like a calm and healthy individual – something I never thought I would say at the start of this quarantine.
The shops are quiet
The news is horror story galore about people buying up all the toilet roll in Asda and huge queues before entering any supermarket or corner shop. This is not the case in Somerset, you can pretty much pop in and out of your local coop as normal, of course they have social distancing measures in place, but I have rarely actually needed to use them – I’ve barely seen anybody! I have also had few problems picking up essentials like pasta, flour and toilet roll – things that are in short supply in England thanks to the hoarders, the fabulous home bakers and the panic buyers, respectively.
But the pubs are closed!
Pub culture is so important to me, I have grown up having a close relationship with pubs (family business, not alcoholism) and then as soon as I turned 18 I have worked in them. The countryside in England is famed for its old and precious pub culture. The pubs themselves are beautifully aged, with exposed brickwork and open fireplaces and their inviting atmospheres and wholesome community feel make for a perfect local hangout for all! Pubs are a quintessentially English feature and the terrifying reality of the coronavirus pandemic is that we will lose many of these great establishments. This is a loss for the general public, but also massively for the owners of these businesses – their whole livelihoods are at stake and they can only idly stand by with zero income, but staff, rent and bills still to pay. This is crippling. We must help this industry as much as we can when we get back on our feet!
Current events surrounding coronavirus
The south west has one of the lowest cases of coronavirus in England, although of course it is still very dangerous and this could change at any point.
Somerset, Devon and Cornwall are highly popular holiday destinations and with a rise in U.K. breaks on the horizon, we are in danger of a second spike in this part of the country and other popular holiday destinations.
Once lockdown starts to be eased and we are allowed more freedoms, people will flock to these beaches and we will no longer have our blissful tranquillity and safety.
Although flights will be back up and running soon, I doubt many people will want to holiday abroad at this time. This is due, in part, to the government talks of a two week solitary quarantine period for anyone entering the country in the near future. This causes problems for a lot of people, but it also seems crazy to only put these measures in now, hundreds of thousands of people have entered the U.K in the last couple of months and had no necessary quarantine period, so why now?
Let’s all pray for a vaccine.
Overall, I do feel like this period of time is changing my view on Somerset, it really isn’t the worst place to quarantine, even though a couple of weeks ago, I wouldn’t of been able to give you one good word about quarantining here.
So generally we’re doing good…
Except that the pubs aren’t open.
This post is all about me looking on the bright side! This is a difficult time for everyone, I just wanted to write something to help me think about what is good in my life personally right now, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the positives and negatives of your quarantine experiences.
Let me know how you’re getting on where you are quarantining by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sending me a private message on Instagram or Twitter using the handle @gbgoesplaces for both
I’d also love to know what you like to read and what you want to hear more of!
Speak soon ,