When 2020 started I'd already got our family home back from tenants after 10 years while we lived abroad. The plan was to prepare for Peter's retirement and our return to the UK. We moved the cat and dog over and the plan was for me to live between the UK and Dubai.
They sat by the front door in Dubai after their move from South Africa, after a day or two they're back to fighting.
Dubai was already closed when I left to return to the UK a year ago on March 24th. I returned because my MIL had to return home for lockdown to isolate due to her age and had no one to look after the animals full time.
We also have an adult daughter in a care home here. Hospital cases were high and with severe learning difficulties she would not have been ventilated if she'd caught Covid, staff members had already tested positive and whilst everything was being done to protect her, we couldn't guarantee that her quality of life wouldn't have been impacted if staff were isolating and numbers dropped.
Arriving into an empty Terminal 5 on day 2 of lockdown, after cancelled and rearranged flights, I was collected by a friend for the night as I had no way of getting across the UK to Malvern until the following morning. Dubai closed their borders that night. Other friends put plans into place for daughter and looking after the cat and dog if I couldn't get back.
I stood on the doorstep for 9 weeks clapping for the NHS, the delivery drivers, the shop workers, the refuse collectors, the post man and everyone else working in essential services. I stayed local, I stayed home. My friend picked up dog food, another dropped off a table and chairs for the garden. I managed to buy a car online from a garage in Birmingham which was delivered.
I met a friend 'one other from another household' on the common with the dogs, sitting apart for an hour.
When garden visits were permitted there was wine in the garden on a Friday night then the chip opened and that was added to the menu each week.
There was post and parcels and flowers and letters, all written and all received. There were phone calls and video calls and jigsaw and book swops and crafts.
Then came the further afield visits, the days out in the garden throughout the summer with child 4 and his wife and our grandchild. I could visit my nephew, niece in law and great nephew, I could garden visit with the Things and my friend and her twins. I visited the other kids, created a bubble with one for a few weeks. I rescued a friend who was working full time from home with 3 year old twins whose nursery was closed. i spent the day with them in the garden creating a little calm oasis for the parents.
We both quarantined for 2 weeks as per the guidelines, then had garden visits and visited our adult children. In Cirencester we were able to sit in the pub for a Sunday Lunch. We were permitted a garden visit with our daughter.
The UAE government requested PCR tests prior to arrival in Dubai, Peter had one locally and flew home, I had to travel to Bristol for mine.
A friend in South Africa found me a house sitter, I spent a weekend camping with a friend, collected house sitter, tested and flew to Dubai, testing again on arrival and isolating until the result came through (36 hours)
I'd shipped our furniture whilst in Dubai, closed my bank account and sold my car.
Back in the UK I isolated for 2 weeks, arranged food shop deliveries then resumed garden visits and Friday night wine, but now we could go indoors. My friends father died. I helped her clear the house, under the tier rules.
I registered with a GP, had appointment to see Haematologist, had blood tests, an iron infusion, more blood tests and follow up appointments over the phone.
I had a weekend away with Bob to the seaside and stayed in a hotel, social distancing was difficult but I stayed away from the over populated areas.
Lockdown 2 no sign of my furniture and house guests for 3 months to look after the pets. I ended up staying a month longer in the UK than planned due to shipping company and had to fly to Northern Ireland for 2 weeks to stay with son and his wife, I had no where else to go and hotels were closed. Flew back to the mainland, supervised furniture delivery and train to Heathrow T2, via an empty Paddington station and out to Dubai. PCR testing on arrival now.
Finally back out to Dubai for a period of time to spend with Peter, I however had the opportunity for some work and so did Peter, which ended up with him stranded in Saudi for Christmas while I spent Christmas in a hotel on the beach on my own. Reunited for the New Year and then I ended up in hospital with a bad back, then scheduled surgery, then a week of work in Abu Dhabi for me staying in a hotel forming a bubble. Both doses of Chinese vaccine, Sinopharm. PCR test and flew back to the UK, into Lockdown 3. I caught the train home. House sitters left as I walked up the drive.
Another 2 weeks isolation, friends phoning to check in with me, not seen any of the neighbours, other than the young couple with the baby next door. I see people on a regular basis on bin days, school runs (we live next to a primary school) local dog walks, but I'm not sure how long it would be before any of them noticed I wasn't there.
Another iron infusion, an invitation for UK covid vaccine, distanced dog walks with a friend. I'm just waiting for my son and his wife to collect the dog, the neighbour is looking after the cat and I'm back out to Dubai.
We'll both be back in the UK full time in June when Peter retires and we can start to discover our new normal together, in a different country, almost 11 years since we left, the kids have left home, we've inherited a cat and dog, gained 2 daughter in laws and their families and a grandchild.
I stood on the door step last night with a candle, one neighbour came out and we could hear church bells and see lights up on the hills. I've seen her less than 20 times in a year.