Life in Self-Isolation

I want to share some of my self-isolation experience with you but, first, I need to let you know that my French girlfriend, Marti, came over from Paris on the Eurostar train a few days after I arrived and we are self-isolating together here in Canterbury. This is probably not what the British authorities had in mind exactly, but we’re following the isolation rules by the book and I think the intent (not exposing anyone outside our “bubble” until we’re sure we’re not infected) is being met.

So, we’re here together, which is fabulously better than me being here alone. We’re on Day 8 since Marti’s arrival, so we have six more days until we can leave the flat.

Our Airbnb flat is comfortable, brand new, and well-equipped. Our hosts purpose-built the building, with its twelve short-term rental flats, and it just opened in August. They’re very experienced hosts, have done everything right, and let us know that they have others in self-isolation here as well.

The University of Kent is nearby and I think we may have a few flats rented out to students. Unlike so many UK hotels and B & Bs crippled by the decline in tourism due to the virus, our hosts seem to have navigated the downturn successfully, so far.

Our “Technology Center”

The flat’s Wi-Fi connectivity and speed are excellent, even with both of us working. The flat comes with a nice, large TV and plenty of entertainment offerings, and we can stream online shows without any problem. UK power plugs are large and the matching adapters for our EU and US devices are equally so but, with a UK power strip, we’ve managed to accommodate all of our devices.

Once a week, we have groceries delivered from Waitrose and, after a few adventures getting the proper English names of things correct and discovering just how much 500g of raisins is, it has worked out well. For example: “plastic wrap” is “cling film” here, and “zucchini” is “courgette”.

The Waitrose online ordering software is very good. However, the prices of things here are somewhat high and the 1.24 dollar-to-pound exchange rate doesn’t help. We were happy to find good French and Spanish wines and Irish Whiskey available. Waitrose’s delivery service is excellent.

We generally cook for ourselves but we also follow a tradition, established last Spring when we were locked down together in Paris, of ordering in for Saturday lunch. Salads and sandwiches, for example, from the local Pret A Manger restaurant are very good.

Our daily schedule includes exercising and stretching for me and online yoga classes for Marti. I’ve even managed to get in some 45-minute “walks”, going from the front of the flat to the back, return, and repeat.

We keep busy online and also enjoy reading books and newspapers, as usual. We also spend time keeping up with the latest news in the US, the UK, and Europe. Marti is a freelance communications consultant and she’s been tending to some business while here, even though she’s technically “on vacation”. As Mr. Retiree, I’m enjoying being lazy.

As shown in a photo in the first post in this thread, our flat’s balcony looks out onto a grassy yard, then across the Great Stour River, and into a nature preserve. It’s an incredibly soothing view and belies the fact that we’re just a 6-minute walk from the touristy Canterbury Cathedral area. We usually have a daily cocktail-hour tot of Jameson out on the balcony while we work on our British bird identification skills.

The flat is equipped with a washer/dryer, so we’re able to cover that duty easily enough without leaving the premises.

Just a hint of Fall colors coming in the trees

The English weather has been great, with lows in the 50s at night and highs in the 70s. So far, we’ve had no rain and only one gray day. Are we sure we’re in England? Coming from the US, the idea of no air conditioning, and windows and doors without screens seems wild, but the humidity has been low, the flying bugs seem to know their (outdoor) places, and we’re very comfortable. I’m looking forward to staying here into the Fall.

Marti will be here for another week after we’re out of isolation, so we’ll have time to explore Canterbury and see its sights. Then she’s returning to Paris, where I hope to join her in early November for an extended stay.

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