[Note: This post was originally written on March 8th 2020. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was way too optimistic]
This has possibly been the most stressful two months ever.
No, we didn’t contract a deadly disease. And we haven’t lost our home, life savings, loved one or a limb.
But, Coronavirus? Now, of all times?
So, there we were at the beginning of the year, house sold, money in the bank, starting to plan our ‘Big Adventure’ in the UK. And, boom!
The world is knocked sideways by a sniffle in China, which turned into frenzied panic-buying of loo rolls on a global scale. Really?
The irony of it! If there’s one thing in Australia that we don’t import from China, it’s loo rolls. Yet people are brawling in the supermarket aisles – literally – for the last packet of Kleenex 3-ply.
But that’s not why we’re stressed.
Leaving aside the issue of the tissue, Coronavirus has taken a massive whack at the economy and left the Australian dollar bleeding in the gutter (or what was left of it after the bush fires).
Meanwhile, on 31st January, as Brexit officially burst out of the starting gates, the British pound took off like a whippet on heat.
And what is it we needed to do at exactly the same time? A currency exchange – Australian dollars for pounds, no less.
Oh, but it gets worse.
Cleverly planning ahead, we’d stashed away a modicum of savings in blue chip bank shares thinking it might help ease us into the UK. You know, to cover essentials like a few months rent and a year’s supply of loo paper.
Hands up who reckons buying shares was a good idea?
So, as the value of our investments and currency go into free fall and the cost of everything in the UK rises in unison, we get an email from Singapore Airlines, with whom we have booked our one-way ticket to the UK on 31st March .
They tell us our health and safety is their highest priority. Good to know.
They reassure us the air conditioning system on their fleet of planes is hospital grade and Coronavirus-free. Excellent.
Then they inform us they will be making a few changes to their in-flight service such as swapping the hot refresher towels for pre-packed towelettes (not the end of the world) and – get this – “the cessation of the post take-off drinks service.” WTF?
Oh, but it gets worse still.
Tucked away in a back office on their website is a hard-to-find list of flight cancellations – the result of Coronavirus. It’s 30 pages long.
30 pages of flights that people have paid for and won’t be getting. So far, ours is not among them, but the Sword of Damocles is hanging over Flight SQ306 to London by a thread of Chinese silk.
And then things suddenly got better.
On 6th March we heard our application for a rental house in Suffolk had been approved. We had found Wolsey Cottages online a week before and it was love at first sight. It ticked every box on our wish list, and I mean every single box.
Our bit at the end of the terrace is a two-up, two-down brick cottage in the countryside, surrounded by fields and flowers. It’s fully furnished, down to the knives and forks in the kitchen, and it’s a 2 minute drive to Yoxford, a quintessential English village with a 15th century church and a dog-friendly pub.
Wolsey Cottages, Yoxford, Suffolk
So, let’s take stock. We haven’t contracted a deadly disease, lost our home, life savings, loved one or a limb.
But we have gained a new home and our flight is still scheduled to take off. The dollar will eventually go up and our bank shares will no doubt rebound.
And as for that pesky loo paper? Meh. Who needs it.
Update – August 2nd 2020:
Stuck in Australia. Flights canceled (twice). Cottage gone. Dollar slightly less gloomy. Loo paper freely available.
Update – January 10th 2021:
Still stuck in Australia. Flights canceled (5x). Moved house in Cairns (2x). All our worldly possessions are a) in storage in Cairns, or b) in storage in the UK, with the exception of a few sticks of furniture in our current abode. We lost our beloved dog, Moe, who finally succumbed to old age and arthritis. We are heartbroken. Things in the UK couldn’t be worse. When will this ever end? On the plus side, loo paper is still freely available.
Update – March 31st 2021:
One year ago today we should have been on that flight to the UK. But there is finally a glimmer of light at the end of the very long tunnel. The vaccine roll-out in the UK has gone well. New COVID cases are dropping daily and we’re beginning to feel optimistic for the first time in 12 months. Can we really hope to be there before the end of summer 2021?
Update – June 6th 2021:
We bought a house in the UK! OMG. Now we have to get there.