In the space of a week, the Life we had known and loved On our Somerset campsite has transformed beyond recognition. And most of us haven’t had time to stop, look, listen and take stock.
Not all that long ago, children were still in classrooms and adults were still at work.
People shook hands and hugged and kissed.
At the weekends they flocked to the natural beauty spots and coast, they jumped in their caravans, motorhomes and campers.
In the evening, they went to pubs, bars and restaurants.
You could go outside for as long as you liked, see who ever you pleased,
The Coronavirus was brewing all around Europe, the case had just started to appear in the uk, shelves in the supermarkets started to be emptied of Toilet Rolls and hand sanitiser
It would have been difficult to ignore entirely the headlines about what was happening in China, South Korea, Iran and Italy, but it still seemed possible to regard this as something happening, for the most part, Elsewhere, a long way away, even.
It was the middle of March 2020, our campsite had opened up, the torrential rains and floods from the winter had started to subside and a glimpse of blue sky could be seen above. I was fully immersed in training for the London Marathon
Then, On Friday 13, Just after returning from a 20 mile training run, the London Marathon, English Football League and local elections were all postponed.
I was somewhat gutted, but I was expecting the marathon to be canceled after a string of other big European events had gone by the wayside.
Saturday and Sunday of that weekend we’re to be the last relatively normal weekend. Ok, You couldn’t watch football [ side note – sorry guys can’t remember the last time If Ever, I watched a game of football] but you could go to the pub for a cold pint.
Being inquisitive I stared to look at Italy, France and Spain, which had already gone into lockdown, and wondered how long we had left.
Friends who had been trapped in the Spanish lockdown started to rush home, with tales of armed police checking your every movement. The imaginary boarders of Europe became real once again, with country refusing crossings.
Friday 20th March signalled the beginning, a small announcement was made during the daily briefing- ‘As soon as possible all uk pubs, cafes and restaurants were to close’
It was life changing before our very eyes !
It would be wrong to say that we hadn’t already discussed the possibility that life at Old Oaks was about to change.
We all knew that we had a Moral duty to stop people traveling to the campsite, putting pressure of the Somerset NHS and depleting the local supermarket supplies.
I don’t think I ever really know how the White family came to the decision that we must close their family business of 35 years, but late on the Saturday night the discussions stopped.
I guess the sleepless nights will still continue for a long time yet.
Sunday morning we set off to tell all the customers that they needed to leave by 1pm on the Monday.
Most, no 99 percent completely agreed, leaving me in no doubt that it was the correct course of action, I think everyone was just in a ‘hope to get a last weekend away’ kind of mood
But, to my horror I did still meet someone who didn’t seem to understand, they were still likening this virus to the flu and didn’t understand why we wanted them to go home and stay safe.
They all duly packed up and made their way home.
Monday saw the last of the campers, gone, I put back up the closed signs that I had only taken down a few weeks ago and shut off all the park lights.
It was a surreal moment, the sky was was bright blue, the sun was shinning and here I am sitting on a deserted campsite, that normally would have been buzzing !
All this action was swiftly followed by the govemnet announcement on Tuesday night at 20:30, the television screens showed the prime minister sitting behind a desk. – addressing the nation
He was about to announce some of the most draconian restrictions on life for everyday people.
You could only leave home to exercise once a day, travel to and from work when absolutely necessary and only go shopping for essential items.
You had to stand two metres apart from people you didn’t live with.
You weren’t to gather in public in groups bigger than two.
And importantly for us! Campsites all had to close!
We were no longer alone, all the uk campsites where closing and the future for the humble ‘campsite warden’ hung in the balance.
Although the park is normally fairly full of wildlife, when you’ve got the time it does amaze you ever more how quickly nature takes back over!
We can barely move for rabbits, sparrows, ducks, doves,woodpeckers and birds of prey- just hope we can find an online supplier for more bird seed.
So, we are learning to stay home, well in the van, and it’s only been 5 days !
We are so used to being busy, either working or just going out to the fabulous Somerset countryside.
And that’s not easy even if it seems, Staying in, you keep thinking about the virus, you keep thinking you could be next, or you could meets someone who is next. you could be catching it when you go food shopping. – so even that is off the agenda at the moment.
TV and social media are a wonderful thing, but gone are days when the news was only on at 6pm and 10pm, now I have to keep reminding myself not to check the bcc live feed every 5minutes and not to over indulge in Twitter conspiracies theory’s.
It’s a stressing game for mental sanity, and will at some point in the near future probably induce some major mood swings.
Fear Will play its role and rationality tries to keep the balance.
One of the nicest things is human kindness itself, customers and friends have been worried ‘Where will we go’ the offers of places to stay has been fantastic
For us, we can stay put. We have the safety of a wonderful bubble to live in- about 12 acres of sublime gardens to roam for our daily exercise and safety in the fact that we can all distance ourselves and providing we limit the contact from the outside world, hopefully we can all stay fit and healthy.
It feels like being part of an extended family at this time of need, with everyone in it together, we may all be spread out around the park and keeping our distance, but thanks to modern wizardry we are keeping in touch.
It’s time’s like this that you appreciate working for a family firm and not just being a number in a big corporate machine, we are sharing online groceries shopping slots, so no one has to go without.
We had already been told that we can stay over the winter if we need too.
So to everyone who knows us – Stay Safe and ‘Wash Your Hands’
Love Paul and Shell x