We’re living in strange times

Guest post by Isobel Nissen, adapted from an email to my mom.

I’d already started isolating myself, well sort of, before the Prime Minister made his statement. Apparently I’m in an ‘at risk’ group because of the medication I take. Who knew? I was going to do one more voluntary shift last night before stepping down but was persuaded not to. There are a lot of vulnerable people out there who need someone to listen to them but unfortunately I’m not going to be one of those people for the time being.

I’m part of the Shul’s community care group and am on the group’s WhatsApp but I haven’t volunteered for anything yet. I think food shopping is going to get even harder soon and my main concern is fresh vegetables, in fact you could say I’m a little obsessed with them at the moment. Bizarre.

It’s only day 2

I’m already a little bored although I suppose it’s just like any other day really, except I can’t do the usual things like non-food shopping and visiting friends. If staying in was my choice, as it sometimes is, then this boredom wouldn’t be a problem. I found myself polishing the dining room table and chairs this morning. I have a list of things that I could be doing/need to be done over the next few days/weeks but whether they get done is a different matter.

Hotel Isolation

Sometime in the next few hours I shall be entering the Hotel Isolation, which is in a lovely(!) area called Kenton. It’s a small boutique apartment/hotel in which I can do my own cooking and cleaning and have use of a car. It has satellite TV and WiFi. My TripAdvisor rating would be 4/4.5 as it doesn’t have swimming pool or spa facilities. I’ll be talking to management at some time to discuss these failings.

This is how I see my time in isolation. Not happening all at once because I don’t want to peak or get bored too soon. Rather a snapshot of what it might be like:


After a leisurely breakfast in the comfortable dining room the only guest (me) may decide that a visit to the Museum of Kitchen Utensils would be interesting. This is a reality museum in which visitors can look at the exhibits and decide if they still have a use. If they don’t they’re encouraged to throw them away. I also heard that a very short visit to the apartment’s recycling facility might be of interest. It’s only a short walk there and back but I’m told it’s worthwhile and will help the environment.


There is a bigger facility nearby called a Supermarket or Museum of Food and Other Products. This may be of interest in the future. There are many of these across the country but it’s encouraged that few visits are made at the moment and that you shouldn’t linger. At its most popular it was an interactive experience where customers (not to be confused with visitors encouraged to buy goods from museum shops as they try to find an exit!) could buy mostly edible products but other, non edible products were available and still might be (see below).

At one time, I believe, there were many many goods but over the last week or two most of them have been removed from view. This has led to quite a bit of disappointment and dismay as many had hoped to see the Loo Roll, Pasta and Cleaning Product displays. I however have my own personal favourite – the Cheese display.

After a little light cleaning and tidying up of the apartment it will probably be time for a little treat in the comfortable hotel lounge; perhaps a cup of tea and a biscuit.


Lunch, served in the dining room, may be a light affair but there may be other visits to the fridge where I will open the fridge, stare and hope that something interesting to eat may have somehow miraculously made its way there.  However realistically this is unlikely to have happened.   This action may be repeated several times during the day. In fact, it could be classed as exercise as we’re being encouraged to exercise as much as we can during this very difficult time – chair to fridge, fridge to chair and repeat several times. Those exercise gurus could learn a lot from me (not).


Dinner has to be carefully thought out especially when considering which vegetables to serve. If you use too many too quickly you may run out, which means a trip to the Food Museum will have to made or you’ll run the risk of developing scurvy (a bit dramatic I know but it does pop into my head every now and again). Does this mean that cabin fever is already beginning to rear its ugly head?


I have been told that there is a wonderful interactive activity called Household Admin and that now is the perfect opportunity to take part. This is where pieces of perhaps interesting/important paper are looked at, thought about and if appropriate thrown out. However I have a feeling that many will just be put back from whence they came. It will help to keep the brain active for those who find Sudoku too challenging and/or unfathomable e.g me.

However the hidden challenge is trying to find that piece of paper which really is important, that you know has to be dealt with but which isn’t where you thought you left it. These have the ability to move around and can be found in the most unlikely places if you don’t keep tabs on them – down the side of the sofa, under an old pile of magazines, in the pile of papers you’ve prepared for the recycling facility, stuffed in a drawer. The list is endless. I’ll leave your imagination to run riot. Of course, it may just be me who has this problem and perhaps I’ve given these pieces of paper far too much independence. I should have set them boundaries right from the start, my bad. Note to self – try harder.

Be well, stay safe


Be sure to catch her follow up: Hotel Isolation – Week Whatever

*Editor’s note

While this site is a collection of my writings, every once in a while I find something that comes across my desk, so to speak, and resonates with me. This was one of those times. (More laughing uncontrollably than anything.) In this case, it was an email my cousin, who lives ‘across the Pond’, sent to my mom, and was then forwarded to me. It had me laughing the entire way through and was fitting with my own self-quarantine story, so I had to share.

Indeed, we are living in strange times.

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