I spent last week in Cornwall, a dual purpose break, part not much fun, part great holiday. My sister is in hospital seriously unwell; it looked like she wouldn’t make it out. Thankfully, she will shortly be able to come home, although she will need 24/7 care. Our task is to make her comfortable. Covid restrictions mean that she is not currently allowed visitors but I wanted to meet with my brother-in-law to see if there was anything I could do to help. I can no longer drive, and Covid made me wary of the nine hour coach journey (yes, it really took that long last time I went to visit!)
Cue fortunate co-incidence. My daughter and her partner had booked a holiday some time ago, before my sister was taken ill, at a place not far from my sister’s home. They asked if I would like to spend the week with them. Brilliant. (Are there ever such things as co-incidences or are they just part of the larger plot?)
So I got to spend time with my brother-in-law, and also to experience the Cornwall holiday as we gently step out of lockdown. What we realised very quickly was that the holiday needed more planning and forethought than normal years, you know, the ones when there isn’t a pandemic.
Basic needs that we tend to take for granted – food, drink, toilet facilities – were not that easily accessible. We arrived on a rainy day and we couldn’t get into our accommodation till late afternoon. That’s alright we thought, and headed to a quaint town. We parked the car. The toilets were closed due to Covid.
We headed down the steps to look for somewhere to eat. I understand that we should have thought about this before. We didn’t. Covid restrictions mean that most pubs/cafes/restaurants are able to cater for less people than usual. The approaching bank holiday seemed to have brought plenty of people to the seaside.
It was impossible to get a table unless you had booked in advance or were able to wait in the queues that trailed round the walls of the buildings like a creeper gone rampant. A member of staff helpfully told us the wait would not be long. People were sure to leave soon. We were far from the front of the queue. It was raining. I needed a wee. These things do not make happy bedfellows.
We decided to leave, clambering back up the hill. We headed for the site we would be staying as we knew from the information leaflet there was a toilet block. We headed there first. Even when toilets were open, there was a much longer wait than usual. Numbers entering were quite rightly restricted to enable social distancing. On future days, we learned to factor in this wait when deciding we needed the loo. No last minute dashes.
A trip to the supermarket solved the food issue. Picnics would be the order of the day where possible. Fortunately, the sun made a much welcomed appearance. We chose a couple of evenings to eat out and made reservations.
Not everywhere was as crowded, but the uncertainty was unusual and unsettling. We – or at least me – are used to having carefree holidays without the need to ponder too much in advance where to get food or find a loo. It was a new skill we learned rapidly, but it was a stark reminder that our world has changed. We are not in the clear yet a while.
Written by Portland Jones, PF Disabilities Liaison for the Midlands