A number of people have asked what happened to our 2020 trip, so we’ve put together a very brief summary of what has happened over the past 3 months and where we are now.!!!!! We left Brisbane in early March on our way to Europe and to reunite with Pinot. Our son Christopher and his girl Zoe dropped us to a virtually empty International Airport.
Where the hell was everyone ?
Flight took off on time and was surprisingly pretty full. An uneventful flight to Bangkok and we arrived at our beautiful hotel (very well chosen by Amanda) just in time for drinks and dinner. A lovely start for our 2020 adventure. Our loose plans were to spend a few days in Bangkok then overland and boat to Siem Reap in Cambodia. Some very loose plans to spend a week or so in Vietnam and then onto Europe and tour Scandinavia as far as the Arctic Circle over the Summer for around 6 months or so. We were hoping to add another 6 new Countries (by motorhome) to our 34 Countries so far in the past 3 years.
We were delighted with Amanda’s Hotel choice. We’d splashed out and taken the Executive Club option which included canapés and drinks from 6 until 9 every evening. As it turned out it was free flow, cocktails, wine, champagne and spirits with full sit down dinner. Happy days 🤣🍷🍹🍺🐷
The dreaded virus was slowly gaining momentum, So after long discussions with the Concierge and travel desk in the Hotel, they convinced us not to travel to Cambodia and suggested we should make plans to travel on to our final destination. Bangkok were definately ahead of the curve at that point in checking everyone for signs of Covid through temp checks at every shop entrance and hand sanitizer on every counter. Obviously SARS and Avian flu had taught them well.
We weren’t sure this tunnel provided any protection but we were encouraged to go through them prior to entering shopping centers etc.
So we extended our Hotel stay for a few more days and proceeded to eat and drink more of their beautiful food. Oh and we did get to their gym every day for a workout…..but probably not enough to counteract what we consumed…..yummy grub ! In the interim we booked a flight from Bangkok to London, still with the intention of picking up Pinot in Alicante. We already booked and paid for a connecting flight in anticipation. So next stop UK.
Our flight was full and we prebioked an overnight stay at a Hotel at Heathrow. In the interim things had started to turn pretty dire around the place and Spain had been shutdown making it impossible to get our connecting flight to Alicante.
We hastily decided to hire a car for a Month and head down to Devon and Cornwall in the hope things would be quiet down there and we could rent a cottage and ride it out until things settled. The pubs, Restaurants and Hotels etc were all still in full swing at that point. We stopped at a lovely B and B pretty late the first evening in Bideford and were asked which Countries we’d visited and after deeming us no risk we checked in.
So we set off ……again …..in search of safe refuge. We stopped in a number of beautiful villages and eventually ended in The picturesque Port of Gaverne where Doc Martin the series is filmed.
A lovely old Smugglers Hotel but everyone was starting to get a bit panicky and some deaths were being reported. News was starting to trickle through that Hotels etc May be closed and Amanda was starting to get a little worried. Half way around the World and nowhere to go 😳. Next morning we drove to Padstow, made famous by Rick Stein and still everywhere was open and it appeared business as usual with no social distancing in place unlike Spain and Italy etc. At that point we’d been offered a house near Carlisle (thanks Al)by a friend of ours and we grate fully accepted. So about turn and off we headed from one end of England to the other. We booked into a beautiful quintessentially English Hotel in Sawley Lancashire on the way up. A place we knew well as we’d stayed on previous visits. Spread Eagle Hotel if anyone is around that area.
The lovely little river just outside our bedroom window.
So after checking in we had a couple of drinks at the bar and retired for an afternoon nap before dinner. When we went down to the Restaurant , The Manager informed us they would be closing the Hotel at midnight under direction from Boris earlier that evening, the UK PM and not reopening until further notice……oh shit, things were really getting a bit dire. So just to fill you in, we had just sold our house in Fig Tree Pocket and put our furniture and cars in storage. Our motorhome was in storage in Spain and we couldn’t get to it for God knows how long. Our new home was being built in Brisbane and wouldn’t be ready before November…..and we were half way round the World at the start of a Pandemic. Our 2020 adventure was very quickly unravelling.
Oh and we only had a small suitcase each with Summer clothes……and it was cold. Our Winter gear was safely tucked up in either storage in Australia or in Pinot in Spain. So a quick detour to a charity shop and Amanda had a lovely warm winter coat and a new pair of Winter boots she bought in Padstowe…….so all was good 🤣
The TV news was now all 24 hour Covid in UK and tragically the deaths were escalating at a frightening pace. Supermarkets were selling out of rice, flour, pasta, dry goods and ……toilet paper. So we stopped enroute at a couple of supermarkets to get what we could
We arrived a wee bit overwhelmed and unloaded the car ready for our isolation. We watched the news that night in disbelief as we struggled to get our act together and decide what to do. The obvious initial thought was to hunker down and ride it out in the comfort and relative safety of Alistairs place near Carlisle.
We were allowed to go for a walk or bike ride as long as it was from your home and you had to follow strict social distancing. Boris o’clock….5.00pm each evening, the PM and his advisors would hold a press conference telling the UK public what was going on and what you could and couldn’t do. Each evening the news became more and more disturbing and at one point their was 700 then 800 poorbuggers dying from Covid every 24 hours. It was all so surreal. Only one person from a household could go shopping.
So we did our best and borrowed Al and Kerrie’s bikes alternating between walks and rides through the gorgeous Eden Valley
So after 4 weeks proper lockdown and no change to the situation Amanda made the decision that we’d be better off in Australia near family and at that point they were fairing much better than most other Countries. We hastily found a flight and 3 days later we were driving South again to Heathrow Airport. We checked in to a Hotel and hid in our room overnight, ready for the early morning flight home via Doha. I could write another complete post about that trip but suffice to say the flight was packed and we had 65 people on board who had just disembarked a ship the previous morning and were heading home to Oz. It was nothing short of madness.
24 hours later we were welcomed at Brisbane Airport by Police, Army, Social workers and just all round helpful, welcoming Aussies.
After filling in some official paperwork we were herded into buses and escorted to Rydges Hotel in Brisbane.
Thankfully we were allocated a room with sliding door to a small balcony……woohoo fresh air.
We were given 3 meals per day. The staff would place a paper bag by your door and knock. You had to then wait 2 minutes before opening the door to retrieve your lucky bag. All in all the food was fine and the end result of 14 days with little exercise and dessert every night resulted in 2 fat feckers waddling out into daylight and relative freedom 🤣
We are very fortunate to have lovely friends who dropped little care packages with some much appreciated wine.
After 14 very long nights we decided we’d rent an apartment up in Noosa until our new house was ready or they opened the borders and allowed us to consider so many other options
And so that’s a very short story of how we didn’t do our 2020 trip……but oh boy, it was still some adventure 😘