A Wild Goose Chase.

Nicholas Quirke was comparing his current quarantine on home soil with his 2020 Beijing experience on 15 August 2021. He had been adapting to a new apartment with a relative stranger who was also required to quarantine. He was in a foreign country, in a big city with a view from the windows of the streets below and a skyline of high rises and tower blocks. For 14 days he was confined to the flat, he was contacted every day by officials for temperature readings and to check on any signs of symptoms. He was lucky enough to be in an environment where there was a gym and a very impressive home entertainment system which meant he could exercise and indulge in his favourite pastime of movie watching. He worked out, had a new diet of Chinese Food to digest. cooked, made vegan cheesecake wrote his blog and developed a close relationship with his new friend Peng. He was anxious to get out and discover the new world but even incarcerated in an apartment as he was the experience was novel, exiting and engaging. Coming back to England meant he would have to observe a 10 day quarantine in his sisters beautiful new home deep in the West Sussex country side. There was no feeling of imprisonment, but returning to the world he knew well and unable to partake in the world proved to be more frustrating than he had anticipated. There was no gym but he could take walks and explore the rural footpaths. He took lateral flow test which required him to stick swaps so down his throat and up his nose but despite having been advised after arriving back in the country that he would be contacted to to ensure his quarantine was observed and he was ok no one had contacted him at all. The lateral flow tests said he was clear of any infraction, he completed a compulsory test on day 2 of the isolation which to his annoyance took five days to get the negative results. He played cards with his sister, watched films, wrote, contacted people, faced timed with Peng and sourced English Vegan food. On the 11th his mother and Bruce paid a visit and they had a lovely reunion lunch and catch up and on the 12th he had a reunion with his sons Harvey and Cole. Unfortunately Cole had developed a bad back and was in some pain but was really good to see them again and to be making plans to see them again on his release. He explored the area on some long walks and it was good to be reminded of how beautiful the English countryside can be. He had spent so long amongst the epic and dramatic scenery of China that he had forgotten the charms of his homelands green and pleasant lands. As he had in China he needed to be thinking about how he could earn an income and he was making tentative steps to find some employment. He was also having to think about where he would live. He was renting out his flat which was bringing in some money for him and he had some PA work and even a little online teaching, but none of this would provide him with enough to live on. The realities of life in the UK were nudging at his consciousness but being restricted to the period of isolation he still felt half of him was in China and with Peng while the other half enjoyed a relaxing country living. By the time he had reached day 8 there were no signs of any symptoms but he was up early to take the test which he would then post to the laboratory through the priority postal service. He performed the test which made him gag and then walked to the priority Post box he had sourced in the village. He felt nervous about posting it as the box showed Monday as the next collection date. He checked the online Royal Mail app and learned that there was no priority collection from the familiar red pillar that day but that there was a post office a mile and a half away. He walked back to the house, collected a mask and followed the map the app provided him with and he walked there. It was a pleasant quiet morning with the peace only disturbed by passing cyclists who all greeted him. After nearly 45 minutes he found himself in a deserted farmyard where there clearly was no post office or even a post box. The app had sent him on a wild goose chase which, even though he had enjoyed the walk proved to be even more infuriating when on his way back he called into the local shop / post office who assured him the package would indeed be collected that day from the post box he had originally been at. Thus, willing the homeland quarantine to draw to a close his first week back in Blighty came to end.

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