Vanessa, Duncan & Elliot (9) – Sydney

“I don’t know if I’ll miss anything about the current restrictions. Maybe in retrospect the whole isolation thing might be romanticised and we’ll tell tales of the days of toilet paper rations, slow internet and how we chatted with friends from open bedroom windows to them on the street below.

Award winning journalist, Kate Mellis caught up with Vanessa for an email interview.

I remember it feeling so surreal that a virus could halt the whole planet. At first I was reading everything that came my way and it felt overwhelming. About two weeks in, I decided not to follow any news feeds and just to hear the filtered information from Duncan, my husband, and to just keep to the safety guidelines of basically washing my hands a million times a day and staying home as much as possible. 

A month before the start of the COVID-19 “lockdown”, the storms hit Sydney (after the bushfires). A 50-year old gum tree was uprooted and fell onto our weatherboard rental house, smashing through the lounge room ceiling with such a loud pulverising noise, it felt like it wasn’t going to stop. We all briefly panicked and tensed up in preparation, then there was silence as the tree rested. Most of our belongings in the lounge room were unreachable, crushed or ruined by the rain.We stayed with friends and found a new place to live within a week. Friends helped us move, brought us food, booze and spare furniture. We were so appreciative of their support. 

My son, Elliot hasn’t asked any hard questions about what’s going on, that I can recall. He knows about the virus and watches abc kids shows, Behind the News, as it’s on his homeschooling timetable, but we don’t have a TV so he hasn’t been topped up with any other info. I am so vigilant about hand washing and social distancing that I thought it might make him a little anxious… but he mainly thinks about playing the online game, Roblox.

We keep forgetting to go outside and after about two days, we realise we need exercise so we do some dancing around the house. It usually consists of badly miming to songs and moving around in the style of an 1980s drama class run by a hippie.

The pandemic has taught me to be frugal. I’m not sure I’ll have the same drive to turn a tiny bit of leftover stew into a tiny pie, but it has definitely taught me to be less wasteful in terms of food. And toilet roll! 

When this is all over, I’m most looking forward to knowing my parents managed to dodge the virus. I’m so far away from the UK and sometimes I feel really, really far away.

It’s so great to hear that COVID-19 active cases are falling in Australia and some restrictions are lifting. I’m hesitant to rush to meet the new more relaxed guidelines as I’m comfortable being a temporary recluse and don’t want cases to rise, but I’m really looking forward to seeing friends and family again.”