So last week I got back from my holiday in Newquay, and although it was lovely to see my son having fun, for me it was an entirely different experience. You might ask “why would you go away during a pandemic if you’re that worried” and that is a valid question.
Every year we go to down Cornwall, normally Newquay or Bude with my mother and brother in law. Its one of our favourite places to go and we always have a great time. However this year we didn’t book to go anywhere because of lockdown, but when that lifted my mother in law was desperate to go on holiday. So we booked somewhere we had been before, white acres in Newquay. We went last October and it was a fantastic, good clean caravans, well kept facilities and lots of fishing lakes so that kept my husband happy (he’s fishing obsessed).
This time however …not so good.
Park dean had advertised that there would be enhanced cleaning practices and social distance enforcement but it didn’t seem that way. Sure there were signs about social distancing and wearing masks but, enhanced cleaning not so much.
When we got to our caravan it wasn’t up to scratch. It had a horrible dog smell and visible dirt, we spent the first hour giving the caravan an intensive clean, scrubbing everything we could think of. We took A LOT of cleaning supplies with us as we were worried this may happen, but I would have cleaned it anyway. Not to mention the boiler was leaking, we opened the cupboard to find a dirty bucket of water propped under the boiler. We told reception and someone came to look at it but they weren’t qualified to fix it, we was told someone would come later or the following day. No-one came. We was not impressed as to me it felt like a safety hazard so I checked all the carbon monoxide alarms to make sure they were working, just to be safe.
Anyway we went to find somewhere to eat and Newquay was horrendous! Needless to say I didn’t make it to the high street. Nobody was wearing masks, people were crowded together with no social distancing and even worse I could see people coughing in close quarters. It was like nobody gave a damn, that coronovirus isn’t still an issue. Obviously rationally I know that there could be lots of explanations for someone coughnig other that coronovirus, but to me at that time the fear I felt was all consuming. I felt in a constant state of panic, muscles tense and cramping, sweating, racing heart and racing mind. I knew that that I had made a bad decision.
I foolishly hoped that more people would take precautions.
Padstow was even worse.
My first thought was people were packed like sardines, it was that busy, not to mention 2 of the 3 public toilets in Padstow were shut in the busiest time of year. It was a bloody joke. I had such a severe panic attack that I almost passed out, I felt as though I was suffocating and the exhaustion that followed was profound. Eventually we made it to the beach in Padstow which was not to busy thank goodness but that probably had to do with the 2 mile trek to get there with all your stuff in the boiling heat.
There were however some places that had fairly decent practices and you had to pre book so they could control numbers. they were the best places to visit. Both Lappa valley railway and Tamar valley donkey sanctuary had this. They both had plenty of hygiene stations and social distancing cues. In Lappa valley they were spraying the swan pedalos down with antibacterial spray before and after each use. The golf sticks and balls for mini golf had a spray station but again that was very much dependant on who was using it at the time.
Being on holiday with OCD is immensely difficult at the best of times, during a pandemic its not worth it. I was washing constantly, feeling contaminated the whole time, it was like ants crawling under my flesh no matter how much I washed cleaned or checked, it was never enough. The anxiety was a near constant presence always worrying and thinking, how can I keep myself and my son safe. How can I stop from being contaminated. knowing that I couldn’t stop it was the worst part. No matter what precautions I took we cannot control our environment or how close other people to go us. I had so many panic attacks each one leaving me completely exhausted physically and mentally. Always feeling like I am a burden to my family and to my son. Being only 5 its difficult to explain to him why he constantly had to be using alcohol gel or antibacterial hand wipes very frequently without pushing my thoughts and feeling on to him. My husband to take a lot the the slack with that as I would start to get irate through stress every time I tried. I felt constantly guilty for not being able to just interact with my son as I wanted to.
There were bright moments that made it worth it, bude is somewhere we love and max had been climbing the walls to go to the beach the whole week. It was busy however Summerleaze beach is large and so even with a full car park there was space on the beach. It made me happy to see his joy at blowing bubbles and building sandcastles like a boy of his age should (even though I despise sand). So that at least made the anxiety worth it!
So here are some tips of things I think are useful if you choose to go on holiday during the lockdown easing.
- Plan, plan, plan. I find it helps to do your research, what is in the area? is it pre bookable and does it have limited capacity for better social distancing? Also do they have information on enhanced hygiene practices.
- Keep an emergency pack in the car. This may sound obvious especially if you suffer with anxiety on a regular basis, but keep a bag full of supplies in case. Extra disposable gloves, masks, antibacterial hand and surface wipes, anti bacterial sprays and hand gel. spare clothes, wet wipes and anything else you feel you may need in an emergency. Make a list if that helps.
- Speak to your hotel or holiday park. Find out there enhance practices and tell them your situation if you feel comfortable. They should be willing to accommodate your requests.
- Ask them to wear a mask. I felt very awkward about asking my server to wear a mask when bringing out my food, but the thought of them breathing on it made me feel horrendous. When I asked they said to me don’t ever feel embarrassed to ask, were happy to help.
- Sanitiser spray is a life saver. Most people will use alcohol gel but sanitiser spray is a great option especially if you are concerned about your clothes or bags becoming contaminated throughout the day. They come in handy sizes small enough to carry in your handbag and when I came out of a shop or a crowd I would spray myself and bags down so I didn’t contaminate myself by touching something I forgot to sanitise.
- Disposable gloves come in handy. I’ve had a habit of carrying gloves around with me for years so if the anxiety gets severe enough I put them on to try and stem a panic attack. Especially if you need to use bathrooms when your out and about to try and avoid contamination until you feel ready to deal with it.
Hopefully this may help a little. Feel free to comment below or contact me through email firstname.lastname@example.org or my facebook page under stacey frewin.