Diary of a coronavirus self-isolator – Day Three

PUBLISHED: 21:00 18 March 2020

Working from home is productive but can be lonely  Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Working from home is productive but can be lonely Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto


Charlotte is one of the many people forced to work from home during the Coronavirus outbreak - she is documenting the ups and downs of living with ‘social distancing’.

Which one was told they didn't have to go to school anymore?  Picture: Charlotte Smith-JarvisWhich one was told they didn't have to go to school anymore? Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Yesterday I left the house very briefly to collect some ingredients for an Easter food shoot. As predicted there was no flour at my local Co-op store. While I had the wherewithal to make two of the bakes yesterday and today, I’m having to think on my feet, like lots of other customers, with regards to the final bake – shortbread biscuits. I’m pretty sure I have gluten-free flour in the baking drawer somewhere. The rice flour in it makes for a darn good shortbread actually, resulting in a properly crisp, dry finish that lasts longer. That’ll be a job for tomorrow.

At the shop my debit card refused to work via contactless and, trying to avoid as much human contact as possible, I was loathed to use the pin. I’d already gelled my hands five times or more in the shop. Even the lady behind the till was complaining her digits were drying out from the stuff. Alas, the pin didn’t work. Not at the cashpoint (more hand gel) either. The worrier in me thought the worst – what if TSB has somehow collapsed? How will I get my money?

A straggle up the hill, laden with bags, on hold to the bank for 20 minutes, and it turned out I’d at some point at the weekend entered my pin incorrectly so many times it had to be frozen. Casting my mind back I seem to remember being distracted in a chocolate shop –easily done. I was stocking up on ‘essentials’.

As the evening came around there were whoops of joy from my daughter upstairs as a note came through from the high school to say years 8 and 9 were not to go in for the rest of the week. Of course, this elicited tears from my 12-year-old in year 7, who stomped his feet and declared himself in ‘self-isolation’. Nothing like a bit of sibling rivalry is there? I don’t think Ella’s going to appreciate my strict revising regime....or the fact it’ll be down to her to make lunch. As I type the government has announced all schools will shut in the UK though...I’m wondering how long to leave it before telling my youngest. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him protest or frown so much and a little part of me is enjoying his obstinance.

Keeping my distance from my friend  Picture: Charlotte Smith-JarvisKeeping my distance from my friend Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Read Charlotte’s Day Two diary

Myself and other friends have been at odds to understand why schools didn’t shut down completely earlier. Absolutely there would have been mass disruption, but in most of our living memories there has not been a health crisis of this magnitude. If ever there was a time for extreme measures, this is it surely? I have friends with underlying health issues working both in the NHS and in schools, and while their commitment has been unwavering and admirable, I hate to think about the risk they’ve been facing on a daily basis.

Hot cross buns for an Easter food shoot - rum, chocolate and orange flavoured  Picture: Charlotte Smith-JarvisHot cross buns for an Easter food shoot - rum, chocolate and orange flavoured Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Having barely calmed down my son last night, a mate arrived for dinner and I suspect it was the last meal I’ll share with a human being other than my immediate family for a while. During group chat we all decided it best that we keep our distance.

Said friend was duly swamped in hand gel as she arrived and made to sit at the required distance of 2m or so across the dining table while we ate, before slinking onto the opposite side of the sofa to me to catch up on the Beeb’s This Country for a touch of comic relief. While we were sniggering through the duo’s mishaps I got two messages. One – my gym has now closed. No more sneaking over there for me. Two – my beloved weekly Pilates group has been cancelled. Instructor Kerry attempted to set up an app called Zoom so we can carry the classes on in the cyberworld. Er...trialling it out I ended up seeing my own face and half her sister’s frozen mug, with her dulcet tones chiming out over the top somehow. Here’s hoping she works out how to use it properly next week. I have faith in you Kerry!

As every day goes by our opportunities to socialise dwindle further. When I told one of my team today that my gym had shut she went silent and started to sniffle. We mustn’t forget that young people will be impacted by restrictions too. Take my twenty-something employee as case in point. She’s being forced to work from home. She lives alone. The advice is to not invite friends over. Asides from talking on the phone, using social media, the radio and TV, she has little interaction with others now. At least I have my husband and kids to keep me occupied – even though I’m sure I’ll want to throttle them all by the end of the week!

On a lighter note, my close friends and I are wondering what we can do to pass the time together online. Apparently lots of people are creating ‘film clubs’ with their mates, watching the same movies while leaving their phone lines open to discuss them. One of my friends hates people talking or eating popcorn in the cinema – I don’t think he’d cope!

Another pal sent a graphic for a Lego challenge via our group chat. Online Scrabble is another possibility. Then everything descended to filth with the suggestion there’ll be a baby boom in 2020 thanks to Coronavirus.

“The shops have run out of condoms apparently,” someone typed. “I’m sure I read you can use clingfilm,” another mused with a ‘smiley face’.

How many Coronavirus babies will we see being born in the late autumn? Who knows?

Tell me how you’re passing the time at home. How are you staying occupied? Any ideas for group games online? How are you going to cope having kids at home? Email me

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Hello Charlotte

Well yes, I am over 70 (just) and classed as vulnerable because of it. It’s day two for me and the reality of the whole situation has not really hit me yet. However it was a wake up call when I wasn’t allowed to meet my grandson from school today, made me really sad as I don’t like missing any opportunity I have to be with him.

It’s early days yet, we are all asking ourselves just how long is it going to go on, all those lovely long summer days that we all look forward to, holidays and happy times spent with our families but at least we can sit out and enjoy the garden and maybe have a friend round for afternoon tea if we sit 3m apart.

At the moment I am trying to get used to waking up and starting my day with positive thoughts - that I am feeling well, general chores to be done, and think about meals for the day. When that is done, thank heavens for day time TV and Phil and Holly with my morning coffee and Loose Women with my lunch.

Hubby was lulled from his slumber this morning by Alexa and decided to be the first at the supermarket for a few supplies before the rest of the city had woken up - not a chance, the supermarket was full at 7.30am - it was like Christmas but with empty shelves!

Our afternoon has been spent listening to music, and playing Scrabble, we still have Monopoly (which I hat!) and Pictionary to revisit, all rescued from the charity bag.

We have to do it all again tomorrow and for the foreseeable future, probably have a game of Monopoly if I can remember how to play it.

Keep well and I am looking forward to reading what you do different on day three.


Hi Charlotte

Great article today. Enjoyed it!

I actually felt inspired to do a daily diary or blog myself. I’m isolated because I am pregnant. Still in the early stages. Today marks 10 weeks and this whole situation is going to make my pregnancy feel like an incredibly long one! While my hormones soar I’ve found myself wasting many tears on the sad stories associated to this virus. I can’t help but think that as my bump grows and my pregnancy progresses, I’ll have to have all the excitement at home alone. I joked to my friend I’d have a facetime gender reveal party as I sit home alone and share over video pics of my scans when it comes to it.

Work have told me in may be many months until I return, and by then I won’t be far off going on my maternity leave. It’s my first baby, so I feel like my whole world as I knew it has changed overnight and won’t ever be the same again. Work have been amazing, promising me that I can work from home and will not ever need to take sick leave, they understand we need to work and save money right now more than ever. It’s all very overwhelming but doing all I can to stay positive. I’ve always wanted to be a mum and feel so very lucky to be pregnant so I am not going to let a stupid virus make me feel anything less than lucky, regardless of the timing.

I’m working at home (actually being very productive) but like you, I miss the banter, the office buzz and my colleagues, who are more like family to me after seven years working together five days a week. I’ll never take those long meetings and hideous Monday mornings dragging myself into work for granted again. I miss them dearly, but they are calling in to check on me. I totally get what you mean about not having the “going home” feeling! Also listening to the radio and going to keep up to date with podcasts so I have something to learn and talk about when my hubby gets home and says “how was your day”.


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