LIFE UNDER LOCKDOWN…
19th March 2020
Last modified on May 15th, 2021
Here we have a page for you to share your stories, tips, experiences … in fact anything you want. Many of our readers are currently under restrictions in ski resorts across the mountains.
What’s it like and how are you coping?
The ski race coach, Phil Brown, runs Impulse Racing and lives full time in Aosta in Italy.
41 days of no outside exercise as this was stopped soon after lockdown – not easy with an energetic 4-year old son.
I can’t say it’s been easy, but it looks like restrictions will be lifting partially next week.
What’s the likelihood of this good weather ending just in time for that?!
We were in the UK for my Mum’s 80th when the resorts closed on the 8th of March, we travelled back on the 9th which was already planned, passing our seasonal coaching staff as we did so.
As soon as the resort closed, they contacted me and wanted to get back to the UK so that made sense, although there was no issue for UK nationals travelling back home from Italy during that time, despite what some people thought.
Initially, all was OK with some daily outside exercise, running walking etc, being a relief to being restricted.
It got tougher once this was stopped on the 18th of March.
Since then, we’ve been very fortunate with the weather and so we’ve been able to get outside in our small outside space which is very welcome and the views aren’t bad.
We’ve had numerous ‘gatherings’ over the internet with friends and family, including a ‘significant’ birthday for my wife and a few hangovers induced by these evenings.
My wife, Lou, and I have also been heading up to the empty staff apartment in our building where we’ve put our spinning bike and some fitness kit that we can use with some online classes.
This is working to get some endorphins pumping and keep us sane.
Trips to the supermarket and the bins are a highlight!
With no huge queues and no shortages that we have seen on any items we need.
We’ve had time to look at planning and rescheduling all of our schools snowsports events and training over the next few months to the autumn term when, we hope, there’ll start to be some movement.
PlanetSKI reader, Brian McCartney isn’t under lockdown as such. He now travels more miles than the rest of us put together. And the rest.
For more than 30yrs, I’ve worked exclusively in the entertainment industry, predominantly in the Classical Music side of the business.
Over the years I’ve built a business which provides musical instrument rental, tuning services and orchestral transportation across the UK and Europe.
I am in and out of The Royal Opera House, the Albert Hall and Glyndebourne on a regular basis.
I have delivered and collected to any major classical music in Europe you care to mention.
And tuned instruments to the highest standards required.
That was until 16th March 2020 when the UK Government said that all theatres and concert halls should close until further notice.
The EU countries closed their borders.
Like millions of other people, the world fell out of my diary.
I suddenly had no work and no income.
What to do?
“Easy,” they said.
“You’ve got a truck, put it to use,” they said.
That’s not as easy as it might sound.
If it was refrigerated, it would be quite a different story, but it’s not.
Days were spent registering with a certain parcel delivery company, ultimately with some success, but it’s a tendering process where I was up against the big hitters who could afford to offer cut price deals, which the little fish just can’t swallow.
The NHS is, quite rightly, relying heavily on the voluntary sector and the Army, so I made the decision to seek driving work, and maybe even help a little in this difficult time.
The first work I found was for a haulage company who were contracted to Tesco to haul its loaded trailers from its Reading distribution centre to stores in the area and across London.
I worked out that in 5 days I had delivered over 85 tonnes of goods, but that was all it lasted; 5 days.
Panic buying slowed and the outside contractors were no longer required.
Shame in a way, as I was enjoying that work.
Well, step forward a popular social media platform, where an urgent appeal for drivers was posted on a forum that I subscribe to.
I filled in its online application form, had a call that day and started the next.
It is a food distribution company who lost its hotel and restaurant clients, but diversified into doorstep deliveries of boxed, fresh fruit and veg.
It’s taken off like a rocket, hence the urgent appeal for drivers.
In the main, they were looking for van drivers to take on the door to door deliveries but when it learned I had a truck licence it was a different story.
I was immediately given the keys to their 26 tonne fridge truck.
We might tend to think of key workers as NHS staff, bus drivers, supermarket staff, but there are a great deal more of course.
Our produce is picked by farm workers all over the country.
The food boxes that we deliver are packed by a little army of workers, on an industrial estate near Brighton, who work long into the night, in cold conditions, until the orders are complete.
They do this without a word of complaint and all for people they will never meet.
My job is to collect some of these completed boxes, maybe 800 – 1,000, and take them to a distribution centre in north west London for onward delivery.
The Brighton warehouse also has a squadron of fridge vans for doorstep deliveries around that area of the south coast.
It is a commercial company, these are not charity deliveries, however, they do supply a proportion of its boxed food to NHS workers at hospitals.
Charities do come to the warehouses to collect any unsold stock and if items go past their use by date, a local pig farmer pitches up and takes the lot to feed his pigs.
And it’s not done there.
The company is now offering boxed meat, dairy, cheeseboard and even beer deliveries.
So, if you choose to applaud on a Thursday, please give a thought to the people who pick the food and those who physically pack it into boxes for the much lauded delivery drivers to deliver.
I’ve seen how hard they have to work with my own, now very open eyes.
I do feel proud to be working as a tiny little cog in this massive machine that’s keeping the wheels turning at the moment.
But it’s alright for me, I’m isolated in a truck cab where the only danger is falling out.
I don’t have to risk what so many people do at the moment, their lives.
One of our regular readers is the ski instructor, Lee Townend, who lives in the village of Bozel in France. He is Ski Courses Director of Snoworks PRO
Here in the French Alps we are at the start of Week 6 of Lockdown.
I am based in the small village of Bozel at the foot of the Courchevel/Meribel valley.
Whilst we are all of course disappointed to not be skiing, teaching, touring, or cycling as the weather is fantastic, the bigger picture of what’s happening worldwide is obviously more important.
The lockdown here in France is more stringent than in the UK.
It requires us to fill in a document each time we leave the home and we are only allowed out for an hour a day within 1k of our home for exercise (walking & running only), grocery shopping, medical needs, or to assist elderly relatives or neighbours.
President Macron announced last week that we are on these strict lockdown restrictions until May 11th.
Of course this means life is very different.
No visiting friends or family, unable to enjoy the mountains, no going to work for ski instructors like myself and all the team here at Snoworks.
So we have had to take a different approach to staying focused, positive and fit.
Cycling on the static turbo trainer, tuning into the 3 times a week Facebook fitness sessions with ex-Olympian Emma Carrick-Anderson and her boys, or searching You Tube for core, strength and Yoga sessions.
I mix that with plenty of office work, building next year’s ski instructor training programmes for Snoworks PRO, fuelled by many a strong coffee!
There also seem to be various entertaining challenges on Instagram, ‘Akro-Yoga’ has been our morning giggle! (Google it).
We stepped up and did the one Lindsey Vonn’s set and she re-posted our efforts on her Insta-story!
Cycling on the turbo, whilst bizarre, is also strangely addictive.
I connect my bike via Bluetooth to a virtual world called ‘Zwift’ and here you can ride in various locations, join races, train with pro riders, or create a ‘virtual meet up’.
On Sunday April 19th, I created a social ride with fellow ski instructors Dave Morris & Giles Lewis up ‘Alp d’Zwift’ which is a very realistic version of the real Alpe d’Huez.
It includes the full 21 bends, inclines over 10% and is over 12k in length.
A good pre-wine workout!
It would be fair to say I have probably had a few more G&T’s and bottles of Chablis during lockdown than my normal quota.
Lee has been chosen to be one of a team of 80 ‘Virtual’ cyclists to join world record holder @mrmarkbeaumont on Thursday 23rd April , to ride 240 miles each (386km) on their turbo trainers at home.
All 80 riders combined miles will equal 18,000 miles, which will take them around the planet in a day, in aid of @nhscharitiestogether.
This is happening at 4am (UK time) tomorrow Thursday April 23rd, and the riders hope to be finished by 8pm in time for Clap for Carers.
You can help in one of 3 ways:
* Are you able to support Lee on this crazy challenge by sponsoring him a few pounds?
If each of the 80 riders can raise £240 each thats £18,000 for the charity.
You can sponsor him on the Virgingiving page.
Lee will be providing regular updates on Snoworks Insta-story and Snoworks Facebook throughout the day tomorrow, and expects it to take him 15-16hrs of pedalling on the turbo/static bike. #strongskilegs
* Are you able to join in and put in a shift for the @nhs on your tredmill, turbo, rollers, or rowing machine and simple donate £1 per mile?
Whether thats for 15 mins or 15 hours.
Then just post your miles to the social channels @worldin1day with the hashtag #donateyourmiles.
You can find more info on this at www.worldinaday.com
* Share the event far and wide in then next 24 hrs, so the team can try and raise as much money as possible to help out front line workers.
Please get behind Lee and show him your support as this is going to be one hell of a challenge.
PlanetSKI reporter, George Eykyn, was in St Anton as it was closed. Holiday skiers were allowed to leave as the resort went in quarantine. He came home with all the symptoms of coronavirus and battled it at home in the UK
A brush with Coronavirus
“Why are you going ahead with this ski trip?”
That was the question in early March, as the spread of Coronavirus started to cause quarantine zones in northern Italy.
I was going to St Anton in Austria, for a week. I’d done this for three previous seasons, joining the ski school’s “black” class, and skiing mostly off-piste with regulars who’d become friends: a crafty way of getting a week’s guiding, at great value, hunting the best snow with superb experienced instructors.
The answer was, I was going because the Government advice hadn’t changed.
Any decision to abort the trip would have been regarded as my own choice by the insurance company, and a write-off.
Besides, on the day I travelled Six Nations rugby matches were on, Boris was still shaking hands with people, and Cheltenham Races were on for the following weekend.
In St Anton, there was already a strong awareness of Coronavirus.
The hotel front desk sported a large bottle of hand sanitiser.
People pressed the lift buttons with their gloves, or elbows.
After a few days I’d developed a slight cough.
It was no different to the kind of cough you sometimes get staying in a dry, predominantly wooden building in the Alps.
I thought nothing of it.
It would get worse later.
The other thing I notice in hindsight, is early signs of shortness of breath.
If you’ve just skied down several hundred meters of waist-deep off-piste snow with your group, it’s normal to be blowing a bit when you pause; but reflecting now, I was a bit more out of puff than normal.
By the Wednesday, people were talking about the nearby resort of Ischgl which had announced it was closing from the next weekend, because of the virus.
Then at 3pm on the Friday, my last day skiing, the authorities suddenly imposed a quarantine in St Anton, closing the resort and its lift system, which caught people by surprise.
Tourists were allowed out through the police and army checkpoints, with official paperwork.
As I made my own trip home next day (thanks to some very professional Inghams staff), I still didn’t think I had anything more than that slight tickly cough I’d previously sometimes got from staying in alpine chalets and hotels.
Nonetheless, I resolved to stay at home for at least a week as instructed.
At work, by the Monday, my team had been asked to work from home.
It was a busy period, with around a dozen end of year reviews to conduct and write up, and other key deliverables due. After a few days, the cough got more and more intrusive.
My attempts to talk would dissolve in spluttering.
For a while I participated in video conference calls by typing rather than by speaking.
At times I felt shivery, a bit feverish, and often very, very tired.
By 5pm I was ready to get under my duvet and, once warmed up, would sleep for perhaps 2 hours.
Putting shortness of breath, cough and feverishness together and realising they might indicate Coronavirus, I started taking my temperature.
It was sometimes normal and, oddly, sometimes low — 35c was one of the readings.
My hands felt cold and clammy.
If I pressed my palm hard, it would take perhaps two or three seconds to resume its proper colour.
I associated this with “poor circulation”, and in turn expected that might mean low blood pressure.
Out came the Boots blood pressure machine we hadn’t used for ages.
Far from low, it was too high: 166/101 was one of the readings at the end of that week.
The blood pressure machine also gives you your pulse, and these readings seemed high for “at rest” – typically it said 75-85, when I’d normally expect 60-65.
Apparently when your body’s immune system is hard at work fighting an infection, up goes the pulse.
I had two phone appointments with local GPs.
The first asked me to take blood pressure readings four times a day a day for two weeks, and urged me (as a slight asthmatic) to make full use of my inhalers.
Needless to say, my Clenil, or “preventer” canister was empty.
Local chemists had run out.
We eventually found a pharmacy which had one left.
Later, the second GP said my symptoms were almost certainly Coronavirus, and that it was normal for the cough to take weeks to disappear.
I’d been walking the dog, a 13-year old Jack Russell terrier named Lady, for 20 minutes a day most days.
Feeling stronger around the start of April, I increased those walks to 4 miles a day and tried to get as much fresh air into the lungs.
As well as the asthma inhalers, I was also breathing in steam twice a day.
A month on from St Anton, I feel much stronger.
My hands feel warm again, and the colour returns to my palm within half a second.
I believe the earlier slowness to resume colour, and those cold clammy palms three weeks ago, were due to what must have been quite low levels of oxygen.
So things are improving, but I can tell my lungs are nowhere near back to full function.
With hindsight, I probably underestimated the situation during that first 10 days after coming home.
A friend I met in St Anton who also had suspected Coronavirus appeared to recover from it much more quickly.
However, he has since suffered a sudden dizzy episode, likely linked to the virus he fought off, which required a trip in an ambulance and a day in hospital.
Fortunately, he’s on the mend.
Compared to many, I’ve been lucky — this has been a relatively mild case of Coronavirus.
However, I am under no illusion: the recovery period will probably last several more weeks.
As a clear case, but without a positive test, I do wonder about the official statistics beyond the figures for deaths and hospital admissions.
There must be lot of us in the next, grey category.
I’ve no desire to take a Coronavirus test now.
When it comes, I believe the antibody test (which will give people who have recovered from the virus confirmation of that fact) will be an essential part of the nation’s emergence from lockdown and its pursuit of economic recovery.
ST ULRICH AM PILLERSEE, AUSTRIA
Lindsey Cairns has been writing a weekly blog from her village in the Tirol in Austria.
We are over 4 weeks into lockdown but out of quarantine.
To be honest, it is not a huge difference from one to the other, but mentally it felt like a huge leap.
Our restrictions are the same as before – stay home, wash your hands, keep your distance and wear masks in public areas but now if we need to we can go to the next village for shopping.
It doesn’t sound much but it’s a big move, psychologically more than anything else.
Next week there will be small shops opening up and the public parks are going to open up too.
So small steps are being taken but our Chancellor as always is very clear, if people flaunt the rules and there is a hike in infection, then back into strict lockdown we go!
There is no messing about in Austria, no niceties, our Police carry guns and receipt books for fines and they are hefty.
One chap on a road bike last Sunday was fined €3500, but he must have known the risks before he slipped into his lycra, so I would suggest it serves him right.
We can get out and exercise.
We just can’t put our health service under pressure by having an accident and taking the bed away from someone with the virus.
We are lucky that we have a garden and it is going to be spectacular this summer as Pete has been hard at work and I have been making very ‘helpful’ suggestions.
As always my husband accepts my suggestions with good grace then ignores them.
That’s the game we play.
Best quote of the week came from Pete — ‘All these years of watching Ray Mears are paying off’…..
I have to tend to agree with him as he has made some useful things all out of wood cut offs or wooden planks he had lying around.
There is a cold frame for all the growing seeds, a bird house, a box to sort all his veg seeds out, repairing all the veg beds. Plus I am very happy that he is recycling everything.
I’ve been doing a bit of baking, some great results and some terrible but I suppose if you don’t try then…… however when even Pete doesn’t eat it and the birds turn their beaks up at it, you know it must have been pretty poor.
But anyway, onwards and upwards.
More baking this week, so let’s see how I do.
The weather has been tremendous for this time of year and I am a dark shade of cream, even verging on a beige colour, there is a little bit of red in there especially on my nose but I feel fitter and all this vitamin D is playing its part.
I have to be honest and say I’m jealous that everyone in the UK has been able to get out on their bikes but I am hoping that we will be soon.
A few people have sent me messages about why I haven’t been posting anything on my Website, Facebook or Instagram pages, to be honest I didn’t want to cheese everyone off with lovely photos of what we have surrounding us while everyone is going through this crisis.
We are going to post a video next week about getting your e-bike summer ready but will keep it low key for a while yet.
I know that everyone in the Travel Industry and the supporting businesses are very worried about their futures and at the moment it’s anyone’s best guess how world travel will change after this.
All we can do is wait and hope, our industry is robust and we always seem to bounce back somehow, in what shape or form that will be is anyone’s guess!
I know that we are not going to move about freely in Europe for a while as our Chancellor has said ‘no free movement’ unless you have a health certificate or there is a vaccine and that will take a while.
So we must be content, as we have been for years, to holiday at home and plough our money back into the Austrian economy.
Ebike-Europe might be more Ebike-Austria for a while.
On a final note – Friends, there are a few that are thriving in this situation but there are many that are really struggling mentally and a lot of the elderly & sick that need assistance in this current climate.
The longer this goes on, the more these issues surface, so if you can just help 1 person please do it, it will help you also.
If any of you ever need to talk, even if you don’t know what is wrong but are just not feeling great, then text, call or direct message us, Pete & I are always on hand for a chat or just to listen.
Mental health is just as important as physical health so please, please let us know.
We always have time.
Happy Easter to everyone, stay home & protect our health services, be kind to each other and appreciate the small things x
Sara Roloff is a very good friend of ours at PlanetSKI. She is from Switzerland and currently works for the the Switzerland Tourist office in London. She has not been well.
This picture sums up my past two weeks (thanks to Saar Claeys who used my story to explain the virus to her kids and who drew this picture for me).
Yes, I am fighting the Corona Virus.
I’m not completely over it yet (still have a persistent fever after 14 days but all other symptoms have gone) and it has been the scariest and most painful thing I’ve ever experienced.
And as I still hear, that ‘it’s just a flu’ and that ‘young and healthy people only have mild symptoms’, I decided to share what a mild course (mine is still considered just that) for a young and healthy person can look like.
I don’t want to scare people, but I want them to take this seriously and to stay home…
Before I go into my logbook, I have to say that the scariest part is the unknown of this new illness: not knowing what is ‘normal’, not knowing when to get help, not knowing what to expect next, not knowing how long it takes, not knowing how severe a symptom is, not knowing if the body is strong enough to fight the next attack…
My Corona logbook:
Day 1-4: slight fever 37.8-38, sore throat, headache. Thought It’s probably just a cold/normal flu.
Day 5: felt breathless for the first time. Anxious as it feels like you’re suffocating while still being able to breathe.
Called 111 and got advice: sit in bed during the day, drink loads, take 2 Paracetamol every 6 hours, call if gets worse.
Day 6: morning ok. Fever still 37.8-38.2. Afternoon I felt a weird pain in my left ribs/chest.
Day 7: The pain in my left ribs/chest got worse. Very worried. Fever still up, headache and sore throat are gone. Called 111 – they were worried about the chest pain. Sent paramedics.
They checked heart and oxygen level – both ok. Suspected bacterial infection on top of the virus, which apparently happens to many. Prescribed 2 types of antibiotics. Told to monitor chest pain and call again if worse.
Day 8: felt good in the morning, fever down a bit and pain better. Got really bad in the afternoon though. Fever high up and chest/rib pain unbearable. Felt like someone was crushing my ribcage.
Called 111 and they sent an ambulance which took me to A&E. Had an X-ray of my lungs and blood tests. Blood showed infection, lungs were clear. Got prescribed Codein and was sent home. No Corona test as I’m not a risk group.
There were 8 patients in my section, all with severe Corona symptoms. Only two got tested…
Day 9: felt better, meds helped with pain, felt more relaxed even though fever still high. Got in contact with a couple of ppl who are going through the same (all young and healthy) – very good to be able to exchange and realise that my course has been ‘normal’.
Day 10: felt good in the morning. Afternoon, it worsened again. Fever up, back started hurting (burning sensation) I felt very breathless again.
Day 11: morning very breathless and light-headed. Back felt like on fire from the inside. Really scary sensation. Did breathing exercises and lay on my front for the whole day. Breathing got much better, back pain a bit better. Temperature still 38.
Suddenly massive shivers, shaking uncontrollably. Temperature dropped to 37 within minutes. Felt so cold.
Then temperature back up to 38. Happened 3 times in a row. Called 111 as very worried that my body was giving up on me. Got to speak to a doctor and she assured me that I’m doing everything right and I got the right meds.
Also in contact with another doctor via whatsapp. Very reassuring – helped to lower the anxiety. Felt better in the evening and tried to recharge to be ready for another fight.
Day 12: woke up feeling better. Temp 37.5. Took meds and got temp down to 36.9 for the first time in 12 days. Temp went up over the day and fluctuated between 37.4 and 38.1 – but felt better and more positive overall.
Back pain gone but towards the evening pain along the left ribs. Late afternoon/evening extremely tired. Slept most of the time. Still lay on my front during the day and did breathing exercises every hour (if awake).
Got an Oximeter and was finally able to monitor oxygen level. Was on 99% when resting and 97% when moving which was really positive news! Asked a friend to get me more vitamin D and C supplements as that seems to help.
Day 13: night was difficult the whole body hurt, couldn’t find a comfortable position. Temperature up during the night but sank in the morning. Morning felt good, back pain gone, very slight pain in my left ribs. Reduced Codein to 30g 3x/day.
Afternoon not good. Fever up to 38.2, didn’t go down with Paracetamol.
Took a bath and slept a lot. Head felt like full of cotton wool. Hard to concentrate on anything. Continued breathing exercises and stretched back and chest. Oxygen levels on 99-100%.
Had a mental wobble – the illness seemed endless and every time I felt better, it got worse straight afterwards. Evening slightly better. Temp a bit lower.
Day 14: after another bad night, I woke up to 37.7 temperature. Took meds but body doesn’t respond to paracetamol anymore. Tried cold vinegar leg compresses, cooling drinks (I drink at least 3 litres a day) and pretty much any house remedy I could find.
Lukewarm baths brought temperature down for a short while. Spoke to my two doctors. Changed meds slightly. Both say that it’s unfortunately normal and there is not much I can do.
I have to sit it out. I feel for my body who has been dealing with constant fever for two weeks but I’m staying positive.
My doctors say that I’ve passed the most critical period and as annoying as it is that I’m not feeling better, I’m thankful for being able to breathe freely and for not having new scary pains or symptoms.
Getting ready to fight another day ????.
INNSBRUCK, THE TIROL, AUSTRIA
Holger Gassler is from the Tirol in Austria, one of our regular readers and a great friend of ours. He is currently under lockdown in our favourite city in the Alps, Innsbruck.
It is Sunday, the 5th of April.
The sun is shining in Innsbruck and the air temperature is climbing up to 21 degrees Celsius.
Week Three has been fully completed since the lockdown.
All 279 communal areas in the Tyrol region have been under quarantine for the last three weeks, which means that people are not allowed to leave these village borders unless they need to travel for work.
We still have eight more days to go.
It has gone quiet and peaceful.
People only leave the house when they go shopping in the supermarkets, drug stores or pharmacies, need to go to work or to see a doctor.
Or just have the urge to go for walk.
I luckily work from home and use the possibility to have some fresh air and walk through the nearby old town of Innsbruck or just past the Alpine zoo up to the Hungerburg in the forest.
It is amazing what you discover when the city is so quiet and just can listen to the sound of nature.
It seems like the birds and mother nature are having the time of their lives and blossom’s up.
As well, it is amazing that people are so disciplined and stay at home and do not practise any sports.
For most of the Tyroleans, including myself, not being able to ski tour, mountain bike, climb, etc. this is a torture.
Being so limited in my choices and move somewhere totally slows me down and makes me think that the world after the coronavirus will be a better one.
Another positive side effect is that you see people chatting across their balconies, helping each other and feeling positive.
Although the coronavirus locked us and the whole economy down, it as well opened people more up, despite the necessary social distancing.
Stay healthy, stay at home, take care of each other.
Neal Wardman is a full time ski instructor with European Snowsport. His time under lockdown included suffering from Covid-19, here’s his story.
It all started on Friday March 13th, 2020.
I was skiing with friends and all the talk was coranavirus and what was happening around the world.
One friend had flown from Dubai and the other two were from England.
At that time many people were still blasé about the situation and were still greeting each other with kisses and handshakes
The next day, March 14th, Verbier ski lifts were closed.
This came as quite a shock to people especially the tourists who were here to ski and party.
As the days progressed it started to get a little more serious here.
People realised that they needed to stay home and use social distancing to help the spread of the virus.
However, there were many who didn’t take it seriously enough and continued to have social gatherings and party.
Others, who couldn’t resist the snow, took to their skins marching up the hill like a small army.
Looking up at the pistes around Carrefour from my balcony I’d never seen so many skinning since the last “Patrouille de Glacier”
Then a mass exodus started from Verbier.
The seasonaires were laid off and decided they must head home.
The rest of us decided being in Switzerland wouldn’t be a bad place to isolate from the world.
To begin with, in reality, the opposite was true.
Many people in who were left in Verbier started to show symptoms of the virus, with a few getting them worse than others.
Verbier was a massive hub for the virus.
We then realised how very contagious this thing is.
I’m guessing that the weeks preceding the resort closure skiers from all over the world had mixed and mingled and passed on the virus in the gondolas, bars and restaurants.
It was at this time that I started to develop symptoms, aching body, headache, feeling dizzy, tight chest and losing my sense of smell and taste.
Although I didn’t have a fever and coughing was minimal.
As days progressed I was very tired and slept a lot.
The friends who I skied with on that last day also developed the same symptoms when they got home.
That’s shows just how easy it was to spread the virus worldwide.
Eventually I got tested.
The local doctors here have been doing a phenomenal job testing people and looking after the worse affected in their own homes.
Unsurprisingly the test was positive.
The doctor gave me a few pills and potions to help along my way.
Luckily, I have some very good friends here in Verbier and had my shopping bought and delivered to my door as well as a few meals delivered.
I was so grateful.
One thing I didn’t lose was my appetite.
The authorities closed all the bars, shops and restaurants leaving just the supermarkets and pharmacies open.
The entrepreneurs started to serve takeaway food.
At this stage people were still allowed to go out for walks, ride bikes or go skinning although the authorities tried to discourage any mountain activity to prevent accidents and the need for the emergency services.
On the whole most people have been very sensible here staying home and when they do go out sticking to the social distancing recommendations.
Now I have come out the side and have had 4 days of no symptoms. The symptoms lasted around 14 days in total from start to finish.
After 5 days of having no virus symptoms I feel great.
One of the plus sides of having time on my hands has been the opportunity to explore the beautiful mountains and the forest walks that Verbier has to offer.
Even my sense of smell and taste have come back.
It was at this point I realised I need to wash my socks.
ST ULRICH AM PILLERSEE, AUSTRIA
Lindsey Cairns gave us her view after a few days of lockdown (see lower down this article). She now updates her blog one week on.
After a week in lockdown/quarantine, I have some thoughts. They are therapeutic for me to write down, so scroll on down if you want to ignore my ramblings.
We are over a week into the lockdown and 6 days of quarantine, which has been extended until 13th April, so what does that mean? We can’t leave our wee village with 2000 people. End of.
Every day is like a Sunday, it’s so quiet but we can get out for a walk, our supermarket is full and we are all helping each other. So life is not so bad and I’m fitter than I was this time last week plus I’ve learnt loads of new German words that I have never needed before.
We have been in more contact than ever with family and we discuss every day how this will change the world and the way we live for the better.
Being more kind to each other is hopefully a positive outcome as well as acceptance and understanding of who our heroes really are, and my favourite – people have stopped thinking they are better than others just because of the job they do as they no longer have that job and have to find a way to feed their family.
This period of time is a leveller for everyone and we all need to get by so take a job to pay your rent, mortgage or weekly shopping bill, you will feel more proud of that job than any long titled job that means nothing.
Our top tip this week would definitely be to plan what you will do the following day and stick to it, take your time doing it as there is no rush but do it!
Negativity creeps in if you just sit on social media for ages or watch the horrors on the news for hours on end. It’s all very depressing, so, simply put, switch it off then go and do something else.
I have spoken to friends this week who I can see and hear have pressure building up in them. If you are around people like this, don’t tell them to take a step back or take some time out, or they should worry less or whatever well meaning advice you want to give them, because it doesn’t work.
I am not a worry wart, I deal with stuff when it happens, whether that is right or wrong, it’s the way I am. However I have suffered from stress in the past and these are some of the ways I have dealt with it:
? write what is in your head down, it doesn’t need to make sense, just write down your thoughts – old style with a pen and paper. By writing things down, I found that it helped me make sense of what was in my head.
? what are you most worried about? By writing it down, it helped me pinpoint what things I could do something about that would help me most.
? what is the worst case scenario? We did this the other day and to be honest, it was a scary thing to write down in these times, but it also helped us face the reality of this situation and be able to plan.
? what can and what can’t you control? This helped me let go of the irrelevant things that I couldn’t do anything about and were just taking up space in my full brain.
? What can you let go of? What I had previously thought was important to me, all of sudden ceased to be and there are still points I think, why did I bother with that or why did I let that get to me?
? what you can’t do anything about? This helped me understand where I needed help, advice and support.
I used the ‘change curve’, which is about adapting to a new reality, situation or environment. I used it when I was made redundant and I found it helped enormously. Just Google it and you’ll find several examples of it.
There are tough times ahead for my friends and family in the UK.
In Austria we are a week in and you should know that it does settle into a more normal situation, your emotions will be a bit haywire to start with, then they will sort themselves out too.
This situation is not just about physical restrictions but it also how you react to it.
Most people hate talking about feelings and emotions but if you don’t understand what they are, you won’t know why you are reacting in a certain way. So be aware of how you feel and either write it down, if you don’t want to talk or discuss it with someone, it doesn’t matter who, you’ll be surprised how good some people are at listening.
My biggest learning point from the last week has been just to take it 1 day at a time, so I’m not surprised when things change yet again.
To my friends and family in the UK welcome to team ‘Restricted but not Down!’ x
SAINT GERVAIS LES BAINS, FRANCE
Shona Tate, along with husband Derek, run the British Alpine Ski School in Chamonix
Lockdown – Week 1
Lockdown started for us on Tuesday 17th March when the French Government tightened their policy on freedom of movement for those in France.
Our ski resorts had been closed as of the morning of the previous Sunday.
We had to contact all clients for that day, for the busy week we had ahead and all the clients for the future weeks in that order of priority.
A bit gutting for us to have our business closed and therefore the loss of a further 5 weeks of income.
Also a very difficult time for all holidaymakers trying to work out their travel and route home.
It’s been seven days now since we were asked to remain close to home (now within 1 km) on a daily basis with many shops and restaurants closed except essential human food stores, pet food stores, vets (for emergencies), medical facilities and pharmacies.
Initially it was a bit confusing what we could and couldn’t do but gradually clarification came through which gave the police the power to check our paperwork, a form or letter required stating our journey destination, address, DOB, dated and signed.
Additionally as of yesterday (23rd) we also need a time on it as we are only permitted 1 hour out on this journey.
Fines are being issued if you do not have the paperwork or you have gone past the boundaries of the regulations. If you get a second fine it is hefty and the third…you don’t want to know.
If we are out it is on our own (or with partner/children) and of course keeping the 2m social distance to anyone else we meet on the way.
Cycling is only permitted if essential to go to the shop or work.
We are fortunate we have our dogs, this gives us essential outings but the walks are getting a bit monotonous with all the wonderful mountain areas surrounding us that we cannot access.
We have a list as long as our arm of jobs we can do in the garden/house/office but the motivation is not driving us to get through it, a few things have been ticked off but still a long list.
We are trying to keep our fitness up with the turbo trainer, yoga etc but again difficult when looking out the window at the Dômes de Miage from our place in Saint Gervais.
Luckily, we are both healthy at the moment, we take our daily doses of Echinacea, Vitamin C, Manuka Honey and the odd smile and laughter.
We know from social media that there are many people with the virus in the region (Haute-Savoie). Our hearts sink when we see the reports of the situations in the countries around us, we are waiting for a good news report of the curves coming back down….
We are certainly looking forward to getting to the other side of this forced adventure.
We will all have a renewed perspective of our own lives – what we can do without, appreciation for family and friends that we have not been able to spend time with, and also for the planet which is already showing signs of regeneration.
To sum it up – “It seems like being in the middle of a movie in a dream rather than reality….”
Good health to every one of you, stay at home and stop spreading this horrible, horrible virus.
LES ORRES, FRANCE
This blog comes from PlanetSKI reader, Max Murphy, who lives in Les Orres in the southern French Alps.
I am Scottish & have lived in France since 2009 (age late 50’s)
3 days into France Lock-Down.
I live year-round here with one other in two separate apartments in a Residence Tourisme and I work as a technicien.
As usual I did NO shopping during the school holiday period, preferring to avoid chaos by doing a good shop just before and another just after.
This turned out well for me with the arriving Coronavirus situation.
I am lucky to be here as we have NO confirmed virus here on the mountain (Southern Alps) despite our Ski Stations (Les Orres, Crevoux, Dévoluy, Reallon, Vars/Risoul, Puy St.Vincent, Serre Chevalier, Montgenevre and more…) being closest to the bulk of the Italian pandemic epicentre of infection.
I have not only closed all 100+ apartments, I have also locked down our building totally, giving freedom of movement within a confirmed virus-sterile environment.
Aspects of the solo confinement?
The main general change I find, notwithstanding the obvious, is TIME.
Our normal lives see us time-pressured.
I don’t have time for this, that or whatever.
Now I do.
I have time to cook nice stuff that works into my food-stock plan instead of nuking up a TV dinner, munching snacks or buying burgers and pizzas etc.
I have time to take a lonnnnng bath in place of a rapid douche.
Many more aspects but TIME has changed for me!
Having locked down the building it is a fairly good walk twice a day to check around inside, including outside doors and verify all is good.
It’s nothing compared to a day out skiing or a 50km+ randonnée but certainly it works for me and is better than sitting on my arse doing nothing.
Exercise IS important and I do exercise in various other ways now here.
Less Active = less food as I expend less energy.
I eat much less than the horse-like quantities I consider normal!
I have established my daily-day as near to normal as possible.
I am an early-bird.
Up at 6am everyday is normal for me.
I keep this going and early nights, no drinking alcohol but drinking plenty of water (I have loads of bottled water in stock (as usual end-of-season) as our supply water can stagnate and become non-potable very quickly with lack of use.
I have a YouTube Channel which means I have no shortage of things to do within my Man-Cave and also I do ham radio.
You never know how important this may feature in a worst-case scenario.
Apart from chatting around the world I can also tune into almost any country’s news network (for example I listened to one from Thailand last evening for about an hour, fascinating!) and also individuals in conversation.
It is good to listen!
Keeping psychologically well is noteworthy.
I limit my news updates and info retrieval on the TV/Net and make sure I keep mentally active.
My door is CLOSED to everyone.
I use all kinds of media and keep in touch with as many as possible, especially those less fortunate than me.
All in all, save for the odd passer-by, this area (Les Orres 1800 (the upper station)) is more or less devoid of people.
My comms are FULLY open to ANYONE who wants to chat, blether, comment, whatever.
When we have limited social inter-action then I will maximise my virtual social inter-action.
It is FREE and it works.
Share the love folks.
Share this unique experience.
Be brave (as this IS Scary!)
Au-Contraire…. Have a laugh, it IS a normal thing to do, even in adversity.
Like I say, I am lucky! SHARE?
My video “Home Alone in the Alps” has ALL my contact info…. DO IT!!!
Les Orres 1800
ST ULRICH AM PILLERSEE, AUSTRIA
One of PlanetSKI’s most loyal readers is, Lindsey Cairns.
She lives in the Tirol in Austria and has been under lockdown for a few days in her village near Fieberbrunn, St Ulrich am Pillersee.
“Being in lockdown isn’t so bad, but I’m in Austria surrounded by beautiful mountains and we have a garden.
I know how lucky I am and I am grateful for that every day.
I have been speaking to lots of friends and family over the past few days and in the last 24 hours I can feel the stress and uncertainty ramp up in the UK.
I get it, I know how we felt on Sunday when we found out the borders were being closed. I had to get my team out quick so they could get home to loved ones and for us, it meant that we can’t get back to family should anything happen.
It’s a feeling of helplessness and not being in control. (No sarky comments from my ex-teammates please!)
Despite being in travel all my adult life, I’m not the best flyer and I can only liken what is happening now to being on a plane when it’s turbulent and all you want to do is get off, but you know you can’t.
Your mind goes crazy thinking about what could happen and you get that panicky feeling inside.
Then you spend time telling yourself you’re being ridiculous and use breathing techniques to calm down, then it starts getting bumpy again and you are back to square one.
But the fact is, shit will happen and we won’t be able to do anything about it.
In Austria we have been in lockdown for a few days and everything is working properly, the supermarkets are full, all of our infrastructure is operating normally and people are following instructions.
To be honest we don’t have that woolly ‘we strongly advise’ that Bo Jo is proffering, we have a ‘do it or get fined’ instruction.
We have a very decisive, determined and strong leader in Sebastian Kurz and I feel confident about what he is doing and achieving.
I think he will go down in history for his leadership during this time.
So how are we getting through it and what are our top tips?
? accept what you can and can’t control. How you do that is a personal choice.
? have a routine, get up and get dressed, make your bed!
? don’t watch too much news
? limit your time on social media
? if you can, get outside and get fresh air
? make a list of stuff to do and do it
? exercise, either indoors or outside if you can
? keep a diary or video or something with how you feel each day
? make the most of this time as we are never going to have it again
We are on the list of Austrian volunteers as helping others is important to us, looking after our neighbours as they aren’t so able and video chats with family have been even more important than ever.
I’ve been through a lot of crises over the years in travel but this is completely different and there is no comparison, so don’t bother trying.
Be kind to each other and take each day as it comes.
Lot’s of love, stay safe, Lindsey & Pete x
This from another of our regular readers, Holger Gassler, who lives in the capital of the Tirol.
“So you do not forget what the Golden Roof looks like. Just been out shopping at my local bakery. Thanks to those ones, who keep the country running, while we fight coronavirus. Stay home, stay safe and feel positive.”
Alex Beuchert and husband Simon Perry stepped out in the resort (accompanied by the appropriate paperwork) for some sunshine and exercise as France entered day one of lockdown, Tuesday 17th March.
Alex Beuchert’s story
Simon & Alex in Tignes“There weren’t as many people around & clearly cars were being packed up & seasonnaires hugging each other good bye!!!
“Chatting – from a safe distance – to some small business owners here, clearly they will be hit incredibly hard & might not survive it.
“They’re quite sombre for good reason & have my full sympathies as a former business owner myself. It’s a big hurt for them, coming on top of all the uncertainty following Brexsh*t!
“We had a pleasant walk towards the lake, watching a few children sledging on the Rosset, watched by their parents.
“The still frozen lake path now has a ‘closed/passage interdite’ barrier across it, but that wasn’t stopping numerous people walking from either end (not us).
“We could spot some single ski tourers, ignoring the ban on such activity. I will be respecting the ban on accessing the ski area; we’re all in this together & clearly it’s for the greater good.
Marcia Nash’s story – Tuesday 17th March
“A lot of people packed up and left in the early hours of this morning – getting out while they still can. Others are on transfer buses today.
“I have heard that most airlines have cancelled most flights so I hope everyone manages to get home.
“Those of us staying in France are confined to our homes from midday apart from essential work, shopping and we are allowed to go out to exercise but alone. (Presumably couples and families can go together!)
“We have to carry a form with us with the explanation of why we are out!
“Drastic times. And it all happened so fast! A week ago people were drinking in bars and joking about Coronavirus.”
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Take care everyone…