A grand adventure (day two)

Today is our second day in self-isolation for COVID-19, and as expected the government announced that schools will very soon (from Friday) close for an indefinite period. The signals are that we should expect them to remain closed until the summer. Beyond that, who knows?

We’ve decided they’ll study in the mornings – which they’re genuinely excited about – and use afternoons and evenings for free time which they can choose to spend on things they enjoy. It’s important that we try to strike a balance between making life interesting for them, preventing them from falling behind on schoolwork, and having fun.

Our youngest’s school has been quick off the mark, and she received a whole bundle of activities and books yesterday which she eagerly set to work on this morning. She’s excited by the activities and enjoyed setting up home schooling files and getting organised today.

Our eldest’s school is pulling everything together and aiming to have online facilities live by next week, which will hopefully allow him to be in contact with teachers over the coming weeks. In the meantime he’s working through activities from the excellent Khan Academy, which has structured daily plans and a whole range of resources for COVID-19 home schooling. Both children look set to benefit from what’s on offer – they even did a joint guided Yoga session with an online teacher today. It’s highly recommended for other children in similar circumstances right now.

I had to pop to the supermarket for some essentials, always following the guidance of course. I went prepared with antibacterial wipes and hand gel, picked up only items that I intended to purchase, scanned my own shopping and stayed well outside of the social distancing requirements. It felt odd, but it felt right. I wiped the trolley handle after returning it, determined that nobody should have anything passed on from me, in the highly unlikely event that we are harbouring the virus.

We just all need to look out for each other.

This afternoon we all went for a walk around the village and took the kids to the park. There was barely anyone else around and social distancing wasn’t a concern, besides which exercise and fresh air during isolation is very much the advice of the Chief Medical Officer.

We’re determined that walks and parks will be part of our daily family routine for at least as long as self-isolation lasts, and probably beyond as the school closures move through spring and, most likely, into summer.

Through all of this of course there’s also work. Variously from 8am until 9.30pm we beavered away, when we could, on existing bookings and figuring out what we can do to encourage future bookings at a time of such economic turmoil. It is, by far, the most worrying time we’ve experienced during almost a decade of successful business.

And why so worrying? Well, this is not a single-channel issue but a full-on, multi-channel crisis.

This evening the financial world has been in meltdown, with the pound falling to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985 and stock markets worldwide continuing to tumble. Governments are taking unprecedented steps to take control of private industry, close borders, end free movement of people within their own borders, and shore up whole economies to varying extents.

Businesses are failing and jobs being lost daily. Right around us. The financial crisis of 2008 – which prompted a decade of global austerity – is rapidly being made to look insignificant by the unprecedented scale of what is sweeping across the world in a matter of days.

And in amongst all of this are small businesses like ours. Small businesses which are successful, viable and proven to be sustainable over many years, suddenly become leaves in the wind.

It can be terrifying, and too much to contemplate for too long.

So tonight we all ate a lovely dinner together and watched Bake Off. We talked, we cuddled, and we remembered the good things we have. We laughed and joked and the kids ended what, for them, was the first full day of a grand adventure.

All of which is a very good way to end a very strange sort of day.