Self-isolation, stress and stabbings: Why I travelled nearly 400 miles 3 weeks into a nationwide lock-down.

A sunset over and empty three lane motorway, taken from the backseat of a car through the rear windscreen

After the Prime Minister announced the UK would implement an enforced lock-down on Monday the 23rd March, a World Health Organisation study found that that the number of people experiencing anxiety and depression had doubled to around a third of us. I was one of these people.

I live in a house in Leeds shared by four students from four very different backgrounds, with different political views and our own set of unique fundamental concerns and personal issues. To some, this would sound like a nightmare but until recently this was a dynamic that worked well for all of us.

A Leeds residential estate at night with only four vehicles parked up
Eerily quiet, a street in Hyde Park, Leeds a few moments before I left. Inhabited almost exclusively by students, it is beyond unusual to see the streets so quiet at this time of night.

Like many households, the lock-down has forced us all into a position of spending a lot more time together under a very new routine, and the uncertainty of the situation surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic has meant that everyone had their own personal concerns.

Existing personal issues had compounded to a point where it was no longer a healthy environment for half of my household to stay, and I was the second housemate to leave the Big Brother house.

My decision to leave Leeds for somewhere quieter to isolate was made when a broad daylight stabbing occurred on the street next to mine, hours after the enforced lock-down and increased police presence were announced.

A passenger and a driver in a car, the female passenger has her hand resting on the shoulder of the male driver
Tash has been a friend and parent to me since 2014, Paul joined the family at the end of 2017.

Because of the same family dynamics that prevented me from travelling home to North Wales during this crisis, the SOS call I made was not to my parents, but the family of a childhood friend. A family with whom I have spent Christmas and holidays for the last five years, and am blessed to be considered a part of.

A passenger of a car takes the blood/sugar levels of the driver
Several times on the journey home, Tash had to check Paul’s blood/sugar levels. Being a Type 1 Diabetic, he is at particular risk from Coronavirus and leaving the house to come for me was a risk for which I am grateful.

This is not a decision I made lightly. With a round-trip of nearly 800 miles and eleven hours of driving, this was a huge ask. But Tash and Paul have seen me through many-a-low-point during my adult life and have learnt to see the signs of when I need to be at home with my family. At around 5:30 pm on Tuesday evening I got the call telling me to pack a bag, and that they would be with me in the early hours of the next morning.

Luggae stacked up in a corridor, from left to right; a pair of black walking boots, a denim jacket with the the Cornish flag and the word "KERNOW" embroidered on, a large millitary camping back, a circus toys back and a a diablo, a small rucksack and a skateboard
I’m used to packing light enough that I can move independently when I need to, having changed address over ten times in the last five years, but not knowing when I could come back made it necessary to bring a few toys as well as my essentials.

The situation in both my old and new hometowns in North Wales and Cornwall is that they have seen an influx of tourists and holiday-home owners fleeing the cities and putting an immense pressure on the small, rural shops, pharmacies and hospitals. So much so, that police have set up a checkpoint on the bridge to the island were I was born and raised and are turning families around to travel back over the border.

This was why my family decided to travel overnight, with the hopes of avoiding as much of the police presence as possible. Living in rural area, where the 1.65 million population is policed by around 3,000 Devon & Cornwall police officers, the prospect of heading to a heavily policed city during an enforced lock-down was daunting to Tash & Paul.

A photograph of a phone, text reads:

"Let me know you're ok? xxx"
"Things are getting bad here and I don't think I can stay anymore.lots of problems with everyone in the house and things are gettign a bit scary being in Leeds as well. If you can come pick me up that would be great xx"
"Ok, we'll come now, don't worry we'll get everything sorted xx"
Before leaving Cornwall, Tash asked that I send her a text making it clear that I needed to come home, to show any police that might stop them on the road that the travel was essential.

As a family of seasoned bikers and festival travellers, we have clocked a strong mileage on UK roads between us. However, none of us had ever experienced the roads this free of traffic. Over three hundred and eighty miles, I counted sixty-eight lorries and twenty-seven cars, 6 of which were police vehicles.

A service station car park at night, empty apart from one lorry
With many of the service stations along the way closed, much of the 11-hour round trip was done in one go.

Be the first to comment on "Self-isolation, stress and stabbings: Why I travelled nearly 400 miles 3 weeks into a nationwide lock-down."

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.