The end is in sight for Giles Cooke MW as he is about to enter his last weekend in quarantine in a hotel room in Adelaide as he awaits to be released so that he can rush to go and help take part in the vintage and harvest at Thistledown Wines. But meanwhile it is a few more seemingly endless days when one hour blurs into another, the food does not get any better and those remote Spanish lessons are not getting any easier.
Here’s the third instalment from Alliance Wine’s Giles Cook MW Quarantine Diaries where he is slowly starting to get decamp happy….if only the food would improve.
When I was young I could not imagine how my dad could concentrate for nine hours as he drove us from Edinburgh to Devon on our summer holidays. It was difficult enough for me and my siblings (there were four of us crammed into the back of the Austin Morris) to come to terms with such a long time with nothing really to do. But in time one realises that dealing with a long drive, or a hotel quarantine, is about just taking it one step at a time. Of course, what kept us kids going was the excitement of getting there, that first glimpse of the sea through the hills as we neared Teignmouth.
The idea of that “distant light”, that sense of hope, is something we’ve celebrated in a new release at Thistledown.
And it’s that notion of a distant light that’s keeping me going at the moment. The signposts are few and far between but the destination is known and I’m over half way there.
The prospect of getting out of here is becoming more real. I’ve booked a hire car for Monday and I’ve been lucky enough (or quick off the gun) and have got the first slot to be checked out on Monday morning. I need one more Covid test, which I’ll get on day 12, and provided that that is negative, I should get clearance to leave. No express check-out here. I’m told that I’ll be warned five minutes before my departure time and I then wait for someone to knock at the door. At that point I’m escorted down to reception for police checks and then, hopefully, clearance to leave. Fingers crossed.
Mixed feelings today when I got the news that my vaccine appointment came through at home, but it’s while I’m here in Australia. Much sooner than I expected. I tried to re-schedule but there were no appointments for when I’m back – I’ll need to call them when I’m home. If they’re vaccinating just turned 50’s, it does seem strange to me that they can’t give any firm timelines for the full opening of hospitality in Scotland, or indeed any return to proper normality.
I’m continuing to struggle with time. It’s always the case that, when I’m in Australia, the days are long but when you’re stuck in the same room, it all merges together to the point where one day just rolls into another – though maybe we’ve all become a bit more prepared for long, featureless periods of time by lockdown.
This morning, I woke my wife up when I called what I thought was just a short enough time after the kids’ bedtime but it turned out to be 2 hours later and past 11 – oops!
The eggs are back. I have some sympathy with the kitchen in the hotel – it is a thankless task catering to a hotel full of people that don’t want to be there, and to have to prepare food that has to be served all at the same time and in disposable dishes.
I get it, not ideal for fine food. But, there are just some foods that don’t hold up well (airlines take note) and the worst offender is eggs. Mostly they taste of rubber, sometimes that disgusting powdered egg flavour, occasionally disguised under a slick of faux hollandaise, but uniformly inedible. Don’t suppose they’re going to do any customer satisfaction surveys after my stay here though.
I had another Spanish lesson this morning and, perhaps because it was 6.30am, I was a bit frustrated at my lack of progress. Like the expectations of many in lockdown, I think I had the hope that this two weeks of quarantine would see me leaving the hotel fluent in Spanish, but the reality has been that I’ve been busy working and when not working, generally too tired or not focussed enough to learn.
I should probably be slightly more forgiving on myself. After all, I’ve got three more days to master Spanish.
- You can cheer Giles up or follow his quarantine on social media at @gilescooke.