The Isolation Diaries
Days 4, 5 and 6: 1-3 April

My happy place – today should have been the opening of the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Cancelled for the first time since the Spanish flu epidemic in 1919.

I haven’t posted for a couple of days so thought I’d combine a few days now. Much as I wanted to keep a written record each day, I have had 3 days of 3 hour conference calls from 5.30pm – 8.30pm and what, with keeping up with everything I haven’t been able to. In any case, the days are all starting to merge into one though we are trying to keep some routine.

Invariably we are awake in the middle of the night with the usual jetlag from flying from London to Sydney. However, we aren’t doing too badly, all in all.  After we wake up, we clear some urgent emails, then do our first but of exercise for about 20 minutes. Then shower, get dressed and move to the desk to start the day. We do another bout of exercise in the afternoon and find it really helps to lift our spirits and get us motivated again.

A lovely policeman, whom I happened to see when I opened my door, said the first and last few days will be the worst. However, we are in good shape – especially with increased exercise periods. Today we did some African Dance via a video a friend sent. Morning and afternoon plus another online workout.

Thanks so much again for your lovely messages of support – it means a lot. I am also so encouraged by many messages from people in other countries. Much as we are all isolated and parted, in some ways this is bringing us all closer together.

I hope you are still seeing my video diaries which I have done daily on Instagram and Facebook. Good news is I fixed the trolls and mean people commenting on these posts. Yesterday, because I was so incredibly moved by the incredible kindness of all of your and my family and friends, I posted about just that, kindness. I asked people what kindnesses they had done or received yesterday. Well not one of those mean people did – well I guess they had nothing kind to write about!

A selection of notices which came in an envelope under my door

I had to laugh at this raft of notices coming on our 4th day of enforced isolation. Two telling us what to expect when we arrive back at Sydney Airport (we are already here). However, it did have contact numbers for Service NSW, Healthdirect and Beyond Blue.  Another advising what is available and it seems other hotels may need to take note of this as it clearly says on NSW Government letterhead from the Police Commissioner that travellers are allowed to order in take-away meals from outside the hotel. I have had so many messages from people in lockdown in other hotels that they are not allowed! They are doing it really tough. It is not helpful that uninformed people assume that everyone arriving after the lockdown rule is selfish and had a chance to return earlier. Not so. So many people had cancelled flights and other challenges. There needs to be consistency. Thank you Hilton Hotel and the police officers in control here for being humane.
Best advice of all was the one advising that Travellers Returning to Australia Self-Isolate of Face $1000 Fine. Clearly that is way outdated? We would be thrilled to self-isolate.

Humour is so important – part of a lovely care package from a friend

I just loved this care pack from a close friend – including fresh air. Thing is, that is what we miss the most. Now, not complaining here but the reality is windows are sealed shut and probably fresh air is the freedom we miss the most. I am amazed that some suggest we go to the business centre, or the gym, or the coffee shop, or out for fresh air, or think we have a mini-bar and room service to assist. There is not kitchenette, no microwave, no plates, no cutlery. We eat out of takeaway containers or cardboard packages. That is now how it works, and rightly so. We are in complete lockdown.  No complaints, just wanting to explain how it is.
The Sydney Hilton is outstanding in how it is really trying to improve our lives – unlike some other hotels. I am overwhelmed by the contact I have had from others in lockdown via social media – some are here and in other hotels where the conditions are so much poorer – and I don’t know why? I get that it is shifting sand and rules change daily but surely there should be consistency? It is NOT OK for some hotels to deny care package of food deliveries, nor to only deliver one meal to a room shared by two.
The Hilton lead the way in “re-emphasising your needs to local authorities, they have decided to allow the re-instatement of external food deliveries”.  We are able to order through Woollworths, or Uber Eats on line. Alcohol cannot be delivered – but the hotel are allowing it – 1 bottle of wine a day, or 4 beers. Thank you. More than reasonable.

Also notification that they are moving from communicating with us via letters, to via the TV screen.
From 2nd April it is possible (at your own cost) to order pizza, including gluten-free from the hotel. Amazing. Also, you can order in-house barista coffee (also at our own cost) which is truly wonderful. It gives us inmates (that’s how we feel) some choice and control over our lives in an otherwise impossible situation. We have a choice. We are more than happy to pay for it, to have that choice, and the right to order good coffee is incredible. Also, they have not inflated the prices – espresso, piccolo, macchiato $4 and latte, cappuccino, long black, flat white $4.50 and alternative milk options.

Kindness Comes in Different Forms

Strawberries for every room in the Hilton. Emphasizing for those outside, that your local greengrocer still has plenty of fresh fruit and veg

Inside, as I like to call it, emotions are heightened. It is easy to feel down, very down, but then something happens and you are uplifted. I do some work with Sydney Markets and am a great fan of all they do. I have filmed there and usually include their weekly market update in my weekly newsletters. They had followed online all my comments, especially in the early days about the quality of the food.
So, Sue Dodd, who is the longtime Retail Support and Fresh Awards Manager rang me to say – I wanted to let you know that tomorrow you are getting a delivery and everyone in the hotel will get a punnet of strawberries. We don’t want any acknowledgement but it would be great if people could understand what their local greengrocer can offer them.
As a little insight to what it is like – this was the highlight of our day, and I have had so many people find me via social media to say what it meant to them – something kind, surprising, unexpected, fresh and delicious from the outside.

Dinner delivery from friend and colleague Carol Selvarajah

I am blessed with good friends and the ability to shout out loud (some may wish I didn’t!). Along my delivery of fresh air (which was accompanied by many other goodies), my longtime friend, Nyonya chef Carol Selvarajah sent us dinner of curries, rice and pickle. It was delivered by Ola, as she is self-isolating. Her whole family assisted in ensuring it got to us. Thank you.

Bringing nature to me, note the closed window behind

I was blown away to receive these cyclamen for a dear friend of very long standing. They are one of my favourite flowers and certainly in my favourite colour.  What was wonderful about these, is that they are a luxury and not a necessity – but oh so necessary. They help me feel normal. 
I have been grateful also for the many people who have sent me photos of nature. I don’t even know what the weather is each day and I need to get back in touch.

Another care package?

It is the craziness of gifts like these which enable me to laugh and also led me to make my video diary focus on kindness.
Mentioning that, when I went to my door, I overheard a senior police officer speaking to a young girl along the hallway “you are going to get a ride in a police car, not in the cage, but we will take you to the gate at the airport, safely. You are a minor (aged 17) and so we need to get you safely back to your parents”.  Again, such kindness and so well delivered. I called him over to thank him. The police at this hotel have been fantastic. He said “I tell all the people I command, you need to treat everyone here in isolation as if they are your Mum & Dad”. I expressed my thanks and we also discussed food. I said things were so different since the food improved and he said “if the food is bad my people don’t want to work, so I can only imagine what it is like for you”. 


Oh so much to think about, reflect on and resolutions to make.

I am so conscious of everyone needing to save their businesses and their jobs – but being in forced isolation where I could wear a dressing gown all day (but don’t) it does amuse me at all the emails I receive about buying clothes, shoes or beauty products on line. My first reaction is how ridiculous – why would I need that? My second is, we need to support business where we can. We need to support our economy if we are in a position to do so.
We have the opportunity rise up, or not. I believe in the human spirit, its ability to triumph in adversity. I believe in Australia, in friendship and kindness. I am gratified at the sense of community which is developing globally instead of regionally. The human race needs to stick together and support each other. Together we can do it, alone we will fail.
With love,

Stay safe, healthy and happy. Keep up to date with my isolation on all my social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter Pinterest and my Youtube channel.

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