Tuesday 21st April

It’s 50 days since we arrived here at, the villa  ‘Our House on the Hill’, with the most spectacular views of La Cala, Spain.  If I am being honest, at times I have felt incredibly scared.  The journey begun as a two week getaway, for Livvy to begin to recover from constant asthma attacks.  For the whole of February, I had a persistent image of Livvy being well, walking along a beach, with the sun shining. I had to find that beach, I messaged my friend in Spain, and they were having a beautiful winter.

I remember on the Thursday saying to my husband, ‘we need to take her now,’ it sounds dramatic, but I was very calm and knew I had my decision.  She had spent the night with a persistent cough, no sleep and hardly the energy to speak.  There were no reasons to stay at home, that outweighed the possibility of giving her the chance of becoming well.  I was worried about what other people would say, what school would say, what the doctors would say.  The responsibility weighed heavy on my shoulders, but I had to have the courage of my conviction and push forward.

I said good-bye to our older children over the weekend, explaining two weeks of sun would be a perfect opportunity for Livvy to start to recover.  It had been a very difficult spell for the entire family, my mother in law had been critically ill for a month with sepsis, and was only just leaving hospital.  Grace left home several years ago but leaving Jack at home felt strange, I was glad he had a skiing holiday planned for a weeks time.  We left three days later, 5am on a very cold, dark Sunday morning.  Livvy was bundled in to a pre-heated car and we set off.  It was a terrifying moment; the realisation, we would be leaving the safety net of the amazing Southend Hospital, just 2 mins drive from our house.  Please let Livvy be okay, I said to myself, thankfully she was.

Once we arrived in France, we saw an immediate improvement; within a few days of  leaving home we had to wean Livvy off her emergency medication, not knowing how she would respond.  All winter every time she did, she had to go back to Southend Hospital for emergency treatment.  These were anxious days.  All the time, headlines were warning of a COVID19 outbreak in Italy and it was spreading to the rest of Europe.  We had been keeping a keen eye on this and already kept ourselves pretty self-isolated, whilst we waited for the rest of the world to catch up and understand how dangerous Coronavirus could be.

Within less than two weeks, we were reading the news and realising that Spain was in terrible trouble. The virus had taken hold and we were to be in lockdown.  I am not sure if I had ever heard of the word before; I certainly never thought I would be living in a world where ‘lockdown’ applied to me.  That Sunday we had helicopters patrolling the beach and tannoy messages informing us in Spanish and English that, it was not safe to leave our homes.  What had i done? I felt sick, I wanted to someone to reassure it me.  I reminded myself that Livvy was well, the difference in her health was remarkable, to when we had be in the UK.  No matter how tempting it felt to flee back home, to the support of my friends, I knew it was best to remain here.

Our stay here was inevitably extended, for how long, I simply do not know.  I needed to make a contingency plan; I made visits to the pharmacy and learnt how I would get emergency medical help for Livvy if it were ever necessary.  The travel insurance we had diligently taken out, was worthless.  Coronavirus was not on the policy, it had not even existed three months before.  I started wearing facemasks and washing my hands.  The day I finally was able to buy anti-bacterial gel I was euphoric.  I jumped up and down outside the pharmacist – we are not permitted to go inside anymore.

Quite soon into our adventure I began to write this blog.  It has been a very special experience for me, a form of therapy and a way to feel I am still in contact with everyone at home.  However, this will be my last post, for a while at least.  It seems I have a new routine now and to be truthful it is a little repetitive.  The day consists of Livvy being home schooled,  (I have swotted up on Ohms Law and The Witch Hunt Trials, sexism right there for you!)  I am also taking this opportunity to get a new business idea up and running.  So though I am using every spare moment I have, it is not making for a very exciting blog, and after the past four months I am grateful for it.

There will be lessons that I have learnt from this experience, the primary one, is this: some things in life we can control, others we cannot.  In some ways, I am grateful for Livvy being unwell this winter.  From a simple cold her asthma had escalated to a point where no amount of medicines were enabling her to recover. This means we know and her doctors know every possible precaution needs to be taken.  This is the only reason we are here.

Daily I see inspirational and brave stories from home, from my lovely community in Westcliff and Leigh on sea.   I see a friend has shared a short film celebrating the wonderful team at Southend Hospital.  I hear how scrubs are being made in people’s home, schools and colleges are allowing their equipment to be used to make face protectors.  That the amazing medics are wearing them right now.  People giving thanks, it is heart felt and genuine.

We love you NHS, even when I am in Spain, I have medicines from home keeping my daughter safe.  The sun might not shine quite so much at home but I miss it none the less.  THANK YOU NHS, I don’t think there has been a day in this year when you have not helped someone dear to me. How AMAZING is that!!  The link below takes you to the film, its well worth a watch.

Hi everyone, I just finished making this on behalf of the NHS staff at Southend Hospital. I Would appreciate a share around so as many staff working for our NHS see this as possible 🙂Thankyou!

Posted by Luke Neale on Tuesday, April 21, 2020

One last thank you (I feel like I am doing speech at the Oscars!). To everyone who has read the blog, hit the like button or even left a comment on my website. Hearing from you has let me feel connected, when at times it has felt lonely and frightening.  I am bowled over that so many people read it. THANK YOU SO MUCH, it has meant the world!!!




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