This week we start the first installment of what promises to be an enlightening and enjoyable series of articles from Kate Harmond.
LOCKED IN LANZAROTE : KATE HARMOND
If you’d told me a year ago that we’d be leaving our beautiful home and garden in Sussex to relocate to a tiny village in the north of Lanzarote, I’d have laughed. But 2020 wasa strange one, wasn’t it?
We’d loved our winter months enjoying different villa rentals on this magical island. By March we were looking forward to reuniting with friends, family and, most importantly, our two cats. We’d booked loads of concerts and west end theatres and had a couple of mini breaks lined up. This was going to be one socially vibrant summer. My husband Jay had spent days ordering seeds and plotting his planting schedule for the allotment.
You know what happened next… for us, it was life changing in the best possible way.
We’d booked into a boutique hotel in Yaiza to celebrate my birthday on 1 March. The conversation in the courtyard bar with multinational guests focused on challenging walks, secret beaches and off-piste funky restaurants. Nobody mentioned the virus.
Of course we were aware of Covid 19. An outbreak in Italy, another in a ski resort somewhere, but it all felt very remote. We moved from the denial stage when my New York friend Scot Hofer messaged me to say that Broadway had “gone dark”.
We were due to fly home on 23 March. I kept checking the EasyJet website. The flight looked fine. We printed our boarding passes which, in my mind, guaranteed that we would leave as scheduled.
The Lanzarote news was all about hotels repatriating package tourists. Hey! We were travellers, independent, savvy. Ok, smug.
And besides we had printed our boarding passes. This panic would all be over in a fortnight.
Total lockdown here kicked in on Saturday 14 March. We’d been in Haría, enjoying what would turn out to be our last restaurant lunch for some time. As we drove back into Arrieta,all the shops and businesses were closed. The beach was taped off.
I lived and worked in central London during various major incidents: bombs, 9/11, terrorist attacks. This felt the same. Police cars roamed the empty streets with loudspeakers broadcasting in English, German and Spanish: “Stay inside. Do not leave your home.”
An army patrol went past. Suddenly those printed boarding passes looked very flimsy.
Many thanks Kate, more to follow next week…….