It’s a Sunday morning. The house is still and the only sound is the rain hammering against the windows. The never ending sodding rain. It feels like it has been raining non-stop since the 30th December 2017. It hasn’t, there have been some brief respites, but the days have overwhelmingly been dominated by rain. I’ve forgotten what blue skies and sunshine looks like.
Another day stretches out in front of me and I find myself wondering what the hell we are going to do on this Sunday. It’s after I find myself googling rowing boats and how many miles it is to England that I have a sudden and sharp realisation – I have been well and truly gripped by “Island Fever”.
The signs had been there for a while. We have been trapped in house moving limbo. Our days are spent surrounded by boxes. They are the first things I see in the morning, they are what I see as I work from home, and they are the last thing I see as I turn my bedside lamp off at night. Getting through the weekend is more of an endurance test. We don’t enjoy it, we just want to get through it, we want to get into a new week and get closer to moving. Each week we start hopeful that this is the week we will finally move, only for something to crop up and the move to be pushed back another week.
A question mark follows us, hanging over us and always mocking us.
If we were back in England we would be able to escape the boxes. We would simply pile into the car and drive to another city, visit family or go exploring. We would be able to escape, on Jersey there is no escape. It’s a tiny island, 9 by 5 miles, and you soon run out of road. When life is going well the island is an absolute joy. However, when life is not going to plan the claustrophobia builds up and this island becomes your very own personal prison.
This time of year is always hard on the island. The island is often swathed in mist for days on end, the stormy weather means the boats can’t get in and the supermarket shelves become bare. You find yourself harking back to the good ole days of when you had a Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s and Asda all within a short drive. Yet, when the sun shines there is no place I would rather be. The beautiful beaches, cliffside scrambles that reveal stunning views towards France and the quaint harbours that are often deserted. Yet, when island fever grips you there is no remembering the good times, you want out and you want out, NOW!
It started when our house move fell apart again at the 11th hour and again a weekend of boxes and rain loomed ahead. I needed out. We might only be a short flight from the UK but those flights can be expensive. There were no reasonably priced flights. I started googling hotels on Jersey because I was just desperate to look at a different 4 walls, but no it wasn’t meant to be.
The never ending house drama has taken its toll on all of us. Mr C and I find ourselves sat on the settee in suffocating silence worrying about what we are doing. The children are fed-up of being told “just one more week and you will have your new bedroom” only for it not to happen. The walls of the house closing in on us, squeezing us and trapping us. Meanwhile, we plaster on a smile and stretch it across our face and ignore the feeling of panic, the constant feeling of nausea and the tightening of the chest. I try to ignore it but it’s hard when you can’t escape. It’s hard when the island fever sets in.
You tell yourself that it is temporary. You remind yourself how lucky you are to live somewhere beautiful and you try to push forward but island fever is like quicksand and if you aren’t careful it will suck you under. You focus on the small things. The things that give you and your family pleasure. You go for a walk around town but you see the same faces in the same shops, the same people stood in the same place on the same street. The feeling of being trapped in Groundhog Day rises as you desperately try to shake yourself out of it, as you ignore the chest pains and desperately try to quell the nausea. You repeat to yourself that this is a phase.
I know that this will pass: that soon enough the house situation will be resolved one way or another. I’m also a great believer in the clichéd idea that what doesn’t break you will make you stronger. But when you are in the midst of it, gripped by island fever, it feels like there is no escape and you find yourself googling rowing boats and wondering if you could row back to the mainland on a Sunday morning.
The island will wake up soon from its hibernation and all will be right again, until then I will carry on rowing, hoping that I don’t sink.
Before I go – If I am quiet for a while then it will be because we have finally moved house and I will be back, I just might be quiet for a couple of weeks as I unpack and wait for the internet to be connected.