Drive through NHS covid testing | What to expect

Thursday 26 November 2020

Earlier this year, I got my first Covid test. It was a very simple process but being such a nerve-racking situation made it feel almost impossible so I thought I'd give you a little run down to give you an idea of what to expect and also in the hopes of making it less of a big scary taboo.

You book your appointment online and they tell you where and when. I booked on the Sunday evening for an appointment at 11am the next day. You can book for up to 4 people per car, I went with my mum.

My dad and brother went the day before, to a different center but we both had the same issue; the postcode the NHS website gave got us both completely lost so it's worth checking exactly where you need to go before you set off. It seems to be car parks for local sports clubs and similar so super easy to find for yourself.

Once we arrived, it was quite clear where we were supposed to be, the car park had a little marquee and people wandering around in hi-vis jackets. We drove in and up to the marquee, with our windows tightly shut, someone scanned the QR codes that we got with the booking confirmation the night prior - through the glass and we shouted as the people on the other side tried to explain what to do.

The main jist of the conversation was if you have a problem put your hazard lights on and we'll come and help otherwise take this, follow the instructions and bring it back. They then asked us to wind a window down as little as possible and slid a bag through for each of us.

The instructions in the bag were quite simple but as I said it was just a nerve-racking experience so I had to read them over and over before I went ahead.

You're given one swab, a tube which already has some red liquid in to place it into, a couple of bags, a card and an instruction booklet. It was slightly confusing because the papers looked like they needed filling in as well as space for you to write your details on the bio bag but that was not the case (we also did not have a pen, which caused more panic). Luckily they didn't actually need us to fill it in as everything was done with bar codes which was actually very efficient, just a little unclear.

The same one swab has to go to the back of your throat and then up your nostril as well. It did make us gag and then it did make my eye water but it wasn't painful or hard to do at all just slightly uncomfortable for ten seconds each time.

The swab goes into the liquid in the tube, done up tight, the tube goes in the ziploc bag with a moisture pad, that goes into a bio hazard bag and you're told not to close it until someone can come and watch you do it (so you do it properly I assume.) We put the hazards on, the guy talked us through sealing the bag and then it gets passed back through the window (and taken from you with rubbish pincers lol) before being scanned for your details and put in a box with all the others.

And that was it. The one I visited at least was very simple and well run. I felt safe and I felt like the people working there were safe too so that was reassuring. My dad and brother got their results back, negative, within 48 hours although mine and my mum's took a few days, negative also.

*Accurate as of  September 2020

Covid Staycation | St Giles London

Monday 2 November 2020

With both of my brothers moving back home at the beginning of lock down, not only did I have a new normal to get used to when it was finally lifted, I had a new home life as well. It wasn't terrible although the house did get a little bit crazy - eight months in; and with the next lock down looming, I was ready for a little escape.

Que: the St Giles hotel and their Stay Safe, Stay St Giles Programme - a great opportunity to just get away from all the family madness at home and just take a night to myself.

Reception was quiet and calm as I arrived on a slow Monday afternoon. Good distancing, protective screens, hand sanitiser and face masks worn by all staff instantly put my mind at rest. Staying somewhere more public than home during the pandemic can be a bit scary but they did a great job at reassuring me that everything was as Covid secure as possible without being invasive and ruining whole experience.

Heading up to my room on the 9th floor however, the hotel seemed a bit old and worn - the lift was super rickety - although opening the door to the room, I was pleasantly surprised. The suite was a really great size and with 5 large windows meaning the room was flooded with mid afternoon natural light - the bathroom was absolutely sparkling in the sun. There was a sofa and coffee table in the main part of the room but also a little cove behind the bed with a dressing table area and also a table and benches to sit on - it was a huge amount of room. From up there I also had great views across London in all directions.

It did smell a little musky but that soon went after I opened the windows. Other than that, everything seemed very clean and the complimentary a hand gel on the bed was very much appreciated. There were also stickers on the front door, the toilet and things like the remote, saying that they had been cleaned properly - these sorts of small touches meant I could relax, as there's no way I would have picked up the TV remote otherwise - that was something that used to freak me out a little even before covid.

The staff also were very accommodating, delivering a pen up to the room so I could fill in the breakfast card and also allowing me a late checkout which was very helpful.

I ate dinner and then breakfast at the hotel but these I would not recommend. Even with the half price deal they currently have on, it seems a huge waste to be staying in such an awesome location - Soho on one side and Fitzrovia on the other - and not make the most of all the amazing bars and restaurants within a couple minutes' walk. What I will say however was how nice it was to not have to go out into the cold, I just threw on a huge jumper over my lounge wear and wandered down to the restaurant in the warmth. I've hardly taken off this knitted cardigan from Femme Luxe since it arrived, its like a dressing gown that's acceptable to wear in public and I love it.

It's not the height of luxury but it doesn't claim to be; for locals looking for an easy escape or business and leisure travelers seeking a safe, central location, St Giles London is perfect. Rooms start at as little as £49

*Gifted Stay

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