We’re back – in Prague! The ‘new normal’

lovely prague

I started to write this blog on Friday evening, exactly a week since we arrived back from Spain, although it seems a lot longer – funny how the days rushed past when we were doing not very much over there, and yet this last week seems to have gone on for ages, what with packing up our office – poor Jan now spends hours at a time staring at the shredding machine instead of the swimming pool – paying several visits to the physio paper shredding(yup, I’m still limping horribly and getting grumpier by the day), and trying to see our friends (which has been lovely).  Oh, and doing a bit of work (Jan more than me).

Obviously a lot of our discussions have been comparing our experiences from lockdown, although most of my friends seem to remember more about what we were doing than I do, having read this blog diligently every day!  But it has been really interesting to hear from most of them how strict they have all been, even though the rules didn’t necessarily require it (and irrespective of where they are living).   All, though, have been a bit shocked and worried about how quickly everyone has gone back to normal – or, ‘the new normal’ as we all seem to be calling it (even though, here in Prague, it really does seem like the ‘old normal’.. but maybe I haven’t seen enough yet!).

Talking of the ‘new normal’ though, I read a very interesting article over the weekend by the Swedish epidemiologist (??) who has been under fire for not advising Sweden to go into a ‘proper’ lockdown.  He said that whilst he believes, now, that they should have been tougher at the beginning, he kind of explained it by also saying that we shouldn’t forget that all of the lockdowns have been primarily to protect the health systems from collapsing (and theirs didn’t).  He does agree, though, that locking down more might have saved some lives, but on a long-term basis he believes that his way forward will be seen to be the best – i.e. they have avoided economic disaster and the problems that come from cooping people up for months at a time, whilst at the same time locking down enough to ensure that their health system can cope, and have protected the vulnerable by imposing slightly stockholmstricter rules on them than on others.  AND, most importantly, they have trained everyone to accept the wearing of masks and social distancing as something that they will have to do forever (or words to that effect) as the virus is not going to go away – and people have accepted that as they haven’t really had to fight against anything else.  And that is the bit that I found interesting.

Since a lot of our friends are Brits, we are all, of course, worried about the situation there, particularly in view of the above.   For those of you that don’t know, the number of deaths each day are still in the hundreds and new infections in the thousands, even though the testing and tracking is so inefficient that it is hard to know where this number comes from (and compare this to Spain, Italy, France and others, who were being shown on English TV as disaster zones when they had similar numbers).  Despite that, the UK is as far down the ‘coming out of lockdown’ road as Spain when we left, which doesn’t bode well for the numbers in the future.   Why people are not being more disciplined (irrespective of what ‘rules’ or otherwise the Government is coming out with) is difficult to understand – presumably the half million people that pitched up in bournemouthBournemouth at the weekend to head for the beach are not all complete idiots? – but having only had various rules suggested, rather than being forced to follow them, no-one really seems to have taken on board the real need for care, whether now or in the future.  One of my friends suggested that perhaps it is just that they don’t read or watch the news, to which I responded that I think they maybe DO read AND watch the news, but it’s WHAT they read and watch that is so shockingly awful and tell such lies, that many of the people that flocked to Bournemouth, or anywhere else, have no real idea of what the country is really up against (nor how it is in other countries).

I remember when we arrived in Spain in early March, having come from Prague where there were so few infections, we were completely shocked to watch the news each evening and see people coming out of hospitals in hysterics having just been told that their husband/wife had died, the army driving trucks full of coffins, the doctors breaking down when interviewed having seen xx number of people die that night – it really Italian doctorbrought it home to us how serious the virus was, and explains why the Spanish, generally, (and the Alicante ladies in particular!!) were all so terrified.  Maybe it would help in the UK if the journalists showed a bit more of the horror in order to get the message across to the people that don’t want to know….

Anyway, back in Prague we attended a wedding on Saturday, which freaked me out a little bit.   The wedding itself was very nice – in the Old Town Hall on the Old Town Square, everyone dressed in their finery, and lovely weather.  But I am afraid I have to say that I did not feel at all comfortable being together with so many people in one room (none of whom I knew, other than the groom, a good friend of Jan’s) – all close together, no-one, of course, in masks, and with lots of kissing and hugging going on.  I am sure everyone thought that I was even snootier than usual as I tried to keep my distance (impossible), but, you know, I haven’t heard anyone saying that the virus keeps away from weddings, and whilst I realise that Prague has always had a low rate of wedding picinfection, blah, blah, blah, it is difficult to go more or less overnight from near solitary confinement to ‘party-on as normal’.    All very strange and for sure Jan and I are going to fight more and more over this as time goes on, as he is delighted that we are back in ‘the new normal’, whilst I want to get back to our reclusive life as soon as possible!    So, for a number of reasons, I headed home after the ceremony whilst Jan stayed on for the reception and appeared late in the evening in a pretty horrible state!

Yesterday, Sunday, I found something else interesting.   I woke up early (while you-know-who was recovering) and did some social media monitoring, and then decided to do a bit of Bollywood, then the 7 App and then 45 minutes on my new exercise bike.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to head to the beach or pool, but the sun was shining, so we spent a good part of the day sunbathing; what I realised, is, of course, that we human beings like our routines – so whilst in Spain we were shaken up for the first couple of weeks, we soon sorted out a ‘programme’ that worked for us and became our norm.  And the reason why I have felt so weird for the last week or so is that our ‘norm’ had to change again… the minute I went back to my Spanish programme, I was happy as Larry!  For now, things are looking up a bit!

And something else that cheered me up no end – I do love some of the videos that are put out on Twitter and Facebook, and one that I found the other day made me giggle.. plus I seems appropriate now that we are getting back to our ‘new normal’ life.  Have a look!

 

We’re Back in Prague – Day 6

prague

I can’t quite believe that we have been back for five days already, but the first couple went by in a bit of a blur, and it wasn’t until Monday, really, that we started to feel ‘normal’.   Saturday wasn’t an easy day as we woke up to grey skies and rain which wasn’t exactly welcoming, but despite that we thought that we should try to do a bit of exercise before we got into anything else.   I was aware that my leg was feeling quite sore after all the travelling the day before (my legs always feel a bit swollen and heavy after jogging on one legflying (it’s a woman and age thing!) but this was worse than usual), and the minute that I started to jog after a bit of stretching (me going right out of our front door, Jan to the left), I realised that there was something not right as I could barely put my foot on the ground, so turned around to go back indoors and then found that I had brought my Spanish house keys, not Prague.   For God’s sake!.

So basically I was stuck outside in the rain for as long as Jan might run.  Thinking that my leg might loosen up a bit though, and on the basis that Jan doesn’t run that fast (apologies dear), I thought, stupidly, that if I hobbled as fast as possible to the park where I knew he was heading, I could loiter about and catch him on one of his rounds, take his keys and hobble back.   Up to a point that actually worked, since I found him relatively quickly, but by the time I had hobbled back, by then drowned, I had made my leg a lot worse and was thoroughly miserable.

Since the main reason why we absolutely had to get back to Prague now was to clear out our offices before the deadline of June 30th, once we had both dried off, the next thing was to head over to see just how much stuff we had to get rid of, store, smash, etc, and that was so horrifying that we decided that the only course of action for the rest of the day was to get back home and hide, and then maybe venture back the next day!  Actually part of the reason for that was that we wanted to watch the next stage of the Adria Tour (the tennis tournament that we watched last weekend in Belgrade, now in Zadar in adria tourCroatia) so that took up the rest of the day, and then I headed out to meet my friend Adam for dinner, with Jan joining us later, and that cheered us both up immensely – thank God, as it was all a bit miserable up until then (and, note, the restaurant was completely normal – no cleaning of the tables, no waiters in mask, no customers in Hazmat suits, etc, and we did hug (I wondered if we would, and knew that I would feel rather offended if we didn’t!).

On Sunday, though, with the sun shining and a bit of a more positive mood, we headed to the office and got started with the mammoth job of clearing and sorting, which, normally, we would have done over the course of three months, and instead have to manage in just 12 days!   Hmmm.   This is proving a bit of a challenge – for Jan as he is a bit of a ‘hoarder’ so he has a Hell of a lot of stuff to go through, and me as I am still on one leg, and my hay fever is much worse here than in Spain, so sorting through a lot of dusty papers and so on is not, exactly, what I want to be doing – but hey, now I really can appreciate wearing a mask!   I am not going to go on about office clearing as that is and has to be the focus of our days until the end of the month, so I could get very boring, plus when I am not clearing the office, I am spending my time either catching up with friends (lovely) or seeing my physio (not so lovely, but necessary). which explains why I don’t have a lot of exciting things to report on.    We have, though, been doing a few other bits and pieces similar to our days in Spain (I have already done some Bollywood and the 7 App, but still waiting for the exercise bike to arrive), plus, of course, I have found time to study the news in all three jurisdictions and rant on Twitter, as usual.

I must say, though, that I have felt quite discombobulated (I do so love that word as, even if you don’t know what it means, I am sure you can probably figure it out!) – even on crowds in parksSaturday, when we first ventured out, I was already taken aback by how little notice anyone took of social distancing – twice, during my hobble to look for Jan, I nearly collided with people walking the other way – I am so used to all of us naturally putting distance between ourselves, that I found it quite disconcerting and, dare I say it, shocking.   Plus so few people wearing masks – I know that everything is back to normal here, but I still found it strange, and actually having parked my car in the underground carpark in town on Monday (my first venture in) and then called the lift, which appeared with three unmasked guys already in situ, I almost freaked out, but masked mendecided that I have to get over it and got in nonetheless (now, isn’t that something… not so long ago I would have freaked out if a lift had arrived with three masked men inside.. now it is the other way around!).

I have also been to the gym (necessary, with only one leg working and no bike at home) and seen my trainer, Vlad, but not yet managed to meet up with Vitek (tennis coach) as, of course, tennis is out of the question at the moment.   The gym was interesting – the receptionist, as I would have expected, was wearing a mask, but otherwise everyone else was working out as usual (to the point that I noticed several people getting off the machines and not bothering to clean them (which annoys me at the best of times)), men in gymplus a couple of guys (Americans) did have masks around their necks… not quite sure of the point of that…  Plus I had my first tram trip yesterday, which I didn’t much like (partly as it was crowded and people were coughing and sneezing a lot (but masked), and partly as getting on and off proved a challenge with one leg not very operational!)

It is all a bit odd.  As I have mentioned before, I used to be a very brave girl, and I absolutely don’t like being a bit of a ‘pussy’, but those 100 days have changed me a bit, and I can see how easy it could be to slip into almost agoraphobia – especially if we hadn’t had the last few weeks of ‘freedom’ in Spain.  I also can’t help but think that even though the CR handled everything so well and had so few cases, this may just be happening a bit too quickly.   Which leads me back to the Adria Tour.

I think I mentioned in my blog last week that we were surprised to see the whole tournament in Belgrade taking place as if there had been no virus (which, in Serbia, is almost true as they had very few cases), with packed crowds, lots of interaction between the ball boys, umpire and players, etc.   When they all arrived in Zadar, it looked pretty similar, although there were many fewer people in the crowd, and I suppose that you can’t really blame the players and their teams for going out and partying every night since Croatia, too, had very few cases.   But when we watched Dimitrov fall apart on adria tour 2court on Saturday afternoon and heard that he had returned home that evening, I started to get a nasty feeling, which was proved right when it was then announced that he had the virus… and over the course of the next few days more announcements of positive results came out (the majority of the players), with the biggest of all from Nole himself…. what the ramifications will be on tennis for the coming months and sport in general, who knows…. but it certainly proved that the virus is still about, even in countries that have low numbers, and, despite what is generally thought, it can strike the young and very fit…. so maybe a bit more caution is still needed… we shall see.

More from me again soon!

 

 

 

 

We’re back – in Prague! (Day 100/Day 1)

at malaga airport

This morning we were up early in readiness for the adventure ahead. No time for any exercise or media monitoring today! Just a last packing-up of the house (we did most of it yesterday), then dressed (in jeans – jeans?!! T shirts and sweaters… it’s a long time since we have worn so many clothes!) and then off in our white van for our last drive together, to the airport.

Since we haven’t really been outside Marbella for the whole of our stay, even heading out to the motorway was a new thing, and as we have got used to everything seeming more or less normal again, our first shock was just how empty the road was; up until we got to the ‘highway toll’ area, where there are usually a row of about 10 manned kiosks and we pay less than Euro 5 – today, the traffic was a bit stacked up as there was only one kiosk open, and that was the one that has a machine rather than a real person (of course, thinking about it, it wouldn’t be possible for the real people to work at the toll moment as too much handling of money…..) and the payment today was Euro 7.95 (also, thinking about it, no surprise that they have whacked up the cost in order to get some money into the coffers). Otherwise it was an uneventful and slightly subdued drive, until we got to the Enterprise office, which was closed….

After an initial mild panic as to what to do with our van, we realised that the parking next door was open, and also offering a courtesy bus to the airport (which is some way from the car hire area, hence the mild panic), so we deposited the car with them and hitched a lift up with a very chatty driver who was pleased to have something to do – he told us that he had been required to work for the whole lockdown period, but apart from watching over the parked cars (which hadn’t moved much) he averaged just one trip a day to the airport, so was bored silly.

So then we got to the airport. We had found out last night that we couldn’t check-in online so for the first time in years had to make our way to the check-in desks – that check in deskswasn’t actually a big deal as there was only the one desk open in the whole huge expanse of the departures hall – just one flight went at 11.00 am, then there was ours at 13.30 and then only one more, later in the day.  We had a bit of a performance as there seemed to be a problem with our tickets (another mild panic), but it all got resolved – we don’t really know what the problem was or how it was resolved as, to be honest, we couldn’t understand a word that the check-in woman was saying as she had one of the bigger masks on, and I really do struggle to hear customsthrough them… but, anyway, we got our boarding passes and headed off through a fairly standard customs and then passport control and into the main gate area.

With only our flight due, the gate area was, of course, deserted… plus our initial thought was that not only were there no cafes or other shops open, but also no loos…. Thankfully (another panic) there was just one in operation, so that was a relief (in more ways than one), and then we sat down for our long wait for the plane to arrive (having been asked to get to the airport at least two runwayhours in advance…. ). In actual fact, the time went quite quickly – we sat by the window looking down at the runway – with no planes arriving or departing, it was quite an amazing sight, particularly when a lone private plane pitched up and caused a flurry of activity – plus it gave us a chance to do a bit of social media monitoring and so on, and then it was time to go and board.   private planeGenerally it wasn’t really as weird as we had expected – there were no temperature checks or people dressed up to the eyeballs – just lots of markings on the floor to remind people where to stand, and about every five minutes a voice on the tannoy telling everyone to remember the social distancing rules…. a little bit irritating and pretty pointless in view of the vast amount of space we all had around ourselves!

Boarding, then, was pretty normal particularly as when we booked this flight (Swissair via Zurich) we decided to get business class tickets as we felt that if there were any issues lovely swissair(i.e. getting stuck in Zurich) we would be better looked after if we had them… so we were first onto the plane and seated in row 1. A rather lovely steward greeted us at the door – pulling his mask down to give us a ‘proper smile’ – marvellous – and then we were spoiled rotten the whole way to Zurich. I don’t know what we expected (although a friend sent me a photo of her daughter flying yesterday, seated next to someone who appeared to be dressed as an astronaut….), but really, apart from everyone in masks, it was just the same great Swissair as usual (if anything, a bit more… when I told the lovely one that I liked the chocolates that they always give out as we come into land, a stewardess appeared with a plate of them, yummy chocolatestogether with (yet more) red wine and cheese for Jan…. so we disembarked suitably cheerful and into Zurich Airport.

Zurich Airport, on first sight, looked pretty much the same as usual – not quite as many people but enough to think that things were not that different (and an awful lot of people not wearing masks), plus the main Duty Free was open and doing a good trade. The rest of the shops, though, were closed up, and all but one of the lounges (which was then so full that they were turning people away) were closed. With so few flights (relatively speaking – still about ten to go from early evening onwards) – we wondered who all the people were that were filling the lounge up, unless it was just tiny inside (which we didn’t get to see). But, anyway, we only had a bit over an hour before our connection, so in the end we plonked ourselves down in the gate area and stared out the window at grey sky and pouring rain….

Swiss being Swiss, though, our next flight boarded on time, and back we went to the business class (third row this time) for a very nice, and very short flight to Prague. The plane was pretty full (why?) with most of those around us seeming to be Russian, which, together with the ongoing bad weather as we flew over, didn’t help with Jan’s mood!. So then Prague Airport – on landing we could see all the stored planes lined up in the far runway area – all of the unused Max 7s, plus a lot of Czech Airlines’ and Ryanair, which made quite a spectacle. In the gate area, however, only one other plane seemed to be ready to go, so when we got off it wasn’t surprising that there were so few people in the prague airportairport itself, apart from around the gate to get back onto our Zurich-bound plane. The shocking bit, though, was that instead of sweeping out of Terminal 2 as usual (and as we now expected), they have installed passport control gates, and with only one open and the 2 metre social distancing lines to keep each person apart, the queue to go through was quite long. And what then became clear was that not everyone was being allowed in….

Jan was about to march through ahead of me, but I told him to wait and let me go first, in case there was trouble, and sure enough, the policewoman took exception to my first proferring my UK Passport – referring to her map of the traffic lights and seeing that the UK is still, of course, red – at the same time, I gave her my Czech permanent residence permit, which she studied in detail, asked me in Czech if I had come from Zurich, to which I responded yes (not exactly rocket science since it was the only plane to come in for the last few hours), and then she rather reluctantly let me through. My feeling, though, was that she wasn’t quite sure whether I should or shouldn’t be allowed in, but she couldn’t really be bothered to check anymore… but that’s OK.  It does seem, though, that everyone is still pretty confused about who can and can’t come in – we know that in Spain from the 21st, all residents of Schengen countries can enter without a test…. So presumably the same will apply here on Monday, as reciprocity will be required…. At least… we hope.

Then, of course, we had the car situation to deal with, but we needn’t have worried. First, we headed to the carpark to see if (a) the car was still there (and yes, there he was, all on his own) and (b) if he would start – which he did. Then we went down to the office, my cararmed with our correspondence from the main parking guy, and sure enough, he charged me for just the period from when we arrived until the State of Alarm kicked off – so actually even less than we would have paid if we had come back as planned. How nice is that? And then it was into the car and home – to our newly cleaned apartment, with everything in place, almost as if we had never been away……

What will happen next?   Keep tuned!

 

Still here – in Spain! Days 96 and 97

steps to the beach

Yesterday, Wednesday, started very positively – we were up early again as, with only two days to go, we wanted to get moving as soon as possible.  I managed to resist the temptation of going for a run on the beach with Jan (I so want to play tennis when I get back to Prague that I am trying to be super-disciplined about letting my calf muscle heal) and instead did yet another 7 app routine and 45 minutes on the bike, and then we headed to the beach for a couple of hours – with the big pool still not properly open (we are not exactly sure why, but have given up stressing about it), and the temperature in the mid 30s, it is definitely better to be by the sea with a bit of breeze anyway.

By the time we dragged ourselves back home a bit of work had stacked up for both of us, so that was the first priority, and then it was a quick lunch and off we went into Marbella Old Town for a bit of shopping and a last look around.   The shops are still very quiet and a bit depressed, and the historical centre was more or less deserted, but we think (and seconc squarehope!) that that will be the last time we see it like that – I saw a post on FB yesterday about Prague still being without tourists and how sad it is, as is the case here too, but until the planes really get going again (and they still aren’t anywhere near to that yet – just a handful going in and out of Malaga yesterday, and not much more in Prague) I suspect that nothing much will change – but presumably, by early July, when it seems that most airlines will be back to ‘normal-ish’ we will start to see a difference…

Incidentally, on that, having said that Spain is open for anyone from the 21st, it seems that the Spanish government is starting to change its mind, at least regarding the Brits (not, it seems, because of fear that they may bring the infection in again, but as a ‘tit for tat’ with the UK for them saying that the Spanish have to go into fourteen days’ quarantine when they arrive there (well, anyone does at the moment, but I actually watched the UK Health Secretary saying that they don’t want to risk anyone coming in from other badly infected countries, and, when pressed as to which ones, mentioning Spain – I nearly smashed the TV up) – but I think it is still not resolved.   How anyone can be planning to go anywhere much at the moment, mind you, is beyond me (unless they have to, of course… like us tomorrow!) since everything continues to change on a more or less daily basis…..

Anyway, we had planned to grab a drink somewhere in the Old Town, but since most of the cafes were closed up, we headed down to the beach and sat outside one of the bars there for a while, watching the world go by and feeling a bit sad about the whole situation – who would want to run a shop or a café/restaurant in a tourist area just now?   Some shops, of course, are putting on a brave face (places like Zara, which are just as popular with locals as with tourists), but even then, it can hardly make sense to open if they only have a handful of customers, and for the cafes and restaurants you have to think that the cost of opening far outweighs any income they might get…. so why even bother….

After a bit of philosophysing, we decided to head home along the beach walk instead of the main street as it was cooler, and since it was early evening by this time it was nice to see that a lot more people had come out – mostly families on bikes and people walking their dogs, but at least they are venturing out more, to the point that it almost got quite dogs on the paseocrowded and difficult to keep the 2 metre social distancing, especially from those with dogs on my favourite long leads, who seem to manage to take up most of the path even when they are only one person….. we do try, though, so you can imagine how upset we were when an elderly lady walking her three yappy dogs who were weaving about all over the place, suddenly turned on us and started shouting at us in English to keep our distance, to not crowd her and to ‘have some respect’ – actually I didn’t really see or hear what was happening until I heard Jan tell her to calm down, that we were at least two metres away from her and she shouldn’t worry – but she was having none of it and started shouting even more.   The icing on the cake, though, was when she screamed at us that ‘we should go back to whatever country we came from’ – I think she thought we might be the first of the English tourists to arrive, and whilst the government may not fear them bringing in the infection, the locals definitely do.  Is this the shape of things to come, I wonder.

Anyway, that put a bit of a dampener on our day, so we were happy to get home and spend the rest of the evening pottering about and starting our preparations for departure.   Today, then, followed similar lines – exercising in the morning, down to the beach and lots of walking about in the water to try to improve my legs, and then into Puerto Banus for another last walk about.   One exciting bit there was the arrival of a yacht that was even bigger than the resident ‘Lady Haya’ and is apparently owned by Aztek shipsome Mexican oligarch… presumably camping out here to avoid the virus that is all over Latin America just now.   Not a bad way to do lockdown!   Other than that, though, nothing too much has changed in the port – the shops are still open, no sign of any discounts or sales (other than in the big El Corte Ingles department store, which is trying its best) and most bars and restaurants boarded up.  Puerto Banus, more than any other place around here, is in need of the pb emptyforeign tourists – let’s hope not too many of the locals put them off (as above!).

Tonight, then, we are off out for dinner in one of our favourite restaurants, and then we will be up early in readiness for our adventure..   I will be reporting on that in due course!!!

Wish us luck

 

Still here – in Spain! Days 94 and 95!

view from window




These have been a busy couple of days.  We had so many flights booked before that then got cancelled, it has been hard to believe that we are really, really going this week and that has hit us hard – it feels, now, that there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done before we go!

Yesterday, day 94, we were up early even though it was a day off exercise; me because my cold sores had kept me awake in the night and I couldn’t wait to get up and go out to a pharmacy, and Jan because he realised that he had quite a lot of work to get sorted before we land in Prague!   So first thing, he was on his computer while I did my social media and news watch and then headed out to try to find some medicine.   That, big poolcombined with a couple of hours by the pool (which is due to open any day now – probably just as we are leaving!) took up the morning, and then Jan went off to the same hairdresser as me for his own refurb, whilst I hobbled out for what was intended to be a last shop in Aldi – how sad is that!

On our return, with Jan looking 100% ‘perfect’ after his haircut (as he likes to say), we decided to try to get all of our plants and garden into a shape to be left – the Pueblo gardeners come in twice a week to ‘water’ when we aren’t here, but that is all, and after three months of battling to revive some of them, using made-up food (banana skins, egg shells, etc) to help, and now having them all in full bloom, it would be terrible to think that they might all collapse once we have gone.   Just on this, when I put together my lists of ‘things we have learned to do’ or ‘how we have changed’ during the last three months, gardening (up to a point) will be very high up on mine (having only ever managed to wield a watering can occasionally in the past!).

Jan decided yesterday, though, that he was up for more than just simple gardening, and took it on himself to get up our palm tree and give it some much needed trimming.  That is not as simple as it might sound as, without the proper equipment, it required him to stand on a ladder balanced on a table and then hack all the dead branches and muck away from the trunk – and since I was required to hold the ladder, most of it landed on my head – I just about coped with the branches and so on, but once he said that he had found an ants’ nest and then, even worse, a couple of cockroaches jan and palmhidden away (I have always tried to persuade myself that I do not need to fear them as much as I do, since they really only scuttle about on the floor – now I know better!), I am afraid that I had to leave him to it – but, to be fair, he did a pretty good job!

Coming back to the cockroaches (as I do!) one of the problems with the whole Pueblo being pretty much deserted over the past three months, is that whilst we had our house treated for them early on in our adventure, the other houses nearby did not…. so for the last few weeks, while it has been getting hotter and hotter, we have had a few visitors from our neighbours each evening – Jan has been in his element, rushing about each night with his bat and scaring everyone to death, but I have lost my sense of humour about it all, so today (day 95) we had the ‘cockmen’ back again to do yet another fumigation – not only in our house, but the drains and so on around us (the idea of going back to Prague, and leaving our house available for ‘squatters’ for the next few weeks pest controlhas been bothering me no end!), so that was another constructive thing crossed off the list.

Today, then, apart from the visit from the cockmen and exercise this morning (back to my drill of Bollywood, 7 and cycling, and Jan running) we have been out and about, stocking up with a few bits and pieces to take back to Prague – again, I have to comment on how quickly everything has got back to normal… people are out shopping, cafes are open, there is very little sign of the past few months! – and then this evening we are meeting the sports photographer that we met at the gallery opening for drinks, and then a last dinner with our friends down the road.   And that will be just two  more full days before we head off.   What a strange feeling that is!

On a happier note, and particularly relevant today – I found a lovely video this morning, celebrating Paris getting back to normal (I have been watching my friend Philippe go through his very strict lockdown there while we have been here – how tough that was) – take a look:

I will be reporting on our last days here in Spain and our return to Prague in due course!

 

 

Still here – in Spain! Days 92 and 93

mountain view on way back

For me, these have been a strange couple of days as (a) what I thought was just a slightly injured calf muscle is a bit more than ‘slightly’ and that has rather hampered what I can do now, (b) I somehow got not one cold sore but two – never had such a thing before, and having always thought that they are just something that are a bit unsightly, I am now finding out that they can actually make you feel pretty crap, and (c) I think we are both feeling a bit sad that this is our last weekend here – so even though we are kind of entrance to pueblolooking forward to heading back to Prague at the end of the week, it is strange to be thinking about leaving what has, really, been our ‘safe haven’ for the last three months.

The upside of all of the above is that instead of rushing about doing all the things that we meant to do while we were here, we have reverted to the same ‘lockdown pattern’ of doing not very much!   Yesterday, Saturday, Jan did his usual run, of course, and I, not wanting to go without any sort of exercise at all, got back to my Bollywood routine (as you probably know, that involves more upper body movement than legs!), 7 App (ditto) and bike (and, in view of the leg injury, I suspect, that this will be my ‘go-to routine’ once we get back to Prague too – so have actually ordered an exercise bike on Amazon today to be delivered there and be ready for our arrival!).

Yesterday, as mentioned before, we had planned to drive out to one of our favourite mijasplaces, an Andalusian ‘white village’ called Mijas Pueblo – it’s about a 40 minute drive away, and a place that we often visit just to potter about, go into the pretty gift shops and have lunch (it is also where a lot of the Andalusian ladies from the Facebook page live, so that adds to its attraction).  How it looks now remains to be seen, as since a visit there involves walking up and down about a million steps, it didn’t seem to be such a good idea with me on just one leg.  So instead, we headed down to the beach for a couple of hours, which included a good few minutes of walking about in the sea (when I had my horses in my previous life, we used to take them to the beach as often as possible, which, once they got used to the sea (which on first sight always freaked them out) and learned to go in it, they absolutely loved.  In addition to the fun of galloping on the beach, the sea water was just the best thing for toughening up horses’ legs… so horses in the seawhenever I have a problem with mine (quite a lot of the time) I try to get into the sea (not easy in Prague) whenever I can, on the basis that if it worked for the horses, it should work for me!

Thinking what we might do for the afternoon once we had returned from the beach, Jan flicked about on the TV and, unbelievably, found some live tennis – we had completely forgotten about the Adria Tour in Belgrade, Serbia that Novak had been talking about whilst he was down here, and it was the first day yesterday – and continued novak seatoday.   Initially I wasn’t that keen on watching as I thought that it wouldn’t be the same without any spectators, and, having not really taken much notice of it, I was under the impression that it was just Novak and the other Serbian boys.   How fantastic, then, to find out that some of the other big guns had travelled and, not only that, the Serbs (being Serbs!) had decided to completely ignore the fact that there had been ‘some health problem’ recently (!) and, apart from a couple of people in the crowd wearing masks, there was no other sign of it – a full stadium, no 2 metre distancing, ball boys handing towels and balls over as usual, etc.   I have mixed feelings about it all, since on one hand the atmosphere was just like the old days, which made for great viewing, but on the other, you have to wonder what will happen if a whole load of people end up with the virus in the next few days (although Serbia has had very little problem with it) and, of course, what sort of signal it gives for everyone to be carrying on as normal – are the big tournaments that are planned for later in the summer going to continue in the restricted manner that they have said (i.e. no spectators, no ballboys, etc) or are they going to look at this one and decide that they, too, can risk putting on a show, as usual.   It will be interesting to see.

Completely unexpectedly, therefore, the whole weekend has turned into a bit of a tennis fest (even though I, myself, cannot now play, and probably won’t until I get back to Prague), as having got completely into it yesterday, we had to watch again today, and are now preparing for the finals tonight – the first evening in nearly 100 days that we will have spent in front of the TV (other than for news watching!)!  In between times, of course, I have been monitoring what is going on in the UK on both the TV and Twitter (although Jan more or less banned me from looking today as I got so wound up about it all) and talking to various friends in both Prague and London, since it is only a matter of airportdays before we will be back there (in Prague) and, in Jan’s case, trying to get there (London).  For sure there will be more stories to tell as we get ready and set off later in the week!

For now, though, we have just seen that Spain will open its borders to all Schengen residents from 21st June – amazing to think, in view of how things were not so long ago – so if you have liked what you have seen about Spain in my blog, you might want to think about heading down here sometime soon! We, ourselves, wont be gone for long!

 

 

 

 

Still here – in Spain! Days 90 and 91!

beach on windy day

We have had another couple of fairly normal days (yesterday, Thursday, was actually a Bank Holiday here in Marbella (although we still haven’t worked out what it related to), and, consequently, it was fairly quiet).  I took a day off exercising as well (two days of tennis on hard clay courts didn’t have a good effect on my sore calf muscles – stupidly I tennis courtsdid go out on court again today, and then my leg kind of gave up altogether, so I am a bit hobbly now… ugggh.  It’s going to be back to the bike, 7 and dancing for the rest of our time here I guess, in readiness for our return to Prague!), so I was able to do a good catch up of all the news while Jan was out for his usual run.

One of the first things I saw was a clip of a journalist in the UK interviewing people coming out of one of the main train stations at commuter time and asking each of them what they thought about wearing a mask.  All said, without exception, that they thought that the Government should have made the wearing of masks obligatory in the UK and that they didn’t understand why they hadn’t  – and yet london metroonly one of them was actually wearing one!   How strange, I thought, that even though they seemed convinced that it made sense to wear a mask, they weren’t going to do it until it was made a rule… (and just now, I see that that is going to happen next week, but only on public transport…)

All of this made me ponder for some time the differences in people’s attitudes to mask-wearing; in the Czech Republic, the Prime Minister made it obligatory to wear a mask pretty much all the time right from day one, and he and his Ministers have ‘led by example’ by holding all press conferences and other televised events fully masked-up (which was sometimes a bit bizarre, but I understand why they decided to do it) – he andrej babisbelieves that the wearing of masks was the main reason that the numbers were so low (more so than the early lockdown), and even though the country is more or less back to normal, masks still have to be worn in shops and public transport.   From what I have heard, no-one has ever really had a problem with this rule, and some people have even continued to wear them for exercise, although that is no longer necessary.

In Spain, masks were only made obligatory when we got to, I think, Phase 0 (about six weeks’ ago) and then only on public transport.  Even now, they don’t have to be worn other than on public transport (although a few shops have made it obligatory – Iceland is one of those) unless one is in a situation where it isn’t possible to maintain the two metre social distancing rule, but on the whole, most people wear them for most of the time (or if not actually wearing them, have them slung around their neck so that they can push them up when necessary).  Even before Phase 0, that was more or less the case, but actually, right from day one, more importance has been put on both washing hands and wearing gloves – from the first day of lockdown, no-one could go into a supermarket without gloves, but without masks was OK.

In the UK, in the early days, the powers that be were continually quoting the WHO and its early pronouncements (which were changed pretty soon after) that there was no evidence of masks being protection against catching the virus (but they might help to stop someone spreading it – which, if you think about it, means that if everyone does wear one, everyone benefits….) – and since then, there has been a lot of discussion about the pros and cons (for example, whether wearing a mask makes people too ‘relaxed’ about other rules, etc – I actually think that it is the opposite; in my own case, putting on a mask reminds me that there is a problem, since it is very easy to forget, now, that all is not completely normal) – as with so many things that are happening in the UK, there seems to have been a reluctance to take advice from any other country as to what does and doesn’t work, so it is only now, very late in the day, that masks are going to start being worn, but, as I say, only on public transport – I wonder if people will continue to wear them anyway, as they do here – personally, I would say that if you are in the UK, put one on now and don’t take it off until you have the numbers around 0!

Having said all of this, I am not completely surprised that the UK Government doesn’t want to force the wearing of masks on anyone.  Years ago, when British people first arab womenstarted to go to work in the Middle East (or, in my case, live in Turkey for a while), we were all horrified that women were (as we perceived it) ‘forced’ to wear face (and body) covering, although in my case, once I had some Turkish girl friends I soon found out that they actually quite liked ‘covering up’ – it allowed them to move around incognito (something to be said for that on a ‘bad hair day’!) and, of course, it all came off once they got home.  Turkish women, too, were experts in making-up their eyes to look very striking, and I was reminded of that when shopping the other day and arab eyestalking to a very friendly sales assistant, who was very good at ‘smiling with her eyes’ – something that I also tried to do back.  Perhaps this will be another way that we will communicate differently in the future… and, incidentally, has anyone looked at the numbers for the Middle East/Africa, where masks are generally worn at all times – is it a coincidence that they are all so low (although, of course, they have all had very hard lockdowns as well)?.

In addition to the ongoing chaos with the British government, which is a fairly constant feature on Twitter (and this means regarding the UK, rather than, necessarily, Spain or the CR), the other big story that has been taking over both news and social media in the UK is the ‘black lives matter’ campaign.  As I have mentioned before, I think, I was brought up to treat everyone the same – black, white, Jewish, Arab, green, yellow whatever – it didn’t matter (possibly because, as also mentioned before, we are a family of Holocaust survivors, although that doesn’t necessarily follow in all cases!).   So I am not, in any way, against the campaign (in some ways.. not in all).  BUT I can’t help but feel that it is the wrong time to be diverting attention from the still very big issue of the virus, the economy, Brexit, and the general destruction of the UK as we know it by this government….. call me cynical, but I even wonder (naughty me) whether some of the demonstrations in the UK are somehow ‘organised’ precisely for that reason…. (so that should get a few comments going!).

It’s funny really; in the early days of our coming out of lockdown here, we were so happy to be able to go out to run and take a walk in the evening, that even though everything else remained so restricted, we kind of stopped being concerned about what was happening elsewhere in the world, watching the news addictively, and monitoring every little Tweet or post on Facebook (and, as far as the Spanish news and FB pages were concerned, they also quietened down and became a lot less hysterical (in the case of FB) or focused on the virus (the news)), and just enjoyed every day without thinking too far ahead.  But then, once things opened up even more, and especially when we were able to meet up with our friends, and go to restaurants and shops, we started to see what the ‘new normal’ was going to look like, and that took us straight back to the beginning again – not so much worrying about the numbers in each respective country and/or whether we would get back to Prague, but about different things.  Hence my starting, again, to watch the news intently and showing my face (a bit too much I feel) on social media!

Today, though, it hit us that we now only have one more week before we head off, so we are determined to try to enjoy it!  Dinner with friends tonight, taking a trip out of Marbella tomorrow, and, generally, preparing here for us to leave and Prague for us to arrive.  Can’t decide whether to be sad or happy!   More on that soon.

prague

 

 

 

 

Still here – in Spain! Days 88 and 89!

steps to the beach

The last two days have been the most ‘normal’ of any since we arrived here in Spain (91 days ago) – and apologies for gloating! (I have had a few messages recently saying how lucky we have been to have been here in Spain or similar, and I agree, up to a point… but those of you that have read this blog since day one will remember how tough it was for house viewthe first couple of months or so – even though we have more or less forgotten them now! So I kind of think that these last days here are ‘pay back’!).

As usual, both of the last two mornings were taking up with, first, news and social-media monitoring, but, really, there is nothing too new there, and then, of course, exercise – Jan out to run, and me off to play tennis with Juan. Now that we are well into June, the heat is rising, so even first thing in the morning it is pretty tough out on the clay, but great fun nevertheless, and now wearing masks everywhere outside of the court has become normal (although I still find it uncomfortable to put one straight on the minute we finish, with sweat and grime running down my face!). And then, since we are now in Phase 3, as mentioned, we spent the rest of both mornings down on the beach (which opened on Monday).

Coming back to what I have said before, again, I get it why the Government couldn’t really make different rules for every town or city in the country (although, in retrospect, I am sure everyone will agree that in Spain, for example, it would have made more sense to just close down Madrid as soon as the infection took hold (rather than the whole coutry, many areas of which had absolutely no infections throughout the whole period), and that might have allowed a lot of the rest of the country to operate as normal, but who would have known that then – let’s hope if there is a second wave, things will be different) but here in Marbella, where the beaches meander along for about 10 km without a break, there are areas which marbella beachcould easily have been opened much sooner, since there are very few people using them, even at the peak of the summer season. So both mornings, we have headed down to our nearest area of beach with no need to wonder how the set up might be in order to ensure the 2 metre distancing rules, since we have been the only people on it! Bloody marvellous!

The downside of having such a deserted beach area is that there are no ‘facilities’, so even though we have always taken drinks, towels etc with us, sooner or later the need for the loo and/or food/more drinks, always requires us to head home earlier than we usually want (plus, now, work is starting to require both of us a bit more than it was) but a couple of hours in the midday sun anyway is pretty much enough.  Yesterday afternoon, then, after doing some catching up on our computers and having lunch, I dropped Jan off for his final bout of dental treatment on this trip (he now has a new jan in mask‘bridge’ which he loves to show to anyone who is interested, plus a branded mask to promote the dentist, whom he mentions about every half an hour….. the miracles of dentistry when you have never really been to a good one before….!) , and then decided to venture out of the main town and check out the big shopping mall (La Canada) which has been closed from day 1, but which also opened on Monday.

First, I have to say that it is very impressive how well-behaved the Spanish are – it is still not obligatory to wear masks at all times (but it is if there is a chance that the 2 metre la canadasocial distancing rule cannot be maintained) so even though around the car park people generally had their masks slung around their necks (and, incidentally, how fantastic for us shoppers, although not the shops, to be able to just drive in and park – life before CV-19 we would only ever venture to this place first thing in the morning as after that the queues to park were impossible), but as soon as everyone got to the entrance, on went their masks as a matter of course. What IS obligatory, though, is to constantly clean your hands, so at the entrance to the mall itself was a big disinfectant stand with very strict minders, and then the same set-up in front of each shop (for someone like me, who is an obsessive hand-washer anyway, this is marvellous) but it does get a bit tedious to be asked to do it at every single shop… and some of the disinfectant is a bit smelly and sticky!

The shops themselves, though, were doing a pretty good trade – in addition to the ease of parking, another thing that was nice about the experience is that there were fewer people just milling about or sitting around the coffee/food areas for hours – it seemed to me that the majority of people were there to shop (especially me!), which is a good thing!   I veer shopping in la canadafrom thinking that the economy here is going to be ruined (when, for example, we visit Puerto Banus, which is still looking very run down and empty – we passed through there today and it looked as if pretty much every other shop has been closed down…) to feeling that actually, fingers crossed, it may yet bounce back… who knows with anywhere just now.

Otherwise, apart from our usual things (as expected, now that we have wheels we are no longer making the long walk to the supermarkets, but just whizzing in as and when we need to (still only one person allowed, so Jan usually does it while I sit in the van and ponder, or make calls), I still (Jan can no longer bear it) watch the various news channels to see what is going on elsewhere, and shout at the TV when it is the UK news, and whilst I am no longer practising Bollywood as much, that, the 7 app and the bike are still in use (and will continue to be once we get back to Prague (although I won’t, obviously, be bringing the bike with me!), the rest of both days have passed in a very normal fashion – down to our friends’ house for ‘tapas’ early evening yesterday before heading out for our walk (even though we don’t have to go at a regular time anymore, it is just so nice to walk late in the evening, when it is cooler) and today dinner at home after soaking ourselves in the jacuzzi for hours in order to cool down!

Finally, a video I found earlier today – no relevance at all (other than being ‘uplifting’), just a memory of how great a voice the late and wonderful George Michael had (and note David Bowie applauding in the background!).. in case anyone is interested…. and more from me on Friday!

 

 

 

 

 

Still here – in Spain! Days 86 and 87

steps to the beach

The last two days have felt very ‘normal’ (although it is still all relative, of course).   Yesterday, Sunday, we had a bit of a ‘v neděli se nedělá’ (on Sunday do nothing!) but obviously we did do a few things; both of us went running first thing (celebrating the last day of restrictive hours for exercise!) and we also had an hour’s walk in the afternoon jw and jg on the beach(we can now walk whenever we want) plus I did a lot of catching up on social media and so on and a bit of work, as did Jan.   And now, Monday, we can say ‘we are going back to Prague next week!’ and suddenly we are thinking about all the things that we planned to do while we were cooped up for weeks and didn’t… !

This morning on the news we learned that the UK has gone ahead, as rumoured over the last few weeks, with imposing quarantine on all travellers into the country – on the TV there was a story of people boarding a flight for London in Amsterdam airport and only BAthen finding out that when they land they will have to go into quarantine for fourteen days!   Can you imagine…?! Thinking you are popping over for a day or so, and then finding on landing that you are actually going to have to stay put for fourteen days – where and how, I wonder (unless you are visiting family or have somewhere to stay)… and could you just say ‘no, I am staying on the plane and going straight back’?  What a nightmare!   It seems that British Airways (and, presumably, some others), also as rumoured, are now going to court to try to get this overruled. Unbelievable.

Still on the airline front, I have an update on my situation with Iberia (since I am still trying to get a refund for my very expensive cancelled flights a couple of months ago).  Having tried everything – all phone lines, email addresses, website, Facebook, etc, and received no answer, I had a little rant on Twitter, and within seconds got a message from a company called Compensair, who, for the princely sum of Euro 10, will go after an airline on your behalf… .so that is now moving (and remember it if you ever need them – they have been very impressive so far!).

Last night on the phone to my friend Adam, he asked me if I really meant what I had said in a previous blog, i.e. that I don’t particularly want to go back to Prague, and I responded that we both change our minds pretty much on a daily basis.  One minute we are happy to be here (and now that we are in Phase 3 and things have opened up even more, it is not exactly a hardship) but then we look forward to getting back to our other ‘normality’ and sorting out a few things – for example:

  • Will my car still be in the short-term car-park, what shape will it be in, and will it even start?!   Plus, will the airport honour what they said a million years ago, which was that they would only charge me for the period that I had planned to be there (that was easy to say at that time.. I doubt that they (like me!) realised quite how long that would be!) and it could be that the final amount they charge is more than the car is now worth…. we shall see!
  •  Will our flat be over-run with magpies (God, imagine!), will the drains be smelly, how much dust will have gathered….?   Did we leave any food in the fridge/dustbin (bearing in mind that we thought we were leaving for just six days…!)
  • Will our friends even recognise us anymore – lean and mean, very tanned, and me with my new short hair (plus Jan will go to the same place on Monday – who knows how he will come out!)
  •  We have just two weeks to pack up our office, since our lease terminates on 30th June – anyone that would like some nice office furniture and stuff, just let me know – we have no time to try to sell anything and no longer need it (like most people we know, we are realising that we really can work from home and don’t need expensive offices anymore!)
  • And, most importantly – how will it actually be, going on a plane again?!   We will soon find out!

So today, Monday, we started to plan the various things that we should have done months ago (although, to be fair, some of them wouldn’t have been doable during lockdown) but before doing anything constructive, and since it was our day off exercising, we decided to lie by the pool for a while this morning, rather than actually getting on with doing, rather than thinking about, any of them!   This afternoon, then, after a couple of hours of worky things, we decided to walk into Marbella Old Town – this had been out of bounds for us before, since it is a bit too far to walk on our evening outings, and there are no supermarkets to act as an excuse for us being there.

We have a friend in Prague who has been documenting the empty streets and the closed shops in the city, and we found ourselves doing the same today (not for any particular beach walkreason, other than that we have never seen, and may never see, these places so empty before, and, whilst we have always appreciated how beautiful the old town is, it is not quite the same when it is full of tourists (as is the case in Prague)).   We started on the beach (and stopped for lunch in an empty beach ‘chiringuito’ – no rush!) and then headed up to the Old Town {Orange) Square and thechiringuito streets around it, before walking home along the beach again, where we took a couple of photos of ourselves and one, rather amusingly, of the lifeguard overseeing a whole stretch of sand where there was only one person lying.  It does seem, sadly, that the people of Marbella are still not very keen on getting out (and certainly not to the restaurants).

Finally we had a bit of supermarket shopping (Aldi AND Iceland – marvellous) and then back home for another evening of not very much… but we are so used to it that it is really quite OK!  Hopefully I can report on a few more and constructive things in the final days to come!

 

Still here – in Spain! Days 84 and 85

mountain view on way back

Well.  These have been an interesting couple of days.   I woke up early both yesterday and today and got into news and social media watch straightaway.   Jan is always telling me to steer clear of being too political and I have a had a few comments where it has been suggested that ‘I do like a good political rant’ (true!) but I also think that there is so much going on and that maybe our perspective is a bit different to some of our friends as we are not only watching what is happening here in Spain, but also the CR and the UK (and a few others occasionally!) and they often make for some interesting comparisons.   What they all do, mind you, is a lot of giving with one hand and taking with another, plus frequent changes of plan (not surprising, but sometimes difficult to keep up with!).   Here are some of my favourite from yesterday and today!

In the UK (which, of course, I could write about for ages, such is the confusion with what is coming out of there on a daily basis), they have finally decided to request that all people travelling in go into fourteen days of quarantine (from Monday I think).  Since, as I mentioned before, I don’t really see that anyone will want to travel there just now with the virus still pretty out of control, this seems a complete waste of time (and should have been done months ago, like everyone else) plus it seems to have been done without too much discussion with key players, since the management of the main airports as well as, of course, British Airways and Ryanair, have gone completely nuts – to the point that BA is threatening legal action – so it may yet change.   Meantime, BJ has said that he is going on a ‘charm offensive’ (that in itself is hilarious) and visiting all 27 EU countries to persuade them to send workers to the UK (this after spending the last few years telling most EU nationals in the UK that they are not welcome, and that Brexit will ‘take back the jobs for the Brits).  Then we have the scandal of the government promising over and over again that they won’t import low standard food from the US after Brexit (in particular chicken in chlorine – yuck), and now they will.   On Twitter this morning, a petition from the Farmers Union asking people to sign up to supporting the UK farmers (many of whom voted for Brexit) who will lose their businesses if such products are imported as they won’t be able to compete on price.   So all going well there then.

In the CR, everything seems to be going smoothly, but one little thing took me aback this morning – Czech Airlines (I have mentioned before, we used to love them when we had our gold and platinum cards, but then they stopped flying to the UK and despite our CSAlobbying them like mad, they refused to consider continuing as ‘there wasn’t the interest from passengers for the route (hmmm, that was a good one), plus they took all our accrued miles away so that we couldn’t use them anymore, so we all stopped flying with them) – are, from Monday, flying to London Heathrow.   Has no-one told them that people won’t be interested in flying to the UK (see the above comment re quarantine!), nor flying back from there (the UK being a red country) – or, dare I say it, have they thought that they could get on the international airlines’ scam (Iberia, we haven’t forgotten) of taking money for tickets and then telling people that have booked them what the real situation is – and offering vouchers for changing flights instead of cash back?    Surely not……

Here in Spain, we continue with getting back to normal – in fact, on Monday, we go into Phase 3, which pretty much means that everything (except our Pueblo pool of course) is open again.   So far as the pool is concerned, the few people that are still here are all in a rage about it, as it seems that pools all around us are open, but apparently the ‘administrator’ (every Pueblo or community has one – we have never actually met ours… and God help her when we do!!) – is allowed to make rules that even override those of the Government.  So whilst the Government said that we could use the pool from lst June, our administrator says no, only from lst July.      In our new-found ‘can’t be bothered to argue mode’ we have kind of given up on trying to get it open, but I am sure it will be discussed again at a later date.

For now, we think about the fact that in two weeks’ time we will be back in Prague (we know of one person that flew on the Malaga-Zurich-Prague route yesterday and it all worked well, so there is no reason to think that our same flight won’t go) and feel sad that we have to go so soon – I keep saying, we are contrary beings!    And that we have to make the most of our last two weeks!  (In the 18 years or so of having a house here, we have never actually stayed longer than 14 days – work always calling) – now we will have been here for 100 and it seems too short!!!!

Yesterday, then, was a day off exercise, and a pretty lazy one up until the evening, when we went to a ‘gallery opening”.   Now that might sound quite normal but (a) I have never been to a gallery opening in my life (the old me would have said it was not really my thing) and (b) an event?!   Only a few weeks ago we could barely go outside and now, here we were galivanting off to a social!   There were a few clues that things are still not quite normal – the fact that we had to wear masks (although most people took them off once they got inside), the invitations had to be limited to just fifteen people, and the way that we all hopped about when greeting each other – do we shake hands, kiss, knock elbows… it all gets a bit awkward but generally everyone kept their distance until we all left (after a few glasses of wine) and then, I am afraid, it was a bit of ‘caution to the wind’.

A couple of weird bits from last night – first, when we went in and looked at the pictures (blown up and spectacular photos) I said that I am sure that I had seen one or two of them before – I think the gallery owner thought (‘oh yer, sure’) and then we noticed that the photographer was from Zanzibar and, actually, some of the photos featured on the website that I wrote for my client, the Zuri Zanzibar Hotel which, unsurprisingly, is on the island of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean…. as usual, a small world, which got even smaller when the first person to arrive after us was a very beautiful, East European gallerywoman, who turned out to be Czech but living just a few minutes away from us (and is now a friend!) and she was followed by a famous English sports photographer who I spent the rest of the evening talking to as, once he showed me his portfolio, we realised we knew many of the same people (and we might now do a project together).   All too exciting for words.

Today, then, started in its normal way – Jan running (only two more days before we can exercise whenever we want – he is so relieved… no more getting up early!..) and me a bit of Bollywood, a 7 routine and 40 minutes on the bike (resting my legs a bit after all that haircuttennis) and then, wait for it, a trip to the hairdresser!   We were walking back from Marbella Old Town the other day and stopped to look in the window of a very swish looking hairdresser as it appeared to be open and we were trying to see the price list – and then one of the guys rushed out and greeted us (in English), persuading us to come in and have a look around (this sort of thing happens all the time in Turkey, but in Western Europe?) – so we did… and that resulted in my having one of the best-ever haircuts today (and Jan next week).   Marvellous.

Finally, a bit of a Greek story, following similar lines to earlier in the blog – having said recently that Greece welcomes tourists from all over Europe to visit, a couple of things I noted this morning: not ALL tourists are welcome – those from France, the UK and Sweden will need to take a test and then go into seven days’ quarantine in an airport hotel (where they can be observed) – if the test is negative, they can continue on their holiday after seven days (and another test) and if positive, they remain in that hotel for fourteen days (but the hotel will be paid for by the Greeks).   And those not coming from these three countries could be subject to random tests, with the same system applying.   Can’t help thinking that the original announcement was made before it was properly thought through and now they are running for cover… but this surely can’t work – anyone fancy being picked out at random and spending their holiday locked in a hotel for at least seven days?   No thanks.

What a pity, though – we love Greece – we went to Athens for Jan to run the anniversary marathon (2,500 years of marathon) from Marathon to Athens – a boiling hot day, where we all had to get up at 5.30 in the morning and gather on the hillside until the gun went off at 9.00 am (I was with the ‘VIPS’ as this was in my days of working for Prague Marathon), whilst Jan was looking sick at the start – incredible scenery, atmosphere, athensmusic (Zorba the Greek playing the whole time), and then the VIPs went back in a coach with no loo, to stand in the Olympic stadium VIP area, also with no loo, whilst the sun blazed down on us until the race ended – which in the case of the professionals, was within 2-3 hours, but in Jan and others’ more like 5-6 hours… during which time he nearly died from running and I nearly died from dehydration and not being able to go to the loo – but despite all that, we really do love it… but won’t, in view of the above, be going there any time soon!

So to finish for now, and in case you don’t remember Zorba the Greek – here is a fantastic reminder that I found on my hunting this morning!