Lying low in Prague

I have been trying to put together a blog for the last week or so; maybe it has been ‘bloggers’ cramp’ or maybe it’s because of the ongoing sameness of our days, but for some reason I have been finding it difficult to get it all down on paper. Today, though, I seem to have a bit more ooof, so here goes.

After all of my complaining during lockdown of having no sport (or anything else for that matter) to watch on TV, I am now getting almost bored of watching tennis (I know, contrary as usual). Our last week in Spain (we returned to Prague over a week ago) included an awful lot of it during what was, really, a ‘Ground Hog’ day pattern – up early each day to do a social and regular media watch, check on emails, and then Jan to run, me to sit on the old bike. Then we had a couple of hours on a fairly deserted beach, before spending the rest of the day working and/or watching tennis/the Tour on the TV followed by whatever wild excitement the evening held (which usually meant watching endless episodes of ‘A Place in the Sun’, which we are now addicted to (and which is made more interesting by proving to us, most days, how much nicer Marbella is than most other places), although we did have a couple of dinners out, and then repeat the next day. Actually our life in Spain (especially when compared to our 100 days in lockdown) has gone back to more or less normal – if it wasn’t for everyone wearing masks and keeping a big distance between each other, and the quietness everywhere, you wouldn’t know any different.

Now we are back in Prague again, having flown in on a very uneventful Ryanair flight as usual, had our regular test (not that there was anyone around to tell us to (and bless all the young Spaniards who flew in with us for being so law-abiding) and then home in time to go out and get some paella for lunch at our local (as a way of pretending that we are still in Spain!… we are weird). And then over the last few days… well more or less the same as Spain! Up early for media and TV watch, on the bike, etc, then instead of the beach a bit more work (or occasional venturing out) and then, guess what, watching tennis again, but this time Paris instead of Rome. Exciting huh? The only difference (apart from the beach, sadly, and, now, the weather!!) is that Jan has spent a few days in court (working!), and having to wear a mask the whole time (so his mood is not at its best), whilst I have been having the occasional meeting and then trying to get my knee sorted out.

When we were kids, I think we believed that (a) doctors go into medicine as it is a ‘vocation’, not for the money (certainly in my family, which had its fair share of them) and (b) that if you went to a doctor and said ‘I have x, y and z wrong with me’, they would say ‘OK, do this and take that’ and it would all be OK. Not so nowadays, it seems. I did some work a while back for a doctor in Spain, who told me that he wanted all of his marketing strategy to focus on patients that wanted surgery as ‘that was where the money was’…hmmm… – and now I am seeing some of this myself. So far, four different orthopaedic surgeons, two (private) telling me I need an operation and the other two, surprise, saying I don’t (but all four saying something slightly different as far as the ongoing management of my knee is concerned!). So, no operation for me for now, at least, and instead I am in and out of physio, doing lots of special exercises at home, and trying to do quite a lot of walking (outside) and biking (inside). Hopefully, who knows, I will be back on court soon… maybe in a bit of a reduced way, but at least hitting a ball (my coach, Vitek, said yesterday that I could even come over and sit on a chair on the court, and then hit some balls from there… !!).

So continuing with tennis: having watched Novak preparing to leave for Italy the other day, I wondered about supporting him from now on, but I just can’t (much to Jan’s annoyance) – it would seem wrong. We are almost (but only ‘almost’) getting used to watching tennis without the crowds, but it is just not the same without Roger or a few of the others (especially Del Potro in my case), although it was good to see Rafa again in Rome (and coming back to the conversation I had with Adam about Novak, and guys over a certain age (I think it was 18) not being seen in such skimpy running/swimming shorts… I couldn’t help thinking whilst watching him that Rafa could get away with it, and whilst it is admirable that Novak is able to go out for a run in such an outfit without any sort of security or fuss, I am not sure that Rafa could… !).

Anyway, now that the whole tennis circus has moved onto Paris, where it is freezing cold and raining (a bit like here!) it is hard to imagine anyone running about in anything near naked – in fact, Azarenka (for those that don’t know, a Belarussian), refused to play yesterday when she first got on court as it was ‘just too cold’… a bit rich, I thought (although she does now live in Florida)! I think I will use the same reason for not trying the sitting on a chair and hitting a ball method any time soon – with my balance, I can only see that ending up in one way.. the chair broken on the floor, me with it, possibly with other broken bones, and no balls in sight, so to speak.

So, onto the Covid situation – sorry. I just can’t help myself, since that is, really, what has been pre-occupying me and most people I know for God knows how long (actually Jan says that this is ALL I talk about at the moment and he maybe right.. some days I bore myself…) But, anyway, Spain – I have to say, it really does get my goat a bit (sorry, not literally) that we have to quarantine or take a test coming back from Malaga (where there are relatively few cases) and into Prague, where the virus seems to be spreading like a rash at the moment. What annoys me even more, though, is when I tell people (which happened a lot this last week) that I have just got back from Spain, and they kind of reel back in horror, since, as yet, I have yet to meet anyone in Spain that has had, or knows someone that has or had it, but since I got back to Prague I seem to hear about people I know pretty much every day.

In Spain, at least where we are, life, as I say, has gone more or less back to normal, everyone knows what the rules are, and nothing much changes. In Prague, let’s face it, the numbers are still relatively low, but there is a feeling that they are getting a bit too high for comfort, with the result that the rules are changing pretty much all the time. However, not everyone thinks that Prague (nor anywhere else) is such a disaster though, and I was interested to see a video from my old friend Dr Martin Stransky, who paints a pretty (to me) clear picture of it all – see the link here in case it is of interest:

The CoV crisis: Imagination vs. facts / MUDr. Martin Jan Stránský

And then there is the UK – well, there is no real point in talking about what the rules are or are not as they vary and change all the time, nor what the numbers look like since the mechanisms for tracking them cannot be trusted. So I am going to gloss over it for now and hope that next time I mention the UK in this blog, it is to say that BJ and his merry men have been ousted… But I doubt it…

So what else is new; not a lot really.. we have been lying low since arriving back in Prague (the weather, the tennis, not keen on being in close contact with too many people, and my having a slight cold (COLD, not covid)), but I have been spending quite a lot of time going over my first 100 blogs as a few people suggested to me that I try to get them published as a ‘book’…. so, quite honestly, with not a lot of other challenges on my hands just now, I thought why not! Watch this space!

PS: you may have noticed that the photos are out of sync here. That is because of the new and ‘improved’ WordPress layout which, right now, is driving me to want to smash my computer and everything installed on it. Which might, therefore, put an end to any book ideas or any other blogs for that matter… better get back to the tennis.

Costa del Crisis!

Strangely, despite Marbella being so quiet, crime seems to be on the up (although bearing in mind that this used to be called the ‘Costa del Crime’, it is nowhere near what it used to be!) – in the last couple of weeks, a hotel and a luxury shopping centre have both been burned down (as yet, the cause is not completely clear, but of course people are speculating…..), there was a shooting outside our lawyer’s offices (two guys on a motorbike, whizzing past and bang, dead on the spot (thankfully it wasn’t actually our lawyer, although sometimes I think it is only a matter of time…!)) and a few other ‘standard bits and pieces’.

Sneaky photo of police, disguised as a selfie!

Last night, too, we went for a quick dinner with our friends (of the paella fame) to our regular Spanish hangout, which is also popular with both the local and national police, and in the middle of our dinner a group of rather glamorous officers from the table next to ours suddenly jumped up, grabbed their stuff and started running for the door with radios cackling (not, though, before one of them stopped to collect the food that was left, boxed it all up and took it with him!) – that turned out to be a call to a road traffic accident where a car had smashed through a window of a jewellers and another car had made off with all the gear. I tell you, it felt like we were living through an episode of Miami Vice!

Miami Vice

All of this is hardly surprising really, since people here are really starting to feel the pain. We have several friends that have lost their jobs and are already struggling, and we hear that the pawnbroker in Marbella is doing a roaring trade (literally.. .my tennis partner (former.. pre my knee!) told me that one of her friends had had to take her car in to pawn…!). It is all very sad, and we can’t help thinking that this will soon be Costa del Crisis, if the tourists don’t start coming again soon.

So today we sat on our beach, socially distancing by about 100 metres since there were only a handful of sunbathers there despite it being a lovely morning, and feeling as if we are in the safest place in the world. I pondered how tough it must be for all the less obvious tourist businesses around us – the guy selling the beds and parasols, who every so often got up to disinfect some of them (presumably as something to do, as there was no sign of any customers), the Africans who were trying to sell their fake designer bags

and scarves with absolutely no chance of a sale, the beach bar with no customers, and even the guy who has been manning the ice-cream kiosk for as long as we have been coming here (and who told us on the first night that we were allowed out after lockdown that he was so happy to be free of his wife, he would be happy to now sit in the kiosk all day and night if he had to, even if there were no sales!!!)… I wonder if he still feels like that! It just seems all wrong, in a town with hardly any infections…

Boys selling bags on the beach

I feel a bit guilty, therefore, to mention one of the other things that I have been thinking about recently, and that is the possibility of buying a Swarovski mask (bearing in mind that last time I mentioned a ‘Covid’ idea for a new business in my blog someone else nicked it) and sure enough, wandering through the posh department store in Puerto Banus, I spotted all sorts of Swarovski crystal variations for sale. Since they cost Euro 30 each and Jan nearly fainted at the idea of my buying one, I didn’t, partly as I have also now heard about a Chanel version that has just come on the market. I had thought to investigate that until I read this morning about a full-on Louis Vuitton face-shield (being advertised on Twitter… seems a bit of a strange place…) on sale for the princely sum of Euro 1,000. Now that, I am afraid, seems a bit off, and in the present circumstances I think it would be very wrong to wear such a thing (if one could even afford it). So I am sticking to my usual for now.

LV face shield

Still on the subject of shopping, I actually got a bit depressed about it all when I was doing a quick reconnaisance with Jan the other day. The thing is that I do find a bit of pleasure in buying clothes, handbags, shoes and so on (yes, I am a woman, we all feel like that), but really, with so little work to do (and what I have being done from home), and so few events or similar taking place (if I could even be bothered to go), what is the point of buying something to ‘dress up in’? It’s difficult to make a case to be honest. So.. on reflection, it may yet have to be a branded mask since that is about the only thing that is going to get any real wear just now!

My wardrobe. Unused!

So what else – I could go on (and on, and on) about the UK but I won’t. I am sad for our lovely Spain. And I feel a bit aggrieved about the CR and the way the media is whipping it all up (Ok, the numbers are going up…. but they are still very low, relatively speaking), with the result that the Czechs (here I go again… apologies if I offend anyone) who do, sometimes, err on the side of hypochondria, are going a bit crazy about testing (it’s funny … most people I know down here are scared of doing the test (not because of the result, but because of the nasty test itself!), whilst the Czechs can’t seem to get enough. We heard today from one of Jan’s colleagues about a mutual friend going to the airport at 4.00 am to try to get a test (as other testing places are so busy) only to find thousands of others had had the same idea. What is that all about?

So we will be heading back shortly, hoping to get a test if there isn’t a queue a mile long of all those that haven’t had one for a week or so, and then we will see what happens. It’s going to be a funny few months I expect….

Flying here, flying there….!

I know it might sound a bit mad, but we are now back in Marbella, having made a last-minute decision to fly here last Tuesday (as I have said before, we are, singlehandedly, trying to keep Ryanair afloat (or ‘in the sky’ if you don’t know what I mean by ‘afloat’ in this case (English being a funny old language). The main reason, really, is that with everything that is going on we cannot really be sure when we will get here again, so rather than planning anything too far ahead, we are just taking our chances when we can (and don’t worry, if there is any sign of us not being able to leave again we will get on the first flight out!).

Talking about flying, I get it why no-one wants to fly from the CR or Spain into the UK at the moment, since every arrival has to go straight into fourteen days’ quarantine, no test (and, frankly, just now, I doubt that anyone really wants to go there anyway…… although…. I can’t help but wonder just how many people actually do go into quarantine, since there seems very little chance that anyone is going to be checked up on)… but that’s the UK.

What I don’t really get is why no-one wants to travel to those countries that require a test (or quarantine) on arrival or return, since the tests are now available in most European airports – that seems to me to be the way forward (i.e. living with the virus) – we, ourselves, are even thinking about getting a season ticket for tests at Prague Airport (OK, joking… but all the while we can fly to and from Spain by taking a test each time we return to Prague, we will continue to go). I know, too, that we are not alone, since just now we have friends in Greece, Italy, Romania and Germany, some of whom will do the same. But for the poor old airlines to even survive, more people have to start realising that flying is pretty safe – an awful lot safer than going to a pub, party or similar… I know that some of you will be thinking ‘oh she would say that’, but in our own experience, the airports are so quiet that keeping a safe distance is easy, everyone wears masks, everywhere is super-clean, and the same, really, applies for the planes. I’m not sure that I would say the same about any other public transport I have been on, nor pubs/restaurants/etc in various jurisdictions. By the way, and still on airlines, I don’t love them all …. I’m still waiting for EUR 385 back from Iberia (ha ha) for my cancelled flight in March. No chance of that, judging by the ‘complaints against Iberia’ FB page that I am on….and they have the cheek to be doing a full-on advertising campaign at the moment!….).

Marbella Old Town

So, anyway, here we are in Marbella again, back into various routines, although not, as usual, without a few dramas (well it wouldn’t be the same without!). The first was a flat tyre on the way from the airport into Marbella (although that is not as dramatic as it sounds – being of a certain age, I used to be able to put my car up on a jack and change its tyre, but that is a skill long-since forgotten as now, of course, there is no need) – so that was something new for us to learn – i.e. how to find a place that can fix a tyre and manage to negotiate it all in Spanish), then when we got to our house we found a flood that ran from our downstairs cloakroom, through our ‘officina’ and into the living room – this required a lot of mopping up (me) and a great deal of swearing (Jan) before we could even unpack, and then making the cloakroom out-of-bounds until we could get the pipe from the loo fixed (no idea how that could actually break while we were gone – unless an extra big cockroach had stood on it (which I don’t even want to think about) or someone had sneaked in and sabotaged us (ditto)).

Marbella Old Town

Then a couple of days ago I managed to trip whilst getting changed out of my swimming gear and into shorts (I seem to do this a lot, but this time was a bad one) and since I wanted to avoid landing on my poor knee, I kind of twisted whilst falling and ended up on my bum instead, which is now even more painful than my knee…. uggggh.

What is very sad is that since we were last here (in August) pretty much everyone has left, and we are now walking around a ghost town – the beaches are completely empty (which is great on one hand, but…) the main town, restaurants and bars are deserted, and depression hangs in the air like a cloud. It is so frustrating, bearing in mind that Marbella and its surroundings have so few infections, and that everyone that is here is so well behaved (masks, social distancing, etc). We really do wonder, now, how some areas are going to survive, and it is no surprise that there are demonstrations in Madrid, more or less as I speak.

Deserted beach (that’s not me though)

Why there aren’t more of those in the UK is beyond me – I can’t help but think that the new rule of only six people being allowed to be together at any one time (although lots of groups of six in restaurants, bars, etc are fine…!) has been brought in in order to make sure that no-one takes to the streets to try and get rid of BJ and his merry men… surely it can only be a matter of time.

Lastly, and on a much more cheerful note. Regular readers of my ramblings will remember that we are constantly on the lookout for Novak Djokovic whilst we are in Marbella (since, ‘they say’ he now lives here) and we even saw him on the beach one day in the summer. So, just a couple of days after watching him being evicted from the US Open (and that was all a bit disappointing and controversial – even I felt sorry for him and I am really not a fan), we were coming from the beach to our car, which we had parked outside the tennis club, and we heard a ball being thwacked and some familiar grunting…. and sure enough, there was Nole, his brother, and training partner, practising away on the main court in readiness for Rome. We watched him for about half an hour (within feet, and all on our own!) and then left, cursing that we didn’t have a camera. Jan, his biggest fan, may never recover!

Novak on the Marbella running track..

Only in the Czech Republic!

Yesterday morning had a proper autumn feel to it which was lovely for my walk on the one hand, but on the other was a bit depressing since we are still only in early September.  Another sign that winter is on its way was that as I set off towards my usual park, I passed a row of cars outside one of the cafes that belonged to some of the country’s top cross country skiers (I worked this out as their names were on each car, not because I know the skiers so well that I recognise them…!) and since I assumed that they must be attending some sort of press conference or something, I felt very katka-1 nostalgic, as it is not so long ago that I worked for two of the top ones and was heavily involved in SkiPark Chuchle – another story for another day.  

The nostalgia soon wore off, though, as I was also reminded of a friend’s birthday party a few years ago that took place in the old Aromi (for those who don’t know, this was one of the best restaurants in Prague, tucked away opposite the park that I often refer to).  Lots of nice people, incredible food, and way too much booze, but one of the real ‘highlights’ was the entertainment – halfway through dinner we were told to put our coats on and make our way out to said park, where we would find a row of chairs set up in the middle of the grass.  Despite a lot of muttering and complaining we did as we were told, and found our way to the chairs where we all sat down – note that this was the middle of winter, freezing cold and very dark, with thick snow on the ground – the only lights being from the street lamps and the stars.   Also note that this wasn’t just any old party, since amongst us were quite a few politicians, the heads of various big companies and a few well-known sports people, so it would have made for a great picture for the tabloids…. particularly when, once all of us had sat down, a spotlight came on and from the gloom arrived about 8 middle-aged men on skies, all naked, who then proceeded to do a ‘dance on skis’ but without music, and then skied back off into the darkness.   Difficult to describe (and sadly I don’t have any photos!) and completely hilarious – particularly the faces of most of us when they first turned up….. one of those (there have been many!) situations where Jan would say (and he can as he is Czech) ‘only in the Czech Republic’…..But, anyway, it made me giggle today!

Walking on, I was reminded of the real estate seminar that I was involved in the other day (passing one of the cute (but closed) little hotels around here, which triggered me off), when a few different people that I hadn’t seen for ages came up to ask me how I was feeling back in Prague and how my leg was.   All very nice, although my initial reaction (on both counts) was ‘how did they know?’….and then it transpired that they had been reading this blog… so a note to myself – be very careful what I say in future!    What we all discussed, of course, (this being the first ‘proper event’ that any of us had been to for months) was how our businesses were faring – the residential real estate boys seemed full of optimism (I wish I could share it….) whilst, needless to say, the hotel/hospitality people were full of doom and gloom.  I am afraid that most of my friends are in the ‘gloom and doom’ camp, although there are some businesses that are doing OK – Jan is busy (lawyers eh?!) with a few matrimonial cases and no doubt some murders soon (I am half joking), Adam (the IT king) says that his company is doing OK, but then most of my sports and restaurant friends are in despair, and us marketing and PR lovies have virtually given up on ever working again… .and that is just in the CR – Spain is a lot worse, and the UK… well don’t even start me.

I did, though, bump into an old friend the other day who owns a lovely boutique hotel, and when I said how concerned I had been for him as presumably he had been closed all summer, he responded ‘oh no, it has been great – I have been selling rooms to friends that want somewhere to go to meet their mistresses’… OK, not everyone will approve of that, but hats off to him for being creative!  (That now reminds me of hats offanother friend, English, who remarked on how many of these sayings I use in my normal speak, and asked whether non-English natives understood them – I argued at the time, but now I realise that he’s right… sorry about that!).

And coming back to sport for a moment – I saw an interview with the manager of Liverpool football club the other day, where the journalist was asking why they were not interested in buying Lionel Messi (I suppose I don’t have to explain who he is…) and he said that they couldn’t afford him.   And then a bit on the news this morning (it is now messiSaturday) that said that he has now decided to ‘put aside his differences and stay at Barcelona’ – from which I suppose one could surmise that Barca had asked him to take a pay cut, he refused and said he was off, and now he has come back with his ‘tail between his legs’ (sorry, there I go again!).  The moral of the story being, of course, that even top footballers are having to take pay cuts at the moment, and even fight to keep their jobs.  Poor petals.  How tough for them.

So finally – yes, it’s now Saturday, and I am finishing this off having just come back from my walk in the park again – a lovely sunny day – before we head out to lunch (and since I didn’t post it before that, I now have a LOT more to add, but that has to wait for next best view from Rigravtime!).   For now, and in view of a couple of comments that I had on my last blog, here I am again with (a) another photo of the view from the park (someone commented that my last photo wasn’t very good and I agreed, since it was pretty cloudy that day), and (b) a photo of a different view, same park, a lot cloudier by the time I took it, where you can maybe just make out two more-or-less nude sunbathers (another comment on my last blog was that surely I was exaggerating by saying that there were ladies sunbathing topless – but honestly I wasn’t! (Only in the Czech Republic again??!).  The difference today, though, was that they were lying nude sunbathingon their fronts, so it would be more correct to say ‘bottomless’ sunbathers (which reminds me of the days before the ‘clothes feds’ started patrolling in Puerto Banus and we would see endless groups of ghastly English girls ambling about dressed only in bikini tops and thongs – and I will say here, as I said then, that I do think if you are going to wear a thong, you need to have spent hours on an exercise bike and have a rock-hard bum to get away with it).   Jan was furious to have missed it all when I got home, but it served him right, since I had suggested that we walk together and he, being a ‘Gold PIM King’ declined.

Actually he is in a bit of a bad mood today as he found out this morning that he has been banned from the ‘Alicante Ladies’ Facebook’ page, where he had made a very rude comment against a very stressed post from someone that had ‘been in the hairdressers watching hairdressersanother customer who was without a mask and was spreading germs all over the sinks, floors and mirrors’ (I, myself, had a good giggle at that as it conjured up all sorts of funny pictures in my head), but, really, some supposedly intelligent people are still so silly about this bloody virus and Jan, being a lawyer, can’t help but point that out!!   Frankly I am surprised that it has taken them so long to ban him.

So that’s it for now.  More from me soon!

 

Back in Prague and it’s pretty ‘cool’

lovely prague


When I started writing this ‘Covid’ blog, right at the start of the lockdown in Spain (sorry to be repeating myself), I did it partly to cheer myself up and to have something to do, partly to keep our friends and family up-to-date with what we were up to (everyone being worried that we were in Spain, the ‘hotbed’ of the virus) and partly as I thought that it would be nice to have a record of living through a ‘one-off’ experience that we might never go through again.   At the end of that 100 day lockdown, when we first headed back to Prague, therefore, I expected that it would fizzle out (the blog, I mean, not the virus, although I hoped that too!).   Sadly, from the way things are going now, it looks as if I will soon be getting started with ‘Covid-second wave – Part 11’, so here I am with a quick update, before things really get going (well.. I hope they won’t, but I suspect they will).

We’ve been back in Prague (since our last trip to Spain) for just over a week now, and after the 40 degree heat of Marbella, I have to say that it was nice to be able to cool down prague towers 2a bit.  It feels, too, as if we have been quite busy; I’ve been continuing my new trend of taking a walk every morning in lieu of any ‘proper’ exercise, and then, of course, visiting various doctors with my leg (which is an ongoing and very boring story) as well as catching up with friends/clients and doing a bit of work, whilst Jan has been continuing much as usual – running every morning, working, and meeting up with his Czech cronies; all in all, the days just seem to whiz past and everything has seemed to be very ‘normal’…..

‘Normal’, that is, until I headed into the centre last week, really for the first time since the whole thing started, and saw just how many shops have been closed down, the sad state of some of the big hotels (many of which I did some work for at some point… that isn’t empty praguegoing to be happening again any time soon), and the lack of tourists, generally – in Marbella and its surroundings during our last two trips, we were amazed at just how many people there were on the beaches, as well as in the shops and restaurants, but that is definitely not the case in Prague – I suppose that those Europeans that can/are still prepared to travel have preferred to head for the beaches rather than the cities, so despite the CR being one of the least affected by the virus, I can’t help but think that from an economic, long-term point of view, it may yet suffer one of the most (tourism being, at least for Prague, a huge contributor to the country’s GDP).   Clearly the end of the year is going to be key, since the Christmas markets and the fairy-tale city of Prague generally christmas marketsare usually huge tourist magnets… we shall see.

What has surprised us though (me not so happily, Jan delightedly) is just how relaxed everyone in Prague is about the virus at the moment – in Spain, as I have tried to describe on numerous occasions, we would walk along, automatically giving each other a lot of distance, wearing masks most of the time, and even with our friends we would stand a good distance apart (and God forbid anyone going in for a quick peck on the cheek or a hug), plus the shops and supermarkets have hand-wash on all entrances, and, of course, we social distancing on the beachhad our ‘mask feds’ who keep an eye on everything on the beach, including the social distancing that is laid out specially.  Here in Prague, though, it has seemed to be pretty much back to normal – no social distancing to speak of, no masks, no handwashing…. and plenty of kissing and hugging, which is great in a way (especially for Jan, who does love to hug everyone!), but, as we are seeing today with the masks arriving back on public transport, we suspect it is all about to change.

Anyway, moving on for now as I am sure that I will bang on about the Covid situation a lot in the coming weeks: despite my leg (I have now seen four different surgeons and had four different opinions.. but two are similar, so I am going with them (particularly as they err towards the ‘no operation route!’) I am enjoying my morning walks around Prague and seeing so many things that I haven’t noticed before, due, of course, to being either running or driving – actually I am shocked by how blinkered I am usually.  Despite the fact that just about every road around us is being dug up, closed, diverted or whatever (and I can’t decide if that is a good or bad thing… I think I just about veer towards good, since it must make sense to get all of this work done when there are so few people about…) I have managed to do a different route every morning so far, and amused myself quite a lot along the way.

I noticed the sign above this door the other morning, which made me giggle (and I have passed it millions of times without noticing), then one morning (actually the only Hooker roommorning) when it was really hot I walked through one of the nearby parks and saw quite a few young ladies sunbathing topless (I still find that pretty bizarre, since I just feel that these small town parks are a bit too public.  It seems to me a bit like walking topless down the road, which I doubt they would do (although you never know…) – and no, I don’t have any photos for this bit…).   Also in the same park I stopped to take a photo of the amazing view (which I had view from rigerovnoticed before when running, but then I never had my phone with me – and, again, you need to enlarge it), and another in the park near our apartment, where I spotted a statue that has been there for hundreds of years, and which I have run past for a similar amount of time but never seen… and so it goes on! statue

Then, in addition to my walks, I have started a lot of physio and weight training which, after all this time, is ensuring that I am in even more pain than usual each morning, but at least my leg is improving!   I will see how it all goes, but all in all I am feeling a lot better (I say this as a few people have said to me that, reading between the lines of my last blog, they felt that I was not quite myself – which was probably true, and thank you for the nice words – but now I am MUCH BETTER!).   Well enough, in fact, to attend a seminar this morning (a public event with real people… haven”t done one of those for a long time!) and, as you can see, to get writing again!

The seminar and the blog took up most of the day, but I still managed to fit in a couple of hours of watching the Tour de France, before settling down for an evening of US Open tennis…and, really, I can’t even begin to say how fantastic it is to have some sport to watch on the TV again – the cycling is losing nothing from having a reduced number of spectators (at least for the TV watchers, although I understand it is a bit problematic for the teams (plus a couple of riders have already fallen by the wayside, so to speak, with the virus)).  The tennis….well… I don’t know… without spectators, and without Roger or Nadal, it is not quite the same for me, but I will try to get into it (although Jan is loving being able to see his ‘friend’ Nole in action again!)…

Just on Roger, though… those of you that have read my blog for a while now will remember me showing a video of two girls playing tennis on their Italian rooftops, right in the middle of the very worst time of lockdown.   Well… here is a very cheering update (worth a watch, even if you don’t like tennis or Roger – make sure to click on the video called ‘the rooftop match’)!

http://baseline.tennis.com/article/89832/watch-federer-surprises-girls-rooftop-tennis-video

More from me again soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under the [very hot] weather in Marbella!

steps to the beach

I started writing this yesterday morning when I woke up very early and thought that it was about time that I got on with another blog.   The reason for being so quiet has been, unfortunately, that I have been ‘under the weather’ (as us Brits would say) – i.e not feeling that well.   It all started with the pills that I was given to reduce the liquid around my bad knee, as they seem (if my prognosis is correct) to have upset my stomach quite a bit, to the point that I have barely been able to eat or drink anything for about a week (looking on the bright side, though, this could also have been another ‘hand of God’ as I had been so worried about putting on a stack of weight through my lack of exercise, and now there’s no need!).   Added to that, even though we have only really been out in the sun sporadically (I have been doing a ‘walk’ (or should I say a ‘waddle’ as that is more descriptive) every morning while Jan runs, and then we have had a couple of hours on the beach and that has been about it) I also managed to get a bit of sun-stroke.   So all in all, it has been a bit of a weird few days.

I also got the results of my MRI at the beginning of the week, which showed that I have a ruptured meniscus ligament and need to have an operation to fix it.  So that’s something to look forward to once we get back to Prague (where we are actually now heading, since  from the 24th onwards the CR will require everyone coming in from Spain to go into quarantine for fourteen days, or take a test – we wouldn’t particularly mind taking a test, but presumably Ryanair will give up on their four flights a week between Malaga and Prague with this news so who knows how easy it will be to go to and fro after Monday.).  So that means that the operation will have to be in Prague – and that has also been a bit stressful as, having sent off emails to various doctors that I knew or was recommended to over the last couple of weeks as everyone seemed to be on holiday, they all returned at once, and now I have a million appointments scheduled for next week – after which I will obviously have to tell all but one of them that I have wasted their time (hopefully none of them are reading this!!!).

Another thing that added to my ‘gloom and doom’ was/is my hair.  As mentioned before, we found a lovely hairdresser, Juan, in Marbella just after the lockdown (when I had hacked off most of my hair and various patches of Jan’s).  So to cheer myself up I booked an appointment with him a couple of days ago to ‘do my roots’.   My Spanish, though, is clearly not as good as I thought as having explained that I wanted my roots blonder and then some darker bits on the ends where the sun has bleached my hair almost white, he misunderstood me and did all the roots very dark and most of the ends too…. so I now have a kind of ‘Zebra’ look.   I tell you, it is not easy being a woman sometimes!

Now we are on the plane heading back to Prague and I’ve been reflecting on the last couple of weeks to take my mind off the journey (stomach still not that good….!).   I was already a bit stressed when we set off as I had debated wearing one of those dashing sombreros to cover my hair, but with a mask as well that would have been way too hot, so in the end, I just thought stuff it – after not much sleep last night (too much heat and too many trips to the loo (and too much information I know), combined with hobbling along on one and a half legs, I figured I had enough to worry about!   But the first thing I will do (in between doctors, obviously) is to get back to my Prague hairdresser for a sort out, and then work my way down, so to speak.

What took up quite a lot of time on this trip (apart from flopping about in the extreme heat and watching endless football (Jan has been in some sort of football Heaven, with big matches every evening all of this last week, and forever into the foreseeable future)) has been sorting out guff for our Spanish house, as who knows what the winter is going to bring and where we will end up…. right now it looks as if it will be Prague for the foreseeable future, but that might change and if it is Spain, then this time we want to be better prepared.   What strange times we live in.

Something else that I have been doing – on my own – and enjoying a lot is walking.  Even though it is not that easy at the moment and I don’t do any of this ‘speed-walking’ malarky, the hills around our house ensured that I had quite a good work out each day, and I have seen so many things that I wouldn’t normally notice when driving or running.  Yesterday I explored around the back of the ‘King’s Palace’ – a huge monstrosity of an estate that sleeps about a 1,000 (although, from the stories we hear, not a lot of el riyadh estatesleeping went on there, if you know what I mean)…. nowadays it is barely used (although I think it is still owned by the Saudi royal family), but the grounds, if not the house itself, are looked after (and still guarded – I was caught peering through the hedge by one of the security guards yesterday, but he was nice enough (could have been the hair, could have been the leg)) and some of the ‘smaller’ houses around the back of the palace are beautiful (I believe they were used to house the various wives pasodobleand entourages), and, in some cases, named after whoever lived in them.   I particularly liked ‘El Pasodoble’, and also Casa Esther and Casa Yasmin, (that one made me feel rather nostalgic – when I was in Turkey with my Turkish boyfriend (hundreds of years ago), there was talk (by him!) that if I was to stay, I would need to change my name to an Arabic version, and I was even given a gold bracelet with the name Yasmin etched on it (as a hint) – actually that was the only thing that I kept when I made my escape… just think, though, I, too, could have had my own Casa Yasmin at some point – well, I our house signsuppose I do really, although Casa Jan and Jo doesn’t sound quite the same.    Actually, our house (unusually for me) doesn’t have a name, but we do have a sign outside:)

Something else I saw on my walk was a massive lorry turning up outside one of the houses to deliver some huge great palm trees – they seemed to be doing some landscaping and the trees were being moved by crane – who would have thought??!   I picture in a few years’ time, people looking at them and wondering how many hundreds of years they have been there… haha!:

So that’s it for now; I won’t get into politics today – too depressing – or even mention Covid (one of my ‘girlfriends’ asked me to stop going on about it as I depressed her even more than I did myself) or, God forbid, masks… no doubt I will feel the need soon, though, especially when things start hotting up as we go into the winter (if you see what I mean).

For now, here is a video I found this morning that shows that it doesn’t matter how old you are or how many working legs… you can still get up and dance… :

Hopping about in Spain again!

view from window

So right now, we are back in Marbella.  There are various reasons for this; first, our aim to single-handedly keep Ryanair financially afloat during these difficult times – honestly, I have said before that no-one would want to be a politician at the moment, but imagine running an airline…that must be about the most difficult job in the world just now – and Ryanair, bless them, have put on some additional flights between Prague and Malaga ryanair in malaga 2(presumably they think that these are less likely to have to be cancelled than others…. we wish!), so we need to make the most of them!

Secondly, having sorted ourselves out a bit back in Prague, we found that we didn’t really have a lot to do, since most of our friends have disappeared for holidays and so on, work is slow, and if it is going to be boiling hot in both places, then we decided it is better to be here by the beach than there in the city… although… it is really bloody hot here….    And thirdly, well, as also mentioned before, my leg has gone from bad to worse, so it seemed to make sense to get back in front of the very good sports doctor that I have down here whilst I can.

As everyone who reads this blog knows, irrespective of where you are just now, normal life is pretty complicated, and no sooner did we arrive back in Spain, than everyone we know went into a full-on panic attack due to the EuroWeekly newspaper putting as its LOGO-EUROWEEKLY-1405front page headline a few days ago ‘Spain to go back into lockdown on September 18th’.  This was a complete distortion of an interview that one of their journalists had held with the Spanish Health Minister, and they published an apology a few days later, but by then the story had gone ‘viral’ ‘on Facebook and the damage had been done (we ourselves thought it was pretty unlikely that they would announce something like this so far in advance since the Spanish government do not normally use the Boris Johnson tactic of giving everyone a huge amount of notice of something nasty happening (or not, as the case may be), but our Alicante lady friends were suicidal, and even now not everyone has seen the apology – only yesterday we bumped into a friend who tends to be of the ‘gloom and doom variety’, who told us that we should hurry back home as the country was going into lockdown any time now (but then we asked what he had heard and as soon as he mentioned ‘September 18th, we knew we didn’t need to take it too seriously).   If nothing else, this whole pandemic has shown up just how bad, and how dangerous, an awful lot of the media nowadays can be (not like in my day!!).

Anyway, we watch and wait here in Spain, whilst also seeing that things are far from straightforward in Prague (honestly, down here we have yet to hear of anyone that we know having the virus or knowing someone with it, whilst in Prague (and London, of course), we hear of people on a more or less daily basis)….. so we continue to ponder, again, where we would prefer to be if it all goes pear-shaped.  Right now, we are 50/50 (my vote is Spain, Jan’s is Prague!).   This will, though, depend a bit on my leg.

So on Monday I went for an MRI on my knee.  I have had loads of Xrays and ‘CT scans’ over the years (as a way of trying to get myself to sleep on Sunday evening I was counting the bones I have broken (courtesy of my horses, of course), which made a change from sheep), but I have never had an MRI and have never wanted one since, mri machine 2amongst all my other weirdnesses, I suffer horribly from claustrophobia (I once got stuck in the lift in our building in Prague and completely freaked out, to the point that they had to call the fire brigade to come and get me out as quickly as possible before I did too much damage (to the lift) – actually that was quite a marvellous experience in the end).  However, I figured that if it was just my leg going into the ‘tube’ I would be OK – I just needed to get into the ‘out of body experience mode’ that I use at the dentists.

If anyone is about to go and have an MRI now, apologies, but bear in mind that I am a pathetic scared-y-cat and it probably wasn’t as horrible as I am now going to describe – part of the reason, for me, was that the Spanish are not always great at ‘customer care’ and having got myself ready, (which, thankfully, just meant taking off my jewellery and shoes) I was told to lie down on the sliding ‘shute’ type of thing, to shut up and don’t move, whilst my leg was encased in a kind of plastic tube (and yes, it’s possible for a leg to get claustrophobia).  No calming music, headphones, earplugs (I have since read that these are all quite common elsewhere).. and then off we went.   The shute slid into the huge circular bit (up to about my waist, thank GOD) and then the most almighty racket kicked off.

Actually, despite the fact that it sounds as if the ‘chainsaw massacre’ is about to start, I didn’t really feel anything (possibly a slight vibration now and again) but the whole thing goes on for so long – one minute (figuratively speaking) a noise like a bloody great saw, then bang, bang, bang, then wheezing and puffing…. I was trying to count seconds in my head to see if there was a pattern, but really it was just a range of ridiculous noises interspersed with silence (when I kept thinking that we had finished), and then off it went again… I ranged from mildly panicking that I had been in there for so long that they must have forgotten me, to thinking that I had cramp in my leg and would have to break out of the case, to thinking that the whole machine was about to blow up and/or take off.. and then suddenly it was over…. just when I was contemplating waving my arms around and shouting that someone had to come and get me out of there!

So now we sit and wait for the report, but I suspect it won’t be great…. no doubt I will write about it later.   In the meantime, we are back into our ‘Marbella routine’ (without much exercise in my case).   Generally, as mentioned, it is bloody hot and therefore difficult to do anything too constructive.  Jan is still doing his morning runs (getting earlier now as the temperatures go up) whilst I go waddling around the roads for an hour’s walk (I just daren’t do nothing!) and catching up on calls whilst I walk (as mentioned before, if we are wearing trainers, the ‘mask feds’ decide that we are ‘exercising’ so don’t mind the fact that the mask is worn around the neck, whilst on the beach and in flipflops, we can incur a huge fine….) so calls are doable.   Then we have marbella beachbeen spending a couple of hours on the beach (cooler than by the pool) but by about 2.00 pm it is way too hot, so we have been forced inside to do a bit of work (Jan has a big court case coming up, whilst I am still managing a couple of projects) and then we are back out walking late pm – either into Puerto Banus, where the mask feds seem to have given up and the tourists are everywhere (so look out numbers) or the other way into Marbella Old Town, where the beaches are packed, but still socially distanced (we have read reports of people queuing to get on them and, in some cases, being turned away… it is just SO organised here).

Plus, of course, I have been spending time on social media, chasing wildlife around our house (can you even imagine what happened this morning – I went to draw the curtains in the bedroom, and touched something that I thought was a leaf and was, in fact, a geckocockroach, which I then hurled across the room whilst Jan ran for his flipflop and duly whacked it…. I may never recover), plus we have had quite a few gecko visitors (they are actually quite cute, but they have the misfortune of living side-by-side with cockroaches, which means that every time they move they run the risk of extermination) and, of course, a few mosquitos (but it is even too hot for them).     Plus we seem to have an army of ants gradually moving in – and I know I have said in previous blogs that I am fascinated by ants…. but NOT in my kitchen.

I am sure there will be much more to write over the next few days … not least because, for GOD’S SAKE, we have just this minute seen a report that Spain has gone ‘orange’ in the Czech Republic (from the 24th……).   Talk about throwing a spanner in the works…..

 

 

Back in Prague – but for how long?

lovely prague

A few of my friends have been asking if all is OK as they haven’t heard from me for a while, since it is a bit more than a week since I posted my last blog.  I hadn’t actually planned for it to be that long, but I found that the combination of the news from the UK re quarantining people from Spain (and generally! – if you are not ‘up’ on the UK news, you might find this article interesting… pretty much sums it up if you ask me: https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/top-stories/uk-population-being-fooled-by-government-1-6684939), my injured leg eventually revealing itself as a potentially serious problem with my knee, and the rising temperatures in Marbella during last week which were a bit exhausting, kind of put paid to my enthusiasm (and ability to be extreme heatamusing) for a few days!

We actually snuck quietly back to Prague last Thursday – I had originally planned it to be a bit of an adventure since I was to be flying with Ryanair from Malaga to Rome and then on to Prague, but since Jan’s flight to the UK was no longer viable he swapped to fly back with me, which meant that the three hour shopping fest that I had planned (hopefully) for the magnificent Rome airport was no longer possible (even though, to my surprise, the shops were mostly all open) nor was the idea of relaxing over a bowl of rome airportpasta at one of the many restaurants…  Instead we ended up arguing for most of the stayover, partly due to the need to wear masks at all times (and Jan is developing a bit of a phobia about that), partly my inability to move around very fast, and, mainly, the incredible expense of even a glass of beer (Jan is used to having a non-stop supply of alcohol in the airport lounges which, in Rome, were sadly closed).   I shouldn’t complain really, since the whole journey was very easy – again both flights landed early (into Rome and then Prague), felt very safe (both were about half full, so lots of space around us), boarding was controlled and quiet, and everyone wore masks – I even had my temperature taken by a robot in Rome airport which was very exciting (I was singled out for some reason, although I don’t think I looked particularly unwell…).

I know that a lot of people are worried about flying just now, but so far we have felt that the whole experience is actually a lot nicer than usual, so the only thing to worry about (and I know it is a big one for many people) is the chance of catching something on the flight.   For sure on our first flight after our 100 day lockdown we were a bit apprehensive, but on the other hand we felt that the chance of catching anything at the airport or on the plane was pretty remote – flying from Malaga, where there were no infections and everyone had been isolated, there must have been a higher chance of the plane crashing than that we would catch anything on board! Now, of course, the chance is a bit higher, but obligatory masks in the airport and on board, the social distancing, on plane with masksthe fact that the planes are not so full, etc, means, I still believe, that flying is one of the safer things that we can be doing.   Back in Prague, in fact, numbers are rising (they are now higher than our part of Spain) and I have even experienced the slight concern of the friend that I had dinner with on Friday letting me know yesterday that he was going for a test as some of his colleagues at work had tested positive (luckily his was negative).  The fact is, really, that unless we all lock ourselves away completely again, there is always going to be the possibility of catching the virus, irrespective of what we do/where we go…… but still, in my book, it’s a very small one.

So back in Prague life goes on pretty much as normal – the number of cases, as mentioned, is getting higher (but still relatively low, although I do wonder how accurate they are.. in the space of just a few days I seem to have heard of an awful lot of people that have the virus!), the weather is grey and rainy (the first day we thought it was a bit of a relief after the heat…not sure now!), shops and restaurants are quiet, but not yet disastrous, and I continue to hop about on one leg, having various tests, and getting grumpier by the minute.   The consequence of my leg injury means that (a) I am spending far too much time on Twitter each morning and having a good old rant about the situation in the UK (but what joy when one of the people that I follow and quietly hero-worship, ‘liked’ one of my Tweets!), and (b) that I am having to try to limit myself to eating only dust, since hard training is out (even ‘Bollywooding’ is a bit difficult, but I am managing to do a bit of biking, thank God.).  On the subject of eating dust, I saw this great video this morning which, as always with Michael McIntyre, made me ‘LOL’ (as Jan would say):

What else?   I’m getting involved in a fund for SMEs (particularly those that have been badly affected by the lockdown), which I will no doubt start talking about in more detail soon, and am doing a reasonable amount of work (which keeps my mind (some of the time) off the fridge….) but with so many people away just now (it is hard to keep track of the weeks and months at the moment, but it is in fact August!)) and most of what we are working on just as easily done there as here, it is only a matter of time, I suspect, before we head back to Spain!

 

Raging in Spain!

we're back

A couple of days ago, my friend Irena in London sent me an article from the Daily Mail (which, I hear, is the second-most read newspaper (I use that term loosely) in the UK right now), which talked about the possibility of Spain going onto the ‘unsafe list’ of countries from which anyone entering the Uk would have to go into quarantine.  This, it said, was due to the fast increasing number of cases that Spain has been seeing.  It’s all rubbish, I said – first, don’t believe a word the Daily Mail says, second, ‘fast-increasing number of cases’ is, actually, a few hundred, and the Spanish authorities know exactly where they are and are monitoring them (and are a million miles away from Andalusia, where we are and where there have been hardly any new cases for weeks now) and thirdly, every country knew that if they opened their borders up to tourists, the numbers would go up – but it was a decision based on walking the middle ground – accept that numbers might go up a bit, but, at the same time, appreciate the fact that the economy is being boosted by the influx of people spending money.  (And fourth, the numbers in Spain still fade into insignificance when compared to those in the UK… so Spain has a lot more to fear from Brits arriving here than the other way around!!).

Today we spent the day on the beach in Marbella – it has been one of the hottest for a long time, and the only place that is bearable is down by the water.   As usual, the mask feds have been walking up and down monitoring whether people are staying in their ‘family groups’ and are at least 2 metres apart (as I have said before, the beach where we go is so expansive and with so few people, we are usually about 20 metres apart at the very least) and that everyone wears a mask until they get settled on their sunbed or whatever.   Whilst we sat watching the world go by and stressing whether we (well I, really) could still get burned after all of this time, a few different groups of British tourists pitched up.  All, without fail, without masks, all, without exception, pretty ‘leary’ and one big group of friends clearly not a ‘family group’.. however, the mask feds seemed to be turning a blind eye and were much keener on stopping the locals and ensuring that they set an example since, of course, Andalusia, of which Marbella is a part, is desperate for tourists (usually 30-40 per cent of its GDP is from tourism).

Imagine our shock, then, when we got home this evening and the news started to filter through that the British Government (again, I use that term loosely) has decided to impose fourteen days’ quarantine on everyone arriving from Spain as of midnight tonight.   This seems to us to be wrong on so many levels, not least that poor old Jan, having not seen his children for about five months, had planned to fly from here to London next week, on his way back to Prague, so for about the millionth time will be changing his flights and plans again.   Added to that, what will happen to all the thousands of Brits that are now here?  They must be completely horrified.  I imagine that this will mean that no-one in the UK will ever try to book a holiday to Spain again?  At least for a good long while… after all, no-one wants to set off for a holiday with the thought that they might, if their government so decides, end up having to go into quarantine on their arrival home.  They may not want to book any sort of foreign holiday again (after all, if it can happen to people visiting Spain, it can happen to those visiting Greece, Portugal, etc as well)…. and will Spain decide to reciprocate?   Presumably so, since I don’t think anyone here really wanted the Brits pitching up with numbers in the UK as they are right now…   And what will other countries do?   It seems to me that, in the end, this decision by the UK might just have the potential to destroy tourism  throughout Europe for, at the very least, the coming months… just like that….!

Perhaps that is the UK’s idea.  After all, all countries would prefer that people stayed put and spent their holiday money at home rather than travelling abroad….  this would be a great strategy if that was the original intention.   As far as we are concerned though, I suppose that we will sit tight and see what happens over the next few days (I am due to fly back to Prague on Thursday), but it looks as if things are far from settled now… despite the fact that Coronavirus in this part of Spain is pretty well non-existent..  What IS clear, now, and, really, it always has been, is that none of the restrictions, lockdowns and so on had too much to do with saving lives, but were, really, political posturing.   We are raging.

 

Heating up – in Spain!

steps to the beach

A particularly vivid memory of mine from when we had our old house in Marbella (which was a bit higher up the mountain), was waking up in the middle of the night and smelling fire – it was so strong that I was sure the house was burning down.  I had staggered out of bed and inspected the whole place, but couldn’t find even a spark, so in the end I took myself back to bed and decided that I must have dreamed it (or just drank too much red wine, which I didn’t think I had).   In the morning, I got up and investigated again as the smell was even stronger, but this time, and still not being able to find any sign of fire, I decided to go up to the roof terrace, where we had a 360 degree view of the whole area around us.  The scariest sight awaited me – the whole area of the terrace (and I mean all 30 m2 or so) was about 8 cm deep in ash.

First, then, I debated how to clear it all away (since it wasn’t actually hot or burning) and then, having sorted that, I went back down and switched on the TV to find out that half of the mountain around the back of us was on fire, even though, at that point, I couldn’t see any sign of it (only the usual blue sky and sunshine.  It reminded me of being in fire in spainPrague during the floods, when from our apartment all we could see was a normal summer day, with no rain or sign of water, whilst the floods raged around half of the country).

I was thinking about this when we drove in from Malaga airport last week and along the motorway were warning signs on the electronic information systems, advising that we should ‘beware of fire’.  I’m not quite sure what we would have done had one suddenly appeared at the side of the road (as apparently happened to people last time – and as could be seen by all of the scorched earth either side of the motorway for a couple of years), but it was a warning that it was going to be HOT once we got here – and sure enough, it has been bloody boiling.

One thing that goes with the risk of fire in the mountains is the fairly constant noise of fire planes going over on particularly hot days – if you haven’t seen one, they are pretty fire planedramatic… big yellow beasts that look like old bombers and sweep down into the sea as if they are going to land, fill up with water and then head off into the hills.   I find them a bit fascinating, so at the moment there is a lot to watch!

What there is also a lot of due to the extreme heat, is the Marbella wildlife – back at our house, we were greeted on arrival, as mentioned before, by four cockroaches (two in the bedroom, for God’s sake, and two in the main bathroom – needless to say, they were dealt with pretty quickly, but it is not easy going to sleep, knowing that there is a risk of another visitor during the night….), a lot of ants (and yes, I know I said I am a bit fascinated by ants, and I am… but outside, not in the living room and kitchen (this reminds of my horse days, when I once had a rat run over my boot in the stables and didn’t even bat an eyelid… whereas even the news that we might have had a rat in the vicinity of the house a few years ago was enough to make me consider putting it on the market), mosquitos and gekkos  I can cope with the gekkos, but mosquitos – what possible reason do mosquitos have for existing, other than making our lives a misery?

Despite all of that, we are having fun – it is so nice to be here and not have to worry Jan at tennis clubabout anything back in Prague (hopefully) and to have a flight back (also hopefully) – and to be able to see all the people that we missed last time (or saw, but in different me at tennis clubcircumstances).  The only downside for me is that I still can’t run or play tennis (but have visited the club to at least watch it a bit and see my Juan), whilst for Jan I would say that it is the wearing of a mask at all times that is getting him down.   Not because he finds them uncomfortable (even in 40 degrees heat this afternoon we managed to walk along the beach and not faint to the floor (as some people in the UK are suggesting could we're backhappen due to the lack of oxygen.. my arse…. I read all the comments that people make in the UK about the pros and cons of wearing one (as if no-one else in the world has considered these things in the past) and really do wonder what their problem is… just put one on and get on with it) but he objects to being ‘ruled’ in this way….. despite that, him being a ‘solicitor of the Supreme Court’ ensures that he does do as he is told (on this) so, for now, we are managing it.

We kind of have to manage it anyway, as the Spanish authorities have employed something like 40,000 former police/army/other people to become ‘mask feds’ (as Jan calls them) – they can be seen on the beaches and around the streets, dressed up in blue shorts, white T shirts, white baseball caps and red bags (and masked to the eyeballs, obviously) and are very visible – they spend their days stopping people who should be wearing a mask and are not – what we have noticed, though, is that if you appear to be exercising (which seems to be based on if you are wearing trainers) then you don’t need one… so you can be overweight and smoking a fag, but no need for a mask as you are clearly training (due to the shoes), whereas if you are wearing flip flops and marching along in a rippling muscle and fit way, you are clearly heading to the beach or out for a stroll, and should be wearing one.   I don’t want to be mean as this is clearly a good idea (and something for the UK to think about?) but… a bit daft in places…..

To finish, and talking of walking along the beach, we were just jumping about in the waves in a small ‘cove-type area’ before leaving to come home this afternoon, when a tall dark stranger came running past us, barefoot, and in a very familiar running style…. he went on a bit further and then turned around and headed back towards us, and sure novak seaenough, to Jan’s absolute ecstasy, it was Nole (Djokovic)… all those weeks of lockdown when we knew he was here, but couldn’t get to see him… and now, here he was.   What a result!