Monthly Archives: March 2020

House Arrest – Day 17

house view

I decided last night to ‘self-isolate’ and banished Jan to another room so that I could try to make up for my lack of sleep the night before. He was delighted, as it meant he could stay up until God knows what time watching who knows what on the TV, and it worked for me, to such an extent that I slept right through until 8.00 am and woke up ready to be ‘up and at ‘em!’

Obviously this meant a quick check through social media before getting started, and during my Facebook troll I noticed an advert that has been running for a while for ‘Face Exercises’ – apparently, doing these for five minutes a day will make you look a lot younger in a very short time. Well, that seemed to me to be a bit of a no-brainer, since, I figured, I could do it every morning without making any noise, it would be a good way to wake-up, and I would look a lot better for it. However, having downloaded the App and made a start with, first, a ‘wrinkle blowout’, then a ‘perfect purser’, followed by 30 seconds ‘rest’ – for God’s sake?!! – I figured this one is not for me. Apologies to whoever developed it.

It reminded me, though, that my lovely friend Rostya (who is the most beautiful xxx old jan's blowingwoman that you will ever see) taught me once how to remove lines above your mouth – she does this exercise at every opportunity apparently and it clearly works – and is nicely demonstrated by Jan here. So I think I will stick to that for a few minutes every morning and give up on the ‘Jolly Jaw Jiggler’ for now. By the way, another tip from IMG_6243Rostya, to make your homemade mask more effective, use a sanitary towel (sorry guys) for the inside bit… might sound a bit silly, but it makes sense if you think about it!

Anyway, having done my ‘face exercises’ and duly rested, I decided to get moving, and the noise of that woke Jan, who thought that my morning exercises –a six minute ‘Bollywood dance’ session to warm up, and then seven minutes on 7 – would be well worth videoing, either for future reference, or for blackmailing purposes – luckily he didn’t get to see the Face App bit, but, anyway, you can rest assured that none of them will be appearing on this blog any time soon.
(Just thinking about all of this a bit more, I may yet, of course, go back to the Face App – imagine… by the time I get back to Prague, I might look completely different – no wrinkles on my face, rippling with even more muscles than usual from my 7 App, and a rock hard arse).

So the morning toddled along in its now usual way – first catching up on work emails (Jan is a bit disgruntled as he is getting to be quite busy, whilst mine, sadly, are few and far between), then Jan running up and down the garden for an hour (in the rain) whilst I made some ‘proper calls’, including to one of my girlfriends in Prague who is spending her time firing people, and a client, who is doing the same thing (more on that in a bit), and then a 20 minute spin on the bike to get my head together, and suddenly it was mid-afternoon and time to do a bit of news watching.

Back, briefly, to the firing bit though. For the last couple of years in the CR, whenever a group of business people get together, they can be guaranteed to talk about one or both of the following subjects – how to find good people to come and work for us (unemployment in Prague, in particular, being so low with, subsequently, a huge demand for staff), and the cost of residential real estate in the city (huge demand and not enough supply). Sadly, of course, the situation that we are finding ourselves in now is going to change all of that – yet another sign of the invisible ‘hand of God’?  (Although, of course, it will be a lot different for Spain and the UK.)

So the news today continued along the same old lines, and we (and, by all accounts most of our friends) continue to be completely obsessed with this whole situation – Jan does the Czech news-watch, whilst I monitor the Spanish and UK news (and update my charts in an exceedingly obsessive way in order to keep tweeting the BBC and others that they are giving wrong figures).

We wondered, today, how we would manage this whole situation if we didn’t have the TV, laptops, phones, apps, etc – which led us to discuss our families, particularly our parents/grandparents who were in concentration camps – we have nothing to worry about in comparison. It reminds me of a story from when Jan visited Auschwitz with his kids and called his Mum – she asked where he was calling from and he said ‘Auschwitz’. To which she responded that no-one had ever called her from there before!  Puts it all into perspective.  (I might just add that he knicked a toilet roll from the loo there as he thought it was such an outrage that they were charging for using it!  And he, an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court!).

So, to finish on a lighter note – we still have no idea when we will head back to Prague for a number of reasons.  Which means, I am afraid, that this blog will be continuing for a while yet. And when we do…. I suppose this is what we have to look forward to….

window sunbathing

House Arrest – Day 16

house view

Unfortunately I had a bit of insomnia last night and was awake, on and off, from about 3.00 am onwards. Part of the reason for it, I think, was that we ate fish last night. Now I might seem very normal…. 😊 but when it comes to food I am a bit weird, partly due to my having a lot of allergies, and partly, at the moment, because I am paranoid about getting sick…  That’s not because I am a hypochondriac or because I get sick a lot – I am not and I don’t (touch wood!). But I think one of the stresses that we all have just now is the fear of suddenly having to see a doctor.. I guess we are not alone in that….

So back to the fish – I think I am going to have to give up on it, as I am always worried about swallowing a fish bone.  And that worry turns itself into my feeling sick…. Add to that that I don’t eat much meat, and you can understand Jan’s concern, last night, that I (anyway) might have to live off cheese, bread, chocolate and red wine from now on. And there’s nothing wrong with that….!

Some interesting news came in during the night, though. First I heard that my blog is now being published on one of the Czech news portals! Blimey! I am very flattered since, as those of you that have been reading this blog from the start know, I really only did it to entertain myself. If, though, you are reading it for the first time, a couple of things to note – one is that I apologise in advance if I offend anyone – I am afraid I get very over-excited about some CV-19 topics (well… lots of topics really) – and second is that you should bear in mind that I am British, and we have very specific humour – (a) we like to take the piss out (excuse me) of ourselves rather than others, and (b) we can sometimes be a little cynical about things… so when I say that I am ‘very excited’ about being able to spend another day draining our pool, for example, I am not REALLY very excited… although……

The other thing, and this really IS exciting, is that I saw this morning that a Spanish army plane returned from the CR last night with a load of masks and other gear for the hospitals here to use.  Well bloody HELL!  I know that this is not really the case, but I can’t help feeling a little tiny bit of pride that maybe I and some of my ‘friends in high spanish soldier 3places’ had something to do with it – but… whatever… .how great is that?  Actually, one of Jan’s friends suggested today that we should check-out when they might do another run, and hitch a ride back to Prague – for some reason, that sounds quite appealing, although I suspect it won’t actually happen….!   Anyway, you can read more here.

Right, so today.  I was a bit weary after only a couple of hours’ sleep, but a good walk in the sun to my new favourite supermarket Aldi cheered me up no end. If you think thatwalking from aldi Spain is all about dreadful English stag-nighters, high-rise hotels and apartment blocks, aka ‘Benidorm’ and others, not so. This part of Marbella is so beautiful, especially with no traffic or, actually, anyone, out on the road. As usual, I practised my steps – changing show jumpingit up a gear today – it is exactly four normal strides between each crack in the pavement, so for some real excitement I tried varying it between three long strides (in show-jumping, ‘lengthening’ into a fence) and five short strides (‘shortening’) – and the usual 35 minutes went very fast.  (see the photo here for (a) what I mean by show-jumping and (b) what happens when you meet the take-off line correctly….  (and yes, you are right, whatever has this got to do with our house-arrest in Spain – not very much.   But I did say I was weary…)

Today the lock-down has been tightened up again in Spain, although, really, it isn’t so different – the only thing I can see is that the really bloody annoying building works nearby have stopped. I think I saw one person walking and maybe five cars – which is still, occasionally, a little bit scary if I think about it – although the likeliness of anyone jumping out at me dressed up in my mask, sunglasses and gloves, is pretty remote!  Also, and another vague stress… very wild hair!!  Both Jan and I have lots of the stuff, as you may have seen, and despite the earlier law (which lasted one day) which allowed hairdressers to stay open (and how we laughed then!) that is a distant memory. I did say this morning that I could probably have a go at cutting Jan’s hair, but there is no way on earth he is coming near mine…. ! I shall ponder that for a while.

Other than this morning’s excitement, the rest of the day was actually quite normal – we both found ourselves with some REAL work to do, and that was very enjoyable.  A consequence of that is that, to Jan’s disappointment, we have had to delay our Bollywood dance training until later today, plus I am thinking that I may take a day off my 7 fitness app today as, despite everything, we have almost overdone the exercise in the last few days…

Another good thing… I have even managed to avoid shouting at the TV, which is a first – but I can feel it starting….

House Arrest – Day 15

house view

Once upon a time in a previous life, before I became serious and tried to be grown-up (although that life is starting to feel like a previous life too), I hung around with musicians… well, one or two in particular who shall remain nameless…. Sadly, in my serious and grown-up life I forgot how much I loved music, singing, dancing, etc, but now I am getting back to remembering how therapeutic they can all be.

The first thing that caught my eye this morning during my social media watch, was this link – for the grown-ups amongst you:

After that, my thought process went a bit downhill as, as mentioned yesterday, and as suggested by Adam, I decided to put together a list of music that best reflects our present situation, and which I then cycled to this morning for an hour (just to clarify; a few people that haven’t read my previous blogs asked me how it was possible to go out cycling when we are in such strict lock-down – this is on an exercise bike…..). My dear friend ‘Jan the Elder’, told me that even 20 minutes of cycling a day has made his bum rock-hard  …… not sure about mine yet but it is certainly painful (or, actually, whether that is a good thing in itself….!). Oh, and yes, I realise that some of you reading this may not have been born when some of these songs first came out, so look them up – this is just a few of them!!:

• When the Going Gets Tough – Billy Ocean (yer, I know, obvious!)
• The Chinese Way (Level 42 – naughty?)
• Bicycle Ride (Queen)
• Love is All Around You (Wet, Wet, Wet – agggghhhhhhhh….)
• Imagine (John Lennon – same comment as above)
• Another Day in Paradise (Phil Collins – ???!!)steps to the beach
• Doctor Doctor (Thomson Twins – sorry)
• Golden Brown (Stranglers – particularly relevant as a lovely hot day today)
• Viva Espana – (no idea who, but also obvious and meant!)

And, finally for this list, ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ (Queen again), which seemed appropriate.

Whilst I was cycling, Jan was running up and down the garden – something that only two weeks ago he would have regarded as ridiculous – and he managed it for 45 minutes, which made him very happy. He may yet hit that marathon target. What he would also have regarded as ridiculous just that short, other lifetime ago, is (a) helping actually DO some gardening and (b) disco dancing in front of the TV for half an hour in order to beach jg and jwcontinue with the music theme…. Those two activities, combined with a spot of sun-bathing, took us up to early evening and a bit more shouting at the TV.

I am sorry to keep going on about it, but the UK TV is really starting to drive me nuts. (I originally wrote ‘get my goat’ here, but realised that non English people may not understand this expression….. it reminds me of a time that one of my staff rushed into my office to tell me that her boyfriend (married…. ) ‘was being taken for a ride by his wife and she had no idea where the wife was taking him….!). Anyway, now. I know that I am a ‘PR person’ and I should know more than most how the media can twist things and make black sound white if they want to (Hell, I used to help them to do it!). But some of the reporting that the BBC is putting out about the situation here in Spain (and, therefore, we have to assume other countries too) is just NOT TRUE. Sadly, I can only think that they want to make it sound worse than it is in order to keep the pressure on people in the UK… but for those of us not in the UK it is pretty bloody annoying – and, as mentioned yesterday, concerning for some.

Just now, Spain is having the biggest number of deaths each day – as I said before, this has been expected as there are so many people still in intensive care and, by the very nature of that, may, sadly, not survive. BUT the number of new infections (i.e. people that are arriving into the hospitals) is going down nicely and the curve is flattening. If you are in the UK, therefore, bear that in mind when you look at the figures that they government is putting out now…

Phew. Got that out of the way. Just one last bit before I sign off for today. Us foreigners living in the Czech Republic, especially if they have been there for a long time (like me!), are not always over-nice about the Czech way of doing things (apologies to the Czechs reading, and Jan, who hears this all the time!!). But just now… you gotta be proud of them. For starters, take a look at this:

And finally. No chance to take useable photos today (certainly not of my biking, sun-bathing or disco dancing…!). So I have included a few pretty ones since it is Sunday!



House Arrest – Day 14

house view
Today didn’t start well, as I crept downstairs early to make some coffee and came face to face with a cockroach in the kitchen. Cockroaches are reasonably common in Southern Spain as it is generally so hot, and a few years ago we had a real problem with them on the Pueblo where we live, but this was cured by some very clever ‘cockroach men’ (yes, pest controlthis is a serious business down here) and we haven’t seen one for at least two years. The Spring, though, is when they are the most likely to appear, and our houses were all supposed to be fumigated last week, but, of course, this had to be put on hold…. Uggggh.

I absolutely hate them, but Jan sees them as such an afront that, if he sees one in the house, it usually results in him grabbing a flip flop and running after it shouting ‘cock’ at the top of his voice – which can be quite alarming for me and the neighbours.. thankfully he can run faster than they can (or he is a bit cleverer….!!) so they usually end up getting a good whack.. Thankfully this one was sleepy and actually dropped into the sink of water and drowned before I could start to panic… but still…I’m not happy! (Nor can I believe that I have just written two paragraphs about cockroaches. Clearly going slightly mad).

Anyway, there was no chance of relaxing after that, so I set off to do the daily shop early, while it was sunny. Unfortunately I got to the bottom of the hill when the rain came out of nowhere, and rather than continue I ended up running back up (and very pleasing it was to find that I can still run!) and home, completely drowned. Since we needed to get a jan from the rainfew selected products – well, OK, so red wine has got a bit low and it’s Sunday tomorrow – Jan, ever the gentleman, said he would do my run today, and he went off later in the day, only to get caught himself……

Something interesting that I read this morning (on my social media troll) was that Germany has been putting a lot of the immigrants that it has been housing to work in the hospitals, as many of them are trained medical people. Coincidentally, I also watched an interview with a Spanish professor who explained to the English journalist that one of the problems they are having is not so much the lack of beds (they were the first to convert a huge stadium into a makeshift hospital) but the fact that (a) many of the patients now in intensive care are doctors/nursing staff so they are even more short-staffed, and (b) even at a normal time, there are not so many nurses trained to look after intensive care patients….

The most interesting bit was that that interview was followed by the news that the UK is putting on hold the deportation of many immigrants… make of that what you will, but one wonders now, finally, whether Brexit will be well and truly binned – I think I mentioned before that I couldn’t help feeling that a lot of what is going on is, figuratively speaking, an ‘Act of God’ – and it now appears as if God may well have been/be a Remainer!

I have had lots of requests for the video of us doing our Bollywood dance training to be shared….. 😊, but I think that that has to wait until we get a bit better!!! We did, though, give it a good go last night, along with putting our kitchen lights onto ‘mix’ – which gave a nice disco effect…. kitchen lightsIt is possible that we are going slightly nuts. Yesterday’s combination of cycling, walking, my 7 training and a bit of Bollywood dancing meant that I was pretty knackered today, so apart from the walk down and run up the hill, and the 7 training as usual, that has been it on the exercise front. I am not sure why, two weeks ago, I was so worried about keeping fit… I think, generally, we are thanking God that we ARE so obsessive about doing all this stuff as it definitely makes the day go quicker!

So here we are, two weeks done and no end in sight… it is a bit weird, but for some reason (when we don’t wonder about when we will go home) we are finding our whole situation quite interesting, especially the way we are changing in ourselves.  I was, therefore, interested in the article that I was sent this morning, which, if you haven’t read it, paints a pretty accurate picture of what we have been going through, and what our UK friends are just finding out:

Finally: I said to my friend Adam this morning that it might be difficult to find things to write about tomorrow, it being Sunday (not quite sure what difference that makes mind you!) and it is going to be hot here – so we might not do very much (same comment applies)! His suggestion was that I maybe think about the music that best fit the mood and write a list. I will give it a go – but suggestions are very welcome!!!

Have a good Saturday night – don’t go too crazy!

House Arrest – Day 13

house view

Well, this has been quite a Friday the 13th (i.e., for us, the 13th day in lock-down).
I feel as if I am slowly changing personality – first sleeping through until 08.00 am this morning, which is unheard of (but very welcome) and then spending a couple of hours on Twitter and Facebook (after being one of the most ardent ‘anti’ social media people possible only a couple of weeks ago), and then getting up and putting the same clothes on for about the third day running (top clothes, obviously!) and not bothering with any makeup. Add to that that we try to speak either Czech or Spanish for the first hour of the day, and I have clearly turned into someone else.

Whilst eating breakfast and getting ready for our exercise, we turned on the TV to watch the latest news, and saw a journalist on BBC News reporting from Spain and starting with an announcement that, amongst other things, the government has extended the lockdown for another fifteen days. Heart attack. But then, because I am anal and have prepared my own graph that shows the number of deaths, new hospital cases and recoveries each day, I realised that she was actually reporting on information dating back to Sunday (when the last fifteen day extension was made). Unnecessarily scaremongering? Or just bad reporting? Either way, it kicked off a mass of hysteria on the Spanish FB page that I follow (??!!) since there are a huge number of people here that are clearly getting near breaking point. Not good and I had to immediately rant on Twitter to complain.

Exercise was next. Jan headed off to the super again (partly to get the walk and partly to stock up on wine/liquer again), whilst I decided to have another go with the bike. It’s funny, but whilst doing a long walk is nice and good for us, there is nothing like really whipping up a sweat, and I think the bike is going to turn into a real live-safer! Most mornings at home in Prague, my sweat is whipped up either by the gym with my trainer, Vladimir, or to the tennis court with my coach, Vitek – I am missing them both!

running photo with vladI actually talked to Vladimir whilst I was pedalling away, and he mentioned that he had prepared a video of training exercises that people can do at home – if anyone would like to have it, I can send it to them – Vladimir is a very well-known personal trainer who, amongst some of us, has often been known as ‘Vlad the Impaler’. I have trained with him for about a hundred years, and we have lived through many things together….! Here are the two of us, having run up and down the Letna steps about fifteen million times, so not my best photo (!)).. it was just three weeks ago – seems like a lifetime.

After Jan returned and after an hour or so of sun-bathing, I decided that I really must start to do a bit of work – a few bits of proper work have mounted up and I have some ideas about possible new projects. Normally I have to be dragged out of the office, but the marathon runnerjust now… it’s getting difficult, but I did it. In the meantime, Jan, who has been pondering the guy in Toulouse running a marathon on his balcony (did I mention that he is a marathon bore??), decided to walk round and round in circles.. for about half an hour… not sure if that is going to become a regular thing, but…

Just as I headed to our ‘oficina’, the news came in that both the British Prime Minister AND the Health Minister have now got the virus. Presumably they are helping to build the herd immunity….. and, to add to the feeling of a Friday 13th, I now see that the Chief Medical Officer also has it… what IS going on??!

oficinaSo work.  Over the years I have heard lots of sayings about crises (possibly because I used to specialise in crisis management – both my own and my clients’!) – that they bring out the best in people, that out of every crisis comes something positive, etc. I think it may be too early to say this kind of thing yet, but whilst I can see that a lot of people are stuck at home and sinking into a bit of depression (☹), there are some that are rolling up their sleeves and saying ‘right, what needs to be done’.

I have already mentioned my lovely Rostya, sewing millions of masks every day and marching around handing them out to nursing homes and so on, and I know of loads of rostya and the maskpeople that are doing that in Prague and here in Spain too. Yesterday I spoke to a company that is looking to offer very low interest rate loans to SMEs (they will even lend just a few thousand crowns at a low rate and long-term payback) and today I have been helping an old friend with a project that should get going very soon and will be a ‘drivethru’ for police/ambulance/fire men/women – they will simply drive in, grab the food and drive out again. Which he is funding himself. Fantastic.

Now, it’s time to get Jan and start our ‘Bollywood’ dance training… if one of us knew how to video it, I would show it tomorrow. Sadly, we don’t!!

House Arrest – Day 12

house viewAs expected, we woke up this morning to bright sunshine. What a difference some sun makes! It seems I am not quite as addicted to social media as I was thinking, as the need to get up and outside far-outweighed looking at what had been posted overnight and, actually, we managed to avoid talking or reading about you-know-what until after lunch. Amazing.

First up was Jan heading off to the supermarket for his walk and yet more wine… you never know when stocks will run down, so always good to get a few in… I, though, decided to change my routine and do a bit of cycling. I may never sit down again as I did a good hour of pedalling, but sitting on a bike under a palm tree, with the sun shining and 80s disco music playing loudly, was pretty damn nice.exercise bike

To take my mind off my bum, if you know what I mean, I played a game of ‘what song would best suit our present situation’ – best was the Specials (Ghost Town, of course), so I gave that one a good couple of blasts.

Jan lazing aboutBy the time I had showered, Jan was back and the sun was beating down on our courtyard, so, and with huge apologies for saying this, we spent the next couple of hours sun-bathing and thinking that all was quite good in our self-contained world at the moment. Unfortunately it didn’t last long.

Clicking on one of the many videos that we are getting and receiving, and thinking initially it was a joke, we saw one of the most gruelling, but not so surprising, of all (and there have been a few). In a nutshell it was of a doctor talking about the fact that in the Madrid hospitals, where they still have about 3,000 people in intensive care, they are no longer treating people over 65 and are focusing only on the young, as there just isn’t the equipment/materials, etc to manage to deal with everyone.

If you are still in any doubt about the lockdown wherever you are, take a look at that video (it is on my Linkedin site – I didn’t think it was appropriate for Facebook). What I think is important to keep saying is that the lockdown isn’t to try to stop the virus completely, but to reduce the numbers of people that are getting it badly enough to end up in hospital since, wherever you are, hundreds of new patients arriving for intensive care treatment in any one town or city is just not manageable.

I know that when we look at the total number of people seriously ill or dying, it is a very, very, small percentage of any city or country’s population – but imagine if the lockdown hadn’t happened in, say, Spain, and instead of 6,000 or so people dying in Madrid, it was 6,000 or so in every town and city in Spain… and so on…

Having said that, and to cheer up my Spanish friends (and me), the number of people dying reduced today, the number of people recovering has jumped up a lot, and the number of people arriving in hospital for the last couple of days has reduced …. So the curve is flattening. Let’s hope it stays that way!

For some reason, I am just not able to look or read at this sort of thing, feel sad, and then move on. Instead I had to post it on all my social bits and then get embroiled in various discussions and arguments that took over half the afternoon… but one very good thing that I did whilst sitting in my ‘office’ here was to have some training from my dear friend Adam (through Facetime, of course), and now I can post pictures on this blog – hence the new look!

A couple of other bits before we get into the evening – another day has whizzed past – however did that happen…?

• I read a great piece by Alastair Campbell today about fighting off depression:

I am not really a depressed sort of person, and nor is Jan, although we have had our reasons in the past, but I like what he has to say and probably practise most bits.. not sure about a couple of them though!!

• I was also proud to read my nephew’s wife’s blog on Facebook (she is a former lawyer and specialises in mediation between couples), called ‘Living through Corona’ – she has some interesting things to say – if you want to have a read, she is Annmarie Carvalho and has a picture of her with one of her boys as her profile on FB.

Just saying.. in case either are of interest.

Finally, I mentioned to one of my friends that I thought I should maybe stop posting these blogs as I can just hear some people saying ‘oh blimey, here she is again’. He responded that it is a ‘blogger’s right to blog and if someone doesn’t want to read what you are saying, then that is their choice, not yours (mind)’. I quite liked that (especially the idea that he now thought of me as a ‘blogger’! Gosh).

So I will continue, even though on slightly ‘darker’ days like today, it hasn’t been as easy to be light-hearted as it usually is! But that’s OK… we have a LOT of very nice Spanish wine ready to open

House Arrest – Day 11

Today, for the third day in a row, we woke up to pouring rain. If you are feeling sorry for us being stuck here in such awful weather, though, don’t be. Forecast for the next few days is bright sunshine and 24 plus degrees 😊 Suddenly things are looking up a lot!

I have banned myself from opening my eyes until 8.00 am now. It is slowly working, but difficult. Also difficult is not to look straight at Twitter the minute I do! From this morning’s Tweets, I must say that some countries seem to really be improving; hats off (as we English say) to the Czech politicians, who have managed everything amazingly (so far, fingers crossed), even getting another planeload of masks and ventilators delivered from China last night. It is great, but I do wish they could send a few over here instead, where it is getting desperate (hint)!

Spain’s numbers are awful – but we expected it, with so many people still in intensive care and many elderly people’s homes still affected. Now are the critical days when they will see if the lock-down is really working (bearing in mind that it can take 7-10 days for the virus to show). So keep your fingers crossed for us too – we may yet get home!

Instead, we continue with something that is starting to feel very much like Groundhog Day – but due to a bit of gloom setting in this morning, I decided to write down all the positives of our situation, to prove to myself that things are, in fact, changing daily – and also the negatives, in order to try and remove some of them:

• Positive 1 – I am getting over my slight OCD about everything being clean and tidy, since no-one is going to visit, and I have so much time on my hands that I can do it whenever…
• Negative 1 – I am turning into a slob
• Positive 2 – we are saving so much money on shampoo, washing powder, going out to restaurants, going out anywhere, new running shoes, paying tennis and fitness coaches, buying petrol, buying air tickets, even buying make-up (in my case.. not much point in wearing it with a mask all over your face and no-one to appreciate it even without!)
• Negative 2 – we aren’t earning any money!
• Positive 3 – It is really nice not having to stress about work, deadlines, etc – in fact, having no real time pressure about anything.
• Negative 3 – will we actually be able to work at that level again??
• Positive 4 – we are getting along together better than usual
• Negative 4 – I am turning into a saint!

I could go on…. but I might depress myself.

So today, to really move things up a notch, I decided to head to the pharmacy instead of the supermarket. I know. Quite an exciting move. Still a long walk, and in a similar direction, but at least seeing a few different things. What we have both noticed is that even though we are talking to loads of people throughout each day (phone/message/email) we miss SEEING other people, even if we don’t actually speak to them. Same applies to the surroundings – yes, we are looking out at a very nice backdrop – but it is the same backdrop every day, so good to see somewhere different.

I took a few photos along the way which can be seen on Facebook (I am not sure that it is ‘correct’ to put them on Linkedin – not that there were any dodgy ones, you understand… but). Several friends have asked me to put out more pictures of Marbella as they remember it from coming to a party that we held here last summer – so I have included a couple of those too. And when this is all over, there will be one big party to celebrate and an open house!

Anyway, needless to say, the walk was followed by biking/7 training/a bit of work and so on and, of course, some ranting on Twitter and just generally. In addition to all of that, we have also started a ‘corona-virus-free hour’ when we are not allowed to mention it, watch anything about it or even think about it. Something else that isn’t easy… without much work to do, not being able to concentrate on books and films, and with everyone else around us in the same boat, it is difficult to remember what we ever used to talk about!

Actually, though, that is not quite true; despite the gloom, what I am getting quite excited by is how so many people we know are looking at the opportunities there will be when this is all over – I don’t mean that in a bad way, but I think we all realise that our lives will never be the same, and our jobs, in many cases, may not exist or will be very different.

Time to get clever.

House Arrest – Day 10

I woke up this morning, as most mornings, in a happy, fluffy mood, despite the butterflies in my stomach, which seem to be a permanent fixture at the moment, and a large pain in my bum – literally, not figuratively (??!!) – due, of course, to yesterday’s exercise biking, which was clearly a shock to my system!

The happy, fluffy mood soon disappeared as I went through the raging and complaining coming out of the UK on Twitter; but, on reflection, I suppose that most of what is being said is pretty much what we were saying ourselves, when we first started our lock-down here. In case it is helpful, I would advise anyone in the UK that is reading this (as a ten day-long expert that is NOT allowed to go out and exercise!) that the sooner you come to terms with the situation and try to put some sort of positive spin on it, the better.

I know that that is easier said than done, but this could go on for a while and there is nothing we can do about it. For sure I had a few panic attacks at the beginning of our house arrest, as, really, there is no knowing when we will ever get home. And however nice it is here in Marbella, we would like to go back at some point in the not so distant future! But since we don’t have a crystal ball, I am coping with it all by just focusing on finding ways to try and enjoy today, and not worrying about tomorrow. And that seems to be working (something useful to have learned for when we all get back to normal I suspect!).

So off we went on our now normal routine day; checking-out the social media, the news on TV, the weather, etc, and planning the shopping list. One good thing this morning was the news that the Olympics are being delayed a year – well, thank God for that (and, for once, that is a serious ‘thank God’). Clearly the people making the decisions are only interested in money rather than sport – how anyone could think that any athlete could be preparing properly at the moment, without knowing whether/when/what is beyond me.

I was going to say ‘imagine training for a marathon’ at this point, and then I remembered an article that we were sent about a guy in Toulouse running a marathon on his 7 metre long balcony – 6 hours, 48 minutes – not bad!!! Jan has run many marathons and is a bit of a marathon bore, (as lots of you know!!!!), so he found that piece of news quite thrilling.

We and most of our friends here, are either former sports people or very serious about fitness generally, so this aspect of the lock-down is the most difficult for all of us, but unlike in the UK, we can’t go out for one lot of proper exercise a day (actually, I suspect that that will eventually change over there, as if the past week is anything to go by, I am sure it will get abused). So we are all getting creative – my good friend here, a former tennis pro, has her kids (junior champs at running and swimming) doing skipping drills all day long! And us two, well, you know about us.

This morning’s walk down to the supermarket was, actually, a bit of a training in itself, as it was (a) raining, (b) I thought I should stock up on that very nice wine we drank last night… big mistake when you have to lug it all back up the hill again – and (c) was practising my ‘show jumping steps’ all the way there! It was also even more deserted than usual.. This is, they say, the ‘critical’ week in Spain, when the number of deaths are going to rise and the virus is at its strongest (they seem to know quite a lot about it now), so it is all being taken very seriously. And then, they say, it will start to die off, coinciding with the heat arriving. We are keeping our fingers well and truly crossed that they are right!.

One thing about the roads being completely deserted was that I got a bit creeped by a young guy in a hoody following me for some of the time – I don’t really care about hoodies, but with a mask as well it was a bit odd. In the end he wasn’t following me at all as he stopped at the pharmacy… but it made me think a bit… The other was that for the second day in a row there was a beggar outside the super… that was a difficult one for me as I wanted to (and did) give him my loose change, but he was also a bit grubby and unmasked, so I wasn’t over-keen on approaching and kind of hurled it at him…(suspect this might get me into trouble later)…

This afternoon, after doing my 7 training in the courtyard, I caught up on my projects – the shipment of masks is proving way too difficult (it seems that there are masks available in China (actually, a large Chinese plane landed in Italy during the night with a whole lot of gear, so hopefully they will do the same here soon)) as it seems that only governments can get their hands on these things just now (and Russian oligarchs!) and crossing borders is more or less impossible… but.. if you don’t try, you definitely don’t get….

However, my idea of raising cash for a fund to support doctors/nurses/etc once it is all over, seems to have some wings – I already have people offering money and some services – so, all in all, quite a busy day again! Jan, too, has been managing way better than I would ever have thought: he does his own walk each day to the super, suitably masked up and terrifying, and is now cycling for hours every afternoon. And then he has a new sport – watching cookery shows on the TV – I know that sounds very unlikely, but having just popped into the sitting room to see what the attraction is, the chef does it all virtually naked. Imagine my surprise.

House Arrest – Day 9

Monday morning, and back to work. Up early after a quick browse through Twitter and Facebook, of course, with a view to doing a proper review later, and to my computer. No emails. That can’t be right??! But yes… no-one that I work for is working. Hmmm. Not quite sure how that will eventually pan out, but I am not going to worry about it now. More pressing things to do.

First, and I know I am a bore, but I am pretty chuffed that my call for help regarding masks actually generated something quite exciting… I am not going to speak too soon, but if nothing else it put me back in touch with a good old PR friend, which is, itself, a positive. So with that one moving forward a little, time to move on to the next project, which you have probably already seen… I won’t go into that here though.

Frankly, whilst it was a bit alarming not to get any emails in the space of the first two hours of the day (normally it is the space of about two minutes), I am quite enjoying this ‘not thinking about work’ thing, as long as I blank off the long-term ramifications. So on my walk down to Aldi today, I decided, first, to look around at things properly – normally we either drive or run on these roads, and when I run, in particular, I don’t actually see anything (if you are reading this and once upon a time I ran straight past you and ignored you, that’s why!) – walking, though, is different.

First, from the top of our hill, and I hadn’t realised this before, you can see the sea (first time we have seen it for eight days, as we are not, obviously, allowed on the beach). Lovely. Next, I walked past the mosque – no-one there, of course. And then down through the palm trees (I love palm trees) and to the deserted road along to Aldi, with amazing views of the mountains in the clouds. Photos attached.

Outside Aldi, the elderly lady (well… I say ‘elderly lady’ but she is probably younger than me… difficult to say with our masks on – perhaps she thinks I am a lovely young thing!) that hands out gloves each morning recognised me straight away, so we exchanged greetings, and she insisted on giving me a second pair of gloves to take home, bless her. Then I did a bit of panic buying (just kidding… you have never seen anything as civilised as shopping in these supermarkets, and how different that is here compared to the UK!) before heading back up the bloody hill again.

Having taken photos on the way down, there was no need on the way back, but I remembered a game that I used to play when I was show jumping my horses (as a young person, you understand…!). Then, whenever I was walking, I would try to ‘see a stride’ between the lines in the pavement – ‘seeing a stride’ means identifying from some way out (from practice), how to meet the ideal place to take off for a jump if you are counting 1, 2, 3, 4, etc in rhythmic strides… imagine running up and kicking a football… you get much more impetus if you pace evenly on your run up to the ball and then strike it on perfect balance… It’s the same thing on a horse. So I practised that all the way home and became very nostalgic.

Having dropped the shopping off to our friends, time for me to do my 7 routine while I waited for Jan to arrive back from the other super. I tell you… it is busy stuff in our house! And then the big event of the day, which was taking it in turns to use the exercise bike – which, due to the fact it was now raining, is now sitting in the doorway into our kitchen from the courtyard. Fantastic – all in all, quite a good training regime!

The afternoon, needless to say, involved quite a lot of my shouting at the TV again, to the point that Jan took himself off to do some housework and get out of my way. That may not sound much of a big deal to many, but if you know us, then you will know how bad it must have been getting! Even during the what now feels like calm Brexit days, I don’t think I ever felt quite as angry as I do now… I assume that most people reading this know what I mean. Embarrassing to be British.

And so the evening starts. More shouting at the TV, potentially doing a bit of Bollywood dance training…. And probably a little bit of wine drinking. The main thing, for me, is to keep off Twitter, which is fast taking over as my biggest addiction (after tennis, obviously). Interestingly, last night, when I took a little peak at it at 3.00 in the morning, I noted that Deborah Meaden (my absolute favourite Dragon from Dragons Den) was also struggling to sleep and twittering away. Is that what happens? Or is just the general anxiety that we are all feeling….?

Funny (well, not at all funny really), how the Brits are going on about how they can’t possible not run, not shop, not go to the pub, blah, blah, blah… in the end, it is just a matter of getting used to it – I think if someone had said to us nine days ago that we would have to stay in lock-down for a month, we would have gone mad. But now… well…. we have our normal routine. And I am afraid that means that you will get a lot more of these blogs in the weeks to come!!

House Arrest – Day 8

So this is my second posting of the day – I couldn’t help myself but to have a bit of a rant in the earlier one, mainly due to my new addiction to Twitter and Facebook and two hours in the early morning reading unbelievable stories of people still asking daft questions as to whether they can go out and do x, y and z in both countries, but many much worse ones in the UK. I still feel that, apart from maybe the US/New York (but even there they seem to have gone into all-out crisis now), London is going to be the worst hit of all in the end. Oh dear… off I go again.

Moving on. Well, this wasn’t an easy day to stay positive, I must say. First some absolutely gruelling videos on Twitter – one UK doctor doing an interview on London Live and completely breaking down on air, terrible pictures, again, from Spain and Italy… and then, as if it wasn’t bad enough, an earthquake in Croatia. One of my friends is in Prague now trying to manage his business, whilst his Croatian wife is stuck in London with their daughter, and her mother and son is in Zagreb going through whoever knows what. Difficult to know what to say to cheer him up, I am afraid.

Then we got the news that Spain has extended the lock-down until April 12th…. Not that surprising. It’s a little bit frustrating, of course, especially as, actually, Marbella and the Andalusian region generally has only had a limited number of cases/deaths – hopefully it will stay that way – but that is how it is. So if we are going to have to continue like this for three more weeks (at least) we decided that some radical action is needed.

First, I did my 7 routine again. Jan decided it would be more entertaining to video it (and no, I am not going to be posting it anytime soon) than to actually do it – again, not at all easy. But not enough to sustain my fitness for another three weeks. So next I downloaded an App giving lessons on Bollywood dancing, which will get its first airing in the morning and which we will do together… haha. You won’t recognise us by the time we get home – although… depending on how we get on, I might post a few photos tomorrow!!

Then, since it is Sunday and there are no shops open – and therefore no excuse to go outside – we pondered our fitness again, and got onto Amazon to see if we could buy an exercise bike or similar… but spookily, and literally just as I was about to press ‘buy’, an old friend from here offered us their own bike, since they are at home in Norway not in their house in Spain. I can’t believe quite how excited I get about even the simplest things now! Battered old bike duly collected and installed under the palm tree! Fantastic.

Talking about sport (and there isn’t very much of that TO talk about) I am wondering how anyone can think that the Olympics might go ahead now: however can any athlete be training at the moment or anytime soon? Probably the only ones that have any chance of being ready if it goes ahead will be the Chinese…. That’s an interesting thought.

This afternoon, in addition to writing my earlier blog, and spending a good bit of time on Twitter (oh GOD, I am going to need therapy by the time I get home – it is just so easy to press that ‘like’ or make a comment.. just can’t help myself. I even answered a tweet by Mr Babis (the Czech Prime Minister, in case you don’t know – but he hasn’t responded!), and had a bit of a chat with one of the former Dragons from Dragons Den in the UK (my favourite programme) whom I loved when she was on that, and love even more now – we discussed all the different work things we might do, if and when we ever get home.

Of course Jan, being a lawyer, and often a matrimonial one at that, is likely to be inundated with work since I am sure there will be a huge rise in the number of divorces/murders by then…….. whereas I do not see any possibility of working in marketing again – maybe back to my old ‘crisis management’ specialisation – but that’s all.  So far I have only really come up with being an ‘influencer’ – if anyone is looking for someone to promote their brand to the well-to-do and very old people’s market!! Or pool cleaner. Obviously needs a bit more thought.

Several of my friends, as mentioned before, suggested that I should attach photos to my blog each day. Today it has been raining, and we haven’t had so many ‘photo opportunities’. I will make up for that tomorrow. For now, therefore, I am just attaching a few photos of the Spanish army moving into Marbella to cheer up some of my lady friends!
More soon!