Monthly Archives: April 2020

(Formerly) House Arrest in Spain – Day 45

view from window

Up early again this morning as too hot to sleep!   So first, as usual, was a browse through my messages and social media, including getting involved in some good (and almost heated in some cases) discussions about the situation in the UK (both on email and on Twitter) which is getting addictive and, if I allowed it (or should I say, if Jan allowed it), I could probably continue with all day.  But that would eventually drive me even madder than usual.

Otherwise, due, of course, to who I follow, a lot of stuff about sport – or the lack of it – and when things might get going again.. not only for us, generally, but professional sport.   It just doesn’t seem likely as things stand, and you have to wonder when any of the ‘big vueltasports’  can realistically start up: I noticed today that the Vuelta a Espana (one of my favourite events to watch), which is already delayed to the autumn, is now planning to start in Spain rather than the Netherlands as planned (which, in my book, is a good thing, as I am sure I am not alone in being irritated by these big tours starting in non-related countries) – but how will it all work with the riders, support teams, followers coming from all over the world… I dunno… I just can’t see it.

Still on social media and sport, there has recently been a ‘virtual tennis tournament’ involving some of the big players, but, to quote one of England’s finest lady tennis players on Twitter this morning, in a not very ladylike way, ‘I would rather clean my toilet than watch virtual tennis’.  I suspect, in the end, that it was mostly about betting than about the need to take part in something related to tennis, and on that basis, no surprise that our Roger wasn’t involved.

Talking about Roger (and I always love an opportunity to do that – and I mean Roger roger dancingFederer rather than any of the Rogers reading this, although I love them too), I saw this fantastic photo of him on Twitter this morning, which I thought was appropriate to include in today’s blog, since I have been doing a lot of dancing myself today (as practice for when I, too, might get back on a tennis court and demonstrate my backhand like this!).

As far as sport for me was concerned today, I decided to take a day off (getting ready to RUN on Saturday so saving my legs!) and instead I did the supermarket walk first thing – what a lovely walk down to Aldi, in glorious weather with the smell of the sea, lots of ants to watch and trees to hug, and not a soul about.   Along the way, I practised a few walk to aldishow-jumping steps and also contemplated whether Bollywood was really for me (I tried out a few of those moves as well, but I am just not sure – just now I am thinking about trying something a bit more energetic – I am going to try a ‘Flamenco’ app that I downloaded earlier tonight … I reckon, if I practice every day, I could have it in reasonable shape by the time I get back to Prague… we will see).

On the way back, then, and in keeping with the sporty mood, I thought about the fact that it should have been the London Marathon the other day, and the Prague Marathon this weekend.   As mentioned before, we were the PR agency for Prague Marathon for a long time – what an experience that was, and how much we learned.  At the time, Jan used to run it each year (as many of you know, because he goes on about it a LOT, he is a ‘Gold PIM King, which means that he has done 15 Prague marathons in a row, amongst others.  I, myself, am a mere ‘PIM Princess’ – a made-up name for my 6 Prague half marathons and a few others along the way too).    One thing that we worked hard on, though, for the Prague Marathon, was getting people to run for charity – something that was unknown in the CR at that time, but which now works well I think.   This, of course, was based on the London Marathon concept – they actually raise more money for charity on one day, than any other one day event in the world!!

So whilst I walked, I thought about how much money charities are going to be losing right now (in all jurisdictions) and how damaging that will be in the long run – which, of course, made me ponder what sort of fund-raising activities we could start to think about once we get back to Prague.  No doubt I will be back to that subject soon – but I am very open to people’s ideas, as usual!

I also stopped off on the hill to listen to the muezzin calling out from the mosque – it mosque in sunbeing Ramadan, there is a lot of that at the moment and very ‘haunting’ to listen too – but no-one at all attending – and that reminds me that I saw a photo of Mecca on Twitter this morning – completely deserted.  I might try to dig it out for tomorrow’s blog, as it is really something.

This afternoon, then, was yet more pool cleaning – Bloody Hell… this may only be a small pool, but what a lot of work it is to look after – years ago, when I was very poor, I pueblodreamed of a day when we might be able to afford somewhere with a pool….as they say, ‘be careful what you wish for’!  Then a couple of runs down to the rubbish bins – no-one in sight today, but the Pueblo looking gorgeous in the sunshine – and then a bit of Flamenco dancing planned before supper… which means another day gone – number 50! Who would have thought!

 

 

(Formerly) House Arrest in Spain – Day 45

view from window
So this morning I am putting a new photo at the top of this blog – and a new title – since we now know that we will officially be allowed ‘out’ on Saturday. At what time, and for how long, is still to be decided (Jan is very worried about the initial timeline that has been talked about – 07.00 – 09.00 for sports… these are not times that he knows very well, and certainly not for exercise!), but still, we feel that we are being ‘set free’!

With a view to staying positive and light-hearted, therefore, I am not going to talk too much about my social media troll this morning (am still recovering from the news that Boris Johnson, after a couple of days off work, is now, presumably, off again, due to having a new baby….. ☹) but there was quite a lot of talk that I found interesting, regarding the potential food shortage in Europe. This is due to the inability of Western European countries to get the vegetables and fruit picked – major exports for countries fruit pickers 2such as the UK and Spain (apparently there is already a huge stockpile of potatoes that have rotted away and asparagus will be next – both commodities that will soon rise in price significantly!). Just as an aside, I am afraid I can’t help but question why there aren’t a whole load of Brits wanting to get fruit picking while they are ‘furloughed’ – bearing in mind that one of the big Brexit ‘slogans’ was ‘taking jobs back’ from the East Europeans that have moved to the UK over the years – but there we are.  As we now know, planes have recently flown in with Romanian fruit pickers so that’s a start…..

One of the reasons that I find this subject so interesting is that I grew up in Kent, in an area that is known as the ‘Garden of England’, surrounded by fruit and vegetable farms, which were (and hopefully still are) huge business.   Since we were required to work during our school and college holidays – I did my first job as an 11 year old, when I was a ‘paper girl’: this required me to get up at the crack of dawn, walk to the local newsagent and collect a big bag of newspapers, and then deliver them to the houses in my selected street.  Actually, I have always said that, having done a lot of really crap jobs as a teenager/young lady, if I lost my business and money now, I would be OK – I’ll go and be a waitress or something (although on yet more reflection, I may live to regret saying that!)) – so anyway, I also spent quite a few summers working in one of the biggest fruit farms near to our house.

What this meant was arriving early in the morning and collecting a huge bag that we had to hang around our neck, and then heading out to whichever fruit was in season to pick. I think I started on pears – we got paid based on the weight of the bags that we had picked during each day, so pears were a good bet.  Then, as the summer moved on, we would move to strawberries (back-breaking), raspberries (loved it, but difficult to get much money as you needed to have a huge amount of raspberries to weigh very much) and cherries. Cherries were my favourites as by the time they are out, it was really hot, so we would be in our bikinis, up in the trees, getting a suntan and stuffing our faces girl falling out of treewith as many cherries as we could eat and pick – and since they also weighed quite a lot, we could earn a lot of money.  I was the ‘cherry champion’ as I would go up the highest trees where the biggest cherries were, and being a strong girl (as mentioned previously) I would have the heaviest bags at the end of the day. It all went horribly wrong when I fell out of one of the highest trees, crashing through the branches and onto the floor, covered in scratches, cherries and twigs, and lost my nerve for ever more – so I won’t be doing any fruit picking any time soon.

Back to today and something that we WILL doing some time soon, and that is visiting our Pueblo pool! Yet more good news out of Spain this morning – from Saturday, not only can we run outside, but we can walk around the Pueblo (in masks and gloves… should be fun in 30+ degrees!) and we can sit by the Pueblo pool (with the required distance between us and anyone else, and no main poolswimming). I am sure we will go there as even though we can’t swim, at least we can see other people (at a distance!). I am just a bit bothered by the masks and gloves – soon we will all be able to tell where someone has come from by their tan – Czechs (even those that sunbathe naked) have to wear a mask at all times, so they must have half brown and half white faces. We, coming from Spain, will be very tanned, but with white mask patches on our faces and also our hands. Indians, who I believe have been locked away for weeks and, based on something I read today, are refusing to come out even though they are now allowed (they must have been reading the Andalusian Facebook pages) must all be completely white…. and the English – well, I guess some will be nicely tanned (from all the good weather and being able to go out a lot) whilst others, who have stayed indoors, will be pale, confused and nervous…

So, anyway, this morning went past in a flurry of excitement – social media, training (biking, again, running on the path for Jan, again, and some weights (in a manner of saturday night feverspeaking) for me, to a backdrop of 80s disco hits, so a lot of dancing in between, and then a couple of hours of sunbathing since, as mentioned yesterday, the sun is now blazing – almost too hot (OK contrary again).   Then this afternoon, I have looked on as Jan has been buzzing about like a blue-arsed fly, with way too much work for his liking, whilst I, after a couple of emails and one phone call, thought I should take it easy, and maybe just do a bit more sunbathing before I start a spot of dancing and rubbish bin walking.  More on all of these activities tomorrow!

Befo

House Arrest in Spain – Day 44

house view
Talk about contrary! We woke up later than usual this morning, and the main thing we discussed before getting going was how we will feel about everything getting back to ‘normal’ – we seem to have got into such a routine that it is almost ‘scary’ to think about changing it! Godtom hanks knows how we will cope with going back to ‘the big city’ of Prague, which could be on the cards in the next few weeks! We feel a bit like Tom Hanks after being stranded on a desert island and suddenly finding he can go home…. Strange. Actually, we have a friend who was stuck in Thailand at about the same time that we realised we were here to stay – he eventually managed to get home to Prague but he said that he cried when he left, and I think we will too. ☹

For now, though, everything continues as normal – some interesting social media watching today, particularly a clip I found from a WHO press conference at the end of January – to my mind, this pretty much proves why some countries (who basically followed their advice, albeit later than ideal) have seen so few infections, and others haven’t…….. Have a look:

 

Quite sobering really. Let’s hope that the powers that be follow them next time around (if there is a next time).

Otherwise a lot of the same old stuff which whips me into a nasty frenzy and which I think I will have to stop reading (and tweeting.. oh dear!). The UK will follow ‘herd immunity’ – then it wont. It will go into lockdown (but it is not really a lockdown in comparison to here, Italy, France) and now it is more interested in how to exit lockdown than what is actually happening.  It thinks that perhaps people arriving in the UK (now??!!) should go into quarantine for fourteen days, but actually, maybe not (frankly, andrej babiswould anyone that has been in a proper lockdown for the last God knows how long even WANT to go to the UK just now anyway..?). And the latest news – it is considering maybe implementing masks – but maybe not. It will consider it for a few weeks more… in the meantime, the numbers are really double what they have been saying, so it’s heading for the worst death toll in the world. For God’s sake. It’s so sad and makes me go completely MAAADDDD!.

So moving on from that. Today, first up was the usual training, which, in my case, meant some Bollywood, the 7 app and biking, and in Jan’s another path run – but how much easier it is, knowing that we only (hopefully) have to do this for two or three more days (Friday being a day off) – so after all that depressing news watching, the only answer was some very loud and boisterous music (Elvis today) combined with full on pedalling for as long as I could keep it going.

At the same time, to take my mind off the pain of the bike, and bearing in mind that in the next few days I am going to have so much more to write about – runs outside, wild parties, tennis competitions, long lunches on the beach…. OK, so that is mostly exaggeration, but at least some runs outside and maybe a little tennis – we should know later today – I thought I should do a quick update on some of the things that I have discussed over the past six or seven weeks with a view to having a whole lot of new things to talk about soon!

• My bike – honestly, I am now emotionally attached to this funny old bike. We originally bought it second hand when we thought we needed an alternative to running, but never used it, so gave it to some friends who live near. As written earlier, we borrowed it back from them when we found ourselves stuck here and it has been a life-saver. I will miss her (yes, she is her) when we leave.

• My bum – having never really used an exercise bike much before (I am afraid I was a bit snooty about them.. not for ‘real’ sports people (!!)), etc, I started off thinking it would be very easy and I was very wrong. Contrary to what I was told by Jan the Elder (who, I might remind, said that after 20 minutes of exercise biking a day, his bum is rock hard my shorts(and, apparently, he will show me when we get back to Prague…..??) mine is not. What it did become, though, was very painful, up until the time that I got my new and wonderful pants from Amazon, which have changed my biking life!! I could go on, but wont, since it wouldn’t be ladylike.

• Our pool (or as Jan calls it ‘poolicek’ (i.e. small pool)) – is so pretty, but with all the rain we have had it has continued to fill up with muck, despite days of draining it, re-filling it, draining it again – actually I have found that endless hours of fun can be had watching water drain and I may just do it occasionally, just for the Hell of it. But today, finally, we have drained it for the last time, filled it up again, and added the new and rather exciting chlorine and anti-fungal stuff that we were finally able to get our hands on (with some DIYs due to open soon, ordering online has been possible and is thrilling). And the main reason for saying that this is the last time, is that the sun is OUT and here to STAY!

• Cockroaches – despite expectations, today has been very uneventful with absolutely no sightings, despite the fumigation that has been done throughout the pueblo. I am almost disappointed.. but only almost. One funny thing is that the Google ‘robots’ that make Google Ads work must have picked up on my talking about cockroaches in these blogs, as every time I go on Twitter, cockroach related adverts pop up! Bizarre. So far, though, (and despite being an advertisers dream, as mentioned previously) I have not been tempted to buy any of the products on offer.

• Supermarkets – whoever would have thought that I would look forward to going to a i love aldisupermarket every day! We are debating whether we should perhaps rent a car again if things really loosen up in the next week or so, but the main reason we are reluctant to do it is that we wont, then, have an excuse to walk to one of the supers each day – and I would miss my visits to Aldi. Now if someone had told me two months ago that I would say that, I would think they had gone raving mad….!

So what about the rest of today.  Well, by the time we had done our exercise, drained the pool and filled it again, been to the rubbish bins a few times and done a bit of work, most of the day had gone.   And for tonight – well, the usual news and social media watching, maybe a bit of ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’ – oh joy – and possibly learning a new exercise routine to try out over the coming days.  Have a look at this!   Lovely!

House Arrest in Spain – Day 43

house view

After a relatively quiet evening yesterday, I woke up early today, mainly due to the noise from new building works somewhere nearby at about 7.30 (I think I have said this before, but I really don’t get why these construction sites were the first to be allowed to get going again…. Sadly, it seems pretty unlikely that anyone is going to buy yet more ‘top of the range penthouses’ and so on any time soon), but, anyway, that gave me plenty of time to do my ‘media watch’ before Jan woke up.

Social media was, of course, full of the return to work of Boris Johnson and when the UK will come out of lockdown, which I am not even going to comment on, plus a lot about the Czech Republic getting back to ‘normal’, which is great news (and hopefully not premature), and further confirmation from Spain that we will be able to get exercising properly from this weekend (and also, regarding Andalusia, where we are and where there have been very few infections, the opening of business and shops later in May!!). So a mostly good and positive way to start the week.

Actually, I know I said I am not going to comment on Boris Johnson and his merry men, but I just can’t help myself. His first speech since returning back ‘to work’ this morning pant wettingwas (as someone said on Twitter today) ‘pant-wettingly awful’ (loved it!). And now I read that the UK government is looking at what the Czechs have done in preparedness for preparing their ‘exit policy’ – as if there could be any sort of relationship between the way the two countries have handled the whole situation. ☹☹☹

So back to this morning, sorry. Amongst various messages regarding my blog (as usual, thank you for them), was one from an old friend who said that ‘we sound as if we are having a great time in our lockdown in Spain’ which made me think a bit. On one hand, as I have said many times before, I do get it that we are very lucky to be just the two of us (i.e. not the one of us, or two plus children), in a nice house with our own outside space. On the other hand, there have been times when we have both thought that this is not at all great (as I have also said before, this lockdown is considerably different to the lockdowns in the CR and UK), but we have been determined not to let this quite difficult situation get us down – and for that, we have our mothers to thank (both amazing women, each worthy of books themselves, but who had unbelievably difficult lives and instilled in both of us the need to ‘stay positive’ whatever the situation – and, trust me, we have both had many situations in the past where that has not been very easy!).

I definitely think that the way that we (ie anyone) manage(s) lockdown is very much related to how close our lives in lockdown are to our norms – and for us, what makes it relatively easy is that our days are not so different to what they usually are when we are here in Spain – lots of exercise, lots of lying about in the sun, lots of nice food and drink, and a bit of working on our computers – if we ignore the fact that we haven’t seen anyone else for more than a couple of minutes’ conversation since we got here (let alone had a proper ‘social situation’), that we can’t actually go outside our own walls other than to walk once a day to the supermarket and, in my case, that I have to be on an exercise bike not the tennis court, then there is not so much to complain about!

But, like I say, I think it is also a state of mind, and we do try to stay positive and try to enjoy whatever the day brings (in its own way) rather than looking too far ahead. And what helps me the most (and now Jan, who has learned it from me) is that in addition to actually wanting to do loads of exercise, we just love music and dance (even though we are pretty crap, ourselves, at both!), so every time that we have felt fed up over the course of the last few weeks, out comes the music and off we go! So bearing that in mind, I saw this video this morning and thought that I would like to share it, as it kind of sums all of that up:

Again, back to this morning.  After the usual social media and so on, and since it was a day off exercise, I was nominated to head to the supermarket as Jan had too much work on (hahaha!!! How things do change!!!).  I hadn’t been to the Spanish super for a while as, of course, I always choose to go to Aldi, but we needed quite a lot of stuff, so off I went, using the 40 minutes’ walk there to call a few people surreptitiously – I always get the feeling that if the police that are likely to pass see anyone looking as if they are enjoying themselves too much, they might pounce!

Today there was quite a lot more traffic than usual (possibly people taking their children out for the first time – safer to do it by car than risk being out in the fresh (or not so fresh?) air?), including another bloody great sports car that hurtled out of nowhere, saw me walking along minding my own business and decided to hoot really loudly just as porschethey got level, which nearly gave me a heart attack – I am still not clear why everyone thinks that they need to drive super-fast just now (and I have seen similar comments in the UK) – but whatever it is, it is really annoying and I have to admit to having made a very rude sign at them as they passed (and muttering about them being ‘pant-wettingly awful’ to myself at the same time).

One thing that I pondered on my walk back (whilst doing some show jumping steps again to keep my hand in, and despite having a bloody great load in my bag) was the number of interesting people that we have living around us (I think it was prompted by the sports car) – years ago, Southern Spain, and Marbella in particular, was a favourite gangsterplace for gangsters from the UK to run to (safe from extradition, difficult to track down, lovely weather (at least, it used to be!)) and then it became known as the ‘St Tropez of Spain’, with lots of pop stars, actors and musicians buying houses here, and then, more recently a favourite place for stag-nighters and footballers (and people that follow them) to come for holidays… so every time a Ferrari or similar zooms past, I always wonder if it is someone glamorous or dangerous, but am usually disappointed. We have, though, had a few glamorous (and/or dangerous) neighbours over the years, one of whom called this afternoon, whilst we were doing something equally glamorous and dangerous (another cleaning of the pool (more on that tomorrow), followed by a spot of gardening and hoovering) to try to tempt Jan to go ‘over the wire’’ with him this evening…. Not something that Jan either understood or wanted to do (apparently it dates back to soldiers in the World Wars ‘going outside the trenches’) – tomorrow is a big day (the cockroach fumigation of the Pueblo), so we need to be prepared.

Finally, and completely irrelevantly, I found this video this morning which I thought was lovely, so in keeping with the music/dance theme of earlier, have a look at this:

 

House Arrest in Spain – Day 42

palm tree on beach

Well, who could believe that in the space of just a few days, we have had yet another exciting Saturday evening!  Last night, just as we were in the middle of the usual news and ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’ watch, the Commissioner of Facebook (who, despite insisting on watching this damned quiz every evening, surreptitiously keeps his eye on the various FB pages that he follows at the same time), noticed two posts on the Andalusian FB pages that required immediate attention. Both were, potentially, earth shattering.  First, that Kim Jong-Un (we have all forgotten about him haven’t we – another nutcase!) had died (but we have heard nothing more on this, so maybe it was just a kim jongrumour – which, bearing in mind that we are talking about the Andalusian FB page, would not be surprising since it announces the most astonishing things on a regular basis, particularly relating to unbelievable ways to get the CV-19 virus) and second, more importantly, that from 2nd May everyone in Spain can go OUTSIDE TO EXERCISE (although that’s not yet 100% confirmed and depends, of course, on numbers continuing to go down).

As you might imagine, that was the cause of some celebration, which meant a lot of shouting and dancing in front of the TV, running around the living room to show each other how we would be running in a week’s time, and quite a lot of red wine drinking… (I will be back to no alcohol on Monday, but, really, it was very necessary!).

So this morning, I woke up early (again, damn) and got straight into my social and regular media monitoring – all good news on the Spanish pages (OK, not necessarily ‘good news’ but much better news, including confirmation of the exercising outside rumour) whilst a lot of gloom and doom on Twitter from the people that I follow in the UK (hardly surprising) – this included the result of a recent poll, where 66% of people questioned said that the UK government is handling the CV crisis effectively…. ??!!** twitterBlimey.  Can I just mention here, an interesting fact that an old friend sent to me today – 20,000 deaths is one third of all civilian deaths, in six years of WWII! And yet there is a lot of discussion about lifting the lockdown, even though the numbers are already nearing the levels of Italy and Spain and growing.   Then mention that Buzz Air will start flying again from the UK from lst May,  but, on the other hand, that it is possible that everyone arriving into UK airports will now go into quarantine for fourteen days (finally…..??!!)) – it’s all a bit mad and contradictory.

Actually we have been talking about airlines a lot today – one of our more exciting daily activities which I haven’t mentioned before, is the monitoring of flights arriving/departing into/from Malaga airport and the same for Prague – that really doesn’t take up a lot of time since, generally, it is about one a day (although sometimes, if we really want to spice things up, we check out flights in and out of Madrid and also Vienna, just to add a bit of variety).  However, this is getting even more gripping now as we are hopeful that there may be a lot more activity soon and we will be able to start thinking about booking a flight back to Prague.

The other airline-related thing is that one of the new jobs that Jan has just been given is in that world, but that is all I am allowed to say!.   Airplanes, though, are very close to CSAJan’s heart, partly as he spends (did spend) so much time on them, and partly as that is where he gets a lot of his work; those of you that know him will know that he loves to chat, particularly when he has someone captive in the seat next to him on a plane, and it is amazing how many of the people that he chats to/up need a lawyer! He is not always so nice, mind you – he has a variety of nasty letters on his computer that get rolled out on a pretty regular basis (so if you ever want to complain to an airline, ask him – he can send you any number of precedents). In the good old days of Czech Airlines, when all of us regular travellers had gold or platinum ‘frequent flyer cards’ (remember them?!), and were automatically upgraded into business class when travelling, Jan was one of the best known of all of us – partly due to the amount of food and drink that he was able to consume, but also the demands that he made of the crew (actually, that reminds me of a time when we were flying somewhere and a steward came and gave him an unasked for bottle of red wine as a ‘gift’. That was very gratefully received and prompted Jan to ask him why he had been singled out to receive such treatment, to which the steward responded that Jan actually featured in their training manual under ‘how to deal with a difficult customer’!). Now you see what I have to cope with!

That reminds me of another ‘chatty Jan’ story – he came home one evening and said that he had just got an interesting new case from a woman that he had met in the sauna a few days previously (a woman who, incidentally, had also been a former top model!).  Apparently he had given her a business card, and she had now called to see if he could act for her on some litigation.  I asked him whether they had both been naked at the time (being two Czechs in a sauna that is a completely normal question…. Czechs having saunasabsolutely no problem with being naked whenever and wherever they are – quite impressive really) and of course the answer was ‘yes’, to which I asked how he had happened to have a business card on him, and where he had kept it…. I remember thinking at the time that it was an interesting idea for a new product – business card holders to wear in the sauna….but I digress.

So, as usual, we did a bit of airport watching (today in Malaga airport they had a bit of a rush on with three planes departing…. ), before getting cracking with our exercise for the day, and then the plan, since it was Sunday (or as Jan would say, ‘v neděli se nedělá’ (or ‘on Sunday, do nothing!), and despite the fact that every day at the moment is a ‘neděle’), was to do nothing very much – other than lie in the sun and contemplate.  Exercise for Jan was the same as every other day now (but not for much longer?!!) and for me was a combination of cycling and 7 app, as usual – I decided to save the Bollywood dance routine and maybe give it a go when I took the rubbish down later (actually I decided against that, but interesting that I am not alone in making the ‘taking of rubbish’ into an event! – see the latest link that I have been sent, which shows just how much fun can be had with a rubbish bag):

So after exercise, time for sun-bathing, and then just as we were pondering what to do about eating, our friends down the road sent us a message to say that they would be cooking up a Chinese feast for us later, so we should come down and collect it once ready.  Fantastic.

After that, and after yet more sun, we were exhausted, so all that was left was to have a snooze and look forward to another action packed evening… and then Sunday would be done.

House Arrest in Spain – Day 41

lunatic picture

As usual, I woke up early, but also with a general feeling of optimism – the news of the Czech border (and, today, the Belgian and German borders) relaxing their restrictions has cheered us up no end, as already mentioned. For me, too, it has been really nice to get such a lot of feedback from this blog over the last few weeks (for which, thank you everyone!), and especially today, when I had quite a few comments to respond to, plus a couple of very interesting articles and links sent over that I will refer to later.

First though, as usual, I started the day with some trolling about on social media, but nothing too different to report from that – a huge amount about Donald and the detergent (incidentally, Jan the Elder sent me the picture at the top of this blog this morning, which I think, in view of my comments yesterday and on other blogs, is so appropriate that it had to take centre stage today), and a similar amount about the UK, the shady character known as Dominic Cummins and his influence over Boris, plus a few other bits and pieces of business news that I found interesting – some talk of the UK bringing in a wealth tax, for example, which always kicks off a lot of controversy when it is mentioned… and various other things that I may rant about another time, but not today as it is Saturday and I am in a light-hearted mood.

Someone else that has been sending me ideas and links is my friend Adam, who in a comment last night asked what Jan and I have been eating since I never really allude to food (mainly as I spend most days trying NOT to think or talk about it… ).  But, anyway, to answer him and the others that have asked – we have a kind of routine, whereby Jan is the ‘head of food and beverage’ and I am the ‘executive chef’ (too much working with hunterhotels, obviously!). Jan’s role is to ‘go hunting’ every day (even though I go to the supermarket too, but for more obvious ‘basics’) and he then decides what food to buy and when we might eat it – and since there are very few things that Jan enjoys more than looking at, thinking about, and eating food, he is ‘happy as Larry’ in this role.   I just cook it, (and also clean up before and after……☹) which I also enjoy, but in the past haven’t always had that much time for.

What do we eat though? As I have mentioned before, I would be quite happy just eating cheese, chocolate, a bit of French bread and some berries each day (oh, and maybe somebeans baked beans) as I don’t really like a lot of ‘normal food’, whereas Jan is also fussy, but has the advantage of actually liking salad, vegetables, fish and meat – no sauce, no sweet stuff… just plain and simple (plus booze, which he also enjoys…! 😊). So since we are both ‘fitness freaks’ to a point, we tend to eat pretty healthily – yoghurts and fruit in the morning, salads or eggs of some shape or form at lunchtime and fish/shellfish or occasional meat with some more salad/veg or occasional pasta or rice in the evening… boring. Having said that, I do smuggle in some chocolate, cheese and/or ice cream occasionally…. (another reason for going to Aldi…!).  We are not very interesting I am afraid.

What is a bit more interesting is that Spain, one of the biggest growers of fruit, vegetables and salad stuffs in the world, exports all the good stuff and keeps what is not exportable to sell in the shops here – Spanish people not being that fussy about the shape of a fruit farmtomato or potato, or that into fruit. So whilst we always look forward to buying lots of nice local produce when we first arrive here, we are usually disappointed (I have even been known to pop off to the nearest Marks & Spencer to get something for dinner! – although not at the moment, sadly…. or maybe ever again….?).

So back to today – it being Saturday, Jan had to do a ‘long run’ (not quite the same as what he does in Prague – but endless runs up and down the path) whilst I did some Bollywood (I haven’t yet got brave enough to try the Zumba link that I was sent), my 7 app and 40 minutes on the bike, singing along to Queen (there is only one Queen in my eyes (OK, so maybe 2 or 3…if I include Elton… 😊) – marvellous!   And, actually,  that reminds me that Adam also very kindly asked about my bum in his message this morning – what a revelation the new cycling shorts have been.  I have to say, I still find the look and general feel of them a bit unsavoury, and I now understand why the guys going to the spinning classes in my gym back home always walk as if they are clenching something in their cheeks since these shorts do have quite an effect on how you walk or sit on anything other than a bike, but, who cares!  What a difference they make!

So, anyway, exercise took up most of the morning, and the afternoon was spent with some work (Jan, as anticipated, is getting quite busy – two new cases relating to people not being paid, one relationship on the rocks, and we are only a few weeks in – at this rate, he may yet keep me in the style that I would like to be accustomed to), some sunbathing, and a few other bits and pieces, including, and this is the really exciting bit, a couple of rubbish bin runs.

Which brings me, rather cleverly, to another link that was sent to me today, this time by Saint Rostya.   I think I have mentioned before that one of our many highlights each day is visiting the bins at the end of our Pueblo, both due to the ability that this gives us to increase our ‘steppage’, as well as the opportunity to legally bump into another human being – something that has now happened on quite a few occasions and that can be quite exciting. What I hadn’t realised, however, was that the rubbish itself can be used as an interesting prop – see below:

https://www.bbc.com/news/video_and_audio/headlines/52406474/coronavirus-dancer-uses-bin-night-to-perform-for-neighbours

I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I can’t help feeling that this could be a Bollywood opportunity – leave that with me….

House Arrest in Spain – Day 40

house view

Completely out of the blue, we heard last night that the Czech government had agreed to open up the borders pretty much straightaway, and that incoming Czechs/residents will not have to go into fourteen days quarantine if they produce a negative CV-19 test result certificate, whilst outgoing Czechs/residents can go pretty much where they want.  Well. We knew that they have been loosening restrictions very quickly, but this?!  What turmoil!  If some planes start flying, shall we try to go now? Do we want to go anyway?  What if we can’t then come back?  I expect it will take us a while to figure it all out, but one thing I AM clear on, is that we both feel so much better psychologically to know that once there are some flights, we CAN go (ie without quarantine) if and when we want to, even if we don’t… if you see what I mean.

Of course, on reflection this morning, we realised that none of this is going to be as straightforward as it sounds – it is all well and good to say that the borders are open, but that, presumably, depends on whether the countries on the other sides of the borders are CSAOK with Czechs pitching up there as and when they want… because unless they are, then there are unlikely to be any planes. No doubt it will all become clearer over the coming days……

So this morning, I obviously debated all of this a lot whilst I waited for Jan to wake up, but didn’t really come to any conclusion, other than that it would be nice to go back to Prague at some point in the not so distant future…. and in the meantime, enjoy the sun shining and continue as normal. My usual troll of social and other media threw up a few interesting bits; first that I was clearly not the only one to be irritated by Handoncock having announced, as mentioned previously, that the UK will be leading the way to finding a vaccine – lots of Tweets about other countries doing the same this morning, plus one really nice related article about training sniffer dogs to be able to find people that are carrying the virus (amazing if they can do it… although slightly alarming, I feel, to be ‘sniffed out’ whilst waiting for luggage at an airport (assuming we ever get to an airport again): See the link:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/52351553

Then a video of Donald Trump that is completely beyond belief (his latest suggestion of injecting disinfectant to be considered as a possible cure – the man is a complete lunatic and almost makes one thankful to have Boris Johnson (but only almost… and, actually, do we even ‘have’ Boris Johnson? We haven’t seen him for weeks now)…. But not much, at that time, about the CR lifting travel restrictions…which made me wonder if we had just dreamed it all!

Incidentally, Jan, having been very against my getting involved with social media, and pretty reluctant to show his face himself, has suddenly started to take an interest.   His morning, now, starts with checking what I have been up to on Twitter (and he is usually pretty horrified by the number of ‘likes’ and rants that I have made while he is asleep (as am I) and then his own policing of Facebook.    Just diversifying slightly, but hang in john macthere –  my friends know that I am a huge fan of Roger, but actually my tennis ‘’heart’ has always belonged to John McEnroe. Since his playing days he has become a real ‘elder statesman’ of tennis, and he often commentates on Eurosport – one of the things he does during the big tournaments is a TV spot where he is dubbed the ‘Commissioner of Tennis’, and where he discusses all sorts of controversial issues relating to tennis.  Jan, for some reason (although there are several similarities I suppose…) has just decided to declare himself the ‘Commissioner of Facebook’ (in John’s honour) and he is now  making quite a name for himself … more on that in a later edition!

So back to today.   It being Friday, it was a ‘day off exercising’ for both of us, which meant that we needed to i love aldiincrease our usual ‘steppage’ (which, without any ‘training’, visiting the supermarket, or going to the rubbish bins, is pretty minimal), so that meant, for me, a trip to Aldi and for Jan, the Spanish supermarket in the other direction.

Today, instead of my usual show jumping steps and so on, I got lost in a bit of reverie about tennis, partly due to thinking about the Commissioner, partly from reading some interesting discussions going on with Roger [Federer] on Twitter, and also from being sent this video, which, even if you don’t like tennis, is worth a look!:

https://nypost.com/2020/04/21/video-italian-girls-play-rooftop-tennis-during-coronavirus-lockdown/amp/

Sadly, I am starting to wonder if I will ever play again, with no-one on any nearby roof, and my club here (the Manolo Santana Club, headed up by the man himself, which is just around the corner from Aldi), closed, deserted, and probably near to going bust… !  Hey ho.manolo club

So back to Aldi. Having made do with all sorts of made-up masks since we have been here, a set of medical masks that I ordered from Amazon pretty much the day we arrived (albeit with little hope of them getting here!), turned up yesterday, together with the iPhone charger that I had ordered in a mad panic on Wednesday when mine packed up (imagine! I can cope with not being able to go outside to exercise, no shops open, not seeing anyone else, rain for the first five weeks…. But a dead iPhone???!!!!).

So today, on my arrival outside Aldi (having walked down bare, so to speak, since there was no-one around), I put the first of these special masks on, feeling rather professional and sensible in comparison to my usual strange set up, but blimey! However do people medical maskcope with these?!! First if I got it high enough to cover my nose properly, it kept getting in to my eyes so I had to pull it down again, but then if I pulled it down a bit, my nose got stuck above it.. and then bending down (or even just bending slightly to look at something in the freezer or something) made the mask slide down and then one of the hooks came off my ear… and all of this with my gloves on (which I have now found a solution to – wearing my leather gloves, and putting the plastic ones over those is relatively simple) – BUT it’s difficult to manage the fiddliness of the mask with the gloves on.. plus aren’t we supposed to avoid touching our faces…. God.  And the looks that people give you when they realise that you are obviously a medical mask virgin?!   Not sure that I will be wearing one of these again….!

So the mask went in the bin outside, along with the torn plastic gloves, and I marched back in a sulk, but with a large bag of goodies that should, when combined with Jan’s horde, be enough to keep us going indefinitely!   And then it was out into the sun again, and despite not having done a lot, Friday done and the weekend looming again!

 

House Arrest in Spain – Day 39

house view
This morning was one of those mornings when I opened my eyes and, once my brain kicked in, thought ‘f…k’. The reason for this being the news coming out of Spain last night that yes, the lockdown will be extended for another fourteen days from Monday, (which we expected) but no, nothing will change, except for kids under 14 being allowed out with one parent, as mentioned yesterday. That was a bit of a blow, to be honest – whilst we have been managing all of this very well (and in a lot of comfort, I know), we were really hoping for a little bit of a let-up for this next lockdown, in view of everything that has been said and the fact that the numbers have been coming down drastically. I can’t help but feel now that this could keep on going indefinitely….

So what that news meant as far as last night was concerned was that first, C sent me a message to say that he had found us a flight out (bless him) – another day I would have probably said ‘don’t worry about us, we are fine’ but yesterday… I just wanted to get out of here. Unfortunately/fortunately, the flight wasn’t workable (we would have to start from Barcelona and have no way of getting there) – then Jan was cross that I would even want to go at the moment (having been overly wound-up by some of the stuff being said in the Czech media and Facebook pages at the moment, and not feeling at all inclined tobottle of rioja go back to Prague), so that resulted in an argument, which resulted in way too much red wine, which resulted in my feeling vile (or, as C used to say, ‘waking up with a black dog on my shoulders’) this morning.

However, despite the ‘black dog’ and after my first, immediate, thoughts on waking, things didn’t seem so grim after all… the sun was shining again, my leg didn’t seem so sore, and I even had a few proper work emails to answer before getting into my usual social media routine. Some interesting things on that this morning – one that ‘Captain Tom’, the 100 year old former soldier in the UK who has raised something like GBP 25 million for the NHS, now has his own press agent and publicist (for God’s sake??!!!!… am I just getting way too cynical in my old age….? But… something doesn’t smell quite right there). Then there was the usual bashing of the UK government, which I joined in – couldn’t help myself. And then a few interesting things about finding a vaccine and the fact that ‘Handoncock’ said that he was putting a huge amount of money towards funding the research for it in the UK too – I thought when I watched his press con the other day, that it is doubtful that this would be the only research going on, and then this morning I saw this:

https://investors.biontech.de/news-releases/news-release-details/biontech-and-pfizer-announce-regulatory-approval-german

I also saw something similar from Johnson & Johnson earlier this week, and an article by an Israeli scientist along the same lines… so one has to feel optimistic (and wonder, yet again, whether it wouldn’t be good for the UK (and others) to work with other countries rather than doing its own thing…..? – but maybe they are (I can already hear someone responding to this comment….!). In any event, no doubt there is a lot of money to be had for whichever pharma company gets to a successful vaccine first….).

Today, then, continued in its usual Groundhog Day fashion – me with a bit of Bollywood and a lot of cycling to very loud music (trying to do some ‘spinning’ but difficult on an ancient old bike that has only ever been used in a very gentle fashion in the past!) – simple mindsmostly Talking Heads and Simple Minds (this reminds me that someone asked me after mentioning Billy Idol in a previous blog who he was, so in case he is reading this now, these were bands in the 80s, when elderly former rock chicks were in their prime) and a lot of singing. And then the usual working/sunbathing/news watching which took up all the afternoon.

During that time, though, and still on the subject of music, we were treated to someone, somewhere near, playing jazz on the saxophone. How fantastic was that? The whole area went very quiet (even though there is no-one about there is usually some ‘background noise’ during the afternoon – palm tree cutting (it wouldn’t be Marbella if there wasn’t the constant sound of that!), birds, occasional helicopters going over (same comment re Marbella), etc, plus a very boisterous painter just up the road who seems to cough (rather worryingly and also annoyingly) pretty much all day long. But once the music started, all of that stopped.

It reminded me of a story about one of my amazing friends, a violinist and now speaker on leadership and similar topics, called Miha Pogacnik. During the Croatian/Serbian war, Miha took his orchestra into some of the worst areas, set up in the village square or similar type of place, and started to play – at which point, he said, even the snipers stopped shooting. He now lectures on ways in which music can be used to ‘quieten the noise’ in business and other situations (take a look at: http://www.mihavision.com). I am sure he is going to be in a lot of demand once we all get back to work again (if we ever do). However, at the moment, I think it is going to take a lot more than music to get this virus to go away.

Still on the subject of music, and wrapping up what I believe is a quite grown-up blog for a change, if you, like me, like a bit of cello sometimes, and for my lady friends who will appreciate this the most, take a look at the link below.   Lovely:

House Arrest in Spain – Day 38

house view
I couldn’t believe my eyes this morning when I looked at the clock and saw that I had woken up at 09.30! I think that has never, ever, happened before, but I put it down to having finally watched something good and non-CV-19 on the TV last night – with the consequence of having fewer mad dreams running about in my head (and no rustling or rattling) – as well as being pretty tired from not much sleep for the last couple of nights, as previously explained.  What this meant, however, was that there was only time for a very quick browse through social media and so on before we were up and out to make the most of the sun that, finally, was properly burning through the windows!twitter

Regarding the UK, the Tweeters (Twitters?) were scathing as ever (maybe more so) of the latest mess that the government has made regarding PPE (I will be told off for saying this by one or two of my friends, who believe that my constant ranting against the UK government is because I am a ‘remainer’, but, actually, I feel that it is nothing to do with that, but more that I just can’t bear the disaster that is unravelling with the CV-19 situation there, and even the most right-wing media is starting to say the same – I don’t think it has anything to do with our own political leaning…).

Incidentally, I have just re-read that paragraph and I am reminded of one of my first blogs, where I said that we were having to get used to all sorts of new terminology that we had never heard of before, and which we now toss about as a matter of course – ‘lockdown’ features in most sentences, ‘Corona Virus’ is no longer referred to as such but more as Covid 19, or with the cute short-form of ‘CV-19’, ‘testing’ will only ever mean testing for CV-19 from now on, furloughed (anyone used that before?  Now it is used as a matter of course – for example, ”I’m Ok, because I’ve been furloughed’ – eh??????!!)  Then ‘flattening the curve’ (i.e. as has been done in Spain, but not in the UK (nasty)), and nowadays, most of the time on UK TV, PPE (hmmm…personal protective equipment?)?  Sorry to rant on.. but it is interesting isn’t it?  Not only has this situation changed our lives, but it is slowly changing our vocabulary too….

Anyway, moving on to the Spanish government, which has also irritated me today by first announcing that children will be allowed out from the 26th April (but only to go with one parent to the supermarket – how exciting would that be for them!), but now changing their minds and saying that children up to the age of 14 may go for walks with their parents – it is not clear for how long or where to. So basically, as things stand, people can go for walks with dogs or walks with their children if they are under 14. But if you don’t have a child under 14 or a dog, then you can still only go to the supermarket (and in some places, that is still only once a week).  I think there will soon be some mother and childtrading going on for dogs and children – I, for now, plan to ask my friend Pier if I can, at the very least, borrow her daughter on a regular basis, and she will get even fitter than she is already by walking with me for hours on the beach!!! On second thoughts, she also has a dog, so I might go for both, on the basis of a bit of extra security….

So we wait to hear what the next thing is going to be – we know the ‘State of Emergency’ is being delayed for another fourteen days from Monday, but we are hoping that some things will be a bit relaxed… I am not, though, holding my breath. Meantime, in the CR, there was mention of people being allowed to travel out and in soonish, but only to selected countries (and, to quote one of the Czech politicians, ‘it is unlikely that these will include Italy or Spain for some time’). Well, I am sorry, but that really annoys me, since we in Spain (and Italy) have been in the toughest lockdowns of the lot, so I would have thought that it would be a pretty safe bet that people coming from these two countries, or people visiting and then returning, are unlikely to be carriers.  But, as I have said before, who would want to be a politician at the moment – doomed if you do, doomed if you don’t.

So back to our normal day – well, not a lot to report really. I did a good workout – 10 minutes Bollywood, 10 minutes on the 7 App and 40 minutes on the bike, plus quite a lot of loud singing for most of that, and then some bits of work and phone calls. Jan did his usual run, also some work, and then a trip to Aldi (my turn really, but still saving my legs). And in between all of that, the sun has been shining so we have managed quite a bit of sunbathing as well.

I spoke to my friend Adam for some time this morning too, and he reminded me that peacockthere are a few bits that I haven’t mentioned recently, so I thought that as this rather a dull blog today, I would do a quick update on those – the pool is now full of water (but a bit grubby due to the nightly storms and no chlorine or other guff to put in it at the moment), but we have both managed to go in, even though the water is, at the moment, a bit chilly.   I have even cleaned the peacock (not Jan, the wall mural).  Adam suggested that I took a photo of myself in it as proof, but I am afraid that is not going to happen anytime soon (I am still working on the ‘New Age Traveller’ look that I seem to have fallen into), but I am sure that Jan will oblige soon.new age traveller

Then the cockroach treatment seems to have worked (fingers crossed) but there is likely to be more drama on that soon, since now that these type of companies can work again (??!!) the whole Pueblo is going to be fumigated next week – so we are looking forward to that…..!   And the rustling that we felt might be the long forgotten rat, was, in fact, a burst pipe – when you are paranoid, dripping water can, really, sound like a rat gnawing through a wall, trust me.

So that’s Wednesday done and dusted.   Six weeks since we arrived here from Prague – six weeks?!!!!   It feels like six years.   I wonder what the next six weeks will bring…….!

 

House Arrest in Spain – Day 37

house view
So last night (and apologies for going on about cockroaches again) I didn’t sleep well. In case you don’t know, cockroaches make themselves known by either shooting out in front of you and scaring you to death, or you can hear them rattling about and then you prepare yourself for going into battle (or prepare Jan, actually), so that meant that all of yesterday evening and most of the night, my ears were out on stalks (if that is possible). jan with bat
Actually during the evening, we heard a lot of rustling under the stairs but since there is nothing underneath them (well, there must be something – earth?) we couldn’t find out what the cause was.

(This reminds me of a story from last summer when I was at home in Prague (that other life….).  We were having some wiring replaced in the house here in Spain and our friend John (the husband of our paella-cooking saint down the street) who has keys, had let the electricians in to sort it while we were gone, and during the day I had a call from the Pueblo manager to tell me that the electricians had found what the problem was, and that was, according to her, that ‘there is a rat in the house and it must have chewed through the wiring’..…. Talk about freak out! In the end, it was a false alarm (thank God, otherwise the house would have been on the market a long time ago!), but I was reminded of this by the rustling mentioned above and started to stress that there may have been some truth in it after all…….).

So we had the rustling under the stairs, which remains unsolved, and then I spent the night imagining that I could hear rattling about in the bedroom, so that wasn’t really conducive to sleep, which meant that I started my social media and other online trolling very early this morning! Amongst an awful lot of other guff, I did find enough airportinformation to make me think that we will be able to get back to Prague in the not-so-distant future, so that was cheering, although there was plenty of other news to ensure that I could get very depressed if I chose (mostly regarding the UK and its sham of a government, but I won’t go into that here).

What I did ponder during the night, and I also saw a few things about it during my trolling (due, of course, to the people that I am following) is how we will all need to adapt our businesses (if they exist at all) when our countries start to get going (or, on reflection, well before that in order to be ahead of the game). I thought about how us ‘old uns’ had had to do that after the financial crisis of 2008 (at that time, my PR/marketing agency (as it was then) worked mostly for real estate, financial and sports clients and in the space of about one month I lost 80% of my business) – but we had learned to adapt a long time before that, due to the impact of the internet and then social media – I even wrote some articles in those early days about ‘not ever getting a website’ and ‘antisocial media’ – I was young then, what did I know?! So how is it going to be for all of us this time around?

One thing that I am sure will be true (and has always been, in my opinion… it’s just that people don’t always want to hear it) – is that once things start going back to ‘normal’, or, at least, the ‘new normal’, the companies that will do the best will be the ones that take their marketing seriously and get going the soonest (which means spending some money). So with that thought… I think I have found myself a new project – some marketing webinars. Hmmm. Will come back on that once I get my head around it.

Anyway, back to today. I am still feeling my calf muscle (which I am sure I damaged running on our rocky path), and it would be ‘sod’s law’, and fairly typical for me, that the government will announce that we can start going out to exercise, and I won’t be able to… so I have decided that I will need to limit my walking to the supermarkets and doing too much leg stuff on my 7 app for a while, so that it can be OK once that news comes through (which could still, of course, be another few years yet…).  So that meant for today, a bit of Bollywood (that seems relatively safe, as legs are relatively static, it is just everything else that moves…😊.) and then 45 minutes on the bike, together with my new pants (which have been washed since last time, don’t worry).

The biking had to take place in the kitchen as, and sorry to be boringly English, the puerto banusbloody weather is unbelievable – so much for Costa del Sol!  Right now we are back to pretty much full-on rain again (which reminds me, I spotted a thread on the Andalusia FB page that I need to check out again – it started with ‘I moved out to the Costa del Sol a couple of months ago and since then the weather has been terrible. Does anyone know why?’  I suspect I can guess what came next……!’).   But, whilst I doubt that the rain causes Coronavirus, one thing that I read today and thought was interesting (having said I wont talk about the weather, I now will!) – the reason why the weather forecasts are not as accurate as they used to be (understatement of the day) is that a lot of the data used by weather forecasters is usually provided by pilots of commercial airplanes and ships.   So while there are so few planes and ships, there is less accurate information.  Who knew?!

Anyway, biking was done while Jan ventured down the path for his now regular run, and the afternoon was taken up with work, which is still dribbling in, whilst we looked out on a huge thunderstorm which, we hope, will clear these clouds away once and for all (unless, of course, they really have been caused by CV-19, in which case we are doomed)!