Monthly Archives: October 2020

Barry, Boris and Barbara

I had quite a few comments after my last blog, particularly about calling the virus ‘Barry’ (in case you didn’t see it, my idea came from the way that all these bad weather situations get given affectionate names, for example ‘Storm Barbara’ which is lurking about in Malaga at the moment). Most liked the idea (although my friend Barry wasn’t very happy!), but one, Roger (not Federer), suggested that a better name would be Boris, which I loved, and which is why I will now be referring to the virus as such.

On the subject of Boris and so on, the last few days have been a bit crazy, to the point that I am having to keep away from social media (as much as is possible) otherwise there is the potential for never getting off it…. Chaos is reigning in the Czech Republic, with the Health Minister ‘doing a Cummings’ (hmm.. better explain that I think, since it has nothing to do with the UK Health Minister, Hand-on-cock….! In case you don’t know, in the UK the chief advisor (and dictatorial lunatic) to Boris Johnson is called Cummings, and he made a name for himself by travelling with his wife right across the country whilst both of them had the Boris, being caught out sightseeing and so on whilst the whole country was in lockdown.

In the CR, the Health Minister was caught, apparently coming out of a restaurant at 11.00 pm, without a mask, when all restaurants in the country are closed (other than for take-out up until 8.00 pm), and wearing a mask is now obligatory). Whether he will resign (he has been asked to, unlike Cummings) remains to be seen. Personally, I am still pondering it all (being a good PR girl) – my main question being, how did a photographer from the country’s main tabloid happen to be hanging around a relatively unknown restaurant in a quiet part of Prague at 11.00 pm at night….? I would hate to think it was a set-up, since that would beg the question, who would do that….??!!!

Spain, in comparison, is ‘relatively normal’; lots of fighting between the different political parties, Madrid and a few other areas in a sort of lockdown, and the usual mad stuff being put out there on the Spanish FB pages (caused, I might say, by most of the Spanish (and other) media stoking things up in an overly dramatic fashion, depending on which political party they are aligned to, but nothing new with that).

Down here, though, there is still not too much sign of the Boris (and hopefully there won’t be), nor ‘Storm Barbara’, and life is continuing in a fairly normal fashion (in a ‘new normal’ sort of way, and with a couple of additional restrictions added today) to the point that there is even an international tennis tournament starting this afternoon at the big tennis centre down the road from us, so no doubt we will be paying a visit to that in the next few days (peering through the hedges since no spectators are allowed).

With the last two days being full-on rain we had the chance to catch up with some work bits (Jan is quite busy still, whilst I have managed to ‘self-generate’ a few things (actually I have overdone it a bit so I have actually ended up doing more than I really wanted to!), preparing a new website focusing on hotels and restaurants, and writing a blog to go on it (which enabled me to spend a bit of time in the lovely Puente Romano hotel, talking hotels and restaurants with the GM and his PR lady.. and, really, I am never happier than when I am doing that kind of thing (with a few exceptions, particularly tennis, which I am going to be doing again this evening!).

Actually, during the course of one of my visits there I bumped into the owner of my absolute favourite shop in Marbella, which every time I have walked past has been closed. Apparently it is opening just a couple of hours a day (over lunchtime, which is the time we are least likely to be around there) but she offered me a ‘private viewing’ if I wanted to call her and she would open up just for me!!!! Blimey. How Madonna-esque is that?! I am tempted, of course, but being British and polite (and unable to say no and offend someone), I would, for sure, feel obliged to spend a fortune and end up with a load of clothes that I have no reason to wear anymore. Or should I, as a way to help the local economy? Still pondering (but not mentioning to Jan as I can imagine what he will say!!!).

Today, anyway, the sun is shining, so we have been out and about early on; me to the pool since I am playing tennis tonight (third time, and knee bearing up, although it is still relatively ‘gentle’), and Jan to the beach for his usual run, which then turned into a very ‘un’usual one, since it transpires that we now have to wear masks all the time, even when exercising. Jan, as mentioned before, whilst being very law-abiding (he is, after all, a ‘solicitor of the Supreme Court’, as he loves to tell me on a regular basis) absolutely hates masks and swears horribly every time he puts one on (which means that the air is blue for most of the day), and was not at all amused, therefore, to find out that his reading of today’s new rules was wrong (i.e. that it didn’t apply to the Marbella region) by being stopped by a policewoman on a motorbike and told he had to wear one after all.

Since he didn’t have one with him, he was asked for his identity card (in order to have a fine issued), which he also didn’t have…. luckily, and maybe it was his pretty blue eyes, the policewoman took pity on him and let him go…. this time… (incidentally, his new Czech friend, one of the many that he has picked up over the last few days, questioned him today as to whether ‘wearing a mask at all times’ included when lying on the beach, to which the response (after some research on the Alicante Ladies page), is that you have to wear when when walking or sitting, but not when lying down…. really??? No Boris germs are expelled when lying down? Or you can’t catch them when you are. There must be a joke in there somewhere……)

Anyway, other than discussing that and all the other usual things that keep us occupied (and no, no fags OR mattresses have arrived in the last couple of days…. ), we have meandered through the day and are now pondering whether I will wear a mask for tennis tonight and, if so, whether I will survive to talk about it tomorrow. We will see!

It’s raining Czechs!

Yesterday we woke up for the first time in months to pouring rain and news that ‘Storm Barbara’ is going to hit Malaga in the next few days (I know I’m not the first to say it, but isn’t it weird how all of these bad weather conditions get given such affectionate names?!). Whether it will hit Marbella, which lives in its own little bubble, remains to be seen, but let’s hope not (in fact, so far, no sign of a storm, but a full-on power cut for most of the day which wasn’t expected).

Meantime, the CV-19 virus is going nuts all over the world (maybe we should give viruses nice names too – I think I am going to call this one ‘Virus Barry’ from now on, or ‘Barry’ for short, which will be easier) – and whilst in Spain he still seems to be mostly creating havoc in Madrid and a couple of other areas (sadly, today, Thursday, Spain has reached more than 1 million cases, more than a third in Madrid… that’s pretty scary), there is no doubt that everyone is watching what he is going to do next, even down here.

With the news coming out of the UK and the CR even worse than Madrid, I am back to starting my days with a lot of social and regular news-watching, and generally raging on Twitter (I saw this picture on there this morning, which seemed particularly relevant…!) plus, sadly, this time around we have several friends that are suffering, either directly from Barry or from situations caused by him, which means a lot of messages and calls to be made before starting the day proper. It’s not that easy, therefore, to stay cheerful, unless a lot of radical action is taken, but I know that is how it is for everyone…..

Yesterday, due to the weather, which has continued today, was a bit of a ‘non-day’, very much like the early days of lockdown. Once we got moving, Jan went for one of the killer runs that I used to do (when I could) around the mountain (and whilst there was a break in the rain) and I walked – actually I spent my whole walk (an hour) on the phone to a friend who asked me if there were many people about, and I realised that I had actually only seen one the whole time I had been out … and even that was Jan!. It’s that quiet down here. Then a bit of work, and a bit of constructive stuff around the house (in my case) before heading to the supermarket, and that was pretty much it. Not very exciting.

The highlight of the day, though, was when we headed out later for a walk on the beach-track, once the rain had stopped. I am not sure if I mentioned it when it happened, but at some point during the lockdown period when we could first run on the beach, I managed to collide with a bench at the side of the track – my eye had been caught by a beautiful dog in the garden of one of the houses that line it, and I was so busy looking at him/her that I didn’t notice the bench and ran straight into it – in fact, I suspect that was the starting cause of my knee injury. Not only did the noise of the collision cause the people walking past to nearly have a heart attack, as, of course, did I, but it also made the dog jump out of his/her skin, and run off terrified. Since then I have looked out for it, but not seen him/her again until yesterday – here he/she is – gorgeous! (I have always loved chows – Jan does too… he thinks he is being clever when he greets one ‘cau chow’ and falls about laughing… hey ho).

Today, then, as already mentioned, we woke up to yet more rain, and I was back to yet more social media and Twitter ranting – pretty much bad news everywhere I looked. I think I am going to have to stop doing this soon as it is not a good way to start the day – Jan, however, tends not to look until later, and then, after a couple of glasses of wine he likes to get well and truly ‘stuck in’ – as I saw on reviewing FB this morning. Oh dear. The Alicante ladies must have missed him…… So, with the rain really bucketing down,, I was onto the bike for 45 minutes before handing it over to Jan, who despite being a ‘Gold PIM King’ is a bit of a ‘fair-weather runner’, and then it was pretty much work and TV watching for the rest of the day until late pm, when we were finally able to head out for our regular walk.

One really weird thing just as we got to the beach track; what first sounded like a swarm of bees above us, eventually showed itself to be a large black ‘drone’ buzzing about on the water’s edge. Since the beach was more or less deserted (obviously after all the rain) we couldn’t really understand what it was doing – was it a police-drone? We saw a lot of those about during lockdown, but never very close up. This one was almost like a live bird or something, since it hovered about close to the water and at one point flew right at us and hovered about 2 metres away from our faces. I found it all a bit spooky, but once it took off again we decided that we needed to find where it came from and who was operating it (since they couldn’t be far away). Sure enough, just around the corner was a young guy and a very pretty girl, leaning over the beach railings and guiding the drone back in. Jan (being Jan.. .you know.. got to talk to everyone), had to go over to ask what they were up to and find out more (although I wasn’t entirely sure whether he was more interested in finding out about the drone or the girl) – it turned out though that the drone could fly up to a distance of 7 km and take pictures while it was at it (which I thought was pretty amazing… who knew?)…. and not only that, guess what.. they were both Czech. Again.

Tomorrow, Friday, the sun should be out (25 degrees expected…sorry), so I imagine we will spend some time on the beach… but who knows…. it’s still possible that Storm Barbara will make her way here (being so close to the sea, the weather can change quickly). Let’s just hope that Barry stays away.

More soon.

The Czechs are here!

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you will know that I am always banging on about how organised Spain, particularly Andalusia, is right now; frankly at the moment it feels as if Marbella is just about the safest place in Europe! However, as you will also know, I get very frustrated by the outside world’s perception of it and how scared people appear to be to come here, despite the cheap flights and hotels, the weather (24 degrees here today, sigh) and everything else that makes it so special. That appears, however, to be slowly changing, as this last week we have seen quite a few tourists arriving, and have been bumping into a lot of Czechs!!!

The Czech theme started with a continuation of our fag-end drama. Last weekend, as I mentioned, threats of denunciation were hurled at the neighbours just behind us, and all seemed to have gone very quiet until we woke up the other morning and I went out onto the bedroom terrace to do a fag inspection, only to find a rather nice mattress lying on the floor, which had appeared out of nowhere. This seemed a rather unlikely retaliation, but with no way for it to have got there other than from the windows behind us, it seemed we had really started something…. first fag ends, then mattresses… what might arrive next? (The mattress, actually, was quite nice – it looked like something that usually sat on a park-type bench or similar, so I was quietly hopeful that one of those might follow, as it would actually look very good either on the terrace or in our courtyard).

But anyway, back we went to the Pueblo Manager, who wrote to the owner again, blah, blah, blah, and later in the day an elderly woman appeared by our gate, explaining that the mattress was hers and could she have it back (Jan, who met her, didn’t think to ask how it had actually got onto our terrace… for God’s sake….so that’s still a bit intriguing). Anyway, she spoke first in broken Spanish, so he suggested English, but that was equally broken, so he asked where she came from (Jan, being the linguist as already mentioned, will manage whatever) and yes, guess what, she was Czech. Not only that, but her family were emigres from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia (a subject that Jan is mildly obsessed with), so that made his day. (I know that this is a bit of a long-winded start to the ‘Czech theme, but stay with me on this).

THEN, that evening, we had drinks with our Czech modelly friend (the one we met in the art gallery) and she told us that Karolina Pliskova (one of the top women tennis players in the world) was here practising on the same courts as Djokovic the other week. Since I used to play on the court next to her when she was a junior at our club in Prague (just saying….!), that didn’t generate too much excitement from us, but the next day as we were heading to the beach, there she was, out sunbathing with everyone else – see her picture here and ours in exactly the same place later!

Jan has some fascination with Czechs abroad (no idea why, since he is not that fascinated when he is at home!) so every time he hears someone speaking the language, he has to stop and talk to them (actually, on reflection, he tends to stop and talk to pretty much anyone anyway (especially if they are attractive ladies), so he had a quick chat with her before we took up our usual places right on the edge of the sea. No sooner had we got comfortable, than two very pretty boys of about 10 appeared, kicking a ball around and wearing Slavia (football club) T shirts, so Jan (of course) called out to them in Czech to ask if they were real Slavia fans (since he is), to which they responded that yes they were and, in fact, Dad was a former player and was sitting in the beach bar (wouldn’t you know!) just along from where we were parked. That required us, of course, to leave via the bar (although no sign of Dad by then) and to wonder who we were going to bump into next.

We didn’t have to wait long. Next morning, as Jan was running to the beach, he was stopped by a couple out walking who asked in broken English how to find a place just near to our house, and, again, on asking where they were from (Jan always has to know for some reason, which sounds rather sweet, but can get awfully irritating…. a bit like being out for a walk with one of those dogs that has to pee on every tree….) was told that the guy was a Czech tennis player and he was here to play in a tournament this coming week… blimey. Needless to say, telephone numbers had to be exchanged and no doubt we will be off to watch that over the coming days, since it is actually looks like being quite a good one. I could go on a lot more, since we seem to keep on bumping into them (to the point that Jan has started hailing everyone that we meet in Czech, first, just in case they are) but I think that’s enough.

Mind you, it’s no wonder a lot of Czechs are heading over here just now, with the Covid situation as it is in the CR. At the moment it is difficult to know what to read and what to watch in the way of news, since what is coming out of the UK is absolutely dreadful, and the CR is not far behind.. and watching either or both are sure to whip me into a frenzy (and, in the case of the CR in particular, to have an even worse effect on Jan!) For sure, anyway, we won’t be leaving here any time soon. In fact, I have even started to do a little bit of work for a company here in Marbella, virtually for free, but who cares – it is giving my brain something to do and may turn into something more (I will talk about it once it is a bit more established).

From what I have been saying, you might think that it is all completely back to normal down here – and it is, up to a point. But what is clear is that it is not just a question of getting control of the Covid situation, then opening everything up and boom, the economy bursts into life – far from it. As I have said before, apart from people wearing masks and socially distancing, everything appears to be fine.. but with such a reduced number of tourists and with locals still being very cautious, a lot of people are already in a very difficult situation, and it is going to take a long time before the economy really starts to improve… virus or not.

Alongside all the shops and restaurants for rent or sale here, the roaring trades that the porn shops seem to be doing and the number of people that we are seeing begging on the street is, sadly, the increase in crime – not just the big stuff that is being reported (I think I mentioned before about a hotel being burned down (insurance?) and some other nasty things..). But now we are being warned about squatters breaking into houses all over Marbella and then refusing to move (with so many holiday homes standing empty and the law very relaxed on these things), plus one of our good friends has had her house broken into twice in the last couple of months (something that is never normally heard of down here).

Actually this last time was just a couple of weeks ago and was by a young guy (her son came home and found him) who literally ‘walked up the wall of the house’ and climbed in through the top window, and then, when he was caught, jumped straight back out, dropped to the floor more than 3 metres below and legged it (we decided he must have been one of those amazing ‘parkour’ guys…). Clearly there are, and will be everywhere, an awful lot of desperate people about. Which is very sad.

On that note, I am now getting ready to watch the latest BJ press conference in the UK (not that that will cheer me up!!). I have been tweeting all week about the situation there, whilst Jan is doing his bit on the Czech FB page (thankfully he has been leaving the Alicante Ladies group alone for a while)….. I’m not sure that either of us are achieving very much other than irritating everyone, but it makes us feel better. More on that soon!

Sandcastles dissolving into dust

So here we are, nearly two weeks since we arrived in Spain and it looks as if we ain’t going anywhere soon; the situation in the Czech Republic gets grimmer by the day (as, of course, does the UK, but who knows when we can ever get there!) so it looks as if we are now back into another, but this time ‘self-enforced’, lock-down, for another who knows how long.

That is not, of course, a hardship, and I have been reminding myself of that every morning, as despite all of the loveliness here it still feels pretty depressing, as I know it is for everyone else (unless they live on the moon or some other ‘Corona-free’ place that we have yet to hear about. That, actually, reminds me of an article I read on Twitter the other morning that talked about how the majority of people in the UK have no idea about what is happening elsewhere… I suspect that is the case in most countries as everyone is so focused on their own situation, but it seems to me that it would be useful for the media, generally, to give a much wider picture of the situation in some different places (Africa, Middle East, Latin America for example) in order to put the whole thing into a better perspective. Plus if everyone in the UK realised how just about the whole world wears masks all of the time, they might not fight against it so much…just saying).

So anyway, as I say, here we are again, back into our regular schedule of social media and news-watching then fitness training, sun-bathing, working and so on, all much the same as before, with the only difference being that we can actually go outside freely and the Marbella world is operating almost as normal (although not quite.. more on that later). We still try to speak Czech and Spanish during the morning (alternately, although I must say that in my case it is often together as I keep getting my wires crossed, maybe due to age or madness from the last eight months, or maybe I am just not much of a linguist – Jan, of course, flips from one language to another all day long and completely effortlessly).

That reminds me of my early days in the Czech Republic when I shared an office with a rather bonkers but lovely Czech lady called Irena, who was completely fluent in about 20 different languages and who could conduct conversations in all of them at more or less the same time, barely drawing for breath unless it was for puffing on one of the many cigarettes that would be burning in various ashtrays around our office – I, too, I am afraid to say, was a puffer, but only about 40 a day, unlike Irena, who was up to about 100 by the time she quit (she will kill me for saying all this). BUT THEN one day she returned from a trip to London and boom, no more smoking. She had secretly been for some hypnotherapy in a place that I followed her to soon after (best thing I ever did!), and many friends followed me .. so actually she probably saved all of our lives in the end!).

Still on the subject of fags, though (rather a smooth movement I think!), and the situation that I mentioned in my last blog. Having initially thought to storm round to our neighbours’ house and dump everything that we have collected on their doorstep, we decided that, in the spirit of good Pueblo relationships, we should go through proper channels to make a complaint (which meant reporting it to the Pueblo manager, who then sent a rude email to the owner of the building where the fags ends were being chucked from). And that resulted with an apologetic message from a rather grand Spanish guy who promised that it wouldn’t happen again. And it didn’t… until a couple of days ago, when we came out to check on the state of the now clean and empty pool and found about 20 new fag ends floating in a pool of dirty water. And since the only way it could have got there was by someone chucking it all over the wall, we are now moving into all-out war. Jan needless to say, and being a lawyer, has threatened all sorts of nasty things if this fag-harassment doesn’t stop, including just about the worst thing that you can do to a Spaniard, and that is to ‘denounce’ the owner in the local court (in Spain you can threaten murder, run off with someone’s wife, steal their dog, do whatever… but that all fades into insignificance compared to denouncing them!). We will see what comes next.

Sometimes it is very handy to have a lawyer in the house, but it can also be exhausting to live with (I can hear the comments already!!), since, as I am often being told, lawyers can’t help but have to argue every single point, irrespective of how important it is to one’s daily life – it is their training. My answer is that lawyers always like to see things in black and white, right and wrong, whereas we [former] PR people are more likely to say ‘what would you like it to be; black or white? I can do either’. I was thinking about this whilst walking on the beach track the other morning and pondering the Albanian comment (and the Albanian, although he has not been seen again, sadly!) that I made in my last blog (and on which I have had several responses) as it reminded me how we are so quick to base our assumptions on what we have read or heard rather than on fact – so our idea that someone Albanian must be a drug dealer or gigolo is based purely on the fact that we only ever hear about Albanians when they have done something awful (people trafficking, prostitution, etc) and all it would take is to get a few good Albanian footballers or something into the public eye to change that perception….

This then led me to think about Spain, and what a bad PR job they have been doing in regard to the virus (or, alternatively, what a good job other countries’ PR people have been doing to make Spain look so bad!). I know I keep banging on about it, but whilst it is all so well organised and safe here, it still seems that everyone outside imagines that it is the biggest virus Hellhole on earth, hence why pretty much no-one except us is travelling here. And that is starting to cause some really big problems that it is difficult to see the end to.

I have already mentioned how quiet the beaches are and all the businesses related to them, but the longer we stay here, the more we see how hard all the other businesses have been hit. Of course the hotels have suffered massively, although some are now open (Marbella being an ‘all-year-round destination’) and most of the restaurants, but there are so many other businesses that are allowed to be open but are not, since it is just not worth their while if there is no-one here. The lovely shops, the less lovely estate agencies, many different service companies, the publishing houses (the once-great monthly magazine, Essential Marbella, now reduced to a quarterly, due to so little advertising, events to cover, etc)… all of these businesses seem to get forgotten in the scheme of things.

Even our Slovak friend who builds the amazing sand castles that line the town beaches (he has a degree in sand-sculpture from, of all places, a university in Slovakia (who knew??!!) and who, we used to say, must be one of the richest men in Marbella, as every time someone walked past the statues they would hurl cash onto the carpet around them, and since the smallest coins seemed to be Euros, and about a million people passed each day…. need I go on. But, anyway, he has now been demoted to selling beach beds and umbrellas, so I doubt he is going to retain his title any time soon, and the lovely sandcastles that he made are slowly dissolving into dust.

Hey ho. I think there is only one thing for it at this point, and before I depress myself any further, and that is to go out and help the local economy. More from me soon!

In Spain – 10-10-2020!

Well, it’s hard to believe it’s already a week since we got here as the time since has just flown by. Despite the fact that the virus situation in Andalusia is pretty well under control, we seem to have gotten ourselves into a vague sort of routine again – a kind of ‘lockdown with a twist’ or, as some friends that we saw this week called it, ‘living our life how we want to live it, but with caution’.

Our standard day is to get up relatively early (in my case) to monitor social and regular media, although, and I hate to say it as everyone did warn me, I am getting pretty fed up with the constant ranting on Twitter (not me… yet… but most others) – which is mostly, of course, super-critical of what is happening in the UK (Covid and Brexit) and, of course, Trump – whilst, actually, there is some quite useful information on the Czech and Spanish Facebook pages that we follow – even the Alicante Ladies have calmed down a bit since down in Southern Spain life is almost normal (if you ignore the fact that everyone is in masks and socially distancing (almost without exception and almost too much) and so many shops, hotels and restaurants have closed down).

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Then, once Jan is up and about, we are back to exercising fiendishly – he is running, as usual, and I have been doing my Bollywood, followed by the 7 app and the old bike, but the big news for me is that on Thursday, after being given the green light by my physio, I was able to get back on the tennis court, after more than three months away! I can’t even begin to explain how fantastic that was.. I think I had sunk into a bit of depression, since there was a point when I thought that running (either on its own or after a ball) would never be possible again, but after a very cautious start and no pain, I was off – and yes, I could still hit the ball, and yes I could still remember how to run (but not too much as yet). And the best thing of all is that since then, my knee seems to be OK…. phew.

After exercise, then, (and sorry to say this) we have been heading to our deserted beach each day for a couple of hours – as mentioned before, usually there is hardly anyone there and the weather is lovely. Actually, though, the other day we had the added bonus of a very nicely put together young guy appearing, plonking himself down quite near to us (which, in itself, was a bit strange, with so few people on the beach) and keeping us both intrigued as he spent a good part of the time on the phone, speaking a language that we couldn’t distinguish. (The fact that he was a good-looking version of George Michael (alive, obviously), but with bigger muscles, dark glasses, near naked… (sorry… I’m not getting carried away… just saying that if you wear the kind of swimming trunks that only guys from Central Europe feel comfortable in (aka Djokovic) you might as well be…) was by-the-by, since it was the language that held our interest, honest). So Jan, being Jan, couldn’t help himself when we got up to leave, and had to go over to ask him what language he was speaking, and it turned out he is living and working down here, and is Albanian. I don’t think I have ever heard that spoken before. And the thing is, sadly (and apologies to any Albanians reading this as I know it is wrong) we spent a good part of our journey back home trying to decide (a) what he was doing here – bodyguard? Drug dealer? Gigolo? I erred towards gigolo, but I am a bit disappointed in myself for making such a generalisation… and (b) why he chose to sit right next to us when he could have gone anywhere on the beach (on reflection, though, and something that we often comment on (and it seems to be a Central/East European thing), is that you can sit down at the only table in a restaurant or similar and someone else will come in and sit more or less on top of you… so maybe not so strange), but, anyway, we wondered if he thought that we could be potential clients, or was just lonely. Next time we see him on the beach, Jan will, of course, be asking.

And then after the beach, we have been spending the rest of each day watching Roland Garros (needless to say Jan has been cheering on his new friend Djokovic, whilst I am still missing Roger), interspersed with bits of work, and then mostly eating at home and taking a late-night walk or, a couple of times, meeting friends for socially distanced elbow-shaking and drinking/dinner. I am conscious, though, that once Roland Garros is over I could, dare I say it, be a bit bored (especially if the sun stops shining), and since we may not head back to Prague quite yet (in view of the CR getting to be a bit of a mess), I have been putting together a few new projects which I will talk about again soon.

The situation in the Czech Republic seems to be pretty grim just now. Tne numbers are, of course, relatively low (in comparison to, say, the UK or Madrid) but the percentage of population is much higher than most, particularly in Prague. Barely a day goes by without us hearing of more friends and people we know with the virus (and just on that, Jan made an interesting observation that in March, when the virus first appeared in Europe, lots of actors and well-known personalities were quick to come out and announce that they have it (publicity?) but then it went quiet, since it all got very serious. But now we are seeing something similar in the CR, only it’s not actors and so on, but lots of people that we know on Facebook, where it seems to be almost a ‘badge of honour’ to announce that someone ‘has it’. I think we both find that a bit strange.. not sure that we would want to be quite so public about it, but maybe it is a way of letting others know if they have been in contact?). But, anyway, as I say, in view of all that, it looks like we will be staying put for a while!

Coming back to my new projects – one, as mentioned before, is to tidy my first 100 days of lockdown blogs into a shape that they could be published. That is nearly done, and having been through them quite a few times, now, I am reminded of some of our favourite activities, all of which are sure to form part of our life over the next couple of weeks, or however long we stay. First, wildlife. So far, no cockroaches (thank God for that) locusts or wild dogs, but one gecko (in the kitchen, nearly gave me a heart attack) and loads of mosquitos. No noisy boys in the apartments behind us, but an unnamed (as yet) neighbour who appears to be using our upstairs terrace as an ashtray (a window at the back of his/her house looks down on us, and it seems that he/she chucks their lit cigarettes out each time they are finished, whereby they land on our floor/table/chairs and make nice little burn marks)…. clearly they haven’t realised that a lunatic part-Serb lives here, but they will soon find out. Then all the other things; we are back to walking to the supermarkets, so I will report on that in due course, we have cleaned out the swimming pool (again, seemed rude not to) and are now getting ready to fill it again (same comment), and we have dug out our two metre stick in case we need it (and, of course, it may come in useful when we deliver the fag ends back to their owner later today.

And for sure there will be more bits and pieces to talk about soon.

Gluttons for Punishment!

So we trundled through the last few days in Prague – mostly cold (to the point of  putting the heating on some days!) rainy, and feeling that, yet again, we were living through ongoing Ground-Hog days, and then, having done everything that we wanted to do, seen most of the people that we wanted to see, and found ourselves at home This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is prague-in-the-rain.jpgwondering how to keep ourselves occupied, we said ‘you know what… let’s head back to Spain while we can’.  So off we went to the Ryanair website, and return tickets duly bought for the princely sum of Kc 850 each (about Euro 35), and, yes, you guessed it, here we are again!

I wrote some text for a client last week (a hotel) which listed ‘ten reasons why now is the time to travel’ and I must say I agreed with them all as, as I have been saying, if you can cope with taking a test either before you leave or after you return (I am talking about European countries, not including the UK of course, and depending on where you are going to/coming from) then everything else is pretty damned easy – the airports are This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is malaga-airport-2.jpgdeserted, the planes are only half full (on a good day), which means you sit with lots of space around you, prices are ridiculous (as above) and those hotels that are open are doing their very best to make everything as safe and as comfortable as ever, for much less cost.  So if you are worried….I would say don’t be.  (Frankly I feel a lot safer on a plane than in, say, a crowded restaurant (last week) shopping mall or other ‘busy’ area in Prague!)

Incidentally, and talking about ‘safe and comfortable’ (and shopping malls!), I saw an article in the Czech media about a shopping mall in Prague that has installed ‘head to foot body spraying’ at its main entrance, whereby some new-fangled machine treats everyone that enters with a full-on, top to toe squirting of disinfectant (and, presumably, again on departure, if it is motion activated?).   Well I don’t know.  For sure our Alicante lady friends would love it (I can imagine that they may be looking to install something similar in their homes as we speak….!).  But really???   Has everyone’s common-sense completely disappeared?   I just hope they are using different disinfectant to the horrible sticky stuff that is on offer for our hands, otherwise people’s clothes are going to get into a right old mess….(And I must say I am glad I am not doing the marketing for this particular mall as I suspect that this whole idea could backfire horribly!).

So back to flying; Prague airport, as usual, was nearly deserted when we left, but the flight had about 80 people on it, which we were very happy to see, since the more people that are flying, the more likely it is that Ryanair will keep on going.  If only the media would stop talking about Spain as if it is riddled with virus and instead told the truth (i.e. that the bulk of the cases are in Madrid, that Andalusia, with a population of nearly 9 million has just a handful of people in hospital and very few cases, and that the chances of catching the virus here, where it is so well organised and safe (and, This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is empty-beach-2.jpgsadly, empty), are about as likely as Donald Trump becoming the Pope, then the Spanish economy (at the least) could start to get going again as people would want to visit as much as we do – 28 degrees today, deserted beaches (talk about taking social-distancing to an extreme… everyone visiting gets their own beach!), cafes, shops and restaurants all open, and not a full-on body spray in sight.

We’re now into our third day here, and needless to say we got straight back into our Spanish routine – me monitoring the social and regular media every morning (and, as usual, getting very over-excited about the UK and the US, in particular), exercising (Jan running to the beach and so on, me on the old bike and, yesterday, trying out my leg with a few short jogs on the sand, marvellous!), a bit of work, a lot of tennis-watching, and various of our old favourites – just now we are draining the pool in readiness for cleaning it and then finding a way to cover it over for the ‘winter’ (haven’t talked about that for a while, but how we have missed it!) and soon we will be taking a walk to Aldi (despite having a car now, we are still enjoying those walks!).  Quite honestly, I have just about forgotten what our old life was really like…

However, whilst I do try to see the funny side of most things (well, I have to, living with Jan!) and stay mostly ‘positive’ (in attitude, not health!!)  I do see that we are all getting very fed up with the whole Covid-19 situation.   Down here, who could blame people?   Most of the This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pb-october-2.jpghotels are closed, obviously, but the majority of shops, restaurants and bars are open… it’s just that there is no-one actually going there.   The Spanish are doing their best, I think (definitely there are signs of life at the weekend (on the beaches, in restaurants)) but it is nowhere near enough to keep everything going, and it is only October.  Meantime the media continue to make it sound like the whole country is a disaster, so there is just no way that things are going to pick up once we get into the winter.  I did see an This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pb-october-5.jpgarticle that talked about some negotiation going on between Andalusia and the UK to open (again) a ‘travel corridor’ – the Spanish are even offering free testing for all arrivals and departures… but will it happen?  And will they actually come?  Perhaps the answer, after all, is to go back to the beginning, open everything up again, tell everyone to shove on a mask and keep their distance, and see what happens.   After all, it’s the same virus wherever you get it….