Lockdown here, lockdown there…

Well blimey. These last few days have been pretty grim outside of our own little bubble here in Marbella. The CR lurches from restriction to restriction, with the number of cases increasing every day and a new Health Minister being sworn in just a few days ago (and who would want that job eh?), whilst the UK has been getting more and more complicated and out of control (I had planned to say ‘where’s Boris’ again at this point, since he has barely been seen or heard of for weeks (I even wondered if he had got another dose of the virus (one of the reasons he disappeared last time, the other being a new baby, and surely he couldn’t have had another one of those, although knowing his track record, no-one would be that surprised…….??!!) But then he popped his head up last night and bang, the whole of the UK is off to lockdown (although in true BJ style not quite yet… they will give everyone until Thursday to party like mad, spread the virus as much as possible and then close it all down).

Sadly the UK isn’t the only one; even Germany (and frankly, wouldn’t most of us like to go and live there with Mummy Merkel, the only European (world?) leader that actually seems to know what she is doing) is seeing its case numbers soaring and they too are back into lockdown, along with France and some of Spain, plus others are following suit day by day.

Meantime, Southern Spain is turning into ‘the place to be’ as it seems that half of the Czech Republic has pitched up here in the last few days (even the Prime-Minister’s ex right-hand man passed through last week). It is no surprise, therefore, that most of our Prague friends have also legged it (or are planning to) – Adam is in Madeira, St Rostya is off to Dubai, Irena (my co-ex-puffer) went to France for a while (from the UK), kept on delaying returning and is now locked down for who knows how long. Then Jan’s friend Eva (the actress) is in Sicily (depressed, what actress wouldn’t be?!), whilst his footballer mate arrived here a couple of days ago, and a few others have asked us to look for places to rent over the coming months. Bloody Hell, Jan, the social secretary, will be in his element! By the way, one of our friends asked me to tell him to wear some sunscreen; don’t worry, he does… he just has that kind of skin – at this rate, as Uncle Christopher pointed out, when we do eventually get back, people may well have to ‘take the knee’.

On a similar Czech theme, and as mentioned before, there is a ‘Challenger’ tennis tournament taking place down the road from us at the moment and every day when we have left the beach after exercising we have popped our heads through the hedges to watch whoever is playing, and apart from a load of young Spanish, the rest seem to be mostly Czechs as well. We had hoped to go and support one of them ‘officially’ in today’s final since Jan has now hooked up with a Czech coach who offered to sort us out with tickets, but then he got knocked out (the player not the coach!) so we went off the idea. Meantime, in my own club, where I have now managed four training sessions without any knee problems, hoorah, most of the courts have been filled with kids from the Karolina Pliškova tennis academy, plus she herself pitched up again earlier in the week … soon we will have to head back to Prague to get away from all these Češi!

Seriously, though, I think we are very, very lucky to be here just now, and I feel very guilty writing all this fluffy stuff when everywhere else is so awful (although who knows what might happen next in Spain, since there is now some talk here, too, of locking down more, but we are not yet sure if that means everywhere or just certain areas). For now, though, we are making the most of the sun and outdoor life just in case (and encouraging anyone reading this to think about coming down and joining us before it’s too late).

It’s not just the Czechs that are turning up here in their droves though; quite a few of our British friends that have houses around us have been arriving, supposedly, in the beginning, for a few days to ‘get away from it all’, but now to stay indefinitely. Since, as mentioned before, Jan can barely walk down the road without stopping to chat to whoever he sees, irrespective of whether he knows them or not, we seem to be collecting a lot of drinks and dinner invitations (albeit, don’t worry, super-socially-distanced!). Last week we had dinner out with an English couple whom we last saw when they were leaving for a trip to Australia, and who regaled us with various stories, including their 24 hour non-stop flight back, with only their own ‘packed lunch’ to eat and entertain them (God, imagine that!), then yesterday we had drinks with the amazing sports photographer that we met at the gallery opening after lockdown and who would normally be travelling the world just now, but instead is grounded with very little to do. He has just launched a new website which he said he has been planning to do for years, but only now had the time (and if you like horses, like me, take a look.. amazing!):

www.poloartimages.com

That reminds me of one thing I meant to mention, and that is how many different things we have been doing to entertain ourselves, both during our 100 day lockdown here and more recently, just in case they are of interest to anyone else about to do the same. As I have said many times, my own work has dried up pretty much completely (and here I must just rant a bit, not for myself so much as everyone else in this position – furlough seems to me to be a good thing for some businesses, but what about the owner-run small companies, the service suppliers (yes, it is awful for hotels, restaurants, airlines, shops etc just now, but what about all the PR and advertising agencies and others that work for them?), and the actors, musicians, sports people, sports trainers and other self-employed), so I have been self-generating new projects, as I have mentioned before and I am sure I will mention again.

As has Jan (who, actually, stays relatively busy (bloody lawyers eh)) and who is now pondering taking an online course in cookery (I know, staggering!, although he did go off the idea a bit as he thinks that it may not be macho enough for him. I pointed out (and apologies in advance, just in case!) that most chefs that we know or who are ‘TV celebrities’ or both, are usually ‘tough guys’ (Gordon Ramsey anyone), womanising lunatics (no names) alcoholics (same applies) or just regular nutcases (or all of the above), which cheered him up and got him back on course).

I’ll be talking about all of this and more in the coming days, since the weather is changing, the fag-ends have stopped, and all the other entertainment we had at our disposal earlier in the year (cockroaches, noisy neighbours, whipping sticks etc) seems to have disappeared. In fact, life in Marbella is relatively normal (hopefully I am not speaking too soon)..!

Having said that, there was quite a big demonstration in the town a couple of days ago entitled ‘RIP Commercial Marbella’ and I am not completely surprised. I have mentioned before how many of the small and family-run shops and cafes are closed up now, and each time we go there the number increases. Even the churches are deserted (possibly the disinfectant mats at the entrances puts a few people off, along with the taped up pews….!). Seeing all of this and the lack of people (even though in the main town there were a lot more locals out and about) I can imagine that there will be quite a battle if the central government or Andalusia imposes any further restrictions down here … we shall see. They have, though, ring-fenced all of the different provinces for this weekend (bank holiday on Monday… again… the Spanish do love them!) so hopefully that is the way that things will continue for the meantime. Time will tell.

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