Still here – in Spain! Days 92 and 93

mountain view on way back

For me, these have been a strange couple of days as (a) what I thought was just a slightly injured calf muscle is a bit more than ‘slightly’ and that has rather hampered what I can do now, (b) I somehow got not one cold sore but two – never had such a thing before, and having always thought that they are just something that are a bit unsightly, I am now finding out that they can actually make you feel pretty crap, and (c) I think we are both feeling a bit sad that this is our last weekend here – so even though we are kind of entrance to pueblolooking forward to heading back to Prague at the end of the week, it is strange to be thinking about leaving what has, really, been our ‘safe haven’ for the last three months.

The upside of all of the above is that instead of rushing about doing all the things that we meant to do while we were here, we have reverted to the same ‘lockdown pattern’ of doing not very much!   Yesterday, Saturday, Jan did his usual run, of course, and I, not wanting to go without any sort of exercise at all, got back to my Bollywood routine (as you probably know, that involves more upper body movement than legs!), 7 App (ditto) and bike (and, in view of the leg injury, I suspect, that this will be my ‘go-to routine’ once we get back to Prague too – so have actually ordered an exercise bike on Amazon today to be delivered there and be ready for our arrival!).

Yesterday, as mentioned before, we had planned to drive out to one of our favourite mijasplaces, an Andalusian ‘white village’ called Mijas Pueblo – it’s about a 40 minute drive away, and a place that we often visit just to potter about, go into the pretty gift shops and have lunch (it is also where a lot of the Andalusian ladies from the Facebook page live, so that adds to its attraction).  How it looks now remains to be seen, as since a visit there involves walking up and down about a million steps, it didn’t seem to be such a good idea with me on just one leg.  So instead, we headed down to the beach for a couple of hours, which included a good few minutes of walking about in the sea (when I had my horses in my previous life, we used to take them to the beach as often as possible, which, once they got used to the sea (which on first sight always freaked them out) and learned to go in it, they absolutely loved.  In addition to the fun of galloping on the beach, the sea water was just the best thing for toughening up horses’ legs… so horses in the seawhenever I have a problem with mine (quite a lot of the time) I try to get into the sea (not easy in Prague) whenever I can, on the basis that if it worked for the horses, it should work for me!

Thinking what we might do for the afternoon once we had returned from the beach, Jan flicked about on the TV and, unbelievably, found some live tennis – we had completely forgotten about the Adria Tour in Belgrade, Serbia that Novak had been talking about whilst he was down here, and it was the first day yesterday – and continued novak seatoday.   Initially I wasn’t that keen on watching as I thought that it wouldn’t be the same without any spectators, and, having not really taken much notice of it, I was under the impression that it was just Novak and the other Serbian boys.   How fantastic, then, to find out that some of the other big guns had travelled and, not only that, the Serbs (being Serbs!) had decided to completely ignore the fact that there had been ‘some health problem’ recently (!) and, apart from a couple of people in the crowd wearing masks, there was no other sign of it – a full stadium, no 2 metre distancing, ball boys handing towels and balls over as usual, etc.   I have mixed feelings about it all, since on one hand the atmosphere was just like the old days, which made for great viewing, but on the other, you have to wonder what will happen if a whole load of people end up with the virus in the next few days (although Serbia has had very little problem with it) and, of course, what sort of signal it gives for everyone to be carrying on as normal – are the big tournaments that are planned for later in the summer going to continue in the restricted manner that they have said (i.e. no spectators, no ballboys, etc) or are they going to look at this one and decide that they, too, can risk putting on a show, as usual.   It will be interesting to see.

Completely unexpectedly, therefore, the whole weekend has turned into a bit of a tennis fest (even though I, myself, cannot now play, and probably won’t until I get back to Prague), as having got completely into it yesterday, we had to watch again today, and are now preparing for the finals tonight – the first evening in nearly 100 days that we will have spent in front of the TV (other than for news watching!)!  In between times, of course, I have been monitoring what is going on in the UK on both the TV and Twitter (although Jan more or less banned me from looking today as I got so wound up about it all) and talking to various friends in both Prague and London, since it is only a matter of airportdays before we will be back there (in Prague) and, in Jan’s case, trying to get there (London).  For sure there will be more stories to tell as we get ready and set off later in the week!

For now, though, we have just seen that Spain will open its borders to all Schengen residents from 21st June – amazing to think, in view of how things were not so long ago – so if you have liked what you have seen about Spain in my blog, you might want to think about heading down here sometime soon! We, ourselves, wont be gone for long!

 

 

 

 

Still here – in Spain! Days 90 and 91!

beach on windy day

We have had another couple of fairly normal days (yesterday, Thursday, was actually a Bank Holiday here in Marbella (although we still haven’t worked out what it related to), and, consequently, it was fairly quiet).  I took a day off exercising as well (two days of tennis on hard clay courts didn’t have a good effect on my sore calf muscles – stupidly I tennis courtsdid go out on court again today, and then my leg kind of gave up altogether, so I am a bit hobbly now… ugggh.  It’s going to be back to the bike, 7 and dancing for the rest of our time here I guess, in readiness for our return to Prague!), so I was able to do a good catch up of all the news while Jan was out for his usual run.

One of the first things I saw was a clip of a journalist in the UK interviewing people coming out of one of the main train stations at commuter time and asking each of them what they thought about wearing a mask.  All said, without exception, that they thought that the Government should have made the wearing of masks obligatory in the UK and that they didn’t understand why they hadn’t  – and yet london metroonly one of them was actually wearing one!   How strange, I thought, that even though they seemed convinced that it made sense to wear a mask, they weren’t going to do it until it was made a rule… (and just now, I see that that is going to happen next week, but only on public transport…)

All of this made me ponder for some time the differences in people’s attitudes to mask-wearing; in the Czech Republic, the Prime Minister made it obligatory to wear a mask pretty much all the time right from day one, and he and his Ministers have ‘led by example’ by holding all press conferences and other televised events fully masked-up (which was sometimes a bit bizarre, but I understand why they decided to do it) – he andrej babisbelieves that the wearing of masks was the main reason that the numbers were so low (more so than the early lockdown), and even though the country is more or less back to normal, masks still have to be worn in shops and public transport.   From what I have heard, no-one has ever really had a problem with this rule, and some people have even continued to wear them for exercise, although that is no longer necessary.

In Spain, masks were only made obligatory when we got to, I think, Phase 0 (about six weeks’ ago) and then only on public transport.  Even now, they don’t have to be worn other than on public transport (although a few shops have made it obligatory – Iceland is one of those) unless one is in a situation where it isn’t possible to maintain the two metre social distancing rule, but on the whole, most people wear them for most of the time (or if not actually wearing them, have them slung around their neck so that they can push them up when necessary).  Even before Phase 0, that was more or less the case, but actually, right from day one, more importance has been put on both washing hands and wearing gloves – from the first day of lockdown, no-one could go into a supermarket without gloves, but without masks was OK.

In the UK, in the early days, the powers that be were continually quoting the WHO and its early pronouncements (which were changed pretty soon after) that there was no evidence of masks being protection against catching the virus (but they might help to stop someone spreading it – which, if you think about it, means that if everyone does wear one, everyone benefits….) – and since then, there has been a lot of discussion about the pros and cons (for example, whether wearing a mask makes people too ‘relaxed’ about other rules, etc – I actually think that it is the opposite; in my own case, putting on a mask reminds me that there is a problem, since it is very easy to forget, now, that all is not completely normal) – as with so many things that are happening in the UK, there seems to have been a reluctance to take advice from any other country as to what does and doesn’t work, so it is only now, very late in the day, that masks are going to start being worn, but, as I say, only on public transport – I wonder if people will continue to wear them anyway, as they do here – personally, I would say that if you are in the UK, put one on now and don’t take it off until you have the numbers around 0!

Having said all of this, I am not completely surprised that the UK Government doesn’t want to force the wearing of masks on anyone.  Years ago, when British people first arab womenstarted to go to work in the Middle East (or, in my case, live in Turkey for a while), we were all horrified that women were (as we perceived it) ‘forced’ to wear face (and body) covering, although in my case, once I had some Turkish girl friends I soon found out that they actually quite liked ‘covering up’ – it allowed them to move around incognito (something to be said for that on a ‘bad hair day’!) and, of course, it all came off once they got home.  Turkish women, too, were experts in making-up their eyes to look very striking, and I was reminded of that when shopping the other day and arab eyestalking to a very friendly sales assistant, who was very good at ‘smiling with her eyes’ – something that I also tried to do back.  Perhaps this will be another way that we will communicate differently in the future… and, incidentally, has anyone looked at the numbers for the Middle East/Africa, where masks are generally worn at all times – is it a coincidence that they are all so low (although, of course, they have all had very hard lockdowns as well)?.

In addition to the ongoing chaos with the British government, which is a fairly constant feature on Twitter (and this means regarding the UK, rather than, necessarily, Spain or the CR), the other big story that has been taking over both news and social media in the UK is the ‘black lives matter’ campaign.  As I have mentioned before, I think, I was brought up to treat everyone the same – black, white, Jewish, Arab, green, yellow whatever – it didn’t matter (possibly because, as also mentioned before, we are a family of Holocaust survivors, although that doesn’t necessarily follow in all cases!).   So I am not, in any way, against the campaign (in some ways.. not in all).  BUT I can’t help but feel that it is the wrong time to be diverting attention from the still very big issue of the virus, the economy, Brexit, and the general destruction of the UK as we know it by this government….. call me cynical, but I even wonder (naughty me) whether some of the demonstrations in the UK are somehow ‘organised’ precisely for that reason…. (so that should get a few comments going!).

It’s funny really; in the early days of our coming out of lockdown here, we were so happy to be able to go out to run and take a walk in the evening, that even though everything else remained so restricted, we kind of stopped being concerned about what was happening elsewhere in the world, watching the news addictively, and monitoring every little Tweet or post on Facebook (and, as far as the Spanish news and FB pages were concerned, they also quietened down and became a lot less hysterical (in the case of FB) or focused on the virus (the news)), and just enjoyed every day without thinking too far ahead.  But then, once things opened up even more, and especially when we were able to meet up with our friends, and go to restaurants and shops, we started to see what the ‘new normal’ was going to look like, and that took us straight back to the beginning again – not so much worrying about the numbers in each respective country and/or whether we would get back to Prague, but about different things.  Hence my starting, again, to watch the news intently and showing my face (a bit too much I feel) on social media!

Today, though, it hit us that we now only have one more week before we head off, so we are determined to try to enjoy it!  Dinner with friends tonight, taking a trip out of Marbella tomorrow, and, generally, preparing here for us to leave and Prague for us to arrive.  Can’t decide whether to be sad or happy!   More on that soon.

prague

 

 

 

 

Still here – in Spain! Days 88 and 89!

steps to the beach

The last two days have been the most ‘normal’ of any since we arrived here in Spain (91 days ago) – and apologies for gloating! (I have had a few messages recently saying how lucky we have been to have been here in Spain or similar, and I agree, up to a point… but those of you that have read this blog since day one will remember how tough it was for house viewthe first couple of months or so – even though we have more or less forgotten them now! So I kind of think that these last days here are ‘pay back’!).

As usual, both of the last two mornings were taking up with, first, news and social-media monitoring, but, really, there is nothing too new there, and then, of course, exercise – Jan out to run, and me off to play tennis with Juan. Now that we are well into June, the heat is rising, so even first thing in the morning it is pretty tough out on the clay, but great fun nevertheless, and now wearing masks everywhere outside of the court has become normal (although I still find it uncomfortable to put one straight on the minute we finish, with sweat and grime running down my face!). And then, since we are now in Phase 3, as mentioned, we spent the rest of both mornings down on the beach (which opened on Monday).

Coming back to what I have said before, again, I get it why the Government couldn’t really make different rules for every town or city in the country (although, in retrospect, I am sure everyone will agree that in Spain, for example, it would have made more sense to just close down Madrid as soon as the infection took hold (rather than the whole coutry, many areas of which had absolutely no infections throughout the whole period), and that might have allowed a lot of the rest of the country to operate as normal, but who would have known that then – let’s hope if there is a second wave, things will be different) but here in Marbella, where the beaches meander along for about 10 km without a break, there are areas which marbella beachcould easily have been opened much sooner, since there are very few people using them, even at the peak of the summer season. So both mornings, we have headed down to our nearest area of beach with no need to wonder how the set up might be in order to ensure the 2 metre distancing rules, since we have been the only people on it! Bloody marvellous!

The downside of having such a deserted beach area is that there are no ‘facilities’, so even though we have always taken drinks, towels etc with us, sooner or later the need for the loo and/or food/more drinks, always requires us to head home earlier than we usually want (plus, now, work is starting to require both of us a bit more than it was) but a couple of hours in the midday sun anyway is pretty much enough.  Yesterday afternoon, then, after doing some catching up on our computers and having lunch, I dropped Jan off for his final bout of dental treatment on this trip (he now has a new jan in mask‘bridge’ which he loves to show to anyone who is interested, plus a branded mask to promote the dentist, whom he mentions about every half an hour….. the miracles of dentistry when you have never really been to a good one before….!) , and then decided to venture out of the main town and check out the big shopping mall (La Canada) which has been closed from day 1, but which also opened on Monday.

First, I have to say that it is very impressive how well-behaved the Spanish are – it is still not obligatory to wear masks at all times (but it is if there is a chance that the 2 metre la canadasocial distancing rule cannot be maintained) so even though around the car park people generally had their masks slung around their necks (and, incidentally, how fantastic for us shoppers, although not the shops, to be able to just drive in and park – life before CV-19 we would only ever venture to this place first thing in the morning as after that the queues to park were impossible), but as soon as everyone got to the entrance, on went their masks as a matter of course. What IS obligatory, though, is to constantly clean your hands, so at the entrance to the mall itself was a big disinfectant stand with very strict minders, and then the same set-up in front of each shop (for someone like me, who is an obsessive hand-washer anyway, this is marvellous) but it does get a bit tedious to be asked to do it at every single shop… and some of the disinfectant is a bit smelly and sticky!

The shops themselves, though, were doing a pretty good trade – in addition to the ease of parking, another thing that was nice about the experience is that there were fewer people just milling about or sitting around the coffee/food areas for hours – it seemed to me that the majority of people were there to shop (especially me!), which is a good thing!   I veer shopping in la canadafrom thinking that the economy here is going to be ruined (when, for example, we visit Puerto Banus, which is still looking very run down and empty – we passed through there today and it looked as if pretty much every other shop has been closed down…) to feeling that actually, fingers crossed, it may yet bounce back… who knows with anywhere just now.

Otherwise, apart from our usual things (as expected, now that we have wheels we are no longer making the long walk to the supermarkets, but just whizzing in as and when we need to (still only one person allowed, so Jan usually does it while I sit in the van and ponder, or make calls), I still (Jan can no longer bear it) watch the various news channels to see what is going on elsewhere, and shout at the TV when it is the UK news, and whilst I am no longer practising Bollywood as much, that, the 7 app and the bike are still in use (and will continue to be once we get back to Prague (although I won’t, obviously, be bringing the bike with me!), the rest of both days have passed in a very normal fashion – down to our friends’ house for ‘tapas’ early evening yesterday before heading out for our walk (even though we don’t have to go at a regular time anymore, it is just so nice to walk late in the evening, when it is cooler) and today dinner at home after soaking ourselves in the jacuzzi for hours in order to cool down!

Finally, a video I found earlier today – no relevance at all (other than being ‘uplifting’), just a memory of how great a voice the late and wonderful George Michael had (and note David Bowie applauding in the background!).. in case anyone is interested…. and more from me on Friday!

 

 

 

 

 

Still here – in Spain! Days 86 and 87

steps to the beach

The last two days have felt very ‘normal’ (although it is still all relative, of course).   Yesterday, Sunday, we had a bit of a ‘v neděli se nedělá’ (on Sunday do nothing!) but obviously we did do a few things; both of us went running first thing (celebrating the last day of restrictive hours for exercise!) and we also had an hour’s walk in the afternoon jw and jg on the beach(we can now walk whenever we want) plus I did a lot of catching up on social media and so on and a bit of work, as did Jan.   And now, Monday, we can say ‘we are going back to Prague next week!’ and suddenly we are thinking about all the things that we planned to do while we were cooped up for weeks and didn’t… !

This morning on the news we learned that the UK has gone ahead, as rumoured over the last few weeks, with imposing quarantine on all travellers into the country – on the TV there was a story of people boarding a flight for London in Amsterdam airport and only BAthen finding out that when they land they will have to go into quarantine for fourteen days!   Can you imagine…?! Thinking you are popping over for a day or so, and then finding on landing that you are actually going to have to stay put for fourteen days – where and how, I wonder (unless you are visiting family or have somewhere to stay)… and could you just say ‘no, I am staying on the plane and going straight back’?  What a nightmare!   It seems that British Airways (and, presumably, some others), also as rumoured, are now going to court to try to get this overruled. Unbelievable.

Still on the airline front, I have an update on my situation with Iberia (since I am still trying to get a refund for my very expensive cancelled flights a couple of months ago).  Having tried everything – all phone lines, email addresses, website, Facebook, etc, and received no answer, I had a little rant on Twitter, and within seconds got a message from a company called Compensair, who, for the princely sum of Euro 10, will go after an airline on your behalf… .so that is now moving (and remember it if you ever need them – they have been very impressive so far!).

Last night on the phone to my friend Adam, he asked me if I really meant what I had said in a previous blog, i.e. that I don’t particularly want to go back to Prague, and I responded that we both change our minds pretty much on a daily basis.  One minute we are happy to be here (and now that we are in Phase 3 and things have opened up even more, it is not exactly a hardship) but then we look forward to getting back to our other ‘normality’ and sorting out a few things – for example:

  • Will my car still be in the short-term car-park, what shape will it be in, and will it even start?!   Plus, will the airport honour what they said a million years ago, which was that they would only charge me for the period that I had planned to be there (that was easy to say at that time.. I doubt that they (like me!) realised quite how long that would be!) and it could be that the final amount they charge is more than the car is now worth…. we shall see!
  •  Will our flat be over-run with magpies (God, imagine!), will the drains be smelly, how much dust will have gathered….?   Did we leave any food in the fridge/dustbin (bearing in mind that we thought we were leaving for just six days…!)
  • Will our friends even recognise us anymore – lean and mean, very tanned, and me with my new short hair (plus Jan will go to the same place on Monday – who knows how he will come out!)
  •  We have just two weeks to pack up our office, since our lease terminates on 30th June – anyone that would like some nice office furniture and stuff, just let me know – we have no time to try to sell anything and no longer need it (like most people we know, we are realising that we really can work from home and don’t need expensive offices anymore!)
  • And, most importantly – how will it actually be, going on a plane again?!   We will soon find out!

So today, Monday, we started to plan the various things that we should have done months ago (although, to be fair, some of them wouldn’t have been doable during lockdown) but before doing anything constructive, and since it was our day off exercising, we decided to lie by the pool for a while this morning, rather than actually getting on with doing, rather than thinking about, any of them!   This afternoon, then, after a couple of hours of worky things, we decided to walk into Marbella Old Town – this had been out of bounds for us before, since it is a bit too far to walk on our evening outings, and there are no supermarkets to act as an excuse for us being there.

We have a friend in Prague who has been documenting the empty streets and the closed shops in the city, and we found ourselves doing the same today (not for any particular beach walkreason, other than that we have never seen, and may never see, these places so empty before, and, whilst we have always appreciated how beautiful the old town is, it is not quite the same when it is full of tourists (as is the case in Prague)).   We started on the beach (and stopped for lunch in an empty beach ‘chiringuito’ – no rush!) and then headed up to the Old Town {Orange) Square and thechiringuito streets around it, before walking home along the beach again, where we took a couple of photos of ourselves and one, rather amusingly, of the lifeguard overseeing a whole stretch of sand where there was only one person lying.  It does seem, sadly, that the people of Marbella are still not very keen on getting out (and certainly not to the restaurants).

Finally we had a bit of supermarket shopping (Aldi AND Iceland – marvellous) and then back home for another evening of not very much… but we are so used to it that it is really quite OK!  Hopefully I can report on a few more and constructive things in the final days to come!

 

Still here – in Spain! Days 84 and 85

mountain view on way back

Well.  These have been an interesting couple of days.   I woke up early both yesterday and today and got into news and social media watch straightaway.   Jan is always telling me to steer clear of being too political and I have a had a few comments where it has been suggested that ‘I do like a good political rant’ (true!) but I also think that there is so much going on and that maybe our perspective is a bit different to some of our friends as we are not only watching what is happening here in Spain, but also the CR and the UK (and a few others occasionally!) and they often make for some interesting comparisons.   What they all do, mind you, is a lot of giving with one hand and taking with another, plus frequent changes of plan (not surprising, but sometimes difficult to keep up with!).   Here are some of my favourite from yesterday and today!

In the UK (which, of course, I could write about for ages, such is the confusion with what is coming out of there on a daily basis), they have finally decided to request that all people travelling in go into fourteen days of quarantine (from Monday I think).  Since, as I mentioned before, I don’t really see that anyone will want to travel there just now with the virus still pretty out of control, this seems a complete waste of time (and should have been done months ago, like everyone else) plus it seems to have been done without too much discussion with key players, since the management of the main airports as well as, of course, British Airways and Ryanair, have gone completely nuts – to the point that BA is threatening legal action – so it may yet change.   Meantime, BJ has said that he is going on a ‘charm offensive’ (that in itself is hilarious) and visiting all 27 EU countries to persuade them to send workers to the UK (this after spending the last few years telling most EU nationals in the UK that they are not welcome, and that Brexit will ‘take back the jobs for the Brits).  Then we have the scandal of the government promising over and over again that they won’t import low standard food from the US after Brexit (in particular chicken in chlorine – yuck), and now they will.   On Twitter this morning, a petition from the Farmers Union asking people to sign up to supporting the UK farmers (many of whom voted for Brexit) who will lose their businesses if such products are imported as they won’t be able to compete on price.   So all going well there then.

In the CR, everything seems to be going smoothly, but one little thing took me aback this morning – Czech Airlines (I have mentioned before, we used to love them when we had our gold and platinum cards, but then they stopped flying to the UK and despite our CSAlobbying them like mad, they refused to consider continuing as ‘there wasn’t the interest from passengers for the route (hmmm, that was a good one), plus they took all our accrued miles away so that we couldn’t use them anymore, so we all stopped flying with them) – are, from Monday, flying to London Heathrow.   Has no-one told them that people won’t be interested in flying to the UK (see the above comment re quarantine!), nor flying back from there (the UK being a red country) – or, dare I say it, have they thought that they could get on the international airlines’ scam (Iberia, we haven’t forgotten) of taking money for tickets and then telling people that have booked them what the real situation is – and offering vouchers for changing flights instead of cash back?    Surely not……

Here in Spain, we continue with getting back to normal – in fact, on Monday, we go into Phase 3, which pretty much means that everything (except our Pueblo pool of course) is open again.   So far as the pool is concerned, the few people that are still here are all in a rage about it, as it seems that pools all around us are open, but apparently the ‘administrator’ (every Pueblo or community has one – we have never actually met ours… and God help her when we do!!) – is allowed to make rules that even override those of the Government.  So whilst the Government said that we could use the pool from lst June, our administrator says no, only from lst July.      In our new-found ‘can’t be bothered to argue mode’ we have kind of given up on trying to get it open, but I am sure it will be discussed again at a later date.

For now, we think about the fact that in two weeks’ time we will be back in Prague (we know of one person that flew on the Malaga-Zurich-Prague route yesterday and it all worked well, so there is no reason to think that our same flight won’t go) and feel sad that we have to go so soon – I keep saying, we are contrary beings!    And that we have to make the most of our last two weeks!  (In the 18 years or so of having a house here, we have never actually stayed longer than 14 days – work always calling) – now we will have been here for 100 and it seems too short!!!!

Yesterday, then, was a day off exercise, and a pretty lazy one up until the evening, when we went to a ‘gallery opening”.   Now that might sound quite normal but (a) I have never been to a gallery opening in my life (the old me would have said it was not really my thing) and (b) an event?!   Only a few weeks ago we could barely go outside and now, here we were galivanting off to a social!   There were a few clues that things are still not quite normal – the fact that we had to wear masks (although most people took them off once they got inside), the invitations had to be limited to just fifteen people, and the way that we all hopped about when greeting each other – do we shake hands, kiss, knock elbows… it all gets a bit awkward but generally everyone kept their distance until we all left (after a few glasses of wine) and then, I am afraid, it was a bit of ‘caution to the wind’.

A couple of weird bits from last night – first, when we went in and looked at the pictures (blown up and spectacular photos) I said that I am sure that I had seen one or two of them before – I think the gallery owner thought (‘oh yer, sure’) and then we noticed that the photographer was from Zanzibar and, actually, some of the photos featured on the website that I wrote for my client, the Zuri Zanzibar Hotel which, unsurprisingly, is on the island of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean…. as usual, a small world, which got even smaller when the first person to arrive after us was a very beautiful, East European gallerywoman, who turned out to be Czech but living just a few minutes away from us (and is now a friend!) and she was followed by a famous English sports photographer who I spent the rest of the evening talking to as, once he showed me his portfolio, we realised we knew many of the same people (and we might now do a project together).   All too exciting for words.

Today, then, started in its normal way – Jan running (only two more days before we can exercise whenever we want – he is so relieved… no more getting up early!..) and me a bit of Bollywood, a 7 routine and 40 minutes on the bike (resting my legs a bit after all that haircuttennis) and then, wait for it, a trip to the hairdresser!   We were walking back from Marbella Old Town the other day and stopped to look in the window of a very swish looking hairdresser as it appeared to be open and we were trying to see the price list – and then one of the guys rushed out and greeted us (in English), persuading us to come in and have a look around (this sort of thing happens all the time in Turkey, but in Western Europe?) – so we did… and that resulted in my having one of the best-ever haircuts today (and Jan next week).   Marvellous.

Finally, a bit of a Greek story, following similar lines to earlier in the blog – having said recently that Greece welcomes tourists from all over Europe to visit, a couple of things I noted this morning: not ALL tourists are welcome – those from France, the UK and Sweden will need to take a test and then go into seven days’ quarantine in an airport hotel (where they can be observed) – if the test is negative, they can continue on their holiday after seven days (and another test) and if positive, they remain in that hotel for fourteen days (but the hotel will be paid for by the Greeks).   And those not coming from these three countries could be subject to random tests, with the same system applying.   Can’t help thinking that the original announcement was made before it was properly thought through and now they are running for cover… but this surely can’t work – anyone fancy being picked out at random and spending their holiday locked in a hotel for at least seven days?   No thanks.

What a pity, though – we love Greece – we went to Athens for Jan to run the anniversary marathon (2,500 years of marathon) from Marathon to Athens – a boiling hot day, where we all had to get up at 5.30 in the morning and gather on the hillside until the gun went off at 9.00 am (I was with the ‘VIPS’ as this was in my days of working for Prague Marathon), whilst Jan was looking sick at the start – incredible scenery, atmosphere, athensmusic (Zorba the Greek playing the whole time), and then the VIPs went back in a coach with no loo, to stand in the Olympic stadium VIP area, also with no loo, whilst the sun blazed down on us until the race ended – which in the case of the professionals, was within 2-3 hours, but in Jan and others’ more like 5-6 hours… during which time he nearly died from running and I nearly died from dehydration and not being able to go to the loo – but despite all that, we really do love it… but won’t, in view of the above, be going there any time soon!

So to finish for now, and in case you don’t remember Zorba the Greek – here is a fantastic reminder that I found on my hunting this morning!

Still here – in Spain! Days 82 and 83

steps to the beach

Tuesday evening (day 81) we had drinks with our friends down the road (Sunday paella chef) before a very late walk, during which time we had a good old rant about the swimming pool situation, which seems completely ridiculous… His Honour is now seriously on the case and it is only a matter of time before a potential riot breaks out on our Pueblo (along with so many other places just now, sadly) – ours, though, is probably going to be relatively peaceful as there is only a handful of us here and most of us are pretty law-abiding!

However, for now, with no working loos and no swimming or imbibing of drinks (water and Coke, probably not that infected with disease or likely to send us crazy), the appeal of the big pool has worn off, so the last two days we have been back to sunbathing and pooling at home – which has actually been fine, as since we can now go out whenever we want, we don’t feel quite so constrained within our four walls.

Yesterday (Wednesday), we started the day as usual – Jan was off for a run, whilst I was at the tennis club, playing someone new for a change – the combination of playing on grass instead of clay, and the 11.00 am heat, was quite a challenge, but still good fun, and then I was back to join Jan by our pool for a while, and to try to avoid getting too involved in act of defiance jgthe political goings on here in relation to the big pool… as mentioned above, this is going to turn into a bit of a to-do, to the point that we had to go and have a quick dip just as an act of defiance (well, Jan did, whilst I took the photo to document it!).   That made him feel a lot better.

In the afternoon, then, after a bit of news and social media watching (which I will come back to!) we decided to walk into Puerto Banus again and see if anything has improved since last time – and I must say, every day I am feeling a lot more positive about Spain, from an economic point of view.  Earlier in the day, a friend from Prague asked me if I knew of any properties available to rent during July/August since he planned to come here then and thought that there would be some big bargains to be had (as did I).  But, actually, once I started asking around a bit, I found that there have been very few cancellations (on the holiday rental front, not sure about the hotels), and the expectation from most owners of holiday rentals is that from lst July, the tourists are going to be flooding in as usual (not from the UK or Sweden, but from everywhere else) and there is not yet any sign of price reductions or a rush of properties going on the market – I do hope they are right.

The next thing good news is that with the beaches now open, many more people have lost their fear and are starting to move around and get back to normal.   The beaches themselves, despite the beach to marbs 2‘social distancing’ layout (and they are big enough and wide enough for them not to look too weird) were quite busy (but here, unlike the UK, everyone is pretty good about keeping their distance – it is almost automatic) with many people in the sea – it all looked almost normal.   And then the shops in the town all seemed to be open, and whilst the flash boutiques down by the harbour were still pretty empty and looking a bit sad, the big news was that the department store El Corte Ingles was open and back to business, so that required a visit – not really to buy anything, but just because we could actually go in there after all this time.

On the way back from the town, we even stopped off for a drink at one of the newly jg and jw in pbopened beach bars – hard to believe that only a couple of weeks ago they were all closed, no-one was allowed to walk along the beach pathway, everyone was hiding away – now, the heat, the music, everyone in good moods, lots of beautiful girls prowling around and guys looking cool…. it is almost as if the last eleven weeks never happened… but not quite.

Today, I spent a bit too much time on the news and social media monitoring as the whole situation in the UK is almost beyond belief (yesterday there were more deaths in the UK than the whole of Europe, one of the Ministers that BJ and the Chancellor had had a meeting with that morning looks as if he has Coronavirus (so, if he has, will the two of them have to go into self-quarantine?  If they do, then that is three of the most senior Ministers out for two weeks and if they don’t, then it will be yet another ”one rule for us and one rule for them” (or will BJ pull the ‘herd immunity’ card and declare himself fit, even if he isn’t?), the ‘world-beating App’ that the UK has been developing (through a company owned by the brother-in-law of BJ’s right-hand man), has been found not to work) and, the biggest news, that made the headlines of most of the newspapers this morning (clearly way more important than all those people that died!), the abductor of ‘Maddy’ (the child that went missing 13 years ago in Portugal) may have been found!!  Oh, and they also announced the start of 14 days’ quarantine for people arriving in the UK as of next Monday – as if anyone would want to travel to the UK right now.   Honestly, as they say, ‘you couldn’t write it’!   And, as you might imagine, I wasn’t the only one ranting about it all!   If you are British and feel the same as I do, therefore, here is yet another petition that you might want to look at!

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300473

So… by the time I had finished with my own twittering and ranting, I was nearly late leaving for tennis – and now, after three days of it in a row, I am rather regretting that I made it at all, since my legs have more or less given up walking, at least for now… the garden centreafternoon, then, was spent idly, but we did fit in a visit to a now open garden centre, so that was fun (not Jan’s cup of tea, but a new-found enjoyable hobby for me… not that I have any idea how to look after all the plants that I have just bought… but something else to learn).   Tonight, then, will be spent ‘potting’ and then nothing very much (especially not a walk on the beach after dinner!).   And suddenly it will be Friday again and the end of yet another week.

 

 

Still here – in Spain – Days 80-81!

mountain

Yesterday morning (Monday) we were up early again, even though it was our day off training, as we wanted to check the situation on the beach regarding exercising – as usual, the rules for our new Phase 2 are a bit confusing, and it transpired (after lots of discussion on the Andalusian FB page) that, whilst we can ‘in theory’ run whenever we want, the reality is different, as the periods from 10-12 am and 6-8 pm must be kept for seniors (which, by the way, is not us yet!)…. so we either go out between 12 and 6.00 pm (and, frankly, who wants to run in about 35 degrees??!!) or stick to the previous regime, which requires us to be back at home by 10.00 am.   I actually don’t mind as, as you know by now, I get up early, but, as you also know, Jan is not always that keen…….

As I hope I have said before, in general, I think that the Spanish government (especially when compared with a few others…!) have done a great job, both in the early days when it was all going crazy, and since then with the detailed ‘coming out’ phases, but they do like to play strange games with us, and another one popped its head up soon after we got back from checking the beach yesterday – we are now all out of lockdown, as you know, pool embargoand according to the Phase 2 rules, we can now use the big pool…. but first, the pool itself has to go into quarantine!!!  Now this is getting a bit silly.   Last week we could lie by the pool, drink our drinks, use the loo in the cloakroom.  This week, when things are supposed to have loosened up, we can still lie by the pool, but we can’t go in it, nor can we drink or eat anything or use the loos, as all of the water ‘has to be tested for hygienic reasons’…..and yes, you have guessed it, these nasty virus germs can hide in the water for months on end and attack us all as soon as we get in there – plus it seems, now, that there is a suspicion that those same germs might even wait for us in the loos or hide in our drinks.  For GOD’S SAKE!!

Some people, one of which is not a million miles away from me now, have been going completely ballistic about all this, as it seems that the testing and waiting for the results could take up to four weeks, so all sorts of threats and complaints have been flying around, as well as a lot of sulking and bad temper – which, from our own side, I would suggest is also a bit silly as we are really not that bothered about swimming in the pool anyway (especially as, we think, we can now swim in the sea – although we still need to check that, since there may be a possibility that the sea itself has to be checked for pb4hygienic purposes too….joking… but.. you know….) but some of these other rules and regulations seem to be a bit ridiculous (especially bearing in mind that in a month’s time, in theory, Spain will be ‘open for business’ again, with absolutely no restrictions!

Still on that subject, one bit of good news – I mentioned in the last blog that the CR would be implementing a traffic light system, and the rumour was that Spain was being looked at as one of the highest risk countries (red) – well, it seems that all of my complaining and twittering has got us somewhere (yes, I know, it probably wasn’t just me, but at least I feel that I helped!) and we are now going to be amber.   Which means, I think, that unless we come under a massive attack from a swarm of germs in the next couple of weeks, we will be heading back to Prague soon!  (Incidentally, I am keeping a list of all of the maddest ways that people think the Corona virus can be caught… there are some really good ones now, and I am sure there will be more as things open up even more!)

Yesterday, anyway, flew past, as there were other things to check out and then be disappointed by – more shops can open but many don’t, bigger shops still can’t (we tried two garden centres as my plants need some urgent attention (and replacement!), but they are closed, and I even got agreement to visiting one of my favourite places in Marbella Old Town, but that, too, was boarded up, even though it’s quite small (so query whether it is gone for good)…. but then things looked up a bit when we went on our late vicsevening walk and saw that the restaurant where we had one of our party nights last year is getting ready to open (photo here) and the mood of the other walkers and runners was definitely positive.

One picture that I took last night, and which I liked (but you may not be able to see well enough) was of three fisherladies out on the fisherwomenrocks (fishing now being an allowed activity) – I am sure I have never seen ladies taking an interest in fishing before (but I think I can see the attraction….!)

Today, then, has been fairly uneventful – Jan did his run whilst I went tennis training (loved it, as usual), then we had a bit of sunbathing by the pool (with drinks, being rebels) but without loos (so not too much drink) and now we are getting ready to head into town for a bit more walking and, probably, a stop-off at a supermarket (where, incidentally, we can still only go on our own (i.e. we can’t go in there together), but now that we have the van (yes, the excitement of walking to the supermarket has definitely worn off!!) Jan is happy to go in while I sit outside and catch up with phoning and messaging.   And then it will be yet another evening of dinner and walking.

Finally, as you can see, I am managing to keep relatively quiet about the situation in the UK at the moment (but the rage is still there, don’t worry…and if you are on Twitter, you have no doubt seen it!), and I decided right from the start that I would keep out of anything relating to the US as I don’t know enough about it (but I do know enough to be outraged!) but I did like this image that a friend sent over yesterday, which applies equally well to either of those two great leaders:

cockwomble

More soon!

 

 

Still here – in Spain! Days 77-78!

steps to the beach

I thought I might have overdone the tennis when I woke up yesterday morning (but despite that, I still plan to overdo it again next week!) so whilst Jan was on his usual run, I went back to my old ritual of a bit of Bollywood to warm up, then the 7 App, and then 40 minutes of cycling, which had the desired effect of my being able to walk normally for the rest of the day (although not completely, as after a break from the bike for a while, bad legsmy bum seems to have gone a bit soft – and is now quite painful again.  Blimey.  How do you guys (you know who you are) manage to cycle for hours at a time?)!   Anyway, apart from that, it was a lovely day as we went out for lunch – this time with FRIENDS!

Going out required a bit of driving, which was also nice, since to date we have only ventured around the corner to the tennis club, or a couple of times to the supermarket (we are still trying to walk to one of them each day, but it is just so easy to be lazy and nilli beachhop in the van!).  The restaurant we went to was one that we had never been to before, the other side of Marbella on the main road towards Malaga (this road used to be called the ‘road of death’ as it had more fatalities on a short stretch than anywhere else in Europe, so not one of my favourites to drive on!), and next door to the famous beach club, Nikki Beach (possibly one of the reasons why the road was so nikki beachnotorious…..).  That in itself was a bit depressing as it was completely closed up and, without all the noise, beautiful people, music and so on, it looked a bit sad and shabby.   Yet again, we are left wondering if things will ever be the same again (not that I was ever much of a fan of it, but still…).

The restaurant that we went to, however, (unimaginatively called ‘the Beach House’….), was  great, and restored our faith in eating out – an absolutely beautiful setting on the beach (with no-one on it, of course), friendly staff (in masks, but managing a lot better than last week), great food, and the absolute pleasure of sitting and talking to other people for hours (5, actually!)!    If it hadn’t been for the masks, the empty beach and a few little things (for example the now ever-present disinfectant for just about everything) it was just like old times.

In view of the very long lunch, by the time we got back it was already early evening and since we weren’t that bothered about dinner, we went out a bit earlier for our usual walk on the beach, bumping into (not literally, obviously – we now keep our 2 metre distance without even thinking about it or needing a stick!) quite a few people we knew, all making the most of the wonderful weather and enjoying the relatively quiet beach and marbella beachwalk, since it won’t be for much longer!   Tomorrow, Monday, we go into ‘Phase 2’ of the easing out of lockdown, which means, most importantly for us, being able to swim in the pool, exercising whenever we want, the majority of shops and restaurants opening without restriction and, amazingly, the beaches being open!   The excitement is almost too much!

Tempering that excitement, though, is some of the political and other jiggery pokery that is going on and that has prompted me to rant on Twitter quite a lot over the last couple of days.   First, the news that a Belgian prince flew in a few days ago (presumably on his own plane, aka Djokovic) to go to some big party and without knowing (apparently) that he has the virus – the consequence of that being that most of the people at the party also caught it, and the figures for new infections in our area (which had been on 0), have therefore shot up… and the consequence of that being mass hysteria on both the Andalusian FB page and from some of the government (Sanchez is now talking about extending the state of alarm for yet another two weeks – for God’s sake!!!).   (N.B. I thought it would be nice to include a photo of the Belgian prince here, but when I Googled him, the headline that came up was ‘Kinky Belgian prince attends illegal party in Spain – now that has piqued my interest – so no photo, but clearly I need to find out more!).

And then the news that the Czech Republic is planning to bring in some sort of ‘traffic light’ system, whereby people from countries that are ‘green’ will be able to come and go into the CR as they please, whilst amber will have some restrictions, and red may not be allowed in at all – and guess which ones are red – yes, amongst others outside of Europe, Spain and Italy.   Which is completely ridiculous since according to the latest figures, these two countries have the fewest deaths and number of infections (despite the Belgian prince) of anyone.  Added to that, I would suggest, it was all the horror of the early days in Italy and Spain that prompted countries like the CR to lock down early and thus avoid the same situation and then not needing to go into the same sort of hard lockdown as them – but that was then – now, as I keep on saying, people coming from Spain and Italy must be the least risk imaginable.

Whether all of the above means that we won’t, in the end, get back to the CR in the next few weeks, I don’t know… but what I do know is that whatever one country does to another is sure to be reciprocated, so if the CR blocks people arriving in from Spain (and Italy), I imagine that people from the CR will also be blocked from coming here… and that will mean, most annoyingly, a reduction in flights between the two countries.   Since I can’t help thinking that none of this really has anything to do with the safety of people, but more to do with money, politics and power, it will be interesting to see how the CR (and other countries) plans to deal with the UK….. for sure, Spain and the CR will be wanting the tourists and investment that usually comes in from the UK…. but, on the other hand, England has nearly the highest death toll and infection rate in the world…. with not much chance of it brtiains beachesimproving (see the photo of one of the English beaches this last weekend and compare it to ours here!) so presumably it will have to be a ‘red light country.   Hmmmm.   We will be watching!

Ooof.  Sorry.  That was a long old rant – possibly because today, Sunday, it has been pouring with rain (quite incredibly) and that has reminded us just how difficult it was in the early days and what everyone had to go through to get to the stage that Spain is in now.   But hopefully, by the time 15th June comes around (when, it is said, the whole of the EU is supposed to be open for each other (just not sure that those in the CR have read that….!)) it will all be resolved.

Actually, it has been quite nice not to be in the heat today – for the last morning, we were up early to run (when it was still sunny) but by the time we got back we could see that the weather wasn’t going to be good, and that prompted us to get on with a load of things that have been mounting up (and have been ignored in all the sunshine), including some real work as well as things around the house (since, still, no maid… !).   But the sun will be back from tomorrow.  As will I!

 

 

Still here – in Spain! Day 74-76

view from window

The last two days have been quite busy with some interesting bits and pieces to report on as well as, very unusually at the moment, quite a lot of work!   First, Wednesday, after our usual exercise and so on in the morning, we walked into the other part of Marbella, Puerto Banus.   Such is its reputation that some of our ‘grander’ friends around the Pueblo have never even been there (despite it being just a ten minute drive in the opposite direction from the Old Town, or a half hour walk).  As you can tell from the name, it is a port, but not just any old port – this is where the footballers and the girls chasing them, the soap stars and, dare I say it, petty (or maybe not so petty) criminals and various other un-savouries, hang out – in the beach clubs during the daytime and then, at night, in the many clubs, restaurants and casinos that line some of the streets.

I quite like it though – during the day, the roads around the port area are filled with Ferraris and other similar cars, usually being driven very slowly by very dodgy looking pb shopscharacters who want everyone to look at them, but the boats are amazing and the shops, well, they are some of the best in the world… plus if you go off the beaten track, as with everywhere, there are some interesting places to see.   Obviously we haven’t been there since the lockdown (with the exception of Jan’s longer runs early in the morning), so we were keen to see how it was looking and that, much as with the Old Town of Marbella, was a bit of a shock.

The walk in from the main road was completely deserted – we have seen it like that before as in ‘normal times’ we often used to run through the port area whilst everyone was still asleep, but it was strange to see it like that in the middle of the day.  All of the beach bars and restaurants were closed (although a couple looked as if they might be  getting ready), but in the port itself a few café-type places were open and desperate looking, as were the majority of the designer shops.   But just no-one there.  I actually ventured into a shop as I had no summery shoes here (we arrived in big coats and boots, and whilst we keep lots of clothes here, other than trainers, I had nothing else for my feet!) and bought some (another experience – disinfect hands first, then put on special plastic covers to try the shoes on (anyone heard of catching the virus through the feet??), then a bit of a jiggery pokery performance to get said shoes from the assistant and then hand back through a hole in the plastic protection by the cashier and ask to buy, all the time not really hearing what she said (big mask again), but I got it that she was pleased to make a sale (and very unhappy to hear that there were so few people around – I did hear her ask that)…. actually this shop is one of my favourite, and has become even more of one as it was the only one that was offering any sort of discount – all the others, whilst being open and having their usual ‘security men’ by the door (to do what??), seemed to still be asking their usual exorbitant prices…

So that was Puerto Banus and I wonder how it will survive…. but, and here I go again, I can’t help but think that this could be yet another ‘hand of God’ type situation – maybe all the wealth and over-the-topness of the shops, boats, cars, etc, had to come to an end one day… and maybe that day has just come….

Yesterday (Thursday) was a relatively ‘normal’ day – tennis again in the morning (and a brief meeting with Manolo Santana himself… his first day out since the lockdown (he is very old and frail), but so pleased to be in the club and actually on the court for a whilemanolo with my Juan!   Even though he is not at all well, he still glides about (albeit a bit slower) at the back of the court!).   Then in the afternoon we decided to pay a visit to another shop – this time a wonderful furniture store nearby.   A quick story on this – when we bought our first house in Marbella (about 18 years ago) we couldn’t find any furniture that we liked (at that time all the shops were focused on selling to the huge modern villas (where most of the Puerto Banus people mentioned above live!), and whilst I do like a bit of glitz and vulgarity, not that much, and not for our very Spanish house.   So in the end, we had a lot of stuff shipped over from our favourite store in Prague, called Kare (a Czech driver drove a big van down here in two days, non-stop, and when he arrived and we offered him a cup of tea or a beer, said not, as he was heading straight back…!).   Since then, we have paid so many visits to Kare in Prague, and each time have pondered whether we should ship some more down here, even though it is easier to find things now.    And then, last year, we were just driving along minding our own business in a nondescript road, and what did we see but a sign to the newly opened Kare of Marbella – they must have heard about me!!!   So that’s where we headed kareyesterday – I love it there, and they, of course, love us (since I can’t resist buying something, pretty much every time, and also because the Romanian manager, when asked by Jan where she came from and told him, was completely overwhelmed when he then spoke Romanian to her – he has a way with women…..).

They (Kare, not the women), are, of course, in trouble, not only because of being closed for such a long time, but also because they do a lot of ordering from Germany for foreign clients, the majority of whom are not now here… so the warehouse (that they can’t yet go to as it’s in another Province) is full of stuff that now, potentially, no-one will want).   Ooof.   I will go back to cheer them up when Jan is not looking……..

The rest of yesterday, and on and off today, in addition to our usual activities, has been spent by Jan, in the dentist chair for round two, and me, battling with broken watches (the new watch still doesn’t work, the old one came back to life when paired with my new phone, but has now packed up again….aaggggh) and the car-hire – I originally hired the van for just two weeks as we weren’t sure how much we would use it, or how long we would still be staying (haha….we were under some illusion that there might have been a plane flying by now!), and the cost was Euro 102 for two weeks.   Now, however, for another three weeks, they are asking for Euro 350, which I think is a bit absurd.   The reason being that they have had to put their prices ‘right up’ as they have so little business…. hmmmm..

I don’t want to sound like I am always on the lookout for deals (I really am not like that… although Jan has his moments), but, you know…. I can’t help but feel that the only way for everyone to get going is to look after the very few customers that are out there – for all of us… and I really don’t think that upping the prices is the way to go.   We shall see.

More from me soon!

 

Still here – in Spain! Day 74

steps to the beach

So here I am again, with apologies that it is a bit later than expected, for a number of reasons (mainly a complete and utter breakdown of my technology, with the consequence being my own complete and utter breakdown!), but, anyway, we are still in Spain, and day-by-day our Marbella world is slowly getting back to normal.

On Saturday (day 70), I mentioned that we would be going out to dinner, so I thought I would just quickly report on that as it was a bit of a bizarre experience.   First, Jan thought it would be best for us to walk to the restaurant (so as not to miss our evening exercise and avoid taking the van and no drinking!) so despite putting on our ‘glad rags’ (which in my case was a cotton dress and some makeup) we still had our trainers on so the walk wasn’t too painful (but far enough (30 minutes), especially on the way home!).   The restaurant itself, one of the most popular in Marbella, looked similar, but with tables well spread apart and waiters in masks – actually, our waiter, whom we know, was so stressed by his mask that it sort of blew his brains and he couldn’t really cope…. (I am not surprised – we are all used to wearing masks now, but waiter in masknot for a whole evening and definitely not when it is over 30 degrees outside!), plus, I don’t know if I am going deaf or something, but when someone wears one of those big masks, I find it more or less impossible to hear them… so ordering our food and discussing the wine was a challenge (which maybe explained why we got a slightly wrong order… although we were NOT wearing masks, so even if we couldn’t hear him, he should have heard us!).

The food was nice enough, although not great, but what I think the whole evening proved is that one of the main things that you pay for in a relatively expensive restaurant is the ambience (plus the service) and when that/they is/are not there, then you are left feeling that it wasn’t really worth the effort.   I am sure the service side of things in this particular restaurant will get back to normal, but with so many fewer guests (due to the limited tables), all the waiters in masks, so they could be anyone – no longer our usual ‘favourite waiters’ – and a bit of a strained atmosphere (some of the guests seemed super-stressed by ‘being out’ (which made us wonder why they were!) – one group arrived, disinfected their hands, chairs, etc, wore their masks throughout and rarely talked) – you wonder how these restaurants can really continue to operate until things go back to normal.   And, actually, over the last couple of days we have investigated more and it does seem that very few restaurants HAVE actually opened.. I suppose they feel that it is just not worth their while.   All very sad.  (A quick shout out to my friend Sanjiv Suri in Prague, who, as I said to Jan a few weeks ago, would, for sure, zatisi logowork around these problems and will be the first to open his restaurants with huge discounts – sure enough he has and I see that they are full this coming weekend… as usual, he is ahead of the field).

Anyway, WE enjoyed the fact that we were out, even if it wasn’t quite the experience we had hoped for, and then we had the long walk home, which was kind of fun – first night mosquebecause halfway home all the street lights went out, and down here, on a dark evening without any lights, it is completely pitch black – which, after a bottle or so of wine, proved a bit of a challenge! – and then, once we got to our hill, the whole mosque was lit up and as we got nearer to it the muezzin started singing to mark the end of Ramadan, and that followed us up the hill and home.   All a bit atmospheric and surreal!

Sunday, then was very quiet – we were up early for running, as usual, but then it was so hot that we didn’t feel like doing anything much, other than lying by the big pool and sitting in the small one!   Monday, however, was completely different as, being a rest day, we didn’t have to get up so early, and we decided that a day without too much sun might be a good idea.  First we had a trip to the supermarket and pharmacy (standard Monday morning) and then later we headed into town as this was the first day that we could officially ‘go for a walk as a couple’ (God, that sounds like we were allowed out by our parents on a first date or something), but actually it was almost as exciting…. that is, until we got into the main part of the town, which was a bit depressing as an awful lot was closed.

Difficult to know whether this was due to the lockdown (we will find out more later in the week) or whether, in true Spanish style, everyone kept to the usual ‘siesta’ hours and closed for the afternoon (I’m going to sound naughty now, but bearing in mind that the Spanish economy has been suffering for a long time, I have never really understood why everyone keeps to the old-fashioned tradition of having a siesta in the afternoon, especially the shops, who, one would assume, must be desperate to try and make a sale at the moment…).  Actually, there were a couple open, needless to say those owned by the Zara group, who are generally thought to be leading in modernising the Spanish retail Zaraworld, so we did pop into one of those (against Jan’s will I am afraid) but only quickly, as it was a bit off-putting having to disinfect our hands before we could go through the door, and then the disinfectant was so sticky that we didn’t want to touch anything anyway and couldn’t wait to get out and find somewhere to wash it off!.   Otherwise, it was a bit of a ghost town, made even more so by our venturing down to the beach and seeing no-one there – because, as we then remembered, we cannot yet empty beachgo on the beach and can only use the track that runs alongside if we are exercising…. but not for walking…all a bit mad really.

The rest of Monday and the whole of yesterday was mostly taken up by (a) my battle with phones and watches (both my Apple watch and iPhone having given up mostly on Sunday and completely on Monday, with the result that I had to buy a new and cheap watch (which then didn’t work at all!) and a new and bloody expensive phone from Amazon (I’m not even going to describe my complete hysteria), (b) my fury at everything that is going on with British politics at the moment – also not going to describe that!, (c) a few random bits of entertainment (tennis again yesterday – fantastic), finding an ICELAND store that we have never noticed before and which was stocked with just about every yummy food thing that I have been celebrationsyearning for (so look out weight-watching and hello more exercise) and (d) some rather fascinating palm tree watching – I think I have mentioned before that I have a bit of an obsession with palm trees (yes, I know, odd), but I have never seen how they are trimmed in the summer, which is what is happening all around us just now – for the ‘smaller’ trees the guys wear special metal boot type contraptions which, combined with a metal hoop that goes around the tree trunk, allow them to ‘walk’ up the tree and then chop all the badstuff from the base, and for the even big tree cuttingtaller ones, they go up in a type of crane……  And, of course, lots of walking, dancing, singing, 7 app and occasional work (which is slowly getting to be a bit more than occasional)….

And that takes us up to date (but I will be back soon).   And finally, a video that a friend sent, which I liked and am including for no other reason than it is kind of appropriate: