We’re out – in Spain! Day 65

flowers

Up early again this morning – not because of exercise (Monday being a ‘day off’) but because (a) I didn’t sleep well again (must have been all of the excitement about today!) and (b) I had booked a hire car for our use from first thing this morning, now that we are OUT, and in the end it wasn’t available for collection until 12.00,  That gave me time to at least get myself looking vaguely presentable (first time in 65 days!) since I would be out in ‘public’, and then to do my usual social media and news monitoring before heading off!

Twitter, which I do love and which gives such an interesting perspective on pretty much everything that is going on (politically), and is a lot more balanced than any one newspaper or the biased English TV, was, as usual, full of a lot of outrage about the situation in the UK… which shows no sign of slowing down.  But in amongst all of that was a video that I thought was just about the best explanation of why we need to lockdown/social distance/wear masks (and even stay ‘alert”).  I know that it might be a bit late for some of us (let’s hope), but still, worth a watch and circulation:

So back to today.   I set out just before 11.00 to go to the Enterprise car rental in Marbella, which is about a 7k walk, past the Spanish supermarket and then through the whole old town to the end, just before the famous ‘Marbella arch’ landmark.   I am always amazed when I talk to people about counting steps and they say ‘oh I am sure I walk more than 10,000 a day’ as unless you really do count them (i.e. with a watch, phone or pedometer) you just don’t realise how much this actually is – as you know, we do loads of walking and running pretty much every day, but even then we don’t always hit the 10,000 mark (well marbella archwe do, because we usually end up walking around the sitting room or up and down the garden until we have!) – the walk today, which seemed to go on forever, was actually only 7,500 steps (very disappointingly), but what a walk it was!

First, as I headed towards the hill, a car honked me and it was my tennis partner and her husband, who I have only seen once in the last nine weeks – lovely – although no hugging, of course!  Then I walked past yet another building site and got a few ‘Holas’ from the guys working (they obviously didn’t realise how much I hate them all), and then onto the main road.   Lots more cars whistling past, people out walking (mostly with masks) and then once I got near to the shops, the first real sign of change – lots of people sitting outside Burger King (???!!), then the nice Artisan café, lots of the boutiques and other small shops that line the main street open, as well as loads of flowers, trees full of lavender and a general ‘fiesta’-type feel (and lots of hayfever for me!).

We love Enterprise – I even have a ‘platinum’ card as I use them so much – normally we pick up a car at the airport (where we are usually served by a really nice girl that we call ‘red knickers’ – she is the one that asked us, when we arrived in Spain just before New Year one year, whether we had our red knickers with us (which was a little bit alarming as we were only there to collect a car) – apparently, a bit like the Czechs who have the Easter tradition of spanking their wives’/girlfriends’ with their ‘whipping sticks’, the Spanish all wear red knickers and eat grapes on New Year’s Day (God only knows what happens then.. we didn’t dare ask)), but sometimes it is easier in the town, and that office is manned by a lovely elderly Spanish guy called Sergio, who loves me – so when I suggested to Jan that he walks with me this morning (now allowed) he preferred to leave me to Sergio and lay by the pool instead.  However, when I got there, instead of Sergio there was a very stressed, but very beautiful, senorita (which amused me no end) who apologised for the fact that it was her first day (their offices having been closed for the last nine weeks), that there had been a sudden rush of customers, and that unfortunately all she could give me was a white van.   Which, in the circumstances, I couldn’t really complain about.

So me and the white van hurtled back home, as was only fitting (you know what they say about white van drivers…).  Actually it was good fun, and I enjoyed cutting people up and hooting at them as a reward for all the near misses and hoots that I have had over the white vanlast nine weeks.  I may yet buy myself a pair of overalls and hang ‘Jo’ and ‘Jan’ stickers in the windows.  And by then it was time to join Jan by the pool for a couple of hours ‘recovery’.

Talking of companies that I love, my friend Adam asked me last night why I was stressing about chasing all the airlines for refunds, and why not just wait until they cough up, which they are legally bound to do.   The thing is that at the moment most of them don’t want to give refunds (and I do understand why, but….) and they make it nearly impossible to get them or even change existing bookings.  The only one that is easy, and that is our absolute favourite (and this ryanairmight surprise you!) is Ryanair.  I love them.   First they put on regular direct flights from Prague to Malaga after we spent years lobbying various airlines to do it, then they always go on time, the crew is always nice, and they refund everything immediately – one email, click on it, and the money comes back.  Amazing.  Unlike the big guys, who we are now getting into a good old battle with – look out Iberia…. JG is on your tail…. (and be warned if you are planning on booking a flight any time soon!).

The afternoon, then, took on a fairly normal pattern (news-watching, social media, calls, a bit of work, etc), except that instead of one or other of us having to head to a supermarket to do a big stock up, I went with my van (although Jan, in the end, couldn’t resists a walk to Aldi).   And then the plan for the evening is drinks with our paella friends (drinks!!!  together!!!!).  And then dinner at home and yet another walk.   Exhausting!

Before I go, though, something that I pondered on my walk this morning – we have all been ‘clapping’ the health workers (this, as I have said before, is not just a British tradition, it was started in Italy and then Spain), and I hope, and believe, that there are many people supporting the police (my friends in Prague with their Frontliners’ feeding station for example), but there are so many other ‘heros’ at the moment – the ladies manning the supermarkets, the Amazon drivers and so on, it all makes me quite emotional.  When this is all over, I am sure that we will be doing many things to thank them all.   And, as Jan pointed out this morning, let’s not forget the many people living in tiny apartments for endless weeks without going outside, etc….. so today I couldn’t help but want to post one of my all time favourite videos today:

More tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

We’re Out – in Spain! Day 64

steps to the beach

It looked like being another lovely day today, and Jan, as is now usual, was up early (I have to say, this is an absolute miracle… bearing in mind that he has rarely in his life been seen before about 9.00 am, him being up and out every morning, sometimes before I have even opened my eyes, is unbelievable!.  Long may it last…!)  Today, of course is the Sunday before tomorrow’s end of lockdown, so he wanted to do a long run down to the port and check out what is going on there in ‘readiness’, whilst I decided to take it a bitpuerto banus easy and just do some relaxed (ish) biking – I’m trying to save my legs a bit now for my big day on Tuesday!

As I have said before, there is one advantage to sitting on the exercise bike instead of running or tennis, and that is that I can do something else at the same time (being a woman, I am used to that….!), and this morning that meant social media monitoring, especially the Andalusian FB page, where there was a huge amount of discussion about  what we can and can’t do in Phase 1 – as I said yesterday, it is not that clear, and our ‘Alicante Lady’ friends have clearly got their knickers in a right old twist about it.   To be fair, they did have quite a few good questions, mostly involving going to bars and whether the toilets can be used (since they are inside and we are only allowed outside) or will there be some other toiletsolution (??!!!) – there was a lot of controversy on that one which the Commissioner of Facebook got very involved in later on, of course – as well as whether we can go out any time or just in our usual time-slots (apparently we can now go out to restaurants/cafes/bars/shops at any time, but we can’t just ‘go out’ – ie. meandering about is not allowed, but meandering off to a bar is…..) and one person asking whether, since we are allowed out, but have to stay in our own Province, they could go, for example, to Malaga from Mijas (a reasonably long way) to go to a specific shop or restaurant, and that provoked a very useful video being posted by someone who appears to be a British ‘town councillor’ in the town, the gist of which was, I thought, quite useful.

Basically he said that he feels that people should use their common sense (hahah…. where have we heard that before – stay alert!) and not try to look for ways to get around stay alertor misinterpret the rules, as if everyone starts doing that then there is a good chance that things will tighten up again (especially if the numbers go up).    And, whilst there is no rule against heading off to another part of the Province for shopping, etc, he stressed that it was really important that everyone should try to support their local communities, most of which are suffering horribly, and not be thinking about going further afield just because they can.  So if they want to go to a bar, restaurant or shop, then go to a local bar, restaurant or shop (at least for now) to help them to get back on their feet, as no-one wants to live in a ghost town, which is what ghost towncould soon happen.   I liked that, and think it is probably relevant to all of us, irrespective of where we live just now.

So back to this morning; Jan did his run, and I finished my biking, and then it was a couple of hours by the big pool to recover, during which time we started to get a bit concerned about some fairly regular ‘rumbling’ above us – first, we thought that there might be a thunderstorm heading our way (we are pretty used to that sound just now) but the sky was bright blue.  Then we wondered if the noise was the beginnings of another earthquake (not sure whether the sky would be blue then, or what an earthquake sounds like, having never, touch wood, lived through one) but then we realised….. there were some fairly regular planes up in the sky!   A bit like London buses – we have waited all this time, and then not only did one plane fly over, but in the course of an hour or so, about four!    How exciting was that!!!

Then just as we were starting to think about when our lunch might be ready, the clouds DID come over and in the space of about ten minutes, for God’s sake, we went from lovely hot sunshine to pouring rain, so it was a fast walk back to the house to wait for that to blow over and hope to be summonsed to come and collect our paella.  This, potentially, will be the last time that we will have this arrangement, since, of course, from tomorrow we can be out and about, and that led us to ponder how it is all going to be; will we see a mad rush of people appearing from nowhere?   Will the restaurants and bars be filled up quickly and have queues forming?   Or will it, in fact, be quitemountain view on way back peaceable and not much different.    I suspect that for us in this part of Marbella it won’t be a lot different, since there really don’t seem to be so many people around (except on the beach early in the morning!) but in other areas it may be different.  We shall see.

Sunday, then, continued as usual; lunch was duly collected and we managed to eat even more than usual, and then there were some calls and a bit of news and social media monitoring, before we were off for what might, possibly, be our last late-evening walk before normality kicks in tomorrow…..!  Should be a lot to talk about then!!

 

 

We’re Out – In Spain! Day 63

steps to the beach

It’s been a funny old day today.   We were up early in order to go running before the 10.00 am curfew, and that was GREAT; I went on the same route as the other day – along the main road past Aldi and then down the track to come back on the beach path – beautiful weather and an atmosphere in the air due to the news last night that we are finally going into Phase 1 – i.e. we are OUT (on Monday)!

Whilst running alongside the sea is, of course, fantastic, the road today had its own attractions as it was full of cyclists (which I was fine with, since I was on the pavement) and they were in celebratory mood.   It seems, generally, that those on the road are pretty serious aboutcycling teams cycling, and today I was passed by a professional team in time-trial mode (and blimey, they do go!) and then a group of young guys going the other way, waving a Spanish flag and singing ‘Viva Espana’, shortly followed by three, what looked like body builders (I only noticed as they had their shirts off, and honestly, it shouldn’t be allowed…), and then I headed off down to the beach, by which time I was in a very good mood!

Today (and, sorry for saying this, but it is a bit typically Spanish) just when we are about to go out of lockdown and all the rules will ease up a bit, the police were on the beach in force (after two weeks of complete chaos down there and not a sign of them!) stopping people from coming down in cars (the rule was that you had to run directly from home and couldn’t drive somewhere and then run, but cars have been streaming down every beach trackday until today!), or from walking along chatting rather than exercising properly…. what a pity they hadn’t done it before, but maybe now the rules are easing we are going to see a lot more police about…. but, anyway, how nice to be able to run without worrying about being knocked over by a bike or tripped up by a dog.

The thing about the rules, though, is that whilst each phase tries to clarify exactly what is and isn’t possible, they all get a bit muddled (so, yes, it’s good that they have at least tried, unlike some…..) but they have clearly been put together quite quickly, as they don’t always work.   For example, from Monday I can play tennis (hoorah, I will be on court on Tuesday) and lots of other sports are permitted, along with gyms opening, etc, but since they say that the rules from Phase 0 still have to be observed, i.e that exercise has to be between 06.00 and 10.00 or between 20.00 and 23.00, is it OK that I am booked to play FROM 10.00 on Tuesday?   And then small restaurants and cafes can open if they have outside space (but with the usual ‘social distancing’ measures in place and at 50% capacity) as well as some shops and other bits and pieces.  But the Phase 0 rules were that only seniors are allowed out between 10.00 am and 12.00 and kids from 12.00 until 19.00 – so we are not really sure if we are allowed to go to those shops, cafes and restaurants after 10.00 am and before 20.00 – and if not, then which kid shoppingshops will actually want to open (unless they think that they will get an influx of old-aged pensioners and kids…..)?

No doubt we will figure it all out in due course, but in the meantime the Commissioner of Facebook spent most of the morning after our return from running, checking it all out on social and other media, and getting even more confused, due to the opinions of all the self-proclaimed experts on the Andalusia FB page, who along with being incandescent with rage that we are going into Phase 1 at all, each have a different opinion… !!  Incidentally, whilst I am on this subject, and as mentioned before, Jan was at the dentist all day yesterday – the dentist that was only allowed to go back to work last week, whilst tobacconists have been open throughout the whole lock-down period, and hairdressesrs for the last month.  It is all a bit bonkers.

So whilst Jan was doing the news and social media watch today, I was trying to deal with the other thing that happened last night, and that was the cancellation of yet another flight that we had booked for our return to Prague.   I haven’t really mentioned this before, as it is all a bit boring, but maybe it explains why I am often asked why we haven’t try to return before; the thing is that flights with some airlines have been showing as available throughout the whole lockdown period and it has been possible to book them, although each has said very clearly that because of the Covid-19 situation, flights may get cancelled, in which case they can be re-booked for no fee, or refunded.   At least… that is the theory!!!

One of our regular daily activities, therefore, has been receiving emails from one or other airline, telling us that x, y, z flight is not going, and trying to re-book or cancel it – to the point that we are nearly going MADDDD (particularly as, in addition to return flights from here, Jan has about 500 booked for later in the year and into 2021, so he has even more of these emails than I do…… he is a bit odd like that!!).   I do understand why the airlines need to do keep showing flights and allowing people to book them, and also why they are reluctant to make refunds (even though they are legally obliged to) but, bloody hell, what a nightmare to even get involved in a conversation about it – telephones are never lots of planesanswered, there are no direct email addresses to write to, and the online systems don’t really work with the situation that is happening now.   So today, I was chasing Iberia around on email, website, Facebook and Facebook Messenger for a flight that I had booked for last week (I know, I kept it quiet as something told me it might not go!) and that was cancelled some time ago, so far with no result, and calling and emailing Lufthansa regarding last night’s cancellation of our flight on 29th May.   So many bookings, but so few planes flying!!

By the time I had done all of that (and failed miserably to get anywhere!) it was lunchtime and the sun was out, so we took a couple of hours’ break in the sun before it was my turn to do some news and social media watching, and Jan, bless him, headed off to Aldi to stock up for our Sunday paella tomorrow (our friends cooking again… lovely).   Despite private maidthe battering he had yesterday (and now some lovely new teeth) and running this morning, he was still game-on to go food shopping, which meant that I felt a little bit honour-bound to do some ‘housework’ in return – actually I just read a comment on social media asking if ‘one’s private maid coming to clean one’s house a couple of days a week is now allowed’ – something that Jan has been asking about … but instead I have been doing it myself.  Nothing like a bit of ironing and cleaning to cheer one up!

And here’s something else:

 

 

 

(Formerly) House Arrest in Spain – Day 62

view from window

Last night the rain finally stopped and we had our usual after-dinner walk down to the beach which, even late in the evening, was a hive of activity – including one person out on a paddle-board, which seemed quite brave in view of the weather (still a bit ominous) – and lots of annoying bikes and dogs, plus a magnificent rainbow right across the beach and sea.  We are going to miss all of this when we eventually go back to Prague!

As if the weather wasn’t weird enough (as mentioned before, it really isn’t supposed to be raining down here in May, nor bright sunshine and warm in the UK and the CR in March), we woke up to news that there had been an earthquake in Granada and that granadaripples had been felt in Malaga.   Thankfully it seems that it was only mild, but still! (And that reminds me, just after we arrived here (March 11th) one of my friends mentioned that his wife’s family, who are in Zagreb, had also suffered an earthquake (quite a lot worse than the one here)…. but in view of everything else that was going on at that time, I am not sure that anyone actually picked up on it).   Presumably all of this strange weather is due to climate change (and that then reminds me of a TV programme that we watched when we bought our first house here, which talked about what might happen to the world if human beings don’t change their ways, and said, amongst other things, that in 20 years’ time (which would be about now) English people will no longer move to the Costa del Sol as the UK will be warmer than Spain (so that wasn’t great, we thought!), that there would be no more snow, and that new diseases would be coming at us thick and fast (and how we laughed and mocked all that at the time!).

So this morning’s news and social media watch was quite interesting: in the UK, it seems that there is trouble-brewing from all sides (although if you watch UK TV in the daytime, they try not to mention it too much, since both the BBC and Sky News are super-pro the government, as are most of the ‘popular’ media (when I say ‘popular’ I mean ‘rubbish’)).   Wales, Scotland and Ireland are ignoring the government (as, it seems, are some of the English regions) and sticking with the ‘stay at home’ slogan (rather than ‘stay alert, which is, of course, ridiculous) the Brexit deal talks seem to be going nowhere (which is pretty scary since any extension to the timeframe for agreeing everything has to be asked for by the keirend of June, so it could, potentially, mean the UK dropping out of the EU without a deal (I have put a link to a petition to extend the timeframe below), and BJ coming under daily attack in the House of Commons from Sir Keir, the Leader of the Opposition, to the point that he is urging that the rest of Parliament get back to work again as soon as possible, in order to help him out….

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300412?fbclid=IwAR0vpIBAPJnLmvDXJ8Sdu3QJ6EiSiZL4OaGgfbHeQxzWgboOwehsW-xJ3eo

Then, in Spain, the start of some civil unrest in Madrid – hardly surprising, when you consider that the Madridans, like everyone here, have been in full-on lockdown for nine years, sorry weeks, but huge numbers of them, unlike lucky us down here, are living in high-rise apartments and so on… and whilst we are hoping that any minute now we will hear that the Malaga region will go into Phase 1, like 50% of the rest of the country, Madrid has madridalready been told that that is not going to happen for them, at least not yet.  We can’t help but feel that a lot of this is political rather than based on the numbers… plus it seems that this Government want to see all the figures down to zero before they are ready to properly get going again – which is not, of course, going to happen.  Hey ho.

Meanwhile, back in the CR, where everything seems to have been handled so well, and life, by all accounts, is going back pretty much to normal, there is a bit of politician-bashing going on, none-the-less – the Prime Minister is used to it, and those that attack him will probably never stop, but today it is the turn of the Minister of Finance, who got a little bit ambushed yesterday by a journalist asking her a question in English (since she has claimed that she can speak it, but it appears not) which prompted a bit of a hissy fit and her storming off in a very schillerova unpleasant way, for which she has been pretty well lambasted.  But… you know…. I used to deal with lots of different politicians in my old ‘serious’ PR life, and the majority of them didn’t speak English either (although a bit silly of her to claim that she did, since it is pretty easy to prove!)…… is it really such a huge thing?  Or is it because she is the Prime Minister’s ‘person’, or that things are different now…. or, dare I say it, because she is a woman??   And, sadly, the CR is still not very good about women in senior positions….

Blimey.  I think I have just written a party-political broadcast.   This may be because I have been on my own all day – marvellous (no offence!) so plenty of time to ponder and plot.    Jan was away for most of the day (finally) for his much-needed dental surgery, so I was able to spend hours on social media, watch all the crap TV news and general stuff that he bans, and play very loud 80s disco music whilst biking, as well as some Bollywood that I could dance wildly around the room to, along with doing some work (yes, proper work), sun-bathing a bit, and generally having a ‘me’ day.   This evening, then, will follow similar lines to usual (depending on whether Jan can eat, and being a Czech man, that is, of course, extremely important, not to mention whether he can drink…..).

So more tomorrow, by which time we should know (a) whether I will play tennis next week and, more importantly (ish) (b) whether the planes will start flying from lst June (there is a rumour….).  Have a nice weekend everyone!

palm tree on beach

 

(Formerly) House Arrest in Spain – Day 61

view from window

Another morning of waking up early to wild thunderstorms in the mountains behind us and torrential rain – no point, therefore, in getting up early to run (in that?!) so more time to news and media-watch before getting moving.  Actually poor Jan had already had a soaking during his trip out to the supermarket last night (which then put paid to our jan soakedlate night walk) so he had no enthusiasm at all for heading back out again this morning.

Today was originally going to be my first day back on a tennis court – Marbella remaining in Phase 0 put paid to that, although it might change this weekend – but maybe God was trying to cheer me up by making sure that I couldn’t have actually played anyway as the courts would be soaked.   My club in Prague, of course, manages all types of weather conditions bubblesince it is home to some of the top women players in the world and they need to train irrespective of the weather (I remember once saying to the guy that I play with here that we still play on clay in the winter as we have ‘bubbles’ over the courts, and he looked at me blankly and said ‘what’s a ”bubble’…) but here, normally, it is very rare to be ‘rained off’.

The thing is, though, that I am not that bothered (whilst 8-9 weeks ago, not playing tennis was one of my biggest stresses).   Of course I want to play, but normally I train 2 or 3 times a week because I want to play in the senior tennis competitions that I got involved in (a whole other story) and since there are unlikely to grass courtbe any of those in the foreseeable future, I don’t really feel the need (other than to enjoy it, which is a good thing, especially here at the Manolo Santana Club, which is completely beautiful – see my photo on the grass court where the man himself still plays every day!). Which leads me to a few other thoughts re tennis and sport.

First, is it really going to work to hold all the big tennis and other sports tournaments without supporters?  When we arrived here in March, we watched two different football matches on the same evening – the one held in France without supporters (Paris St Germain v Dortmund) and the other in the UK (Liverpool v Atletico) – and in the end we gave up watching the French one as it had no atmosphere and no excitement…. a bit like watching a training match.   And with tennis, where the crowd can make a huge difference to one or other player, the same applies.   In fact, I can’t really think of any sport that will be the same without the atmosphere and excitement that is generated by the supporters…. and that leads me onto another, even more depressing thought.   How would I (if I was still doing this kind of thing which, thankfully, I am not too much) persuade a sponsor to support a player or an event if no-one is going to be watching it (OK, if it is guaranteed TV coverage, but very few matches/teams/players get that every day).   And with many fewer sponsors and no ticket sales, there will be much less money available, so how will some sports/events/players even continue?    Hmmm.   Not a good start to the day.

This morning, actually, Jan asked me if we could have one thing different at the moment, what would that be, and I said that it would be the start up of some sport on TV (as it used to be) – so much of our entertainment, for pretty much most of our lives, has been from watching tennis, horse racing, football, cycling, etc – years ago, when we only spent a short amount of time down here due to our workloads, we would old boys tennistry to time it around Wimbledon or Roland Garros or the Tour de France, so that we could skive off work each afternoon to watch it (which we were less able to do in Prague).  I wonder how long it will be until (or even if) we get back to that (and will our favourites look like this by that time?).

Clearly having all this time for thought is not doing me a lot of good!  But today, with the rain pouring down the whole morning there was a lot of stuff running around in my head so it was a good thing that I actually had quite a lot of work to get on with, including adding to my new website (something that I have planned to do for ages and finally got around to – comments welcome!) and training an old friend, Irena, on how to use Twitter.   She and I worked together in a previous life (for C, who has been mentioned many times before – he would refer to himself as the ‘old cockerel’ whilst the cockerelwomen that worked for him were his ‘chickens’ – so Irena and I were two of them… I guess that would be politically incorrect nowadays but, then, we thought it was fun).   She has similar views to me on the situation in the UK, so I felt that she would enjoy Twitter… as would C, who is as apoplectic as we are about it all,

This afternoon, then, both Jan and I had a couple of ‘Skype’ conference calls, which I am gradually getting used to and which certainly seem to focus people’s minds in order to keep them short and to the point.  I remember when all this new technology first started and we all wondered whether meetings in person would become a thing of the past, it meetingsnever really happened.   But I suspect it has now, and I wonder just how often we will all be getting on planes for 1-2 day work trips in the future.

So that was pretty much today done.  No dancing or anything else for me today (but Jan did sneak out for a jog up and down the path, plus he has been busy being the Commissioner of Facebook (where he is now getting Dad’s Army well and truly riled, to the point of being blocked by many!) and soon it will be dinner and, depending on the weather, a walk.  And that will be another day done.

 

(Formerly) House Arrest in Spain – Day 60

 

60th Anniversary Celebrating golden text and confetti on light blue background. Vector celebration 60 anniversary event template.

So with the sun shining again, we were back to our old/new regime which meant that we were up early and out for a run – we both headed towards the beach, but I went off towards Aldi again (since it is a lot more enjoyable running on the road with no-one around than the crowded beach track), but after half an hour, since I can’t resist the sea, I crossed over and joined the rest of the early morning runners… and everyone else…..  unfortunately the rumour that bikes and dogs were banned was not true, so it was pretty busy, but not as bad now that the novelty has worn off (for some).

On the way back, though, I got pretty disillusioned by the whole lock-down situation here; passing one of the many construction sites that have been working almost builderscontinually during the whole nine weeks, I saw a group of builders, all sitting together on the pavement outside, none wearing masks, and sharing a load of food amongst themselves.  Meantime, a police car passed by taking not the blindest piece of notice, preferring, presumably, to fine people that are still out after the 10.00 am deadline (we heard of someone being out five minutes late the other day and getting done).   Without wishing to sound like one of the famous Alicante Ladies (or the alicante ladiesnew group of ‘Dad’s Army’ that I will come to later), it is really annoying to know that here we are, behaving impeccably (even though we don’t really think that two white, middle-aged adults, that are very fit, not obese, and with no underlying health conditions, have that much chance of getting the virus, even if it was running as rampantly around here as some people think (which it’s not)), whilst others completely ignore the rules and continue as normal.

I think I finally realised today what Jan has been banging on about for ages, and that is that unless everyone abides by the same rules (and that, clearly, is never going to happen), there is always going to be the risk of the virus spreading about a bit or a lot – those builders are probably much more likely to get it than we are, since they are working in a big group and are unlikely to be living in the splendid isolation that we do.   And then, if even a handful of new cases show up, the government will slam on the breaks again and off we will go, back into lockdown.   That, potentially, could go on indefinitely, and, if it does, we are all doomed.

It seems to me, in a country that has got control of things (i.e. like the CR and, now, Spain and many others), it would be much better to just let everyone get on with their lives – if they want to be cautious, then that’s fine – stay indoors, wear masks, do whatever – but if not, then I kind of think that we should all be allowed to get back to normal and take our chances – basically what is happening in the CR (but, of course, the numbers were very low), and also in many other countries where the numbers were higher – Germany, for example, has it completely organised – monitoring what is happening throughout the country, prepared to close down areas where there are big breakouts, but working to get the economy back on track before it is too late.    So that’s it.  I have said it.  And no doubt the Alicante Ladies will be baying for blood.   (Although, just note, I am not including the UK in this, since that, clearly, is not under control, and I am still getting very cross about it…..).

Thinking about the builders, reminds me that I was pondering during the night about all these new apartments and so on being built here, and a conversation that I had with a friend in Prague, who feels that the real estate market will not be too badly affected by all of this.    I beg to differ.   Many years ago, I bought an apartment here in Marbella as an investment (it was actually a ‘distressed property’ that I bought very cheaply from the bank and which then distressed me hugely for years).   To cut a very long story short, I couldn’t rent it out on a long-term basis as that doesn’t really work here too much  (my original plan) so since I had a big mortgage on it that needed to be paid, and it therefore airbnbhad to ‘earn its keep’, I had the immense displeasure of listing it for holiday rental on some of sites (I will say Airbnb, but, actually, there are lots of websites that do holiday rentals and Airbnb is just one of them – unfortunately for them, they all get lumped together under its umbrella).

I know that most countries hate Airbnb, and that no-one likes to have Airbnb apartments in their buildings (understandable), but I can tell you that being the owner of an Airbnb apartment is truly awful, and no-one in their right mind would do it unless they have no other option and need the money (not that there is very much money in it – first the cleaning mafia that have to be paid in cash (and all agree a standard rate so that they can charge a huge amount and there will be no chance of negotiating), then the tax office that takes a large chunk of your income, not to mention Airbnb itself that also deducts trashed apartmenttheir own huge percentage before you even see it (not a lot of renters know that!), plus the costs of the aircon that people leave on 24 hours a day, and the regular repairs that are required after they wreck your furniture, steal your china, scratch your floors, burn your curtains, etc and then blackmail you by saying that they will write a bad review if you don’t do x, y and z).

So imagine being stuck with a holiday rental apartment or house now in Marbella, Prague, wherever – there is absolutely no chance of doing anything with it for the immediate future, if at all (no tourism and even if there were, will people want to rent an apartment that has only just been vacated by another family or people, use their towels, etc?)    I don’t think so,.  Which means, I am sure, that a huge number of these properties are going to hit the market very soon (the house I mentioned yesterday, and many others following daily).   And the question then will be, who is going to buy them?   When I sold mine, and sometimes I do tend to be a bit of a lunatic, I thought about buying something else and doing the same again (why???).  In fact, a couple of places that I looked at only a few months ago are probably going to be on the market now for a lot less than they were then.  But would I buy one at the moment?   Not a chance..

Oh dear.  What a grumpy old bag I am today.  Not sure why really.  After my long rant about the builders this morning on our return from running, we actually had quite a positive day – a couple of hours by the big pool, a bit of work, and a lot of news and social media watching (but nothing very new to report there, needless to say) – although coming back to ‘Dad’s Army’, that is Jan’s name for a new group who seem to have taken over the Andalusia FB page since the Alicante Ladies (who are generally terrified of going outside AT ALL) have gone very quiet.  ‘Dad’s Army’ however, have recently shown their faces and seem to be elderly British expats (possible old colonels or similar) whose dads armymission is to ensure that all the other expats in their areas behave correctly as things start to open up.. and if they wont, they will ‘name and shame’ them.  I think they are going to provide some interesting reading as we go along.

So Jan is now off at the supermarket (in the rain again, uggggh) and then we will be doing dinner and another walk (possibly!) – it looks as if he may hit a world record for steppage today, which will throw down the gauntlet for tomorrow…

(Formerly) House Arrest in Spain – Day 59

view from window

This morning we woke up early as, hard to believe, there was a massive thunderstorm and the rain was pouring down – completely discombobulating (I do like that word!) and it threw a bit of a spanner in the works as far as exercise was concerned.  I know we sound like ‘whoozes’ to not want to run in the rain, but for some reason it is always much wetter in Marbella than anywhere else (!), and the drains don’t work very well as they were built at a time when the Costa del Sol meant the Costa del Sol (sun)!   So instead we were back to the old routine as soon as the rain stopped (which was too late for our 07.00-10.00 running outsideexercise slot) – Jan running up and down the path (which, he said, he quite enjoyed – mad) and me on Bollywood, 7 app and bike – with lots of loud 80s disco music to liven things up.

During my social media and newswatch beforehand, there seemed to be a general ‘fed-up-ness’ amongst pretty much everyone that I follow or read (which hasn’t been there so much before), and that continued when I had a long call with my big Zurich-based client, who said pretty much what I sense that a lot of people are feeling – that despite the fact that Switzerland has more or less gone back to normal (along similar lines to the CR), he has had enough of being computerindoors most of the time and not seeing many people (other than on a computer screen), doesn’t feel that comfortable going out and about yet (at least not in the way he used to), and is depressed that  business is very tough and his work day is so different (he is used to flying here there and everywhere on a regular basis, but now spends his time on the phone or computer, mainly fire-fighting).

We, ourselves, are not feeling quite like that, but I think that that is partly that we are in a little ‘bubble of our own’ down here, and the life we are living at the moment is not that different to what it is usually is, when we are here – it has just gone on for a lot longer.   The problem for us, I think, will be when we eventually get onto a plane and go back to Prague – in our minds, we expect that it will be just the same as it was when we left.  But deep down we know it won’t.   People’s minds have been changed – Jan loves to hug everyone (women (especially), men, dogs, cats, trees), whereas I am a bit more aloof… but we wonder if we will be hugging anyone when we come home – probably not.  Will we be going out for our regular dinners with friends (we might, but will they, and will it be to the same restaurants?), attending big events, flying off to the UK to see family whenever we want to, etc?  Probably not.   Will I have much work (my marketing specialities of sports, hospitality, retail, real estate all being hit very hard).  Probably not.  And so it goes on – in a way, therefore, it’s much easier to sit here and pretend nothing much has changed……

Having said that, we do feel ready (and actually have various quite important reasons) to go home soon (which is looking like being end May/beginning of June), but the fact is that malaga airportwe have had to stop thinking about it too much as we have known for weeks that it just wasn’t possible.  I have, though, had lots of messages recently asking why we are still here, so I am going to lay down a challenge.  I realise that there is not much reason for anyone to monitor the flights in the way we do, or ponder other routes, so I understand why you might think that we are just staying put because we want to, but have a look – if anyone can find us a route from Malaga that actually works (and bear in mind that (a) just because a flight shows on an airline’s website, it doesn’t mean it will go (we need to see that it has on a regular basis before we will try it), (b) we are not allowed to move between provinces, so we have to start our journey in Malaga, (c) there are no hotels open in the usual transfer airports (and we are way too old (and I am too much of a princess) to consider sleeping on an airport bench over night, even if sleeping on airport benchwe were allowed, which we doubt!), and (d) we cannot go outside an airport or drive through any other country without going into 14 days’ quarantine there, nor can we return to Spain if we get stuck somewhere (once we leave, no return at the moment!).   So… based on all of that… if someone finds something that works, let me know and we will agree a suitable reward!!

So, back to today.   After the rain had stopped, we did our exercise, as above, and quite a lot of work (for Jan) and a bit (for me), and then the day meandered along in its usual way – a bit of news watching (I’m not going to talk about the UK anymore…), a bit of sunbathing (amazingly, once the rain had stopped, the bright sun came straight out afterwards), and quite a lot of online discussions between the Commissioner of Facebook and, mostly, the Alicante Women, and now we are ready for dinner and the daily walk.

First, though, a quick update on a couple of my favourite topics: first, tennis – mine is not going to start this week, as expected (since we are still in Phase 0, but that might change this weekend if we get the expected promotion to Phase 1).  And Djokovic has been well and truly told off (not just once but twice – the day after he had played tennis here, he novak seawent for a run on the beach and was caught coming out of the sea – there is a bit of a bonkers rule at the moment that says that you can go into the sea to do proper sport (i.e. if you take a surf or paddle board) but rumour has it that he will be training here daily once we are ALL allowed to start playing – Jan is ecstatic.

Second, cockroaches and other nasty insect life – we have moved on from discussing cockroaches, locusts and, more recently, mosquitos, and now have a new subject – one of the houses on the Pueblo that has been locked up for a long time has apparently had a rat living in it and doing a lot of damage…… (as mentioned before, we were once told that we ‘might’ have a rat in our house, so we are taking this information with a pinch of salt… ish….).   Sometimes it is very nice to have a house in this part of the world, sometimes not so much.  Clearly the owner of that house has decided not as it has now been put on the market…  And that (i.e. the house on the market) may very well be a topic for tomorrow’s blog.