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Archive for the ‘Just life’ Category

New Zealand is now in its second week of a lower level of restrictions. We have had, I think, only one new case in the last seven days. There’s an amusing video (you can find here) that talks about the focus we’ve all had on the daily announcement of new cases of COVID-19, and how it has replaced sports watching. We’re all instant experts on the cases per million/tests per million statistics, and how we compare against the rest of the world. And it has been appropriate, as our PM has regularly called us a “team of five million.” To mark coming out of lockdown, our national radio station ran a T-shirt design competition. I ordered a T-shirt with one of the winning designs today, which references the team of five million.

We went out to our favourite brunch place on Saturday (that I invited you to back in March), wanting to support them after they had been closed for seven weeks. They did a great job of entertaining their customers on social media during lockdown, and so not surprisingly, we were not the only ones with the same idea. They’ve been run off their feet. It’s a small restaurant, and they have had to remove 12 seats to ensure appropriate physical distancing (at least one metre between tables is required). It was, as I said to friends this morning, both incredibly normal to be back, and quite surreal.

In my inbox, there’s an email from Emirates airline, boldly stating, “it’s time to connect you to the rest of the world.” My reaction was simply, “hell, no!” Whilst it is becoming more normal for us to move about our country now, and we’re planning a bit of a get-away to support our local tourism industry and visit my sister and family (who are also planning a visit down here in school holidays), I have no desire to travel internationally. I look at countries that are opening up their economies, whilst their new case numbers are still scarily high, or whose lockdowns have been much more lax than ours, and I shudder to think about how long it will be until it is safe to travel there. So I’ll just repeat the words that have been a consistent part of the campaign here. Be kind. Stay safe.

Winter is setting in now. Having just had an enforced seven week hibernation, it seems slightly weird to be voluntarily going back into hibernation because of the weather. But it is getting dark so early now and feels very wintry, so let the hibernation continue.

And on that note, I have to say, “what’s with people being bored at home?” I never have enough time to do all the things I want to do, so I am someone who has not suffered hardship being locked down. In fact, I could have used another few weeks, as my grey roots are growing through now, but are not long enough to be able to incorporate into a new look just yet. But instead, I am going out in public, still trying to decide whether I should stop colouring or give it a few years more.

And another positive has come from this too. Today I joined another zoom call with some of the lovely bloggers I met back in 2006 when I first started blogging, when we all did year of daily blogging using a word limit. 14 years later, it was the first time we’d met up as a group (though one or two have met in real life), and we all (almost, except for B) admitted to feeling a little shy. But it felt so natural, so comfortable, to chat to these fabulous women who have been part of my life for so long now. We were just friends chatting. Friends who have never met. But we will. One day.

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It seems particularly appropriate to record my thoughts about my COVID-19 experience today, as on Thursday last week, NZ moved out of full lockdown, and into what we call COVID-19 Alert Level 2. We had a much stricter lockdown than many countries, although not as strict as Spain – we were allowed to go out to exercise (walk or cycle) but we were to keep close to our homes, maintain a 2-metre physical distance, and not to stop and chat. All takeaway shops were closed, and no delivery of hot food was permitted.  Two weeks ago we moved into Alert Level 3, which meant that deliveries and contactless pickup was permitted, and certain industries were opened up. Construction, for example, which was restricted in lockdown, was opened up in Level 3.

After a week when we had three days of no new cases in a row, and when any new cases were linked specifically to clusters, the government felt that it was safe to move to Alert Level 2. This means we can travel domestically, we can meet with friends and family in our homes or elsewhere as long as total numbers are kept at 10 or under. Restaurants, cafes, cinemas, and retail shops can open, as long as they maintain physical distancing. Hairdressers, as long as they wear PPE, are open. A lot of people are nervous, especially as we have watched other countries suffer from second waves of infection. Even though extensive testing across the country has shown no evidence of current community transmission. All cases now are related to specific clusters of infection (that can be traced back to a single infection) or to international travel. In my city and a neighbouring province, there are no current cases of COVID-19, and there have not been for several weeks. So when we go out, the risk is very low. We know it is not over. But we’re hopeful.

When was the moment you knew this was serious. Where were you and what happened?

I’ve been aware of this since the very beginning of the year, with the first announcements from China and the WHO. I’ve followed it closely since then, especially as it spread through Asia, as I knew it might affect family who were travelling in Vietnam and Malaysia at the time, and because I was (at the time) planning a trip to Thailand sometime in 2020. I felt relatively safe here in NZ, until we had a first case in Wellington (a stupid Australian who was symptomatic and had been travelling to countries where the infection was prevalent, got tested, and flew on to NZ before getting his – ultimately positive – result) on 14 May. We went out for dinner that night with my niece and her family who were in town visiting, and wondered if we should be doing it, but there was no real reason not to do so. But within a week, it was a very different situation as our numbers began to increase. Even then though, the scenes in Italy and elsewhere didn’t seem real. Our case numbers continued to grow, but were largely related to those who had travelled internationally. So when our full lockdown was announced on 23 May, I will admit to suddenly feeling that “s#%$ just got real!”

Looking back now, is there one particular news article or story that stands out to you?

Perhaps the first reports of Italy’s health system becoming overwhelmed, and the sheer numbers of deaths and critical care patients. Or one of Trump’s ridiculous statements. Or an article posted by a relative living in California which was full of conspiracy theories. It will be interesting to think what I will remember this time next year, or in ten years.

What was the first meme that caused you to laugh out loud?

There were many, but the one I remember is this one, that came after Australia and New Zealand were seeing cases drop, and were starting to think about the next stage:

Newscaster: “Australia and New Zealand are exploring a travel bubble allowing citizens to visit each other’s country without quarantine, which could be a model for other neighbouring countries.”

Canada:  A look of sheer terror – The visual was of the Ice Age squirrel Scrat, backed up against a tree, terrified.

What have you observed in your community that has been heart-warming?

The overwhelming number of teddy bears in windows (including car windows on the street) when we go on our daily walks, there to give comfort to children, but that also help adults amongst us too.

On ANZAC Day (effectively our Memorial Day), a dawn service was broadcast online and on TV, and rather than attend services, people were encouraged to stand at their gates at dawn. It was a beautiful way to mark the day, maintain the solemnity of the day, and yet adhere to the lockdown.

The Student Voluntary Army that has been helping with shopping for vulnerable people. The “Army” came into being after the Christchurch earthquakes, and have spread nationwide. Makes me feel confident that our country is in good hands in the future.

What has been the biggest change to your everyday routine?

Because I work (or don’t work) from home anyway, I haven’t had huge changes in my routine. Not being able to go out on a whim, with my camera or to go out for a coffee, or pop out to the supermarket has been the major restriction. This has meant that I’ve had to make real shopping lists, and try and do some meal planning. I don’t think I’ve ever done that consistently ever before!

How has family life been altered in your home? 

Every morning we usually check in with each other – “anything you want to do today?” My husband kept saying it, and then laughed at the look of frustration on my face.

He has been doing most of the shopping at the same time as he has shopped for his father, so I haven’t been able to browse the supermarket, and although I’ve made lists, he has sometimes bought things that he likes not the things I like!

Otherwise, life hasn’t changed too much for us, once we’re at home. I have enjoyed knowing that the fridge and freezer and pantry is well-stocked, so I can choose what to cook with more freedom than usual. Within constraints, of course.

What have you learned to do because of this pandemic?

How to make a shopping list! (Okay, I knew that, but never did it regularly.) How to make my own chocolate marshmallow Easter eggs! A very useful skill. Lol And I made my first pizza dough, and the Malaysian roti canai bread, successfully too.

What change has created the most disappointment for you?

I’m obviously very sad for the people who have lost work, or have found the lockdown stressful.  And yes, I’m disappointed that I can’t travel this year – or maybe not even next year. I’m disappointed at reactions of people internationally who have unbelievably politicised a pandemic.

Otherwise, I’ve been overwhelmed with gratitude that NZ has acted so quickly, and that we have personally been in a situation where this hasn’t caused us great distress or financial hardship.

What has surprised you?

Perhaps I’ve been surprised at how NZers have, almost overwhelmingly, supported the government’s moves from the very start, and recognised that, when our numbers started going up quite suddenly, that these extreme measures were necessary. I think they said over 85% of NZers supported these moves, and this solidarity has been heartwarming.

What has not surprised you?

How stupid people can be. Sigh. And how, once the danger appeared to be over for NZers, certain politicians immediately started … well … being politicians. The solidarity we felt is gradually (albeit slowly) disintegrating.

What about the future creates feelings of worry or fear?

The economic implications of this on a global scale, as NZ always suffers from international downturns, and the uncertainty of this, how it affects our retirement savings, etc. Occasionally I have flickers of fear that vaccines or antiviral treatments won’t be effective, and that travel won’t be possible, prosperity will disappear, I’ll have to completely rethink how we will spend the rest of our lives.

What have you truly enjoyed about sheltering in place?

Not feeling obligated to go out! I quite enjoyed the cosiness of being at home, knowing that I didn’t need to feel guilty about staying at home because everyone else was doing the same. I’m losing that now that they’re all going back to work – or are still working at home – and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Also, the feeling that it is up to me to make treats etc at home (eg baking, or a nice Saturday night dinner) because we are not going out. In the past I’ve often had the urge to try something new, but when it has been so easy to pop down to a cafe or shops or get takeaways for dinner, I’ve let my cooking skills stagnate. With the exception of naan bread, homemade is usually better!

I also loved being able to have a Zoom reunion with my AFS friends from 40 years ago, that I wrote about here.

And the guys at my favourite brunch place (which I recently wrote about here) have engendered a real sense of community on their Facebook page, posting regularly with recipes or stories about food or entertaining. It has really been a wonderful coming together of them and their fans.

Who or what has impressed you in a positive way?

Our PM. I knew she was a good communicator before, but hearing her speak and respond to questions at daily (almost) press conferences has really impressed me. I’ve been saying for years that I felt that our leaders were missing opportunities to send the right messages. She gets it right almost every single time.

What will you do differently when life normalises?

I hope I’ll keep cooking different things, as I’ve been meaning to do that for ages, but haven’t. My homemade pizza was a hit, so that’s going to be on the menu in future, and I made an apple galette last night that was delicious, so I’ll keep that too. I think I’ll keep washing my hands more thoroughly! And I hope I’ll keep in touch with people online more often too. Going out in groups will be disconcerting for a while, I think.

What memory or moment will you talk about in ten years? 

Who knows? The daily press conferences announcing the number of new cases and (sometimes) the number of deaths became appointment viewing/listening throughout the country. The Zoom catch-ups with friends with a glass of wine, or for my niece’s birthday, or my AFS reunion. The daily walks, meeting others in the neighbourhood and walking out into the carless streets to keep our two-metre distance, smiling and nodding or joking with our neighbours, and enjoying the teddy bears.

 

Teddy bears escaping out of a window down a sheet

Teddy bears making a lockdown break for it!

Thanks to Loribeth, who posted this list of questions here, and her response to them here. If you write yours, let me know!

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I have always enjoyed what the Danish call hygge – cosiness, comfort, content. It’s not unlike the Thai concept of sabai, though because of the different climate, sabai conjures less cosiness, but pleasure, a gentle cooling breeze, and a feeling of contentment or even bliss in a moment. (Though they use it to mean “well” – as in “are you well?” – it’s meaning takes on that much broader context too.) I like a culture that encourages us to think about the joy of a moment, rather than FOMO or endless comparison with others, or ambition.

Autumn and winter are the perfect seasons for hygge. Spring and summer bring sabai. And as we’re in autumn now with winter fast approaching, it’s easy to turn my mind to what is hygge in my little world. Especially now, when we can’t go out, and can’t visit friends, hygge needs to be found at home, alone or with any other members of our household. I can definitely find it on my own, but it’s good to share when I can too.

A perfect Friday night, with the weekend stretching ahead, embodies hygge. Cold outside, maybe even raining, enjoying a warm and cosy house inside. There has to be comfort food. That’s either fish and chips (a Friday ritual for NZers – though I feel that hygge requires the meal to be homemade), a favourite Thai curry (which always seems to me to be more appropriate for winter nights, and is definitely homemade), or a hearty stew, probably my favourite lamb shanks recipe with prunes and barley and orange juice. A good red wine with the meal is definitely more hygge than a crisp, sauvignon blanc or a favourite chardonnay, though they definitely qualify as sabai. The feeling of hygge continues if there’s a cosy evening planned as I’m finishing the red wine – perhaps a special rugby game on TV or just some favourite viewing with my husband, or a good book with some good music. It’s all so much better knowing that I can sleep in the next morning, and that it is the end of the week.

What’s your personal  hygge?

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Today, New Zealand has moved from its highest COVID alert level to level 3. It seems that we no longer have community transmission, though we are still getting a few new cases every day. (Today there were one confirmed and two probable new cases.) The difference is that businesses that can operate safely are allowed to open (contactless retail, construction, for example), though most people are still asked to work from home, and schools are partially open (to children under 14 whose parents have to go out to work). We have a little more freedom in terms of leisure – we can go further to exercise now – but essentially we are still on lockdown for another two weeks, but with takeaways.

Apparently this morning there were queues outside KFC and McDonald’s. Actually, just as I wrote this, I heard that major queues* are requiring police to direct traffic. I find that a sad indictment on our society, but understand it. I saw a comment on the page of a local deli/coffee shop, thanking them for opening for takeaway coffee this morning, and declaring it the best cup of coffee they’d ever had! I can relate to that too, as I haven’t had a coffee in the last five weeks! I’m going to wait until the novelty wears off before I head for a takeaway barista-made flat white.

Anyway, to mark the beginning of the lifting of restrictions here (though they are still stronger than in Australia or Canada or many other places), I thought I’d be really lazy, and give you a some photos I’ve taken – on my phone and with my camera – over the last five weeks on lockdown.

Even though I haven’t been baking a lot, I’ve been doing a bit.

Early in lockdown, we had an eerie misty morning. My husband alerted me to a kereru (native wood pigeon) on the lines at our gate, and I dashed out with my camera. We were up in the clouds (or the clouds were down around us), there were no cars and just the odd jogger, so I was able to stand in the middle of the road and snap this beauty. Later, he/she moved to our trees, and you can see that the mist had lifted.

All around the world, I understand, people have been putting teddy bears in their windows, to help amuse children on their walks. Around my suburb there are bears and other stuffed toys in countless windows, as well as cars. They don’t only amuse children, as one enterprising family on a steep street on our (almost daily) walk has kept us amused. I missed the photos when I first saw their teddy – dressed as a cricket player complete with bat and pads, and another day as a skier with woollen beanie and skis and ski poles – but have snapped a few others.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been watching andbeyond travel’s daily safari game drives via Wild Earth or Wildwatch Live both on Youtube, or andbeyond on Facebook. It has been a joy. I kept wanting to be there to take the photos, then I realised I could take screenshots. These are the photos I’d have taken if I’d been there.

First there were the birds:

Then the animals:

Then the sunrises:

As we’ve been on lockdown, autumn has arrived. So I’ve changed my blog header, and snapped a few leaves from our oak tree.

It’s a beautiful day today, we’ve been on a walk up and down my neighbourhood hills, all the windows in our house are open, and it could well be the last day we are able to do that before winter arrives. But I am daring to say the long cold winter ahead of us, which looked very gloomy this time five weeks ago, doesn’t look quite so gloomy today.

IMG_20200426_124522 yellow daisy

 

(edit) * of cars, queuing for drive-through orders

 

 

 

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My Blogging with Friends project this week calls for a “response post” – beginning with a question raised by a writer in a poem or book. Mary Oliver asked,

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?”

I have never really known the answer to this question. I didn’t know the answer to “what do you want to be when you grow up?” question when I was a kid, when I was at university, and at various stages through my life. Sure, I’ve had ambitions, and wishlists, and I still do. (And no, they are not bucket lists quite yet!) I’ve never found one particular career that was my “passion.” I get annoyed when people who have been fortunate enough to find a job that they are passionate about think that everyone can do this. They can’t. I’ve been luckier than most, I suspect, in that I’ve had some great experiences in certain jobs, and felt that I’ve helped to improve the world, along with the inevitable problems we find everywhere. After all, any workplace is only as good as its manager, colleagues, and organisation. I’ve never worked anywhere that was faultless. Has anyone?

I have many interests, but nothing that absorbs me overwhelmingly, except perhaps blogging. And travel. But travel is not something I can do every day. It’s not something I can do now, and due to this pandemic, may not be able to do it for a year or two. I’m going to have to rethink travel aspirations. But I’m lucky to have so many travel experiences to look back on too. And I love doing that.

I’m a bit of a jack of all trades, and always have been. I find a lot of things easy to do, and so haven’t found just one activity that I want to focus on, that I do above and beyond everything else. And so because I don’t specialise, I don’t become an expert in any one topic or activity or job. Yes, I understand the appeal of digging down into the detail of a particular subject (whether it is your job or a hobby). I love learning about new topics, and getting into detail. When I was volunteering for a a charity focusing on ectopic pregnancy, I loved learning all the medical and psychological information surrounding our bodies, and our psyches. I know that delving further and further into one topic would be very satisfying. But for me? Only for so long.

I’m pretty sure that doing one thing above everything else would see me suffering from FOMO (the fear of missing out). I’m very appreciative of people who do specialise, but it is not really for me. I mean, I have multiple blogs and Instagram accounts – focused on those of us without children, an old travelblog that I keep talking about rejigging, and this one, because I wanted the freedom to cover whatever I feel like talking about!

When we eat, or I cook, we traverse a range of cuisines and foods. I listen to a variety of music, I dabble in a variety of languages, I can sew and knit and crochet and embroider, but I don’t do much of any of those. I took up photography, but only to learn more about it, and improve my own skills. I’d love to be better, but struggle to juggle all my other interests with it. So taking it much further to become an expert doesn’t really interest me. Even at school, I was an all-rounder. I won best sportsperson because I swam and ran and jumped and played netball! (Though I don’t do any of that any more.) And when we travel, we travel reasonably widely, whereas I know people who go back to the same destination or same country every year. I understand that too, the comfort and delight of getting to know another place intimately, and to feel as if you belong. It appeals to me as well, and I’ve often thought about the idea of having a holiday home. But frankly, I would never want to feel so restricted, obligated to go back to one place all the time, when there’s a whole big wide world out there waiting for me.

So here I am, in my mid-50s, a generalist but comfortable with that, because it gives me an overview of the world I live in, a broad appreciation of the people who share it with me, and a desire to see more, and learn more. I read, I learn, I experiment, I study, I travel. What am I doing with this one wild and precious life? Perhaps the simply answer is that “I explore.” Physically, intellectually, emotionally. I’m exploring the world that is available to me, making the most of it (even when it is as limited as it is at the moment), expanding my perspective and understanding. Hopefully, anyway.

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I have a great topic to write on for my 2020 Blogging with Friends project, but it’s going to take some thought. I love having these different and challenging topics to blog about! So in the meantime, it is time for another Monday Miscellany.

The thought of winter coming (it feels like it has arrived today) and colds and flu and more COVID vulnerability has me trying to boost my immune system. So I’ve been exercising more than I did all summer! (Though to be fair, the weather is so much better now – calm and clear, if cooler.) I can feel my muscles strengthening, which is great.  I’ve had a sinus cold for weeks (months?) and it seems slowly to be clearing up, which makes me feel more positive this morning.

I’m a bit grumpy at a member of our extended family. We have included our father-in-law (FIL) in our “bubble” because he is 90 and living alone. But a well-meaning (I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt) cousin of my husband’s decided that the rules didn’t apply to her, and she (and her 75-year-old vulnerable husband) visited him last week. Bursting our “bubble.” If she visited him, I wonder who else she has visited in contravention of the rules. Putting FIL and us all at risk. I am not impressed. I know the risk in NZ is very low. But I’m still not impressed at her cavalier attitude. She has been “someone of importance” in our city and country, as well as a former healthcare worker, so clearly thinks she knows best. Double grrr.

I made my own Easter eggs on Sunday! New Zealand’s favourite Easter eggs, traditionally, have been marshmallow egg halves, covered in chocolate, and joined together. Then, a year or so ago, Cadbury stopped manufacturing these (and other kiwi favourites) in Dunedin, and took everything to Australia, telling us that we’d all still be able to have our favourites. As a popular beer ad (commercial) says sarcastically, “Yeah, right!” Sure enough, last year before Easter, they announced their equipment in Australia couldn’t make these eggs, and they introduced a single layer chocolate covered “egg” that wasn’t even egg shaped – it had a flat bottom! There was widespread outrage throughout our country! Thankfully, a small local manufacturer (thanks Rainbow!) took up the mantle. But Cadbury dominance meant that smaller supermarkets didn’t stock them, and although we found them in a large supermarket last year, this year we couldn’t get to it.

So, to make a long story short, I made my own, finding a great recipe online. I found the marshmallow easy to make, but really really hard to get shaped in my half-egg mould. (I’m going to have to research how to fix that before next year.) Only a few eggs looked remotely like eggs, though I managed to trim them down to join them together, getting that double layer chocolate crunch we love here so much. Wow, they were rich though!

A chocolate-covered marshmallow Easter egg with a bite out of it

Marshmallow Easter egg

I’ve never liked food waste, though I’ve certainly contributed my fair share to it. But suddenly, when shopping is more difficult, it seems criminal. So we finally delved into the bottom of the freezer and dug out a rack of lamb that has been there for (embarrassed shrug) years, and cooked it on Saturday night. It was delicious, and we suffered no aftereffects! (So much for all those guides that say you can only freeze meat for three months!) On the schedule this afternoon is to either bake a banana cake or banana muffins, with some brown bananas. And as we’ve run out of bread (before the supermarket run tomorrow), lunch will also be something from the freezer – I’m liking the thought of pumpkin gnocchi I made at the end of winter last year. We’ve only had an extra freezer for about a year (before that we only ever had the one in the bottom of our fridge/freezer), and it’s really paying off this month!

I finally finished a book I’ve been reading for two months, and hoping to get into some more books, as I’ve slipped behind schedule in my Goodreads challenge for this year. I can’t afford to get behind – and I had such a good year last year I want to keep it up. Reading provides such enjoyment!

All the other jobs we wanted to do this autumn are on hold, because we can’t get to the hardware store, tilers, etc. I need to sort out all my clothes, but I’ve been waiting for my husband to fix one of my drawers. I’m still waiting, so my summer clothes are all sitting around waiting to be stored away, and my winter clothes are also strewn around (well, in neat piles) to leave the drawers empty. Sigh.

I have a daily dose of happiness just before I cook dinner (and during – I set up my ipad on the kitchen bench), watching a live safari at Ngala Game Reserve (and Djuma Reserve) on Wildwatch Live/ Andbeyondtravel on Facebook or Youtube. Yesterday,  in an hour or so, there was a leopard sleeping in a tree (then jumping out when she heard something), a lion drinking out of a pond, another lion pride gnawing on buffalo bones, elephants digging holes in the dried up river bed to find water to drink from, a golden orb-weaver spider, kudu and wildebeest and oh-so-beautiful impala, a tortoise, and my favourite bird (a lilac-breasted roller). I hope all these places survive their shutdown, and that one day I can go back and thank them.

P1010088 roller web

Lilac-breasted roller

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Déjà vu

This time four years ago, I have been reminded by an app, I was also in lockdown. I’d just broken my ankle, and my mobility was severely curtailed, with my foot in a cast, forbidden from putting any weight on it. I was pretty helpless the entire month of April, reliant on my husband for almost everything. Things quickly got worse too, as it became stressful in the middle of the month when my father-in-law had a heart attack, and then another one a few weeks later. My poor husband had to look after me, go to work during the busiest time of his entire two-year contract, then afterwards drive hours a day picking up his mother (who was no longer driving in her 90s) and taking her to the hospital and back, worrying about them both. To say he was stressed would be an understatement. To say we ate a lot of takeaways (takeout for the North Americans), would not! At the same time, I was executor of my mother’s estate (along with my two sisters), and we were trying to finalise the sale of her house, etc. I remember negotiating the price with the real estate agent (and my sisters) from my bed! Everything had hit at once!

I noticed that I said I was trying to write, and I was studying Spanish. I’d forgotten that, but I made a point every morning of doing an hour or so on my Spanish language app. It’s time I got back into doing that! I learned to whizz around the dining room and kitchen on my computer chair (with wheels), which made life a bit easier during the day. And I slid up and down the stairs on my bum. (I couldn’t handle going up and down the stairs on my crutches, given the nature of the stairs, lack of handrails etc).

Frankly, this lockdown is a lot easier. I think that’s easy for me to say because a) NZ doesn’t have as many community transmission cases as many places, b) it’s lovely autumn weather (so far), and we’ve been able to go on walks almost every day, and c) I don’t have kids to worry about/make the house noisy. But I’m mobile, my father-in-law is doing okay with daily healthcare visits, and everyone I know is in the same boat.

The fact that everyone is in the same position does help in many ways, and that even in four years, technology is so much better able to cope. Online communities are doing amazing things. My friends who are avid music lovers are talking about the livestreams of favourite singers, our local symphony orchestra is doing them, and I saw one from the British Ukelele Orchestra the other day too. When I was laid up with my foot in plaster, I couldn’t sit at my computer as easily as I can now (it hurt!), and so writing or reading or watching livestreams online wasn’t as possible as it is now. The best thing is what I am watching now, as I write this. As you may know, I love safaris. They’re my “happy place.” And one of the game reserves I’ve visited in South Africa (Ngala) has linked with another, and with WildWatch Live, and they are live-streaming game drives twice a day (they do them at sunrise and in the afternoon, on Youtube and Facebook). They are perfectly timed for me, as their sunrise drive has been in the late afternoon for me. I’ve linked them above, if you’re keen to see a real safari drive. They are true to form – sometimes a bit slow, other times everything happens at once. But they are absolutely like being there – except you don’t feel the fresh air, or the cold(!) air before the sun comes up, the bumps in the road, and we don’t have to duck to avoid the spiky thorns. Also, we don’t stop for hot chocolates with amarula liqueur to perk us up! (Though I did watch one the other day with a glass of chardonnay!)

As with April 2016, I have to stay at home. But it’s not so bad.  Like my broken ankle, I have hope that the world will heal, though maybe not as quickly. But I hope in four years, I am reminded of this and it seems like a dim and distant even in the past.

And so to brighten your day (and mine), I’m going to share two of my favourite photos from a safari that I went on IRL. The impala photo is from the same reserve where the livestreams are based:

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