Lockdown, what have I done?

In the second half of lockdown I stopped baking.

No I lie, I still baked in the second half of lockdown a little less but I still baked.

I continued to respond to the hadeda calls and to freak out the neighbours. I moved “office” a million times. It was so frustrating how the other humans in the house thought it was ok for me to move around all the time trying to find a table or quiet spot to work from. I really started missing the office.

Our team embarked on a virtual resilience coaching session which was a really good way to actually feel like you belong to a team. This was something I treasured because I had been feeling a little bit like I didn’t belong. Also my boss gifted me with 3 one-on-one sessions with a coach. What an experience! I only wish we could have had more…he affirmed a lot of what I already knew and gave me back some self-respect. We have some similar childhood experiences, we shared our stories with each other and laughed a lot, he made feel comfortable and understood and he gave me so much positive motivation. 

I bought a ticket to a Marc Lottering comedy show, which was a really fun Saturday evening for me. Virtual shows were popping up everywhere, it was amazing to see how entertainers continued to entertain during lockdown, people around the world supporting them. Oh I also watched my other favorite comedian, my cousin Barry Hilton, a live show.  

In the virtual world ‘care packs’ made an entrance. I received an awesome care pack filled delicious treats for a weekend movie night for the whole family. Even Charlie, our dog, was spoiled with some biltong!  

I went back to art classes when our lockdown levels were eased. Not a lot of painting going on, a lot more talking and catching up, but it was good to just be back in my little corner and to paint again. Food for the soul.

We also managed a family lunch to celebrate four missed birthdays, as lockdown new levels allowed for travelling. That was fun, there was lots to catch up on, the dessert table was overflowing as usual and we had more choices there than in the main meal. Nothing surprising for our family. 

And so lockdown has been good, a little frustrating sometimes, but good. And I enjoy working from home, but really miss interacting with real people and miss my colleagues. Zoom and Teams videos are not real enough.

Somewhere in this madness I opened a TikTok account! Yes I did, and I’m loving it! My videos are mostly embarrassing but everyone else’s posts are a lot of fun and some are even educational.

I got myself a new laptop Hubby gave me a Macbook Pro for my own personal use, and I don’t know how to use it!!! There will be tears next time I want to blog I’m sure, next post will come from the apple. 

Also we sold our house! We said goodbye to some of our favorite places in SA. We packed our sentimental things and moved. Hubby is in Ireland and I will be joining him soon. We are emigrating and while Europe enters its second lockdown we will be setting up our new home.

Yip we have done some interesting things during COVID times. I call it the art of adapting. Adapting to change, to uncertainty, to not knowing what tomorrow holds. Adapting to the unknown. Adapting to times when plans cannot always be made. This is our new norm….


What have I done during lockdown?

I baked!! And what did I do for fun? I baked some more!!

Instagram is filled with so many productive, inspired and inspiring people doing crafts, exercising, working, and learning new skills that I’m here feeling a bit left out. FB is filled with online exercise classes, and yoga and self-development classes of all sorts!!! So many online concerts and webinars that I purposely missed. What exactly have I done in lockdown season 2 episode 70 + something….

Let me explain how I’ve spent my time, while also trying to work from home.

Lockdown arrived at the end of March and with so many productive people out there I’m a little embarrassed to share my non-productive journey but I’m going to anyway…

I wasted less food, being home all day for all meals meant that I made myself breakfast, in two stages, and took it to the room or desk I was working from. Two stages meant that I had two breakfasts on most days or one long one. That’s the ugly truth. Fruit and cereal on some days, followed by coffee and that slice of cake I was busy making every weekend. I made one meal a day – lunch – and there was enough of the same meal for dinner. Shopping: because it was restricted to once a week only (our rule), I stuck to one store and I bought only what I really needed. I made a list and that was all that I bought. As the shopping spree didn’t just happen every day at any whim for any small little thing I think we also spent less money.

We spoke to family on WhatsApp and Facebook video calls from across the world. No, I’m lying, we didn’t speak, some of the family members spoke (loudly) and some of us just laughed at the confusion. It was exactly that, so many of us on one call that I had to go out of the call so my cousin here in SA could go in (FB only allows for 8 connections at a time) but this does not mean only 8 people, each connection or phone had at least two faces and voices to it. It was insane, funny and emotional.

Hadeda mornings!! Not rushing around and being preoccupied with leaving on time and arriving at work on time, and everything one does before leaving the house…maybe that is why the hadeda really stood out in the mornings. They are louder during lockdown than before lockdown! Or is it because we are home and not preoccupied with traffic etc that we hear them as if it the sound system was on stereo 30. I laugh every time I hear someone complain about their loud calls and how they going to kill the bird that wakes them up every morning. But seriously, the hadeda is a protected species, and killing is unlawful. Also I really do love them and their loud ha-ha haa haa sound. I am also quite good at imitating their call. I’m sure the neighbours don’t agree, but I always enjoy myself when I answer their calls.

Speaking of neighbours…..I think mine are sleeping through lockdown. The people on the left are strange, always have been, they are kind of creepy and we only hear their gate scraping the pavement late at night or early morning. Don’t know what the wife looks like, don’t know if she is real or a bot. The gate makes no sound during lockdown cause we have evening curfew so I’m not sure if they are still alive or if they moved out.

The people on the right are there sometimes and sometimes not. In the first weeks when the community police and ambulances used to drive pass for the nightly parade I would see them, we all stood outside together cheering….now that this has stopped, it is dark next door, at night there is no car in their driveway, but someone did cut their grass so I guess they still live there. Oh and they filled their huge pool with rubble and covered it up. Creepy shit could be going on there guys…..

The old man at the back that whistles at the doves and they come flying to eat the food he puts out is a mystery to me. I don’t see or hear them except on weekends, then there is some movement. I don’t like them much we have bad history with them. The other one behind us in the corner that has a poodle (I know that bark a mile away cause I had a poodle years ago) they are just dead quiet, I don’t hear the kids or the dog. They are also sleeping through this lockdown. What are the creepy neighbours doing, why are they so quiet?

Working from home…ah yes I finally found a spot that I call my office. I moved 4 times. But I now have a proper “office” I also found a routine, which I changed about 3 times before settling into one that seems to work best. So working from home is ok. I love the freedom of staying in my PJ’s and slippers all day long, no traffic, and time to have a real lunch break in the sun in my garden….I just miss the printer and really wish I had some work friends near me. Teams and Zoom does not fulfil me I miss people the most. I think it would be ok if we were visiting friends, or going to church or to family lunches, but because we don’t have any of that it makes missing human interaction even harder. Solitary confinement for all of us it’s fun in the beginning and now it’s just painful.

I have not exercised, I have not painted, I have not been reading. I tried to wash my hair only every second day but that didn’t last long I’m back to my wash every morning. I hate stinky oily hair. I shave my legs every week like I used to and I need to go for a wax, it’s orangutan armpits!!!! They better allow beauticians to open up soon. I’m fatter because I baked every weekend. This was abruptly stopped last Friday, 5 June. Enough of that nonsense.

I learnt that too much or too little tomato puree turns your food pink which is not a good food colour. The two ingredient recipe became the most famous thing in lockdown, with that I made vetkoek, pizza, bread rolls and naan bread. Moral of the story – I coming out of this F A T !!

Hubby and I had a birthday in lockdown. We passed by with no family gathering for Easter or mother’s day which was the saddest part for me.

Other than that lockdown has been good, a little frustrating sometimes, but good. And I enjoy working from home.


To be continued…..

Time stopped here

Back in Portugal, we paid and secured another flight to get back home and then we just waited alone for our departure day. Family visits didn’t happen – we could have contracted the virus and be carrying it unknowingly, we had been in so many public places and airports that it was a possibility. Not wanting to be negative and think the worst but knowing that we had family with sensitive health putting them at high risk, we spent the last days there with no visits or contact. This was the worst and saddest part. Leaving with no goodbyes, hugs or kisses. It felt like we were running away …. On the flight back I cried and the rule of no face touching was ignored because how do you cry and not touch your eyes and face and nose?!

It was March and the world had frozen. In Europe spring was arriving, the days were getting longer and warmer, the daffodils were everywhere coloring the pavements and gardens. It was spring the sun was shining bright and the swallows were returning. But the world was frozen in time, the roads were empty the stores were closed and you couldn’t hear or see people on the streets. The children were quiet there was no soccer playing in the parking lots near apartments. It was spring the season of renewal and people were resting and waiting indoors for a virus to disappear.

We stopped at Obidos on our way to the airport. A Moorish castle with a real little village inside its walls. There is a maze of narrow cobbled streets with colorful window boxes and flower pots. But the village is frozen and silent. Some geraniums are starting to flower but there are no tourists, the shops are closed and my footsteps echo in the streets with the colorful houses. It’s so still and then … a little lady looks out her window and her cat joins her. They are as surprised to see me as I am in seeing them, we spoke softly about the empty streets and the lack of tourists. It’s so painfully beautiful; clear blue sky with fluffy clouds floating by. For once you can photograph everything without having to wait for people to move out of your frame, you have the whole castle to yourself but it doesn’t seem the same, I miss the busy touristy place this usually is.

I felt like I was walking in a cemetery alone, the last survivor, wondering who lives here, what is behind that beautiful blue door…

The airports are empty and the planes are parked on the runways waiting to fly. We arrived home on Monday the 23rd and that Thursday our president announced a national lock-down.

Its autumn here by us now and the leaves on the trees are turning beautiful colors of browns, reds and yellows and we are home waiting for the end of this virus. Missing out on the colors, the cool breeze and walking and feeling the dried leaves crunching under our shoes.  Our streets are quiet, the malls are closed. We try to be normal and work from home. But waking up and checking the numbers of infected people and deaths that occurred overnight is not normal.

It’s Good Friday today, there would have been a family lunch at one of three places, we would have had a lot of food and even more cake and sweet things, love, laughter and coffee on lazy sunny chairs, instead we all ate alone. None of this normal.

It’s March 2020 and people are not allowed out but autumn does not know this. The seasons are changing, they don’t wait for us. Autumn and spring don’t know that we have to wait for the virus to stop before we can go out and see it all change around us ♥

I miss my family, the ones here and the ones in the northern hemisphere, the feeling is very strong this month.

Ireland is a pop-up picture book

We arrived in Ireland on the 11th of March. It was windy and raining, walking out of the airport in my new K-Way jacket I thought, I got this, it’s not so bad. What are people going on about this place being cold?

It was OK for the rest of that day, we got our car and took a long drive to the Airbnb in Malahide (little city just north of Dublin). We walked into a very warm house and room and it was dinner time. Time to hit a pub!

Just two minutes away from our accommodation, dinner for me was; soup and beer bread and hubby chose a vegetarian curry. We shared both. After a bit of chatting I escaped and walked down the road for my first shopping exhibition.                                I chose Tesco, it was also all we had right there at our doorstep, so I bought some things for breakfast and went back to the pub …. Conversation continued, but being visibly tired we called it a night and went ‘home’ to sleep.

Morning! We were greeted by a beautiful sunshiny day. Breakfast in bed alla me, courtesy of my Tesco shopping and we were finally ready to explore Ireland.

The first stop was the beach, and I just want to laugh at the thought of the wind, it was blowing so strong that holding the cell phone for a pic was a real blast!!!                    Next visit was the Malahide Castle and Gardens, and by now the weather had changed on us like four times. No lies!

We both bought a what I call Irish jackets, something proper for the rain and wind, and that was the last day I wore the K-Way.

From here on I don’t need to mention the cold anymore, protected and dressed for an Irish adventure I adapted by zipping up and putting on the hoodie or removing it just as quickly.

Ireland is beautiful. The road users are well mannered. People are friendly. There are lots of South Africans and Brazilians living there. Vegetarian and vegan options are available almost everywhere you go. People walking everywhere all the time! Anytime of the day, they walk, and you can see they love it. They eat potatoes with everything, which probably explains why they are happy and mostly friendly.

The accent is sexy and even I know how to say yeah, yeah. And that park and garden is actually pronounced with a smile and more open mouth so that the R sound is well … there but not there.

Parks, castles, gardens, green grass everywhere you look, it rains everyday so it’s not a surprise that everything is so green. I loved it all.

The impact of the virus was visible everywhere. Overnight stores had placed hand sanitiser at entrances for customers and there were lines at till queues indicating distancing. It’s as if they were all on the same WhatsApp group, it all changed instantly.

Places were starting to close up, either behind us or ahead of us. Schools closed and a day later all public and touristic places started closing too. It was almost time to go back to Portugal, we left on the 19th of March. I still looked at the e-ticket on my phone that we had booked for Bergamo, Italy and cried a little.

It was time to leave and we were getting nervous about places shutting down around us and our airline cancelling our flight back home. I was sad to be leaving like this, as if we were not saying goodbye properly, we didn’t do and see everything we had planned to. Still I loved my time there.

Ireland was like walking into a pop-up picture history book and that is the best way to describe it. ♥

Corona update on this day – Italy now had 41,035 confirmed cases, Ireland 557. Portugal would be in state of emergency and everything would be closed.

Today I am grateful for…

We survived one week of lock-down, it’s almost Monday and we have almost reached our 14 days of self-isolation. On Monday we can declare ourselves safe!

I could hear how people asked me; “how are you feeling?” and they didn’t mean how I was feeling about the weather or lock-down or work from home thing. They really wanted to know if I was in the slightest bit sick. Then they always asked about hubby, how is he feeling? Is he also OK?

I was always too scared to mention that sometimes I had a cough. That’s the thing nowadays you can’t cough or sneeze without getting some kind of panicked reaction….nope it’s not always corona.

We are fine, we really are! I am so grateful for God’s protection so many airports, places, things and people that we touched.

One week of lock-down and I am grateful for our holiday even when everything was shutting down behind us or ahead of us. I am grateful that we managed to get on a flight back home before all airlines parked their planes on runways, and airports became large creepy empty spaces.

Grateful for my family, the comfort of my home, that I was able to stay home and work in my PJ’s and slippers. That I can take a break to make lunch (not just eat at my desk) well actually the kitchen might be a problem, I spend way too much time there and I fear I’ll get out of this fatter than I came in! Just this week I baked two cakes (one flopped) I made bread and my own pizza from scratch!! See what I mean? Fat!

But I am grateful for the comforts and freedom of working from home and having a salary at the end of the month.

I am grateful for nature, the joy of the birds and the loud hadeda, that inspire love in some and hate in others. Has anyone noticed that they are louder now that we are home? Maybe I hear them as louder because I am not rushing to do something or to go somewhere. Grateful for the slow days, no traffic, no crowds, no business. Grateful for the generous amount of rain we have had, it has reminded me of Ireland and also, no one wants water restrictions in winter.

Grateful for the gift of prayer, we can all pray and I have been praying and thinking of my family spread all over the world, if we need to comfort one another we are so far even for that…I miss them so much it hurts.

And then I have to say I am grateful for technology – for this nonsense called Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, because although it is not always a good distraction, and it consumes us, and teaches our children things we don’t like if we did not have this crazy distraction and connection right now how would we “talk” to each other when we are on lock-down and social distancing?

You know that I am friends with my cousins’ children that I had never met in real life. But because of this thing called Instagram, we connect and chat to each other occasionally and we stay in touch. If it wasn’t for that we would be complete strangers, but I arrived in Portugal and meeting and hugging them for real for the first time was like ♥ I don’t know how to explain it, it was magical and wonderful and emotional and all things fuzzy and warm.

As churches are closed all over the country and in other parts of the world I see pastors of our churches posting videos of themselves doing devotionals. Little messages of encouragement from others, as they learn to use their cell phones and become more and more comfortable with the camera and posting their videos. I love them and they have brought me peace over the past week.

My sister and her family have been locked up and cooped up in a two bedroom apartment for much much longer than us, oh Itlay ☹ your numbers are still so high. I hear the pain in her voice sometimes.

So tonight when everything was silent and the rain was softly falling we received a special message from our own pastor on WhatsApp.

We can’t go to church tomorrow but no one and nothing is stopping us from worshiping together. And so we received his message; something inspirational and uplifting as some of us will be fasting tomorrow and praying. Yip worshiping with our phones in our hands, who would’ve thought this could ever happen!?

Ah I am grateful that this technology can keep us connected for now. And I am especially grateful for the soft confident voice saying that we are to put our complete trust in Him. He will give us courage to face this crisis, Be still and put your trust in Him.

Happy Sabbath all ♥