Lock Down Hell – week 1

Spain went into Coronavirus lock down on March 15. Here’s my daily blog to keep me sane and you informed with things you wish you knew. Or probably preferred not to know…

Days 0-8 – week 1 – and so it begins.

Saturday March 14, 2020 – Day 0

So kids are now off school for 2 weeks, all sports activities cancelled whilst the shops (except supermarkets and pharmacies) and most bars/restaurants are now closed or closing.

Personally, if today is anything to go by so far, I feel if the virus doesn’t kill you, close confinement with one’s family for a fortnight certainly will.

Shopping mayhem yesterday. I panic bought a tub of ice cream whilst I am now the proud owner of one multi pack of loo roll.

Felt stupidly guilty about buying my usual 12 pack of milk which I usually bulk buy anyway but suddenly felt like I was depriving someone of precious supplies. Felt the need to explain myself to a very uninterested cashier who, to be fair, has probably seen much worse over the last week. Meanwhile there’s plenty of tofu still on the shelves 😊

Made a last minute dash yesterday afternoon to the garden centre (surprisingly empty – I shall remember to go again when there’s a pandemic) and bought a box full of bedding plants. If I’m stranded at home I can at least garden.

Sunday March 15, 2020  – Day 1

Official day one of self isolation/quarantine/lock down. Whatever you want to call it. I prefer to label it “Hell.”

Pottered in my garden. The weeds are cowering in terror at the sight of me again. Thankfully weather is good so not cooped up inside. My heart goes out to those in apartments and I am thanking my lucky stars my kids are now old enough to entertain themselves pretty much. I would be licking the windows by now with a toddler.

Kids and I attempted a yoga session whilst hubby has turned to model making. Started off well and I was thinking this wasn’t so bad. Downward Dog can cure most situations. Turned into giggles and ended up one man down as son just got bored whilst the calming Om vibes clearly wore off rapidly as I later yelled at daughter. And all this before lunch time.

Will I survive two weeks of dealing with self absorbed, selfish, rude teen remarks. I doubt it.

Apparently we can go out to the shops for food, pharmacy, petrol and even the hairdressers (if you are old because hey if you are going to get the virus and die, you want to look your best). No dog walking (bar out for obvious necessities), or cycling, jogging etc. Police are on the streets fining anyone outside for no reason whilst you must travel alone in the car for any essential supplies.  I’ll face that one end of the week as fruit and veg will run out.

Monday March 16 2020 – Day 2

As I work from home in my separate office, I’m pretty much used to self-isolation. So as Monday morning arrives, this is fairly standard for me. The problem is when I pop into the house to make a brew there are 3 other people hanging around in there. Do one! This is MY domain!

Kids are being ‘schooled’ online which means they are being sent work or projects to do by each class. Daughter has taken over the kitchen table and into the swing of things and son just seems to be wandering around vacantly distracted by anything and nothing. So that doesn’t bode well. I take my hat off to anyone who home schools their kids. This is something not in my remit. Ever.

Meanwhile in a bid to keep up his ‘steps’ whilst the gym is shut hubby decided to walk laps around our garden. His idea was the dogs would follow, thus killing two birds with one stone. Judging however by inertia of said dogs and the fact son then decided to join in (on a skateboard), this might actually do what it says on the tin. With no stone required.

On a serious note, as my livelihood hangs in jeopardy by a flimsy unstable thread this situation is beyond scary and very stressful. I herald the start of sleepless nights and an attack of hives as financially this is going to be (for most of us) a very daunting time.

I don’t believe this will end in 2 weeks and to try and keep some semblance of normality and routine in a non-stable and completely abnormal environment is very alien and almost feels futile. Like what is the point?

On the plus side as I am ‘grounded’ with no hope of any visitors I have gone bra-less. Let those babies be liberated (at least) to hang free. Join me sisters.

Tuesday March 17 2020 – Day 3

Raining this morning so hubby’s step count is currently at about 62 which included his early morning shuffle to the bathroom.

We are now a divided family. Works well that way. I’m in the garden in my office, son is in his bedroom or just wandering around aimlessly, daughter has taken over the kitchen table and hubby has pretty much moved into the loft space in the roof (not as dingy as it sounds by the way) and set up his remote teaching desk from there for his afternoon classes. Thank god we had extra internet installed last week as the usage has quadrupled with everyone here. In fact if the internet systems were to shut down, quite frankly just kill me now.

So this peculiar surreal way of existing goes on. I’m working until I’m told the plug is pulled. Which could well happen. It’s like being stuck inside a weird kind of Truman Show movie as we are controlled by fear and rules which render us useless to do anything about it.

Hubby reckoned, (after his visit into work yesterday to collect some materials) it was still busy out there in the big wide world, with people jogging (!), cycling (!) or strolling around walking dogs (!). As much as I hate confinement if it’s going to work then we might as well do it right surely?

He returned with some…. tomatoes. Hunter Gatherer is clearly not his strong point.

Meanwhile son and I devised a cross fit style programme yesterday afternoon. I tried to be enthusiastic. This was not however supposed to include an interfering cat who has severe personal space boundary issues.

This afternoon’s activity will involve me helping son to make a Faberge egg for his French project. Son and delicate objects don’t mix usually whilst eggs are as rare as 3 ply loo roll in these here parts at the moment, so I am non too happy about this activity either.

Wednesday March 18 2020 – Day 4

God is it really only Wednesday. In ‘normal’ life it would be Friday by now at least the way time usually flies. In one sense it’s quite refreshing to have time go by so slowly. I am usually dashing in and out most afternoons or busy trying to cram in as many chores as I can after work, so now a full day feels like a void even though I also feel like I am not achieving much which is soooo frustrating. At the moment it’s pretty pointless trying to clean the house. My washing machine is having a welcome spring break and I really must wash my hair.

We are up and about by 8 ish so by midday I feel I’ve done a 48 hour stint. I am struggling with cabin fever today and my patience is being tested. Son decided earlier he now wants to sit at the kitchen table (of course he does) thus annoying his sister. I’ve pointed out this is not a game of musical chairs and to get back to his quarters (Baldrick) before I gaffer tape him to the floor (thanks everyone who sent me the gif).

I would so welcome a sit outside in a café chatting to friends. In fact chatting to anyone other than the three people I am restricted to talking to. I’m not even getting responses to any emails for work I’m sending out and feel morally divided between needing to finish certain articles and wondering if those on the receiving end are a) even there or b) give a shit. I’ve even resorted to reading my spam emails just to feel wanted.

I’m wondering whether to let friends know when I’m going to the supermarket so we could schedule a chat in the beverage aisle. We could stand a metre apart and pretend we were in a bar?

Apparently Spain is the second European country to impose a nationwide lock down and has 2,000 new Coronavirus cases a day with 13,000+ infected at the moment and 500+ deaths. On the positive side for those of us still alive there’s a moratorium on mortgage payments announced and a guarantee to allow basic services such as water, gas, electricity to continue. That’s comforting at least.

Anyway you’ll be pleased to hear operation Faberge Egg was successful with only a slight mishap and altercation between son and the glue gun whilst a family Blogilates work out attempt ended disastrously as Balou (the Mastin), clearly distraught at my groans, came barging through the patio fly screen door which collapsed and landed on top of us. Thankfully no video footage of that unfortunate incident so I’ll dazzle you with some Spanish Coronavirus tracker figures instead.

Thursday 19 March 2020 – Day 5

Another day in hell. Anyone else having strange dreams? Isolation does curious things to the mind. We’ll all be requiring therapy after this. Son announced this morning he had a dream about going to school. And it was a happy dream! I’ll remind him of that in May.

Both of them have admitted they miss school. Day in day out without their friends, socialising, learning from qualified teachers, discipline, routine – it is all so vitally important. Saying that at least the toilets have loo roll and soap at home 
Yes there are changes required in the education system today but that’s a another story and yes they have good and bad teachers. But that in itself is a learning curve. I distinctly remember my favourite English teacher Mr Burke and his influence on me in direct contrast to the evil nut job teacher who threw a board rubber at me for giggling, mentioning no names Mr Maddocks. This is what makes kids develop into well rounded human beings. I have the bruise to prove it.

Never imagined myself doing this, but encouraged son yesterday afternoon to go on the PlayStation for a few hours so he can engage and interact with some of his friends. God, how some house rules just spin on their axis and come back to bite you. Meanwhile asked (sorry I’ll amend that), paid, daughter to clean my car to keep her purposefully occupied and also contain her teen harrumpfing out in the drive way where bad hormonal moods belong. It’s like a giant version of the naughty step.
Told her when this is over I’m going to run up the hill opposite ‘Julie Andrews Sound of Music’ style. I got a withering look. She’s knows it’s unlikely. The hill opposite is like bloody Everest. I’d never make it. My lungs would protest and the goats would attack.

So it now seems as if we’ll be in lock down until mid April to get this thing under control. Which figures. Plus easter holidays are April 6-10th so why send the kids back for a week then back off for a week? Yay. That’s going to be fun. Not.

The rules here are strict:
1. One person only permitted out in the car and only for supplies/emergencies.
2. Don’t go out unless for above. So no walking, jogging, cycling, wandering around etc.
3. Dogs can be walked but within 50m of your house.
4. Everything is shut bar food shops, petrol stations, essential services.
5. Beaches are shut, parks shut – ie: see number 2.
6. Wear gloves provided at supermarket and keep distance from others.

One lovely aspect is at 8pm each evening the communities all go out onto their terraces or balconies and flash a light and clap and cheer to support the vital services that are still working. Pointless doing it here as I am too rural and would look like I’m sending an SOS alert. But it’s a nice idea. Community spirit and all that.

Anyway here’s is my schedule for today. Much the same as yesterdays. And tomorrows….

Friday 20 March 2020 – Day 6

Bit of a different today as I donned a bra (and clothes obviously) and headed out first thing to the supermarket to stock up. So strange driving past people wearing masks. In the car? Is that necessary? It was like going out on a Sunday with all the shops shut but there’s virtually no one out walking. With Spain’s outdoor culture it’s so unnerving not to see people in the street.

A leisurely shop around a serene Mercadona among masked shoppers who aren’t really making eye contact and seemed subdued and solemn. No gaggle of Marias chatting as they usually do at the fresh fish counter. I suppressed the urge to nod at people and whisper “Blessed be the Fruit” or “Under his Eye”. But as majority are Spanish folk felt this would just be lost in translation.
Mercadona has moved all the stock around so that made it a bit more interesting – trying to locate certain items whilst keeping some distance from other shoppers – like some mad game show ‘The Anneka Rice Coronavirus Supermarket Challenge’. Had a bit of a drama at check out as managed to get my rubber glove stuck in the zipper of my purse. Cashier lady just watched in mild bemusement as I tried to figure out how to disengage my snared finger without removing my other glove. Had visions if I did this, alarms would go off and I’d be wrestled to the floor by security guards and dunked into a tank of sheep dip. It was all very traumatic and I left the shop eventually a bit flustered, having ripped a hole in my glove to boot.

Onto the fruteria for fresh veg and then two delivery stops on the way home to drop food parcels. Felt like a Red Cross volunteer. I admit I did sneak a quick cuppa and a rapid chat with friend, but felt like a naughty school girl in doing so.

Came home to find the kids are a bit excitable today. Why? Because it’s Friday. Not sure what they are expecting to happen over the weekend. But I’ll burst that bubble later and introduce them to the concept of – anti-climax.

Yesterday they disappeared down the end of the garden for an hour or so. Oddly close confinement has encouraged them somehow to get on better. I thought daughter would have killedson by now (I’ve come close) so it’s actually very refreshing to see them doing things together. Clearly it’s because they have to, rather than want to. But heyho one is thankful for small mercies in such trying times. They returned to entertain me with a song. Which I’ll share. It comes with a warning – the Osmonds they are not.

Saturday 21 March 2020 – Day 7

After a wild night last night (weather wise that is), we woke up after heavy rains and winds to a mixed bag today. Unsettled weather suits my mood at the moment and at least my bedding plants are getting watered and still alive.  

I thought as we are on a weekend with nothing in the diary we should all do a fitness video a friend had recommended. The 7 day Sweat Challenge. Or something like that. Logistics meant we had to gather up on the roof terrace so we had space outside and also inside if required for floor exercises. This did however mean that at least three of our neighbours would be privy to witnessing the four English idiots doing star jumps at 10 o’clock this morning. If they were lucky enough not to see the shambolic effort, they were probably alerted to the debacle by the arguing and shouting.

I was far too blinded by sweat in my eyes to be bothered, but half way through, the mortified and self-conscious teen squealed and hit the deck and refused to come up when she spotted one neighbor out in his garden looking over quizzically. I say quizzically. I reckon he was calling to his wife surreptitiously, telling her to stop washing the doorstep for the 10th time and come outside and see what the mad foreigners were doing today. We might have to move once this is all over.

With that completed son returned to his default position on the sofa whilst hubby went to tidy up his ‘stage’ for the Rock the Lock Down online festival which starts this afternoon.  As I understand it there’ll be live music over two days from artists all over Spain (possibly further afield) doing a 10 to 15 minute stint each. It’ll be beamed out live via the facebook link – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1066664150378119/

So if you’ve no plans to go out (boom boom) then log in. Hubby’s Swing slot (no Marvis from Marbella, I said Swing, not Swingers) is 5.30pm tomorrow, Sunday.

Meanwhile I’ve started to read this book. Felt this might make me appreciate what I have rather than don’t have in the current circumstances. Certain situations make you realise how things can change from one day to the next.

And how some people have that inner strength and tenacity to not only survive, but handle their experiences with decorum and decency. What an inspirational guy.

It’s not situations that change people’s character. But it can highlight or expose their true colours – whether it’s their pastel benevolent side or their grey tone ungracious side.

Sunday 22 March 2020 – Day 8

Today’s photo is one I posted to my mum for Mother’s Day. It was taken by our lovely friend Saskia who needed an image for her photography course and ended up shooting daughter, in my wedding dress, on her aunt and uncle’s horse. As a comparison I’ve added one of my mum and I taken when we were on holiday in Tunisia in the mid 80s looking not so elegant 😊. The riding genes I think belong to the Brown side of the family. We Southalls are best on terra firma.

Meanwhile son asked me today how his name was chosen which leads me onto the family tale of how my name was chosen. So my mum had to have a cesarean birth with both myself and my sister. Apparently all along they believed I would be a boy and my name was chosen early on. Ian. They said they liked names which couldn’t be shortened. My sister’s name? Jacqueline.

Oddly there was never a Plan B in place and when I emerged shattering their hopes and illusions of being the next Everton goal keeper I was nameless. By the time by sister was born 21 months later they seemed to have figured out that there’s a 50-50 chance with these things.

Anyway as my mum was recovering half sedated and groggy, the nurse pestered my dad for a name for baby Southall and so he picked the first names that came to mind – those of two ex-girlfriends – Karen and Jeanette. A lovely surprise for my mum when she finally came round.

Talking of lead balloons. A funny day today. Woke up determined to do some jobs around the house and garden so all hands on deck. The rest of my inmates were none too impressed but as it’s Mothers Day I felt I could pull rank. A blocked kitchen sink meant a slight diversion to the initial plan which was about as welcome as meeting someone with a dry cough in the supermarket aisle. We have a saying in our house “Shit Job Sunday” and this was today’s.

All in all there’s been a fair amount of stropping, sulking and squabbling going on today. On the other hand the kids have been fine.

2 thoughts on “Lock Down Hell – week 1

  1. Thanks for this Karen. It made me smile, which is a good thing right now. Here in the UK we are not as far down the road as Spain, but it’s heading rapidly in the same direction.


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