Lock down hell – week 5

Days 30-37 – week 5

Monday 13 April 2020 – Day 30

Monday morning blues and the start of week 5.
Both kids a bit lethargic after their week ‘off’ last week for easter holidays so had to ease them back into their school work routine which was about as appealing as a pandemic lock down… Oh….

A bit of cajoling, a hint of bribery and a layer of sugar-coated flattery on top and I finally got them to open their laptops and crack-the-hell-on so I could retreat to my office and do the same.

So today marks a month on lock down. So what’s new? Well there’s a return to the initial restrictions put in place in Spain as from today. Around 40 key workers could go to work during the first fortnight, which was later reduced to 25 and has now returned to the Top 40 list. Still only essential services and with severe restrictions.

The number of deaths are dropping however (600 yesterday compared to 950 at its peak) as are the number of new cases (3,800 yesterday compared to 8,000 at peak).
There are 166,800 Coronavirus cases, 17,200 deaths and 62,391 recovered as of today. All official figures obviously and I wonder how many extra untested/unconfirmed there actually are..

I read an article today that reckons more than half of the hotels on the Balearic Islands and 25 per cent of hotels in Malaga probably won’t open now until 2021. Even if restrictions are lifted, whether the tourists will return to Spain generally this year is doubtful.

This pandemic will be like a monumental reset button. Once this is over we’ll all be restored to factory settings and everything bar our essential data will be erased. We might retain some memory and personal files, but we will basically have to initiate a reboot procedure of our entire motherboard system and go back to default settings. From there we will have to rebuild our finances, lifestyles, mental and physical health and family and work life from scratch. From now on we’ll just talk about life as pre-CV-19 and post-CV-19. This will be our bench mark. Because the difference in what was before and what will be after, for many, will be colossal.

Tuesday 14 April 20202 – Day 31.

Hello to a nondescript Tuesday.

So, when the kids disappear to their bedrooms in the evenings, Hubby and I have been having a bit of a Tarantino fest during this last week or so.Responsible parenting? I like to think so. Unlike my disturbing childhood movie experience.

When I was younger Saturdays were treat day which included:

  • A quarter of sweets from the Crewe market sweet shop (liquorice torpedoes every time for me thank you and chocolate chewy nuts for Jackie).
  • Our teen magazines delivered to the door (Oh Boy for me and Smash Hits for my sister if I recall) and
  • A couple of videos for over the weekend.

Now this invariably included a sad weepy one (mother’s request) and a cowboy or war movie (father’s choice). As my dad sneaked off to his local, Saturday nights were spent with us three girls sobbing to Kramer vs Kramer, armed with our sweets washed down with a can of cheap cola, whilst Sunday afternoons would be a little more upbeat with shoot outs and explosions. My love of Westerns began at this point I might add.

Around the same time my dislike of horror movies also began. This probably stems from the grand arrival of said VHS video recorder which was a joint family Christmas present in the early 80s.
Once we’d figured out how to use the thing (although I might add my mum never got the hang of it and my sister and I were constantly called upon to “set the timer for Corrie”), off we trooped eagerly to Blockbusters on Nantwich Road to choose our inaugural film.

After much disagreement between my sister and I, my dad stepped forward.He opted for horror. He chose …The Evil Dead.

To this day I have no idea what possessed him to pick an 18+ rated horror. Possibly, in his rush to get out of the shop with 2 bickering teens, he failed to read the box.

So, picture the scene. Family gathered about the TV on a Sunday afternoon all VERY elated and excited to watch their first movie on the new video player machine. Happy, joyful and enthralled faces soon replaced by furtive exchanges of embarrassed side way glances replaced with traumatized faces of revulsion and disgust. A walk in the forest has never been the same since.

I believe that’s why we later stuck to weepy and western genres. Safer ground.

Wednesday 15 April 2020 – Day 32

Huge storm in the night and mostly wet and a bit wild out there today. I’m enjoying this rainy spring. It was so hot so early last year – in fact April showers just did one completely and moved itself to October where it just re-grouped and re-appeared as torrential thunderstorms.

So what did today bring? Well as son needed assistance with his French and art homework I sat with him. I find this home-schooling lark manageable when I don’t try and combine it with my work. The two together are like oil and water. I sink whilst he floats around. So I gave him my full attention. As I did yesterday with our outdoor terrace workout which wasn’t quite so successful.

Daughter woke up in a bad mood having not slept very well. To be fair none of us had a great night due to the storm, but as some of you are aware, teens like to share their disposition with those around them. And when all are confined in closed quarters this makes the day go just swimmingly.
With that mummy decided the wet weather and a grouchy teen was a good excuse to escape the house for an hour to do the weekly shop.

It’s strange how this experience almost makes you agoraphobic. From the initial excitement at the prospect of going out this is then replaced by a reticence . Mentally we feel we are all safe and secure in our little cocoons. I’m not particularly afraid of the virus per se, but I’m becoming wary of being outside in a strange world just because it feels so surreal. It’s almost alien out there. Less people, closed shops, fewer cars, police checks, people masked up and gloved up…it makes me feel a little on edge especially remembering the 2 metre quarantine etiquette.

The powers that be will have to develop a structure of reintroducing us stay at home folk once restrictions are lifted so we can reintegrate ourselves into the community or we’ll look like White Walkers when we all finally emerge from our enforced captivity salivating towards each other.

Thursday 16 April 2020 – Day 33

Today the kids attempted to ‘work together’ on a joint project for Physical Education. They had to record themselves performing a Tic-Tok style dance. Any slight possibility that my sanity and patience would survive this experience, disappeared faster than Carole Baskin’s ex husband so I left them to it.

To further add to the delicate state of my mental health, yesterday the official announcement came through that the kids (infants through to high schools) will continue their third trimester virtually unless situation changes (which it won’t). Virtual teaching is having varying degrees of success and there’s no level playing field for students or teachers with different resources. Apparently 10 per cent of the kids have no access to laptops or internet or quite simply have no quiet place to work.

I’m not sure how the next couple of months will pan out but I understand the teachers still provide work, but perhaps with less intensity (one can hope) and more practical/fun. However, if today’s activity was deemed as fun, they don’t know my children.

In Spain kids have no final exams. They are given exams continually throughout their school academic year on all subjects and graded accordingly. Anything below a 5 is a fail and anything from five to 10 is a pass. Students get a chance to re-sit the tests at the end of summer or can be made to repeat their year again with three fails or more.
The announcement says all students will be given a passing grade this academic year and grades will be based on the first two terms. No student will have to repeat a year bar exceptional cases.

I’m still trying to process the fact the kids ‘won’t be returning to school’. I can’t bring myself to tell the kids this without a bit of good news to follow it, like “BUT, you’ll be allowed out soon to see your friends..” or “BUT we can now go out for a walk..” Because without the BUT they might just join me in licking the windows and rocking in a corner.

Bar walking the dog around the block they haven’t ventured out or seen anyone other than this family for the last 5 weeks. Most days they cope. Some days they don’t. As demonstrated in this gem in VIDEO B with images of a violent nature.

Friday 17 April 2020 – Day 34

So this happened yesterday afternoon.

Basically the result of me trying to hold everything and everyone up like spinning plates (and yes bad driving!). I’m mentally frazzled. It’s exhausting trying to bolster kids’ moods and motivation. They have good days and bad days. And yesterday was son’s turn to be agitated and low.
No matter what I tried to do to chivvy him along it failed. In hindsight I should have just left him alone as that’s probably all he needed but I cajoled him into doing some exercise with me but he stropped off mid-way through.

Some 15 minutes later when I’d finished, daughter said she had seen him go out on his bike. When a quick search failed to locate him I headed out in the car to see if he’d gone up to a friend’s house or down to the river.

At this point I’m stressing. Now under normal circumstances this wouldn’t even be a problem or cause me concern. He’d be a kid out on his bike. He’ll come back when he’s hungry. But in this surreal quarantine world safety issues combined with lock down rules do strange things your mind. Apparently over 570,000 fines have been issued by the police here to people not obeying quarantine rules. €2,000 fine for going out for a drive without justified cause or having a child with you in the car.

Anyway after about 40 minutes of searching the area, daughter rang. He was at home. My head exploded. I was so angry/relieved/cross/tired/stressed. I reversed the car and swung it into a lane to turn around. And down the acequia ditch I went.

(Insert expletive of your choice. I used them all and even made some up).

Anyway long story short, I called a grua who came along and dragged the car out. Thankfully undamaged. I was so embarrassed. I said after 5 weeks I’d forgotten how to drive along a road I normally go up and down two or three times a day. I think he thought I’d just probably been on the gin all day.

As for son. Well unbeknownst to daughter and I he had actually returned after 10 minutes on his bike and was down the end of the garden karate chopping a tree.

When he was 5 he disappeared one day and after frantically hunting for him for about 45 minutes a friend rang to say he was at her house. He had cycled about 2km up the track and a huge hill to his friend’s house. It was dusk and I had no idea where he’d gone. He was grounded for a week after that little episode.

Anyway grounding is so pre-COVID19. And in this instance he wasn’t at fault bar a lesson in communication which I advised would be useful in future.

Made me realise that this whole lock down experience is taking its toll. I have forgotten how to act and respond like a normal person. I feel like I’m operating on radioactive batteries – highly sensitive and about to explode.

So I’m taking the next few days to take care of myself and do what I need to do to cope. We are all a bit lost and out of sync. Be kind. Call your mates. Have some wine. Watch that box set. Cuddle your kids. Don’t turn mental like me.

Saturday 18 April 2020 – Day 35

Mis-shapes, mistakes, misfits. Raised on a diet of broken biscuits.

Almost didn’t log in today. Staying off social media as much as possible just to avoid depressing news and all things Covid-19 for a day or two. That, and Joe Exotic mullets are about all I see at the moment. My brain needs to rest. Come back Brexit. All is forgiven.

I never started this journal/blog with any particular intention to write something every day, it just evolved. But it keeps me sane by processing my thoughts for all you unlucky people to digest. But the number of comments yesterday cheered me up no end. I wasn’t fishing for sympathy but a big thank you to those friends who rang me to chat and left uplifting comments.

One of the best bits about lock down is the chats online with friends. I’ve been speaking to some a few times a week via phone calls or Zoom style group chats. More than we would normally in our day to day lives as we are often too busy. Big positive.

Another positive is my garden is coming along nicely. Today, looking very Felicity Kendal like, in shorts and wellies, I dug my way half way to Malaga. Nothing more therapeutic and grounding than getting dirt under your fingernails and churning over soil and planting seeds.

Meanwhile I discovered the other day that these little wild flowers, which I have all over my back garden are actually edible. I’ve always called them snowdrops just because they appear in spring and look quite similar. They are in fact called Three Cornered Leeks and you can eat the stems and the flowers. They taste like onions! It’s a native Mediterranean plant but has been rewilded in the UK. Grows like crazy in my back garden and I never remove them as they are so pretty.

So I’ve managed to grow some food! Without trying! Apparently these little Leek plants are good for high blood pressure.
Nature – providing us with what we need when we particularly need it.

Sunday 19 April 2020 – Day 36

Spain Coronavirus cases: 196,000. Deaths: 20,453. Recovered: 77,357

Caught up this morning on the news from yesterday, which I missed trying to avoid the news. It’s a Catch 22. Don’t want to hear the news at the moment, but need to hear the news as things change daily.

Spain’s lock down will probably be extended until May 9th which was expected whilst the government is mooting the possibility of letting kids ‘out out’ after April 27th. Rumour has it under 12s may be allowed out with an adult. Not sure how this little nugget is going to go down with the over 12s. And also how this will be monitored/enforced…

Could cause anarchy with the teens. Personally I think they should allow kids out up to the age of 16 or 18. But this could open a can of worms if rebellious teens meet up with friends and undo all the good efforts so far.

I’m glad I’m not a politician playing this particular game of poker. Talking of poker, we had a few games of Shithead last night. Guaranteed to cause a family argument over the rules. So that was…fun.

So what happened today. Well son had a go at rotavating. Child with no concentration or patience handling heavy machinery. I’ll leave that one there with a glass of gin and a Diazepam. Daughter made nettle tea with some I’d cleared from the garden. Smelt like potato water and tasted of nothing really. Prefer a cup of PG personally. With a chocolate HobNob.

Not sure our nettles here are the real deal? They are a bit pathetic with tiny leaves. Not the big bushy leafy nettles you get in the UK. The blighters still sting but no where near as intense. In fact maybe we just drank something else entirely? I was reminded of our family trip to the UK five or six years ago and we all went out walking the Sandstone Trail I think it was. Daughter needed a wee so toddled off to squat in some ‘bushes’ and encountered her first introduction to English nettles. She won’t forget that in a hurry.

Came across this little fella. Is it me or do we rarely see Ladybirds these days? It seemed we were forever getting them landing on us as kids and now I feel lucky to encounter one. Much like you never see white dog poo.

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