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Published: November 3rd 2020
It's almost a cliché to talk about the pandemic in ones blog. But sometimes you can't get around clichés. And so let's get it out of the way, yes my life too has been shaped in one way or another by Covid-19, and yes this blog is partially about it. But only partially. Only in the sense that a lot of my actions in the last year have been influenced by what was, and was not possible. In my case, I think I was rather lucky. A lot was possible. I could still travel to Germany, even during the height of the first wave. Not as a tourist, but as a lover. Many couples were separated by borders during this time, but not me. Germany and my country kept their borders open and so I could visit Jenni, and she could visit me.
But let's go back a little in time, to when Covid-19 wasn't called Covid-19 yet, but was still an unknown virus in Wuhan, China, which we all thought would blow over, like SARS and MERS did before. The time when I returned from Indonesia to celebrate Christmas at home, or actually with my sister in Switzerland, and
the world was still merry and bright.
My first stop, however, was Schwaebish Hall, the pretty little town which houses Jenni. And she welcomed me with a home made burger and fries! And what a burger it was, a feast! After my two month in Indonesia, she figured I might want something different than rice. Not that I do not love Indonesian food, but she was right. Something different was what I wanted. But there was more than just burgers, there was also a traditional Christmas market on the main square , and it was like stepping into some good old fashioned Christmas tale. We had mulled wine, and bratwurst and the lights were twinkling, and the darkness of a winter's day was a thing of beauty, because the fairy lights just made it feel cozy. It was lovely and seems like a life-time away.
Eventually I went home. And after two days, my mum and I drove down to Switzerland. If you are wondering why Jenni wasn't with me, for Jenni, Christmas is the busiest time of the year, she hardly has any time off from work during the festive season. Sad but true (she still had
Preparing the Christmas dinner
a nice Christmas with friends in town though, so no need to feel bad for her). Anyway, back to the story... Switzerland! We were hoping for a white Christmas in Suisse, but it was not to be, it was unseasonably warm. The only snow we saw was on the mountain tops. But it was still cozy, and we sang and drank and ate well, and there were open fires and long walks and lots of goodies!
A new year arrived with a flash and a bang as always, and before long we were back home again. Jenni dropped by for a few days, and went up to Groningen with me, where I was screening for a trial. Because money needed to come in, and as you all know, that means another medical trial. I got the job, but before it started I went back to Switzerland once again with my mum, but this time to ski. Unfortunately my mother's first prosthetic hip had started to play up. It is around 35 years old, so it has done quite well. But now she was in pain. She did little skiing, because it was too painful, and she felt unsure on
the slopes. But she tried an hour here and there. Not sure if it was great for the hip, but it was good for her soul. The rest of us headed up every day, despite a few blizzards sweeping through the mountains. There is nothing like skiing in a snow storm!
With that over and done with, we returned home once again. I had planned my trial so I could be home for an operation my mum had to undergo. Not for the hip, but for another issue. Alas, as happens, the operation was postponed... right to the time I would be doing my trial! Luckily my sister could come during this period. The operation itself went fine, but the aftermath not so. To keep things short, after three weeks, she had to have another emergency operation because of complications from the first operation. By this time I was home. And, not to keep you in suspense, it had a good ending. After the second operation, she recovered very fast.
This is where Covid-19 really came into play, because by now it had got a name and it was causing havoc around Europe. When I visited my mother
Sitting at the open fire
in the hospital the first day, the restaurant was still open, but Jenni, who had come to stay with me during this time, was not allowed to come with me to the ward. The second time, the restaurant was closed, and when my mother left the hospital on day three, our country had gone into lockdown. That's how quick it can go. We called it a lockdown 'light' here though. And I suppose it was light. Apart from Sweden, I think we had the lightest lockdown measures in place in Europe.
Personally I noticed very little. Out on the country side there is enough space to walk, without having to worry about social distancing rules. And folk around here are better at keeping to the rules anyway. And I got lucky in several ways. I spoke about the border with Germany remaining open already, but I was lucky with my trial as well. Right after I finished my trial, the clinic closed. No more trials for the time being!
My life during this pandemic has been remarkably similar to my life before the pandemic. I have been busy around the garden and the house, nothing new there. I
Teagan playing some computer game
visited Jenni, we went to a few sights, like Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which I suspect would be like Disneyland under normal times, but now was nicely tourist free and very pleasant. We made forest walks and strolled around meadows and rivers. Jenni visited me after, and was set straight to work! No holiday for her! She had to help me open the pool, and prune trees. I'm surprised she still loves me!!
She also helped me with a wooden fence I had decided to build around our property. It has been something my mother had always wanted, but never happened. Now I had some time, so I decided to make her dream come true. Took me a month or so, but it's there. I also did some painting, I cleared out our little copse in the back of our garden, cut down some trees, planted some other trees, weeded, cleaned the pool, cut grass. Actually I think I did quite a lot. It kept me busy, that's for sure.
The one thing which did bring home Covid for me, was the fact that we had to cancel my mother's 80'th birthday trip. Actually, that's not true, the
Kari performing a special concert at home for us
first time Covid really got in the way, was when Jenni and I had to cancel our planned one month trip around parts of Eastern Europe, because all borders had closed... When I spoke earlier of me visiting her, and she visiting me, this was actually supposed to have been filled with tales about our trip. But we made the most of our time, she had taken a month off and we didn't waste it. We saw a few sights when I was with her, and in return she did hard labour in the work camp I call home.
Okay, back to my mum's canceled birthday trip. We had planned on going to Lithuania for ten days during the summer. I had booked a hotel for all of us, that is: my brother and his family, my sister and hers, and my mother and I, and possibly Jenni if she had time. Using that as a base we were going to explore the country. My mum has always wanted to visit the Baltic states. But with Europe in lockdown that wasn't going to happen. On top of that my brother was stuck in Lima, Peru, which was hit hard
Going for a walk
by the pandemic and they were under strict lockdown, much stricter than here. He is still stuck in Peru, though restrictions have eased.
They couldn't get to Europe for their summer leave. So this summer, it was just my sister and her family here, because for a while Europe opened up again and she could leave Switzerland without having to go into quarantine.
On my mother's actual birthday, which was in May, it was just me! My sister tried hard to get here, but it wasn't to be. We made the most out of it though. As for Lithuania. It is postponed, but not cancelled! We will get there. In the end, it probably was for the best, my mother's hip would have made Lithuania difficult for her, even in good times. She is waiting for an operation, but the second wave has pushed the planned surgery to some time in the future. For now she potters about the garden as much as the pain allows. She is still fit luckily, though living with pain isn't much fun. But on the whole it hasn't affected her mood too much either.
After the summer I went for another
Zara beating her pinata for her birthday
trial. By this time the clinic had opened up again. Another lucky break (this was before the second wave). Not that I needed the money, since I hadn't spend much of the tranche I got for my earlier trial. My trips to Germany are not wildly expensive. But I figured I could save up a little for a change. One day the world will be traverse-able again, and I will be ready for that day. I have become somewhat of an expert at Covid tests in the meantime: I had five in the clinic! They sure are careful...
Jenni once again graced me with a visit after my second trial, and this time I did take her on a small trip around a few places in Holland. Places which in normal times are crowded, but now have nobody. Places like Giethoorn, called little Venice by the locals, it is a village with canals and pretty houses. I have seen photos of it, where the canals are chock-a-block full of boats filled to the brim with camera totting tourists. Now we were alone! And I took her to some Hanseatic towns, Kampen, Zwolle, Deventer and Zutphen. None of these towns
Went to Groningen for my screening and strolled around town a little with Jenni while I was there
are far from me, but I have never actually visited them, except for Zwolle once. And they are really pretty. It's like they say: you visit the world, but not your own backyard!!
Then I returned with Jenni to Schwaebish Hall, and went straight into quarantine, because Holland had been put on the red list by Germany, just before we entered. Another Covid test ended the quarantine. That was number 6!
Now it's autumn. Normally I would be on my trip at this time of the year. But I am home. Do I complain? No! I have nothing to complain about. I will travel again, I have a good life. I have seen a lot. A year without going on some far flung trip is no biggy for me.
If I had saved up for years and finally decided to take a year off to do a trip of a lifetime, then I would have reason to be sad. But now? I travel all the time (even now, just not so far), a year more or less, makes very little difference to me. If I couldn't have seen Jenni for all this time, then I would have
The Groningen Museum
reason to be sad. But again, that is not the case. If I was stuck in a tiny apartment during lockdown, then I would have reason to be sad. But I live in paradise, and there is nothing to be sad about. If I had lost somebody to Covid, then I would have reason to be sad. But I haven't.
For now I shall end this blog. When the next one will come, I don't know. But it will come again. In Intermezzo form or as a genuine travel blog. Who knows? I wish everybody the best. And remember the world will keep on turning, pandemics do end, just like everything else.
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