I’ve been keeping some rambling thoughts since early March 2020. What a strange one it has been for us all. I hope you and your loved ones have come through the last few years as unscathed as possible. To those of you who have lost loved ones I send my deepest condolences.
My Indonesian work permit was finally issued in early 2020 and we made plans to return to Indonesia in Mid March.
2nd March 2020 Hampshire, UK
I downloaded the blog in its entirety, having realized that although the site is backed up, I’d feel more comfortable with my own copy. And then I started reading, from way back at the beginning in 2014. It was like reading a letter I’d received a long time ago, sort of familiar and sort of distant. I remember some of the feelings I talk about, the initial anxiety and excitement, echoed by my feelings now. My desire to be living a ‘better’ for want of a better word, life. And here we are. Dude, so not perfect. So far from perfect. Still socially awkward at times. Still very much in the moment. But looking outward, looking worldward (so a word).
22nd March 2020 Hampshire, UK
It is incredible how much things can change in such a short space of time. We knew about the corona virus at the beginning of March but we certainly had no idea how things would unfold.
We had our flight cancelled for the second time and optimistically rebooked. Our third flight didn’t actually end up being cancelled, just the countries we needed to get to ended up closing their borders. The advice from a lady at the Indonesian embassy was ‘go now, get on a plane and go’. Which didn’t seem like the most practical of advice nor sat right with my gut. I tried calling the airline to rebook after being unable to do so online a dozen or so times, each time getting hung up on after listening to their ‘we are so busy’ message. Tried the whatsapp number given and even tweeted them, no response, so who knows if we’ll ever see any money from that, and at the moment who knows if any flights will ever fly again. (We were given a credit note for the flights some 4 months and many many calls and emails down the line).
Dramatic? Maybe not. As of now the over 70s have been advised to undertake 12 weeks of self-isolation. The rest of the population has been told to ‘social distance’, to stay indoors unless essential and to keep a distance from other people when outside. I haven’t really seen much social distancing when we grocery shop – (Up until today, the 23rd when Tesco had lines marked on the floor and a young lad, giddy with the power directing people to one long queue and to keep their distance from one another).
People seem perplexed by what is happening and a lot of wondering if the absolute tanking of the economy is necessary. All restaurants, pubs and cafes have now been ordered to close and shops seem to be following. So far John Lewis, Ikea and top shop have announced they are closing for the foreseeable future. It is unprecedented.
Boris Johnson is talking about some kind of isolation for at least a year. Companies have closed, staff are working from home. Where we are at least there has been food on the shelves every day. This is not the case elsewhere in the UK where panic buying has been prevalent. For sure there have been localized outages here, loo roll, pasta, long life milk, things like that, the shelves are noticeably less full. On the run up we began slowly stocking up, about as much we would do if we were out so nothing drastic, just making sure we had enough cat food and some longlife milk in the cupboard. We had a fair bit stocked up that we were taking to Indonesia with us, so chocolate, stock cubes, salami etc will be no issue.
23rd March 2020 Hampshire, UK
There is talk today of enforced isolation with the police on the streets giving fines for anyone out without a valid reason.
It is scary to be honest. Confusing. Death is a natural part of life and we are chronically overpopulated and no one wants to address that, the topic of population control seems utterly taboo. Of course any death is sad but it is a natural part of life. And no of course I don’t want anyone I know and love to die. But they will, they all will. Is crashing the global economy, isolating billions of people, millions losing their jobs and possibly their homes worth the effort to save what high predictions say would be a less than 50 million. It sounds a lot I know, but with a global population of 9 BILLION, is it really? (EDIT: 4/6/22 I still strongly disagree that shutting shops did any good, enforcing strict mask wearing should have been enough and economies that did not shut down did not show higher death tolls than those who did)
15th April 2020 Hampshire, UK
We are just going into week 4 of lockdown. That means only leaving the house once a day to exercise. Working from home if you are able to, all ‘non-essential’ shops are closed. All pubs, restaurants and cafes are closed, although some are doing takeaway. Going to the supermarket for food as infrequently as possible. We are going once a week and wearing masks and gloves when we do. Mum and I are walking at Greenham Common most days as the paths are flat and there are no trip hazards for her. It is incredibly lovely up there, cows wandering if we are lucky, red kites, the occasional Canada goose and lots of bunnies. Although we are litter picking at least once a week as people are still disgusting, leaving bottles and cans and poo bags everywhere.
The whole thing is slightly surreal. A very close friend’s mother in law was ill at home, went into hospital and died, all within a week. That really brought it home how serious it is, and still I don’t know if what we are doing is the best way. Thankfully, I don’t have to make that decision and just have to abide by the rules made by others. We are pretty removed from the world where we live anyway, few neighbours and lots of fields so the only sign that something is not quite right has been the almost total lack of passing traffic. Today was the first day we noticed a lot of cars – which probably wasn’t even a lot but after 3 weeks of hardly any there was a noticeable change.
J’s company have kept him on, which has been brilliant. At the moment we are not sure if they will keep him past the end of April but we are hoping so, really there is no short end in sight and if we made it back to Indo by September we would think that lucky. I just hope to be back by Christmas with things beginning to reopen at the end of this year. I think it will change a lot of things this global lockdown. I hope so anyway. I hope people reassess their priorities, realise that life is short and precious.
Having contacted all my agencies and let them know I am looking for work. My days are spent hanging with Ma, sewing masks that we are taking to the supermarkets for the staff on our weekly shop, sewing bags, making balms and soaps and generally eating too much. I want to start the couch to 5k programme again but am sooooo lazy. Let’s see if I can get my arse in gear and start tomorrow. (EDIT: December 2020, nope not started ;0)
I am very grateful that we are here with Ma while all this is going on as I think she might have lost the plot a bit and being the three of us it gives us all a bit of variety in people to talk to. But that said, being in someone else’s house has definite drawbacks and I know both J and I are REALLY looking forward to having our own place and space, who knows where or when that will be but we are looking forward to it nonetheless.
Thankfully throughout this all J was still working. I studied – I completed a diploma in natural skincare formulation, researched things for Dapur Alami and made lots and lots of wonderful creations, serums, shampoo bars, moisturisers and more.
With no let up in sight and the Indonesian Borders still closed we decided to take the opportunity and visit our Canadian family.
The airport was surreal, queues to get in, a chap checking passports reaching to take them from one person after another. We politely refused and held them so he could see them, with his eyes and not his fingers. The flight to Amsterdam was rammed, but everyone wore masks and the flight was quick and smooth. The flight to Montreal was empty. Perhaps 20 people. The airlines will surely not be able to survive if the lack of passengers continues. Disembarked we were out of the airport within 30 minutes and on the way to our home from home for the next two weeks.
13th October 2020 Montreal, Canada
I feel like the whole world has gone mad.
During our mandatory two week quarantine we isolated, exercised, watched a little bit of TV, read an awful lot and ate our way through the tonne of groceries J’s mum very generously kept bringing us. Going outside for the first afterwards was ever so slightly surreal.
16th October 2020 Montreal, Canada
The UK has been in and out of lockdown like a fiddler’s elbow. After 4 months of the government saying there was no point anyone wearing masks they u-turned – the first of many, and now they are mandatory. Businesses were told to go back to the office, then told to stay home again. Restaurants and bars were opened, then shut, quite frankly it is a disgraceful farce.
The Indonesian Embassy remains closed, as do Indonesia’s borders, unless you have a KITAS.
WHO are saying repeated lockdowns are not the answer but no one seems to be listening to that. J and I, and lots of other people we talk to think something else must be going on. Although we have no idea of what. Crashing the global economy seems a strange thing for our governments to want to do but carrying on like this also does. Maybe Sars-Cov2 aka covid19 will never go away, what then? The flu has never gone away, and that kills up to 650,000 people every year. Wearing masks, washing our hands, keeping hygiene standards, sick people isolating surely this is a better option than this current close everything lunacy?
On our return flight from Canada we had a layover in Amsterdam and changed flights. J thought he recognised a friend of ours in the airport but with the mask I was not convinced. Lo and behold, not only was our lovely friend John on our flight to England, he was in the seat next to us, on a totally packed flight, the chances of him being on the same flight – he was on the way back from Indonesia – let alone sat next to us must be astronomical. It certainly made for an enjoyable and quick flight with us catching up the entire way.
17th December 2020 Hampshire, UK
Our time in Canada was precious. Filled with family and has cemented our desire to return to Canada, but not yet, give us 5 or 10 years in Asia first.
24th March 2021 Hampshire, UK
Still in lockdown, I kid you not. I have not been able to find work despite applying to hundreds of jobs. Indeed, who I have been applying to have shown that up to 700 other people have applied for the same job! It’s a joke. Anyway I am staying upbeat and keeping busy. We have been living in the one bed flat attached to the house next door since December 1st and move back in with Ma in about 10 days. It’s been nice but am happy to move back, financially it will enable us to save some money even if I am not working. Because who the fuck knows when I will be getting a job.
Anyhoo, I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism way back at the beginning of February and have been waiting for an appointment with an endocrinologist since then. Today I received an appt letter for the 26th April.. Well let’s hope it is not cancer and we have wasted 12 weeks from diagnosis before even the first consultation! Covid has been an excuse for everything. Our government are utter morons and have almost bankrupt the country paying their cronies and extending and extending and extending furlough on all the people whose company owners could afford to pay it anyway. Can you tell I am pissed off, hahahaha yup. I feel totally powerless. I am having my vaccination tomorrow. I don’t want to, but I don’t see any choice. They are not going to let us travel without having had it EVEN THOUGH IT NEITHER PREVENTS YOU CATCHING OR PASSING ON THE STUPID VIRUS, Gah!! Wouldn’t financing tests that actually work and using those to only allow those with a negative result to travel, but anyway. States in the US that locked down have as high death rates as those states that stayed open. The lockdown is a total and utter waste of time, people should wear masks, wash their freaking hands and get on with their bloody lives. Just ugh.
2021 – 2022
In between lockdowns we adopted an old rescue cat, then after a year filled with loving and tummy rubs heartbreakingly lost him to complications to his diabetes. Earlier this year we went to rescue 2 more cats after their owner died and ended up with 4 beautiful Abyssinians as they have health issues and no one to take them.
I turned 50, not the celebrations I had been hoping for obviously, however during the year we were fortunate enough to make several mini breaks in beautiful Yorkshire, wonderful Isle of Wight. In March 2022 J’s family came over and we visited the Isle of Wight again and made it to Fabulous Paris one of our favourite places in the world, where I was unfortunate enough, after almost 2 years of shielding, to contract covid although thankfully I only suffered a mild version.
June 2022 Hampshire, UK
Going backwards a little to May 2021, with no end in sight to the ongoing lockdowns and therefore no return date for Asia, I was lucky enough to secure a year’s maternity cover contract for a great company based about 30 minutes away. The group of women I work with are blooming marvellous and I will be missing them once I leave them – in 3 days time.
It was a lucky job for many reasons, not least the lovely people but also that it offered me the option to have private medical insurance, which I did, very quickly seeing an endocrinologist, then a surgeon, culminating in having my thyroid, which was way overactive, without the one good side effect of an overactive thyroid, removed in December 2021. So far I seem to be doing well on the medication, have a gnarly scar across my neck and a lot of thyroid weight that I’m planning to lose this year as we are FINALLY heading back to Asia!
Our flight goes into Bangkok in less than a week where we will spend a few days acclimating before heading on to Indonesia. Our current plan, the last two years made a mockery of making plans but anyway, is to see how things are and go from there, I know right, that’s like one of my old ‘no plan plans’. We’re keen to return to Vietnam for a month or so and would like to explore more widely in Indonesia and visit South Korea but mostly we would like to have a go at launching the business we have paid to set up, been paying tax and national insurance on since 2020.
No doubt I will miss Ma and the Abyssinian terrors considerably, however not only am I sure she will revel in having her house all to herself again, J and I will revel in the next stage of life’s adventure.
Compared to the hundreds of thousands who lost their lives, the many more who lost their livelihoods and those at the end of their lives who have lost years they will never get back, our being stuck in the UK for a few years, spending invaluable time with Ma was absolutely nothing to complain about.
So that’s us Xx