It has been some time since I sat down to write the blog. Quite a few things have changed over the last 6 weeks. With the loosening of restrictions people have abandoned the parks and headed to restaurants and bars, albeit socially distanced and suitably face covered. I have returned to face to face life drawing classes though even the models are masked. Naked but for their faces. Picture that!
Victoria has achieved an amazing goal of suppressing the virus. For all the criticisms aimed at the premier and the false steps and failures he has in his words, ‘stayed the course’, steadfastly refusing to ease up before his goal of reducing the virus to zero and we are now benefitting from it. A burst out in South Australia showed how easily and quickly the virus can explode out of control but they jumped on it quickly and seem to have it well controlled again. Furthermore the pariah state of Victoria has had no deaths or new infections for 36 days and Victorians are free to travel interstate again. We have achieved something only a few other countries have done and that is control the infections. Everyone is so happy but also a bit wary. No one wants to go backwards and we have got so used to wearing masks it seemed strange to be without one. They have become a bit of a security blanket! It is jolly sweaty wearing them when it is hot, so being free to go without while walking outside is a relief. Wearing them amongst crowds is still advisable and feels right still. But now I have to remember to put sunscreen on and lipstick again! Vanity emerges from behind the safety of the face mask.
When the first week restrictions were lifted I had two lunch dates, both in outdoor areas. It was such a pleasure to be with a couple of friends over a meal again.
After this lunch I had a chance to get my haircut. First time in 6 months! What I hadn’t factored in because I am not used to traffic anymore was the business of cars and pedestrians that have swarmed the streets since the easing of restrictions. One benefit of CoVid was the lack of traffic! It is becoming a distant nostalgic memory.
I received my medal for completing our virtual team walk of Route 66 from Chicago to LA with Gary and Anthea. It is about 3,000 odd kilometres and I discovered a lot of history about the Route in the process. Those activities certainly kept me motivated during this year of weirdness.
After the relaxing of restrictions Ziggy came to stay and we had a session at Bounce, the trampoline place near me. It was his first time for months and he was tentative after such a long time. I was surprised because he had been so confident with jumping and somersaulting both into the crash bags and on the trampolines before. He also didn’t show the stamina he usually has which is a reflection of the restricted exercise he has endured this year. He was always such an active child. Hopefully he will recover that confidence and stamina soon. Even the kids returning to swimming lessons with enthusiasm were suddenly tentative when faced with the huge pool. All these subtle aspects that have been impacted which we haven’t been really conscious of are being exposed now like diggings at an archeological site.
When we were able to start travelling around the state again I booked a few days at Torquay on the coast. My former neighbours in the apartments had decamped to their Jan Juc beach house early in the CoVid lockdown and as time went on had decided to stay. They have since rented their apartment and it would be an opportunity to catch up because Jan Juc is a small village near to Torquay. With all the development now you could almost say it’s a suburb. I felt a bit out of practice driving on the freeway and hitting the country roads. After almost a year of walking most places it was a recalibration of my thinking and traffic alertness that you take for granted when you drive all the time. It never fails to amaze me how quickly humans can change and adapt to new circumstances. The feeling of excitement and freedom tinged with a little anxiety about venturing out was interesting.
On the way down I visited Janine’s mum at Leopold to catch up finally with Janine’s daughter and her baby Taavi ( who live in Sydney). Due to the isolation imposed by CoVid Janine had not seen him since January when he was born and the rest of her family had not met him at all. It was a happy time with her niece also presenting her new daughter to the family as well. The separation of families at these significant moments has been extremely difficult for everyone. The joy of reconciliations when the borders were opened was on all the Television news programs. In our pre-Covid lives so much was taken for granted and now hopefully we won’t lose that appreciation for some time. We will eventually get complacent but I sometimes wonder whether there will be a generation ( like those in the depression of the 30s) who will remember and always reference this time in their lives.
I travelled alone on this little adventure. It had been originally something I was going to do with Janine but in the end that didn’t work out and I just thought I would go alone. I have become used to it. Nick took Alfie for the couple of days so I could sleep in and vary my activities as I pleased. It was restful and fun exploring the town and its beaches. I spent money to assist the economy! I know most people would not remark on such a thing but I was impressed by the number and availability of public toilets in Torquay! I realised that with the huge influx of holiday makers that usually descend on this very attractive place the council has seen these amenities as essential and all that I used were well appointed, clean and conveniently but discreetly everywhere. There is nothing worse than having to search high and low for a toilet when the need arises. The Melbourne councils could consider improving the frequency of such amenities along the Yarra river walking trails!
It was so very lovely to be beside the sea and feel the sand underfoot. An early morning beach walk accompanied by carolling magpies was a highlight. I am too much the tropical flower to venture into the ocean for a swim here and duly noted most people were in wetsuits at this time of the year! Most Victorians are a hearty lot but I prefer the warmer waters of NSW and Queensland for surfing. A bit of a sook I guess. Despite the variable temperature it was wonderfully refreshing to be out of the city and close to wild nature.
Another freedom has been the commencement of lawn bowling competition at last. I am having to come to terms with the commitment I made earlier in the year to play pennant. With little training we are now in teams and playing most weeks so my time is being divided amongst quite a few activities again. I am enjoying the competition and play some some good bowls and a lot of rubbish ones! Still it is engrossing, very different and very social so I am making new friends and having some fun. Fortunately the club though keen, is not super competitive. The ethos is more about enjoying the experience which suits me. Don’t get me wrong. I am competitive and love to win but it is more for the enjoyment and social aspects I play. Still, I was pretty chuffed to be in the winning team of our division in our first competition! One aspect that surprised me was the release of tension I had not realised I was holding. Laughing and light hearted chit chat is remarkably healing and relaxing. No teeth clenching sleep after that day!
My first Christmas get together lunch was out at Kangaroo ground with the group from Warrandyte. We used to be called the Wild women because we had an adventurous girls weekend away every year- hot air ballooning, camel riding, swimming with dolphins, hiking. That was before grand children started to take up our time and then we started downsizing out of Warrandyte. Now only one actually still lives in Warrandyte and we maintain our connection but sadly no longer are we very wild. We have been friends for 30 years! We still know how to have a good time and lunch was delightful though chilly because we were outside under a marquis. That was so the restaurant could accommodate us in a CoVid safe way!
After visiting my husband’s grave for the first time in months I swung by North Melbourne to visit Ziggy and Marlo. I was delighted to pass them on the street on the way to the park. I quickly parked my car and then joined them. Jonathan had Marlo on his chest with a light blanket over him to keep him asleep. He looked so funny with these little legs hanging out below like a stuffed doll. Ziggy was full of beans and is always very demonstrative now when he sees me. (Another CoVid bonus!) There were some school friends of Ziggy at the park so he was happily occupied and active while I got a chance to talk with his Dad. On the way home we got caught in the rain and I fished out a carry bag to protect Marlo while Ziggy pulled his Tshirt over his head! I had jambed the Zipper of my rain jacket so I couldn’t extract myself to give it to Ziggy or cover Marlo. It was cold but we soon reached my car and I fished out an umbrella for Jonathan ( he didn’t want to sit and wake Marlo!) while I drove Ziggy the couple of blocks home. It was a happy circumstance that I came upon them. Clare had been having a sleep so I don’t think she would have heard me or wanted to be woken if I had gone straight to their home!
I finished the day by bingeing on a TV series until 2.45 am. I wasn’t tired and just kept watching until all episodes were played. I haven’t done that very often and strangely, less while everything was locked down, than now when I have more social things to occupy myself. I feel that I am breaking out of routines I have established during lockdown just to shake me up. How contrary is that? I think perhaps this is evaluation time. Weighing up what worked positively and what needs to be reviewed. As always time will tell!