Once in a lifetime…

Tomorrow morning the Spanish prime minister will declare a State of Emergency . Today feels very strange. Every thing has changed and will remain changed for quite some time to come. We are luckier than many. My classes are now all on line. Some of my students live , in apartments , in city centres. If they have children, they are all confined to barracks for at least two weeks. Here we have our little garden and roof terrace, we can still walk the dogs in people empty spaces and retain our humanity by waving or shouting ‘buenas dias ‘ to neighbours across the street, getting no closer than that! I can’t imagine being stuck inside , especially with children for such a length of time.

I have to admit to being worried. My brother in Scotland was quite surprised at the concern that I obviously displayed in a text conversation with him this morning. It is a situation never before experienced in my life time. My parents experienced it during WW2 but as a baby boomer, apart from personal sadness through loss of loved ones, the three day week when I was a teenager which was all a bit of a lark to a 14 year old, a fear of nuclear war during the 70s and 80s and mild concern over mad cow disease in the 90s, I have never really been seriously challenged. This feels like a challenge and my usual optimism is being stretched.

However, there are people out there whose challenge is much greater than mine. My students living in Madrid cooped up with kids , the people who are actually fighting the illness and those who have lost family already come to mind first. And then there are those people looking after us.

We took Rocky up in to the hills today for a long walk. We can do that and not meet a soul. We can sit on the edge of the hillside and listen to the birds singing with the sun on our shoulders. On our way home, I was able to pick lemons, onions and lettuce from the huerto. A favourite viewpoint looks down towards the city and it was here that I realised how amazing those who have to keep going, those who have to look after us are and how grateful I am for them. Not everyone can work from home, many people will have to keep going and face a greater risk from catching this virus than we do up here on the hill. All shops, bars, cafes and places of entertainment are being closed as of midnight tonight however supermarkets and pharmacies have to stay open, they have to handle money and cards, they have to stand just feet away from possible contagion. From our spot on the hill I could see the motorway in the distance, trucks still heading in all directions, getting the food and medicines to the supermarkets and pharmacies. Every delivery, every depot for a pick up , signing firms , handling boxes that many others have handled. In the factories and fields, people are still growing, picking, manufacturing and packaging these life saving necessities. In the hospitals, fire stations, health centres, police stations, TV and radio stations, people are caring, saving lives, keeping us safe and keeping us cheerful. ( listening to cheesy 80s and 90s tunes just now! Thank you Melodia FM) . I don’t fully understand how the internet and social media functions but I suspect that not everyone in these industries can work from home either . Thanks to them, as we become more physically isolated, we can still talk to family and friends. So crucial.

And so, for the first time in my lifetime I am living in a ‘ state of emergency’. No travel unless essential or local to said supermarket or pharmacy – police checks to ensure this. No fiestas, no sitting people watching in cafes, no runs to the beach but none the less still realising how much I have to be grateful for and how ever scary and difficult the next few months are going to be , they will not last the six years my parents had to endure from 39 to 45 ( and beyond). Walt, prepare for a major domino tornament… it will be more fun than watching Hearts , I promise. And thank you, thank you , thank you for everyone mentioned above and any I have missed.

5 thoughts on “Once in a lifetime…

  1. A heartfelt post, Yvonne, and I very much share your sense of gratitude. Yes, it is indeed very strange and I must admit living up in the wilds of the mountains with no television, we wouldn’t have a clue what was happening if it weren’t for the internet! Life here, thankfully, can go on pretty much as normal despite Asturias being officially ‘closed’; we are almost self sufficient in food and often go for over a fortnight without going anywhere in the car so isolation at home isn’t as painful for us as it must be for others. I’m impressed at the lack of panic and fuss locally, and no clearing of supermarket shelves; I know it’s not been the same everywhere, but there seems to be a sense of calm and acceptance which is typical of the people we have come to know and love here. The cancellation of our forthcoming races and – I suspect – family coming to stay in May and our own travel plans in early June, are disappointing but nothing in the grand scheme of things, so like you and Walt it will be a case of finding other things to do. Maybe it’s time to blow the dust off our guitar and banjo? Dig out my sewing machine again? Finally sort through that crate of photos in the attic? Enjoy the dominoes . . . and stay safe. X

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    1. Hi Lis. How are you? I am on photo sorting today! It’s a good distraction. It has been a roller coaster of a week , I think the situation in the UK had probably worried me most because of the kids. My daughter works for Scottish Government and is at the sharp end of public information, she is exhausted.
      I am getting in to a rhythm, still have online classes Mondays and Wednesdays and there’s plenty to do in the house. Very sad however that our huerto has been closed . It is seen as a recreational space not food production ! We did try to argue the point, but as it sits in the middle of the urbanización , the argument is that it would not be fair for us to be seen working and enjoying the space while everyone else is ‘en casa’. We had just done our spring planting so my huerto partner is ripping out trees and bushes in her garden to accommodate them. She will be allowed to go in to dig them back up ! I have decided to to build raised beds on our small garden when this is all over and see what I can grow patio style. The lack of control , cost of water and doubt over the project’s survival after this crisis has made me think that a patio project might be the way forward. My tub potatoes are going crazy .
      I hope all is well up on your hill. Take care . Love Yvonne x

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      1. Hi Yvonne, I dropped you a little email yesterday to see how things were and there was your lovely comment waiting in WordPress this morning! Glad to hear you are both okay and adapting to the circumstances, you’ve done better than me with the photo sorting, still haven’t got there yet! I’m really sorry about the huerto, I can’t imagine how frustrated we would be not to be able to tend the veggies but I can understand the official line. We are so blessed to be on our own, well above the village and several hundred metres from the nearest neighbour. At least everyone here has a garden they can get out into for a bit. Still, silver linings and all that – maybe your patio garden will turn out to be a huge success? I hope so! Aaaargh, don’t mention potatoes . . . Valdes decided to ban them for another year after all. 😦 Glad you’ve got your teaching all sorted, it looks like I’m going to be back in harness, too, doing some video Spanish lessons for our grandchildren. I have to say Early Years and KS1 are not my forte (I’m very much a Years 5 & 6 specialist!) but I hope they’ll be forgiving and it should be a lot of fun. Stay safe and keep smiling. xx 🙂

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  2. Hi there.
    I delayed reading your blog till now.
    9 days on and the news from Spain is scary and obviously very sad. Relieved to know you are ok so far but sad you can’t tend or harvest your huerto.
    Schools closed yesterday and it was sad to see the P7’s so upset knowing they would miss school camp and their transition to High School. A couple of pals have S5/6 kids and they are so upset not to have exams before uni. etc.

    Mum is ok in her wee bedsit. Will we celebrate her 90th together in June? Who knows?
    F has calmed down a bit after long chat with her stepson.

    Disjointed msg – sorry…
    I am to report to a “hub” – a different school – on Monday , but my contract is only 5 hrs so I’m not sure what they’ll find for me to do. Maybe keeping key workers’ children amused or occupied or taking lunch out to those entitled to free school meals. Logistics are a major issue. No car sharing – and the staff & kids will come from 7 or 8 or more catchments to the hub.
    Tim will need an early night. His new “shift” is from 7am – 1pm
    Better than 9am-6pm of late.
    Will take a bit of getting used to. It’s so surreal – and will be a real challenge. I do hope all of your gang stay safe & well.
    Love & thoughts always. G x

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    1. Hi Gillian, thank you for your lovely message. We are trying to maintain a routine, I still have 7 hrs on line teaching this week. The lockdown is much more draconian here. I haven’t been off the estate for 9 days now but need to go to the supermarket and pharmacy tomorrow. I will get stopped by a police roadblock going in to the village ( and probably coming out) asking me why I am out. I am not sending Walt because he is much more susceptible to viral infections than me. 40 years working or bringing up kids? You are very brave. Here all schools are closed, full stop. I think employers are letting folk juggle shifts so someone is always at home. Not sure what other provision there is, I will ask my classes tomorrow!
      To be honest, I wish there were clearer rules in the UK. So many people seem to be in denial, still going out and about. I think I am worrying more about you , family and friends in Scotland and England than anything.
      Please stay safe and at home as much as you can. Lots of love. Yvonne xxx

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