Keeping busy and then staying still.

This is a ramble but it comes with lots of love and best wishes from Murcia. Happy Easter.

One of the things that everyone will probably agree on is how all our lives now seem so very similar where ever we are in the world. We are all at home, relying on the wonders of wifi to keep in touch with the outside world. We are all worried about our family and friends and hoping that they are staying safe, especially the ones who are in essential industries and professions and who have to put themselves in daily danger by going to work. We are all trying to retain our sanity by keeping busy . And then we stop and realise that the tasks we set for today and didn’t get done will get done tomorrow or the day after or the day after that! Time is stretching out in a way very few of us will ever have experienced.

Sunrise over Calle Jacaranda. One or our neighbours posts beautiful pictures every morning, while walking his dog…. of course! He does the morning moral boosting, the evening is given over to music from the top of our street and a neighbour who has become the resident DJ!
Sourdough hot cross buns… my obsession is growing!

At the start of our quarantine I listened to a TED talk by an amazing women from Columbia who had been held captive in the rain forest of Columbia by rebels for six years . Her talk was specifically about fear and sanity. How to diminish fear and retain sanity. Six years! Six years in which she did not see her children. As a politician in Columbia life was always dangerous and she had sent her children to family in France shortly before being kidnapped. I am missing our planned Easter time with the grandchildren and very possibly will not meet my new granddaughter or son , due at the end of May until he or she is a few months old but it will not be six years. I was however,at the time of listening to the talk , consumed by fear. All the worst case scenarios of living through a plague or pandemic danced around my head for days, it felt especially isolating being in a foreign country and wondering, if Walt or I became unwell how would we cope with the medical jargon, who would we turn to , who would look after the dogs! The speaker described her strategies for dealing with fear and having hope. She is inspirational and helped me in those early days and hours enormously. I have included the link below. It is in Spanish but has English subtitles. I calmed down, neighbours and friends offered their phone numbers and help if we needed it. We are the oldies on the estate and perhaps this has been a factor in their kind offers. Practical kindness.. we have been given masks, spinach and seeds to keep the patio huerto going. We are not alone and we are well! The huerto has been closed down and we have shared all our new seedlings between our gardens . I was so sad when this happened but necessity is the mother of invention and I now have potatoes, onions, salad leaves, a pepper plant, tomatoes and more in tubs and even a cut down Mercadona bag! Here is the link to Ingrid’s wonderful talk.

https://www.ted.com/talks/ingrid_betancourt_what_six_years_in_captivity_taught_me_about_fear_and_faith

I still have grumpy moments, trips to the supermarket are not good . We are trying to stretch these to once every nine or ten days but this is a big holiday weekend and the shops are shut today, tomorrow, Easter Sunday and Tuesday ( Murcia spring holiday!) I had to go yesterday. It felt like an army operation! Not fun at all.

Meet my sourdough starter. It feels like a huge responsibility keeping him safe and alive.

There’s no one way to cope with being in quarantine. We are all finding ways to stay sane. Keeping busy, baking, knitting, meditating, praying, reading, keeping in touch with family and friends and teaching my classes on line. Emotions are on a roller coaster. Who knows how we will feel tomorrow. However it won’t last six years. Nature is loving the break this is giving her. Hopefully humanity can stop now and then from keeping busy and simply be. Let’s also hope than when we ‘are free’ again , we will have been still enough to understand what we need to do to make it a kinder, safer world for everyone and our planet.

this family of wild boar live in the woods behind our house, I think they are loving life at the moment. No hikers or mountain bikers!

I learned very quickly that while the internet is a wonderful link to the outside world it can be a double edged sword . I have had to limit its use. There is so much information and misinformation out there and not just on social media. The mainstream media can be equally as sensationalist and frightening. After Italy, Spain has had the highest number of cases of Covid 19 in Europe. The news from Madrid that first weekend had me in bits. It is still not great there and my heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones or who are fighting the illness at this time. The news also frightened friends and family in Scotland and our phones began to go in to melt down. At this point the figures in Murcia Region were relatively low and although they have increased, by comparison to Madrid and Barcelona they have remained low. This was when I realised that main stream media was not necessarily helpful. I now have a filter system (Walt) and am gradually feeling strong enough to listen to a little bit of new every few days. For the first two weeks after that dreadful weekend, I stopped listening and watching either Spanish or British news. I was not disrespecting all the people who have had or have the virus nor the amazing people who are looking after them and who are keeping the country running, I know enough. I did however need to protect my own crazy brain .

Keeping busy has been a good way to do this but as the weeks have gone on I have also discovered that I have the ability to be still as well. I can now put down my knitting, or reading or baking and just sit .

Knitting for our new grand baby due at the end of May!

As I mentioned earlier the huerto was closed down very quickly. It was seen as recreational rather than food producing. We felt pretty gutted as our world got smaller and smaller. There’s no daily ‘exercise allowance ‘ here. However , necessity really is the mother of invention. Anne, my huerto buddy, dug up her front garden and I resorted to pots and an old mercadona bag! All our spring planting was dug up and transferred home. Walt is not too keen on it, it is a bit untidy but I have potatoes coming on brilliantly, peppers , one tomato plant, salad leaves, herbs and onions. Spinach seeds are now sprouting and I am using an on line organic vivero who will this week deliver more tomato seeds and chili seeds. It is amazing what you can do in a small space.


We are never short of bread! the sourdough obsession continues ……..

I am writing this last paragraph on Easter Sunday.. what a strange Easter this is. We will get through it and for now simply knowing that family and friends are safe and well is enough. My Gran sent my Dad and his sister off to the countryside in 1939, two East End children found themselves first of all in Canterbury and then Devon. Aged 8, Dad had to feed the geese! A wee city boy hundreds of miles away from his Mum. My Grandma worked for a packaging company which was turned over to munitions and shipped to Scotland. Several months after moving to the tiny village of Menstrie in Clackmannanshire with the business, she sent for my Dad and Auntie Joan. They were lucky, they only spent a few months apart, for many the evacuations meant children being away from family for the duration of the war. We are only being asked to spend a few months apart from our families and friends , the reason is clear beyond doubt and so I will continue to keep busy, stay still and be grateful for our comfy home, beautiful views and the crazy duo, Rocky and Benny who allow us out each day for a short walk. Be still.

Rocky keeping an eye on the street!
Benny enjoying the sun.













5 thoughts on “Keeping busy and then staying still.

  1. This is brilliant Yvonne and very honest. Spanish lockdown is very different to St ANDREWS lockdown. This is perhaps because we are s little behind you in experience this awful time.
    Like you, I’m an incomer to the area even though I’ve had my house her for 18years. Respecting the local families and their traditions has to be observed-particularly in Lockdown. It is not the Scottish way to show emotions. We feel great fear for our loved ones but it’s simply not done here to talk about it. St. Andrews is silent but for the church bells. On the beach, however I still hear children’s laughter and that is when I know all will be well.

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  2. Thank you for your Easter Epistle. Good to know you are doing ok in these surreal times. I will be delivering school lunches today & each Tuesday for as long as necessary. Otherwise I am out only to shop or take Sam or Tim to work. Their jobs are deemed important but Tim IS trying to work from home.
    Sadly our internet is not too great so he will at times have to bike over to the other side of Edinburgh.
    We are so fortunate to have our garden. T is growing tomatoes, beans, peas & rocket and our rhubarb is doing very well as are wild strawberries. I only do weeding, cut the grass & nurture my wild orchids…
    Your knitting looks lovely – all the best to Hannah for safe arrival of her wee one. Do hope you don’t have to wait too long for a cuddle… it will be all the more special when it happens. Thank goodness for internet in the meantime.
    We are walking most days and yesterday discovered a new path. Only 34 yrs in Lasswade & we never walked it before! Downside was we had to cross an electric fence to get back to the road home…oops.
    Lots of love to you & Walt. So glad you are keeping well. G x

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    1. Thank you Gillian. Lovely hearing from you. Well done delivering school dinners. It feels strange just staying in the house and not doing anything to help but that is what we have been told to do! You have a wonderful garden and views and it’s a great feeling growing and eating your own food. I miss rhubarb! Wrong soil and climate here although it has been raining all day !
      How is your Mum? I see Sheila’s lovely photos of BofA .. great memories! Take care and live to all the family. Yxx

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  3. Felices pascuas (un poco tarde!), Yvonne. I’ve read your beautiful post several times and it says it all. What a very strange and troubling time we are living through. I’ve just watched Ingrid’s TED talk, she’s an incredible lady and how very brave and inspirational. Thank you for sharing the link. I think you are absolutely right that keeping busy and allowing ourselves moments of stillness are the ways to deal with the current situation and I have to admit, I am also spending minimal time reading reports on screens (I actually stopped listening to the news many years ago as I felt it had a very negative effect on my life). So, to positive things . . . your sourdough starter, hooray! It looks great and I bet those hot cross buns were delicious! Hope you’ve given it a name and talk lovingly to it when you feed it!!!!! 🙂 The problem for us here is a shortage of bread flour, we’re eking it out as best we can but there’s still nothing in the shops (it’s the only shortage, mind you). Your patio huerto looks grand, tell Walt all the best gardens are untidy, it’s part of their charm! The produce will be wonderful. Our garden is our sanity, we are so lucky to be able to spend time out there in the fresh air and sunshine tending everything and enjoying a gorgeous spring that so many people are missing. Your baby knitting is lovely and what better symbol of hope and optimism than a precious new grandchild? Abrazos xx

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    1. Buenas tardes Lis. It takes me a while to reply to messages at the moment.. I don’t know why but apologies and thank you for your lovely comments. I think I am slowing down generally and wonder how or if I will be able to communicate with people after all of this ! I still have 7 hrs a week teaching which is good although we were laughing today about our lack of conversation because we are ‘en casa’ and have not done anything to talk about!
      Why do you think flour is in short supply? I am using the basic harina de trigo for everything as that’s all there was in Mercadona. I still have some rye flour left for my starter but the organic on line shop in Alicante that I bought it from, is now out of stock!
      The mini huerto is coming along well.. I think I will have potatoes to harvest very soon! How are you ? Week 6.. who would have believed it? Missing our hikes in the hills!
      Take care. Yvonne xx

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