The Corona diaries – Week 2

Second week of curfew. For the first week, see here.

28 March 2020 (Saturday): Like Friday, Saturday came with awesome weather – Around 19 degrees Celsius and sunny. After a relatively slow morning, we went for a wonderful long hike that went through vineyards and forests near Würzburg. My husband plotted a circular route that comprised part of the Panoramaweg (Panorama route – through vineyards) and part of the Mainwanderweg (Main hiking trail – the Main is the river in the area). It was a good workout. My Fitbit says I did 12.5km, and there were quite a lot of hills. Not bad for a walk in the last month of pregnancy. There were no crowds; occasionally we passed other walkers or mountain bikers, at a safe distance. Most of the time we were completely alone. Continue reading

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The Corona diaries – week 1

For how this whole mess started, see my previous post, In the time of Corona.

20 March 2020 (Friday): As expected, our state (Bavaria) declared an “Ausgangssperre” (curfew), to begin at midnight on Friday the 20th March. A curfew is a regulation that requires people to stay indoors. Apparently the officials went for these measures because a lot of people have been ignoring the advice to avoid others (practice social distancing), and have continued to hang out in groups. The wonderful spring weather we had this week didn’t help – after months of grey skies and cold, everyone ran outside immediately. We did the same, going for nature walks on both days of the weekend, but we avoided contact with others. However, some young people were even having “Corona parties”. Crazy. So, now we all have a curfew. We’re allowed to leave home to go to work (if necessary), shopping for essentials (food, medicine etc), to the doctor, to help someone out, for animal care, and also for sports/walks/fresh air (since this is good for health). However, you can only hang out together with those you live with and nobody else. Continue reading

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Würzburg: A rough start

In the middle of November, my husband and I moved from Berlin to Würzburg to start our new jobs. I’d be lying if I said everything went smoothly and we adjusted easily to our new home.

Once you’ve been living in a place for a while, it’s interesting to go back and remember how you felt when you first moved there. For this reason, I kept a record of our first month in Würzburg. In future I’ll go back to more travel-oriented blog posts. Continue reading

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Life Update

This year I haven’t written many blog posts. I suppose there are many reasons why blogs suddenly go quiet. In my case, it wasn’t for lack of things to write about. We went on several exciting trips that I haven’t yet managed to post about (India last year in December, Iceland in March, Mauritius in November) and locally, we went on a lot of weekend or day trips within Germany or over the Czech border. So why the radio silence?

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8 things I miss at Christmas

I am a South African, living in Germany and married to a Czech. When you’re living away from your home country, for the most part you settle into a new daily routine, acquire new habits and generally get on with things. However there’s always going to be those times where you are reminded that you’re a bit of a square peg in a round hole. For me, Christmas is one of those times , because no matter how great the Christmas celebration is here, I always have that feeling that it’s just not 100% Christmas. Here are the things I miss most about my South African Christmas: Continue reading

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The Season Wheel turns

How many of you had to make a Season Wheel at school, where you divided a paper plate into quarters and drew a picture for spring, summer, autumn and winter? Growing up in Cape Town, you’d draw flowers for spring, sunshine for summer, falling leaves for autumn and rain for winter. Yet, it was only when I moved to Berlin that I really experienced the dramatic four seasons. In Cape Town it’s too warm for very strong autumn colours, there’s no snow, and there’s less flowering trees. I imagine if you grew up somewhere like Thailand or Senegal where it’s always warm, you’d draw your seasons very differently too, maybe with wet and dry, windy or stormy seasons.  And in some countries, it might rain all year round.

Rain clouds looming one summer day in Ireland

Right now it’s autumn in Berlin, and the trees are getting noticeably barer as the last of the golden leaves fall off. It starts getting darker by 3:30pm already and it looks like midnight by 5pm. We’re heading to the long, dark time of year. We had a great long summer this year, with warm temperatures starting in May and lasting right up till October. This was a big contrast to last year, when there was basically no summer, and it stayed cold and rainy throughout the year. This year winter was very long, but spring flew by very quickly as temperatures warmed up fast, leading to a long warm summer.  Autumn seemed fairly short as well, since the summer was so long.

Summer sunset in Brandenburg

As I haven’t posted any seasonal updates all year despite taking a gazillion leaf and flower pictures as usual, I thought I’d do a round up of the months and seasons before we enter winter, to show how the seasons look in central Europe. Unlike in English or German where the month names are derived from the names of Roman gods (e.g. March from Mars), numbers (e.g. September from septem, meaning seven) or the Caesars (e.g. July from Julius Caesar), in Czech, the month names are often related to the season. For fun (and because I should learn them) I thought I would list the Czech month names here too, along with their meanings. Note that in Czech the names of months are not capitalized. Continue reading

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Leaving home – again

We just returned from three weeks in South Africa – my home. After one week back at work, I’m already ALMOST back in Berlin mode, but arriving back to the cold and dark was difficult. Here were my thoughts the first day back.

It  never gets easier leaving home. As I walk down the tunnel onto the plane, my heart is kicking and screaming inside. But the reality is, I work away from home (South Africa) and my husband is European (Czech), so I can’t just pack up and leave Europe when I feel like it. As it came up in conversation with another South African-European couple over the weekend – one of you always has to make sacrifices. The family of one of you will always be far away. One of you has to live outside your comfort zone. There are times I regret ever coming to Europe in the first place, because now I feel I am stuck here – at least for the moment. Of course, I cannot regret meeting my husband, and I have enjoyed our travels around Europe. We live in Germany, and while there are plenty of things I like about the place, it’s just not home. I miss the blue skies and sunshine of South Africa, and the (mostly) relaxed, friendly people. Continue reading

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