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.

Meals: Breakfast: yoghurt, leftover birthday cake. Lunch: IKEA meatballs (we have some in the freezer) and mashed potatoes. Supper: Leftover pasta with pesto from Friday, bread and Obazda (cheese) spread.

29 March 2020 (Sunday): The time changed to summer time in the early hours of the morning…

That meant we had lost an hour, and it was quite late already by the time we were up. Although the weather was grey, we took an afternoon exercise walk from our apartment in Würzburg to the ring park, through the gardens of the Residenz Wurzburg (Würzburg Residence – the former palace) then back home. We visited the Residence gardens some weeks ago when a friend came to visit, and it was still quite wintry. Signs of springs are now there and things are starting to look prettier. The park has trees full of pink, white and yellow blossoms, and petals are strewn on the ground like Nature had a wedding.

At all gates to the Residence gardens, they had the following sign:

In the evening, the second COVID-19 death was announced in South Africa: an elderly man in Ladysmith, who seems to have picked it up on a trip to Kruger national park (probably due to the high number of tourists there from overseas). The first case in Khayelitsha (a large township in Cape Town) has also been announced. Really hope it doesn’t spread further there due to the crowded living conditions and poor access to sanitary facilities. Many people often live in one shack, and people from multiple homes share communal toilet/water facilities. It’s not an easy environment in which to self-isolate or stop the spread of illness.

Meals: Breakfast: yoghurt, leftover birthday cake. Lunch: homemade pizza with vegetables and tuna. Supper: hot dogs.

30 March 2020 (Monday): I had an appointment with the doctor early in the morning (baby checkup). Everything was fine. I noted a few small changes due to COVID-19: my hands were sprayed with disinfectant upon entering, magazines had been removed from the waiting room, chairs had been set far apart, the receptionist had a plastic shield in front of her desk. The “no handshakes” sign was there last time already. It was also quite quiet (only one other person there during the hour I was there), so presumably non-essential appointments were cancelled.

After getting home I was starving, and made toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches. I love these and would be happy to live on them for a couple of months!

Then it was time to do some work (unofficial work, since I’m already on maternity leave). My husband has home office again this week, and his company has said that everyone will probably work from home until at least the end of April. For lunch we made burgers. In the afternoon as usual I fought the urge to take a nap. And lost. So now I’m going to take a nap.

I wanted to bake something, but we’ve run out of sugar, so I’ll have to wait till the next trip to the supermarket.

Meals: Breakfast: yoghurt. Second breakfast (after Dr’s appointment): toasted cheese and tomato sandwich. Lunch: homemade burgers with salad. Supper: burgers with salad (we made 4 patties at lunchtime). Snacks: naartjies (mandarines), prunes, bananas.

31 March 2020 (Tuesday): A slow start today. Some nights I don’t sleep so well because of gastric reflux (quite common in late pregnancy, apparently). Even after taking Gaviscon before bed, I have to sleep with my head quite high, which gets uncomfortable on the back. So I need to rotate between sides fairly often. My yearly pollen allergies have also started already. But as we’re mostly inside, they are not that bad this year at all. I only notice it sometimes when we open the windows to air the apartment, or go for a walk.

So… I spent the morning just reading news and checking messages. Then got a start on the puzzle. The first task is to sort out the edges. But there are so many pieces I have the feeling I’d need an extension to the curfew to get it done.

More toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches for lunch. Small pleasures!

We’ll have to go shopping later because we don’t have much fresh food (fruit and veg) left. By “we” I mean my husband, as he doesn’t want me go to the supermarket in case I catch the coronavirus.

I’m feeling a bit like this…

I actually managed to get some work done in the afternoon, maybe because lunch was not so heavy. In more good news, the number of new cases in Germany and in our state, Bavaria, seems to be going down. We’ll have to wait a few more days to see if it stays like that, but maybe the shutdown is working. In Bavaria the curfew started on the 21  March, so we are on Day 11 now. The last I heard, it had been extended up until the 19th April.

Yesterday I did not go for an exercise walk, and today by the evening my feet were very swollen. We went out for an exercise walk anyway, but had to make it a short one because soon I could hardly walk. Putting my feet under cold water once I got home helped to reduce the swelling. Tomorrow I’ll have to make the effort to go for a walk again. On our walk we came across this:

In the evening, we made a start on the 3000 piece puzzle. It’s quite intimidating and I doubt we’ll be finished before the curfew ends. I started by sorting out all of the edges, and my husband started to piece together the edge while I worked on the balloons (the only red thing in the picture, making it relatively easy to find those pieces). I can recommend puzzle-building to those also in some kind of lockdown – you have to focus quite intensely so the time passes quickly.

Meals: Breakfast: yoghurt, prunes. Lunch: toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches. Supper: fish fingers and potatoes. 

1 April 2020 (Wednesday):

Last night I had problems with gastric reflux again, so had to try to sleep almost sitting up. As a result my foot swelling didn’t decrease as much as I’d hoped in the night, so in the morning I stayed longer in bed in a flatter position to get the swelling down a bit. It worked, but as soon as I stand or sit for a while they swell again. Will have to put my feet up more regularly and try to go for a longer walk today. They don’t look as bad as some photos I’ve seen online, but it’d be nice to be able to walk a bit further without the feet and legs going on strike.

I used to have ankles…

My husband went to the nearby supermarket before lunch, but there was a queue at the door so he came home again. It should be emptier later. For lunch, based on what was left in our fridge, I made a quiche. The good thing about quiche is that you can throw any leftover vegetables etc. into it. It’s actually quite quick to make if you use ready-made pastry. I didn’t even bake the pastry blind first, as I read that if you heat up a baking tray before you put the pan onto it in the oven, and make sure to prick the pastry case with a fork before adding the filling, it cooks along with the rest of the quiche. This worked fine.

After lunch I wanted to continue working on a research paper, but instead ending up doing some of the puzzle. It’s huge…it’ll take a while.

Then in the afternoon, despite my swollen feet, we went for an exercise walk. I put on my biggest shoes, which are some older boots, one of which has a hole. This helped a lot compared to yesterday as they weren’t as tight as the other shoes, so I managed to walk a bit further. I think I’ll have to order some bigger shoes online if I’m going to survive the next month with jumbo feet.

Before the walk we checked the postbox, and there was a letter for me from the health department. It was a generic letter sent to many people, and said that a department from one of the local hospitals (where I am registered for the birth) had informed them that from the 5th March I could have had possible contact with one or more SARS-Cov2 infected people. In case I, or anyone I’d been in contact with since the 7th March, had developed symptoms (here followed a list), I should call them. Well, this would be unsettling, except for these things: 1) I was only at that hospital one time, on the 18th March, for my pre-birth registration appointment. This suggests they just sent the letter to everyone on their patient list at that department. Maybe some of their staff members turned out to be infected? 2) It’s been 2 weeks since that 18 March appointment, and I’ve had no symptoms (I’ve also been at home since then, apart from the walks where we’ve dodged everyone anyway). Good that they are trying to track cases though.

My husband tried again with the sourdough bread. The second attempt tasted good but the crust was also hard as a rock. He figured out he was using the wrong flour, so not sure whether there will be an attempt 3. it tastes good though. Someone asked me for a photo, so here it is.

The amount of new cases in Germany is similar to yesterday, so the curve seems to be flattening…let’s see in a week or so. South Africa also hasn’t reported many new cases, so apparently there’s a testing backlog, so it will be important to observe the trend over the next week or two.

My husband tried to go shopping a second time in the afternoon but there was still a queue. Then he went again later in the evening and it was emptier, so we finally got some fresh things. And chocolate, thank goodness! While he was out, I decorated one of our houseplants for Easter, since flower shops, markets etc. are closed so it’s impossible to buy any branches to make an Easter tree.

Meals: Breakfast: yoghurt, prunes. Lunch: quiche. Supper: bread with homemade guacamole.

2 April 2020 (Thursday): Every day I plan to start being productive (i.e. working on my research papers) a bit earlier, but every day I end up starting very slowly. Today was the same. I spent too much time reading news articles and answering messages. By the time I’m more or less dressed, have had breakfast and ready to work it’s time to start making lunch. And so goes half the day. I know I shouldn’t feel stressed about it because I’m officially on maternity leave, but I’d still like to get something more productive done.

Today I made pizza with mushrooms, aubergine and red pepper for lunch. I’ve realized that the main constituents of my diet are bread (or other starches), cheese, fruit and vegetables.

After lunch I did a bit more of the puzzle. Something is clearly wrong because the edges don’t meet up…but I guess we will figure that out eventually. Also did some foot exercises, and in the evening we went for another walk. This time my feet and legs held up. After dinner, we worked a bit more on the puzzle.

Meals: Breakfast: leftover quiche. Lunch: Pizza, physalis (Cape Gooseberries). Supper: Pasta with pesto. Snacks: banana, prunes.

3 April 2020 (Friday)

Today is the end of our second week of curfew. The weeks go quite quickly actually. I don’t know where the days go – I felt like I had more time when I was at work.

Today I tried to make rusks for the first time, using a recipe my mom sent me. It’s quite easy and the rusks turned out quite nicely. (For non-South Africans: a rusk is a dried biscuit-type thing that you dip in your tea or coffee). The recipe was for buttermilk rusks, but I added some muesli. Rusks are baked in two steps: after the first bake they are scone-like, and then you dry them out at a low temperature for a few hours. I kept some to eat as scones as well.

That was pretty much the only productive thing I did today. Feet are still swollen. We went for another short walk. The feet held up but my back got a bit sore, as I seem to get bigger by the day.

Afterwards my husband went for a bike ride and saw this:

And so ends the second week of curfew. Today, recorded cases of COVID-19 went over the 1 million mark world-wide. In Germany today there were 4657 new cases and 101 deaths (according to the World-o-meter website). That’s a higher number of deaths than previous days. There are also a lot more people now listed as being serious or critical. I read that some more old age homes had outbreaks, which always increases the number of deaths because the elderly (particularly those frail enough to be in old age homes) are more susceptible to severe COVID-19 disease. South Africa is on 1505 recorded cases and 7 deaths. I really hope the numbers stay down.

Meals: Breakfast: Croissant (baked from frozen), yoghurt, banana. Lunch: frankfurters and bread. Supper: goulash.


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