The Corona Diaries – Week 3

Third week at home under curfew rules, which should last until the 19 April. If they don’t extend it…

4 April 2020 (Saturday): The weekends are not representative of my weekdays, obviously, so all of these posts start with the best two days of the week. In the weekends our routine is to take a short drive to the countryside around Würzburg to do walks (still allowed in Germany).  It’s only a 15 minute drive to fields, forests and vineyards – an advantage of living in a small town. I’ve realized that these walks are essential for keeping my pregnancy-related foot/leg swelling down, since they’re always less fat the day after a longer walk. We prefer walking in the countryside as it’s harder to avoid other people in town, and walks often involve a lot of road crossing. Of course, it’s also much prettier and more relaxing in the countryside.

On Saturday we drove to the a forest on the outskirts of Würzburg, Guttenberger Wald, where we’d walked two weekends before. This time we tried some trails on the other side of the road. Since two weeks ago, a whole lot of little white flowers have popped up on the forest floor – Snowdrop Anemones.

We also came across an area full of Bärlauch (wild garlic). The plants didn’t have flowers yet, and as their leaves can be confused with those of the poisonous Lily-of-the-Valley, we didn’t gather any, though they make a tasty pesto or risotto. But we saw somebody else gathering some already. You can recognize Bärlauch by the typical garlicky smell of the leaves, but that means you have to smell each leaf. Otherwise the leaves look very similar to those of Lily-of-the-Valley, but grow in a slightly different pattern. From previous walks we’ve noticed that these look-alike plants often grow close together, too.

I bought a pair of bigger shoes online since I could barely fit any of my old shoes on anymore. The new shoes arrived on Friday so I got to try them out in the weekend. They made a huge difference to my foot comfort, as did wearing loose socks. I’ve found that actually the socks constricting my legs are what causes the most pain when walking. Unfortunately most of my socks have elastic on top, and only some old ones allow for pain-free walks. Other than wearing bigger shoes and loose socks, taking regular rests helps the feet, and luckily the forests are full of tree stumps and logs.

In the evening we did some more work on the puzzle. We’ve also started watching “Cable Girls” on Netflix. It’s a Spanish show dubbed into English, set in Madrid, and it’s a bit soap-opera like, but it keeps you watching.

Meals: Breakfast: (Way too many) rusks with coffee, yoghurt. Lunch: toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches (husband had leftover goulash). Supper: pancakes, using leftover buttermilk from the rusks.

5 April 2020 (Sunday): I was happy to wake up and find my feet were much less swollen after the previous day’s walk. For today’s walk, we took a short drive to the countryside around Sommerhausen (a town just outside Würzburg in the Würzburg district). We parked in the parking lot of the local zoo, which is closed now, but has animals such as deer, boars and farm animals, and headed into the nearby forest. To our surprise, after walking 5-10 minutes, we bumped into an elderly couple, each walking a llama on a lead. Wish I’d been brave enough to ask for a photo!

After that promising start, the rest of the hike turned out to be great as well. The route my husband mapped went through some forest and then to the wide-open countryside, where we enjoyed the sunny weather. There were some other walkers and cyclists out and about too, but it was always easy to avoid them in such wide open spaces.

The only part where it was trickier to avoid people was on a short stretch where our route joined the Panoramaweg (Panorama trail) and the path became narrower. Luckily there were side paths to viewpoints off the main trail where we could wait for people to pass. The views over Sommerhausen and the vineyards were beautiful.

After this section, we ended up on emptier paths again, that traversed the vineyards, and after a short climb we got back to the car. Another satisfying day of fresh air and sunshine.

In the evening I made a South African dish (bobotie) and we watched the Queen’s speech about the pandemic, and then more of Cable Girls. It’s amazing all that the Queen has lived through. Boris Johnson is already her 14th prime minister, and she’s seen people like Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher come and go. She must have an interesting perspective.


Meals: Breakfast: Yoghurt, croissant with jam. Lunch: Asparagus and mushroom risotto. (It’s asparagus season). Supper: Bobotie and rice. Snacks: Dried fruit.

6 April 2020 (Monday):

Another day that just disappeared. I didn’t sleep well at night, so stayed in bed longer in the morning. Did a bit more of the puzzle. Read news. We went for a short exercise walk – the magnolias are blooming properly now; the forsythia flowers and some of the other blossoms are starting to die off. The loveliness of spring always passes by too quickly.

In the evening, we heard that the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, had been admitted to intensive care. I wondered if it would go that way when I heard he still had symptoms after 10 days.

Meals: Breakfast: Rusks dipped in coffee. Lunch: leftover bobotie and rice. Supper: homemade pan pizza in 2 halves (Due Staggioni!): one with bacon and banana and one with bacon, mushrooms and eggplant). Snacks: banana, physalis, prunes.

7 April 2020 (Tuesday):

Slept better. Worked on this blog post. Did a bit of work on a research paper. Corrected some misinformation on Facebook. There’s a lot of misinformation on social media and normally I avoid commenting on such posts as you get sucked down a rabbit hole, but this time I couldn’t help myself since I’ve actually worked extensively on the topic being discussed and the information posted was SO wrong. The original poster seemed to appreciate the information instead of arguing about it, which was a relief. The problem these days is that everyone’s an armchair scientist/epidemiologist/infectious disease specialist. People often post completely uninformed opinions or thoughts and share misinformation without even realizing the harm this can do. Sometimes I think the “share” function on Facebook is the worst thing ever invented. Correcting all the misinformation would be a full time job, and often people don’t listen anyway, so usually I don’t bother.

Something more fun from Facebook (created by Jess Harwood Art and Illustration):

David Kramer and co. have made an updated version of “Welcome to Cape Town”, which my aunt shared with me this morning. For some cheerful Cape Town music you can watch it here. Which reminds me of something else I came across recently:

If anything, this epidemic has shown the value of all the different things people do, including the artists mentioned above. Doctors and nurses are of course thanked, since they work directly with patients. For some reason, everyone seems to forget the scientists, who have identified the virus and its origin, developed diagnostic tests, tracked the infections, and are working tirelessly on cures and vaccines, and the medical technologists who run countless diagnostic tests in labs. These people are also often exposed to infectious materials, as are other healthcare workers such as hospital janitors and cleaners.

But at least people are starting to appreciate other people more: those who work in shops and on farms so that we can still buy food, pharmacists, those who deliver parcels and post, those who collect the garbage and keep the streets clean, those who drive the buses and trains, the police and army members: all of whom are also exposed to the public and therefore at risk. There are too many jobs to mention here, but the point is that we are all interconnected, and everyone is important. I hope that after this is all over, and time has passed, people will remember to keep appreciating each other.

Speaking of groceries, my husband went shopping in the evening, and there wasn’t a single egg left on the shelf. Nothing else was stockpiled though. It seems it’s just because it’s Easter this weekend and everyone wants to decorate some eggs. I actually thought Easter was next weekend – my sense of time has gone obviously. Pity about the eggs, as I wanted to make another quiche.

At least Easter eggs are not in short supply.

Meals: Breakfast: yoghurt and rusks with coffee. Lunch: mango chicken with rice. Supper: Bread with guacamole and bread with obazda.

8 April 2020 (Wednesday): Didn’t sleep well last night for some reason, so had a nap in the morning. Spent the rest of the morning discussing with someone about bats and coronaviruses. For an interesting article on a researcher studying coronaviruses in bats, see here.

Photo from

In support of local farmers, my husband ordered a fresh veggie/fruit box. They put seasonal vegetables in it, or whatever is in their stock. In the box this week was: Bärlauch (wild garlic) leaves (yay!), parsnips, a swede, potatoes, a leek, apples, watercress, carrots and red Feldsalat (had to google what this is in English since I only know the German name – apparently it’s called Lamb’s lettuce, Corn salad or field salad).

My feet were quite swollen by the afternoon – they get swollen when sitting at the desk – but I wore big socks so they were ok for the walk. Here’s today’s walk photo:

Meals: Breakfast: Yoghurt and the last of the rusks. Lunch: pasta with red pesto. Supper: fish fingers with roasted parsnips, carrots and potatoes.

9 April 2020 (Holy Thursday, or Gründonnerstag in German):

We found eggs, but not yeast, in any form. It’s a pity because I’ve been wanting to make hot cross buns for the Easter weekend, but yeast has been sold out for ages in Germany now – the hamsters must have stockpiled it. Every time in about the last month since my husband’s done shopping, there hasn’t been any available. I guess I will try some kind of baking powder-based dough recipe for the buns.

My husband was delighted to find out that our favourite local Greek restaurant just up the road is now doing takeaways. He immediately ordered by phone and got some for lunch today. It was nice not to have to cook for a change and we’d like to support their business since it’s tough on all the restaurants having to be closed now.

Aubergine and courgette baked with cheese, and potatoes with tzatziki

Had a doctor’s appointment today, and on the bathroom door there was a notice that there is no hand disinfectant in the bathroom because people had been stealing it. Crazy – imagine stealing from your doctor’s office!

Apparently in Germany, Holy Thursday is known as Gründonnerstag (Green Thursday), and people try to eat something green. This is similar in Czech Republic as apparently they drink green beer. You can read more about German Easter traditions here. Last year I also wrote a bit about Easter in the Czech Republic:

Visiting the Easter market in Brno, Czech Republic

It is now really warm here in Würzburg, with temperatures around 23 degrees Celsius most days. It’s great but unfortunately I don’t have any summer clothes here apart from a few T-shirts – most of my things are still in Berlin, and we’re not supposed to do unnecessary travel. Here are some photos from today’s exercise walk:

Meals: Breakfast: Yoghurt. Lunch: Greek food (takeaway). Supper: bread and cheese (obazda and cream cheese).

10 April 2020 (Good Friday):

Another week finished again. Where does the time go? How is it possible that being less busy makes the time go faster? Am I the only one who hasn’t had a chance to feel bored yet?

Last Easter, we did a 4-day bike ride in Brandenburg with some friends. It was a wonderful trip – those were the days! However, even without this coronavirus pandemic, such a ride would have been out of the question this year, since I’m already over 37 weeks pregnant.

Easter weekend cycling from Havelberg to Waren

Today is Good Friday. Nowadays they seem to sell hot cross buns in the shops all year round in South Africa, but when I was growing up they only sold them around Easter, and we used to wait until Good Friday to eat them, which made them more special. Good Friday morning was always special, as my mom used to grill some hot cross buns and butter them, and that was the first hot cross buns we had for the year. You can’t buy them in Germany, so I wanted to make some, but finding yeast is very difficult at the moment. So…I looked up some yeast-free recipes online and combined them to make faux hot cross buns. They looked a bit weird but they tasted nice.

Before cooking. After cooking the crosses weren’t very visible.

In the afternoon we did another short walk. It’s amazing how the trees change from day to day, with more and more of them showing leaves and blossoms.

The weather was so good that in the evening we decided to use the electric grill on the balcony, and grill some sausages. We sat outside and even after sunset it wasn’t very cold. First BBQ of the summer!

And so ended the third week of curfew.

Meals: Breakfast: pastries from the bakery, yoghurt. Lunch: Risotto with aspargus and wild garlic (Bärlauch). Tea-time: hot cross buns. Supper: grilled sausages and potato salad.

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