Wednesday, March 31, 2021

11 on the 11th

Before we say goodbye to March - a quick tribute to the belle of the March ball...

Post swim hair, hot chocolate and croquet on recent camping trip.

This girl turned 11 on the 11th.

We went in to lockdown with a freshly minted 10 yr old - getting tweeny, but still very much a child - but in a year we've developed a tall, leggy, adventurous, hilarious, mature and even funnier big girl and I'm here for it.

She had a small party at the beginning of the month. Our lockdown has been so hugely eased and our numbers so very low at the moment, that it felt like a golden moment to seize - and so we did. 5 best friends, watermelon, cake and the neighbours pool - it made her so happy and also a wee bit nostalgic ('Remember when swimming with 5 friends wasn't a birthday treat Mum, when it could just be a normal Saturday?')

Crown Cake for a Crown Birthday

This child - with her hilarious comedic timing which has us all in stiches, her growing interest in food and trying new things, her beautiful singing voice, her deep love for her little cousins, her persecution complex that we favour her sister (we've taken to playing an imaginary tiny violin every time she mentions it - to her credit she thinks it's hilarious), her ability to still occasionally cause a massive scene about very little, her still-favoured panda bear stuffy that she sleeps with every night, her growing interest in the world and deep (sometimes difficult) questions about race, crime, sex and world events.

She's a keeper, our little star

Friday, March 26, 2021


Thurs 25 March

It's warm, hot actually, and perfectly still outside. Not a ripple on the lake save those from the departing tail feathers of a lazy water bird.

It's Lockdown Weather (I think we might always call it that), and it feels uneasy.

Is it okay to claim PTSD if nothing really, really bad happened to you? Or is living through a lockdown, a pandemic, bad enough?

For like some kind of PTSD this feeling the last few weeks has been one of caution. Lightly skim over the emotions from This Time Last Year and they're manageable, weird but controllable - linger on them and you realise there's some black dogs lurking there.

A few weeks back it was the anniversary of the last day I did my job properly. The last day I spent in a venue with a group of people from various parts of the world, meeting and working together to advance a mechanism to tackle social injustice.

It was as the wave was breaking and things were changing every day. Some of the delegates pulled out at the last minute, opting not to travel. Some wore masks on their flights - the only ones in a packed airplane. The Sierra Leoneans joked that a few years back they were persona non grata (Ebola) and this time it was the Italians. We sanitized the pen in between registrations. The day after the event the WHO declared Covid-19 a global pandemic and the world started closing down. It felt like we'd slid through just as the gate slammed shut behind us.

The anniversary of that day was hard. I deeply miss my work. Yes, the income, obviously - there are few feelings as good as a whack of hard-earned FOREX landing in your account - but more than that, the purpose, the identity.

Similar to when a person dies, or leaves, there's a version of you which goes with them. That Molly has been missing for a year now, and I'm not sure whether we'll ever see her again.

I did a yoga class that pandeversary morning, tears leaking out the corners of my eyes, I came home and prepped for an important birthday the next day. I chuckled remembering how last year I got stuck in my car, full of helium balloons, on the way home from that event, on the other side of town waiting for the power to come back on so I could fill up with fuel and get home - I remembered how I thought that was hard, and frustrating, how trapped I felt then. I had no idea.

Fri 26 March

Every day these last few weeks has been a 'do you remember', a 'this day last year' - the whole world's been doing it. Every emotion is shared, yet also deeply personal.

This day last year we were going into hard lockdown. Today was the last day we could move unrestricted and from midnight tonight we were in what one of my friends recently referred to as Le Grande Slowdown.

Then this was deeply weird and cut through with the strangest mix of adrenalin and uselessness. This year, with some small glimmer of light on the horizon, this is deeply weird and cut through with a mix of grief and optimism. 

Realistically I think my career path has changed forever, and the loss there cuts deep. Idealistically in some ways we are facing a brave new world, and that's exciting. But for now, as we shadow-walk beside the versions of ourselves from a year ago, the emotions are big ones - and we should acknowledge them.

And as always, there's a meme for this...

Thursday, February 25, 2021

flu, but not THAT flu

Honestly, what kind of loser gets a different flu during a flu pandemic?



The beaches finally opened, earlier than expected on the 2nd of Feb. And as if the gods had decided to  finally cut us some slack it was the most magnificent summers day. We swam twice!

And twice more that week - long luxurious swims in which the ocean embraced us like a long-lost lover and we couldn't bring ourselves to leave (you say goodbye first, no you say goodbye first) until we finally returned to land with shriveled toes and water-logged ears.

That Saturday we spent at one of our favourite places on earth - swimming and picnicking with my parents (all outdoors) and friends. It was a magical summery day and one of those rare moments in which everything felt peaceful and okay, just for a minute.

And then the next morning - sick.

Fever, chills, body ache, headaches. Restless sweaty nights and fevered dreams, concerns about having infected my parents and the girls not being able to start long-awaited school. The dreaded nasal swab, the wait, a negative Covid test. Wtf?

Help from friends to get the last minute school prep done, infinite patience and care from my lovely husband, long horrible disjointed nights and tedious days moving from bed to couch to bed.

A full week of fevers, another full week of recovery, a gradual return to functionality... I still need an afternoon lie-down, I still can't fathom exercising, or drinking wine, I still get dizzy standing up too fast. Vit B jabs in the butt ('You don't have any extra vaccines lying around do you?' ha ha joke to the clinic sister who's probably heard it many times already). 

That one magical week of summer has gained almost fantasy status in my memory. The weather is icky now and the sea rough and cold. But the summer is not over, good weather and more swims lie ahead.

I just... really can't believe that wasn't Covid? Antibody testing in a couple of weeks I think...

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

a swim in the sea

Of all the incredible things happening in our lives at the moment - curfew, alcohol ban, academic year delays, mandatory masks (all currently extended until mid February) - the most incredulous must be that a swim, in the sea, in mid summer, is illegal - and a blog-worthy event.

The conditions weren't optimum. In 'normal' times we might have reconsidered.
Foamy, cold, big swell out to sea pushing the current vigorously in and out. A little overcast, a brisk breeze, rumours of blue bottles.

But having walked in, down sandy paths worn in by abalone poachers through high dune brush - quietly past the house of the man renown for calling the cops, quickly past the place where snakes have been frequently spotted - down a long dune, through a hole in the barb-wire fence, finally out on to the beautiful coast path, finally out of sight of the town.
Having walked in, and longed for this for so many weeks, we didn't hesitate.

Gasping at the cold, shoo'ing the foam ahead of us to try and look out for rocks, shrieking at unseen kelp brushing up against our legs, and then we were in.

And it was...profound.

And for all the reasons listed above, I think it was the best swim of my life.