Days 3442-3528, 6 May-31 July 2021, The Beat
Potts Point, New South Wales
And the beat goes on... and the beat goes on (and on and on and on). Once upon a time, in the before covid times, 2019BC, I often wrote every day. Sometimes every week or few. Rarely every month or so. But that was before. Times have changed and certainly become interesting - though less in the interesting sense and more so in the Confucian sense. So now I'm down to once in almost 3 months.
Life returned to a semi-normal state for a while there. Given that we're locked away in Koala-stan for our own safety (also found Aus-ca-traz mildly amusing). I was fully vaccinated by the first week in June - which stands for nothing given the state of Australia's stroll-out (but still - exceedingly happy about it). James's vaccination is a work in progress, due to be finished shortly. We went to a fabulous Tony award winning musical called Come from Away on Sunday 13 June in a packed theatre and mask free. And then a daft and murderous limo driver decided that a FedEx crew from the USA didn't merit him wearing a mask. And life came to a grinding halt. Our very first chance to enjoy a Sydney lockdown. Yippee-kai-ay. And that's definitely in the 'Die Hard' sense of the phrase. Well that be the highlights package. Now for the details/schmetails on a monthly basis.
MAY - Everything seemed quite 'on the up' by May. We'd enjoyed a trip to the Opera on the Harbour, we'd been out for dinner at actual restaurants and we'd been to the Broadway musical, Frozen. We were in fact gadding about quite happily. We went to the movies (De Gaulle - fascinating). and, on Monday 10 May, our beloved premier announced that 40-49 year olds could register for any 'left over' doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Coincidentally our first night of dancing. I broke the land speed record signing on to that list. Just 3 nights later I received an email as we were walking down the street, inviting me to make an actual appointment starting as of Monday 17th. We have quite structured Mondays at the moment due to picking up a season of Ballroom and Latin dancing with our old dance studio. Something we hadn't done since the impact of the GFC back in 2008/09. I wasn't keen on vaccine side effects hitting during the hard yakka so booked in, then and there, at the side of the road for an appointment on Tuesday morning. I was so excited my hands were shaking and I burst into tears. Literally. THAT keen for vaccination.
Meanwhile, back on the ranch, the end of the week saw James spend another luxurious afternoon in the salubrious surrounds of our dentist's chair having his gorgeous new crown fitted. It was within days of paying this bill using HICAPS/instant claim and the balance on the credit card, that we learned a new points earning trick. Like d'oh. Stand there like good children and pay the whole thing on the credit card... then, sit on the waiting room sofa, use the app to claim online and get the same amount back into your account within a few days... and all those lovely frequent flyer points from paying the full amount on the card. We don't miss many tricks, but had been missing this one and paying for the convenience of HICAPS. Ah well. It almost felt like shopping.
We love online shopping. Not actual full price shopping of course... afterall 'never ever pay retail' is engraved in our mindsets. So immediately after our first ballroom dancing lession on 10 May we hit Ebay to see if we could get some replacement dancing shoes for James (his did not survive the trauma of long term storage). As luck would have it, we found a bloke with the exact same size and width of foot selling some Australian made, leather dancing shoes. Bravo! Bought those for $30 odd (delivered). Same thing new? $180. I accidentally bought some for myself as well... a slightly lower heel than my original pair and only $30 odd as well. Brilliant! We both bought our original, handmade pairs from a shop in Randwick called Salvios. It had been in the dancing shoe business for decades but when we looked to see when they would be open, we discovered that ship had sailed about 6 years ago. They were finally forced out of business by cheap imports - who'll pay $120-180 odd for something that will last forever when you can cough up $20-30 online and lose a heel within minutes and injure yourself in the process with the stresses placed on a shoe during a couple of hours of heavy duty dancing. Anyway. Saved by Ebay. Very impressively, we had our new-to-us pairs in our hands by Lesson 2 on 17 May.
Things we love about dancing? Obviously the dancing, the music, the fitness and all that jazz. But it gives us more than one outing per week as we don't like to eat before the kick off time of 7 pm and can't be bothered to eat by the time we get home at 9.30 pm. So we religiously go out for lunch on Mondays. Usually a walk in the morning, then our local 'fave' cafe for a couple of homemade burgers and chips, followed by a feets up in the afternoon then off to Paddington for 2 hours of solid hard work come 6 pm. We have lunch at 1 pm or so and it keeps us going until breakfast the following day. Just so yummy.
Having booked my vaccination in out at the Homebush mass vax hub, 5 sleeps seemed to take forever. Therefore it was quite the adventure when we jumped on the train - Kings Cross to Townhall to Lidcombe to Olympic Park - quite the 'cut lunch and a waterbottle' type of outing. Thoroughly over-excited and overly early. The queues were massive but mainly due to people making sure they were on time by turning up early... like us. An incredibly slick operation - we were both so impressed given this joint was an empty commercial space just a few short weeks ago. It was probably over excitement vs. actual side effects - but I was quite tired on the way home and - this would have been actual side effects - pretty zonked for 7 full days - to the minute almost. Dancing on the following Monday evening was almost a writeoff when it came to lerning new steps - brain fog indeed - didn't matter how many times somewthing was demonstrated, it just would not sink in. However by the following Tuesday I was 100% and well on the way to being vaccinated.
Post-vax exhausted week also included my birthday and we had a lovely day trip-trip-tripping around the city, visiting some haunts, had a light lunch (in preparation for dinner...), received a stunning/fabulous/gorgeous ring for my collection of bling. Altogether a lovely birthday though sincerely hope that we are elsewhere for my next birthday. Paris would be nice but ABH (anywhere but here) is fine. We finished the day with an outing to one of our local Thai joints. All good.
As part of being virulently pro-vaccination, I organised my NZ family to get their vaccinations and felt very productive. We've had a squillion vaccines over the years - absolute pin cushion - and a very clever nurse, many years ago, said in order to avoid my arm swelling up like a grapefruit - to rub the spot gently for as long as you can be bothered after the injection (hours even just as long as you can and as you remember to do it). Swelling happens to me no matter what - flu, tetanus, typhoid, yellow fever, Japanese Encephalitis... whatever. Apparently it helps the liquid disperse into the muscle - instead of pooling and turning into a big, hard lump. Nowadays nurses and multiple others say 'ooh don't do that, it'll bruise' - but hey - the advice worked well for both of us over the years. James tends to react less to vaccines generally - but still does the arm rubbings - 'out of an abundance of caution' of course.
We went for a long walk to Paddy's market for a big stock up and, and after that, positively knackered, crawled into bed for a very long Saturday arvo nap. Not a doona-day... but a very solid doona afternoon. Too tired to watch anything demanding - so rewatched The Interpreter (much better than we remembered) and the final of The Blacklist. Sunday (still tired) but we went to the city on the bus and jumped off in Pyrmont. We explored down to Walsh Bay and surrounds and then walked to Circular Quay taking in the various sculptures in a bay side exhibition before I conked out... then we took a bus home. Easy viewing still required - Jaws! Such a brilliant movie - and has aged exceedingly well.
The highlight of late May (26th in fact) was a total lunar eclipse / blood moon extravaganza. The last time this happened we were in southern Spain and it was quite special. We tootled out early in the evening for an Indian feast at the British Colonial joint on Crown street and made it home well in time for the eclipse. We think the blood moon we saw in Spain was somewhat different and certainly bloodier. if nothing else this one was a very slow affair - about 90 minutes from go to whoa. Still interesting. Quite nippy up on the roof but fine (so we popped up every 20 minutes or so to check on progress - an eclipse via multiple lift trips).
Whilst days blend quite seamlessly for us, we know weekends are still a nice time to be out and about and enjoy the local buzz. We purposely do our hunting party to Paddy's Market on a Friday for all our fruit and veges so that we can visit our local organic/artisan market on a Saturday. It has a fun vibe and we often sit at the fountain and listen to a great jazz trio. 29 May saw the market change it up and it was actually a 'press the flesh' neighbourhood type day for the Kings Cross cop shop and they had a 4 sax band providing the tunes. Including one that we actually could recognise now - the theme from Frozen, the musical. All good. Was a chilly weekend altogether and the colder it is the further we venture including up to the Centennial Park end of Oxford street and all the way through the boonies of Woollahra to home. And so endeth the month of May.
JUNE - Not a bad month all round. We went to the new Disney movie Cruella down at Circular Quay - really loved it - will probably see it again on Netflix or iTunes at some point but it was grand to see it on the big screen. James has found a local physio who's helping with a vintage back complaint - all part of ensuring we are rip-snorting ready to go when that is finally an option - and it's working - which is a huge bonus. He also had his first vaccine on 4 June - so that's now a work in progress. Lots of walking kept us off the streets (though obviously on the streets) and dancing continued to be great fun. We were even scheming how to do a half term to fit around our forthcoming 3 week housesitting trip to Tasmania - scheduled for 11 July.
8 June came around very fast and it was 3 weeks since my first shot and time for another exciting outing to Olympic Park for the second shot. And there were no queues - amazing! What's with that? We were in and out in the space of 30 minutes. We were so quick, the return train trip was free. Really hope people aren't holding off on vaccination because it's 'not in the community'. Possibly my least favourite phrase. Right up there with 'in these unprecedented times' and 'out of an abundance of caution'. General advice seems that if side effects are experienced with Pfizer - they'll hit after the 2nd shot - so we were prepared - fridge stocked, nothing scheduled until next dancing day. As it turned out - just 24 hours of the 'walking through concrete' feeling then right as rain. It took a couple of days for the vax to register on the immunisation register - then woo hoo! Digital Covid Certificate issued. One day it will mean something but meanwhile I feel so safe, positively bullet proof.
We had a red letter day on 10 June. It was the coldest day in Sydney in 37 years! The metro area reached a daytime maximum of only 10.3 degrees (40 degrees Farenheit) and since our neighbour is seemingly demolishing their apartment ahead of a completely unnecessary renovation, we had to get out of the house - ice age or no ice age. We even had our 'big' coats out - bunny fur and shearling respectively. With Sydney's traditionally tropical weather, it seems many people do not own big coats (or even little coats). There were a great many pinched faces in evidence as we walked into the city and enjoyed the chilly weather. Not expecting to use our big coats again any time soon.
13 June - A fabulous day altogether. We trundled into the city, back to our old favourite, the Capitol Theatre, for the Tony award winning musical, Come from Away. Apparently it had a really good run in Melbourne back in 2019 while we were away... so no wonder we hadn't heard of it. BRILLLIANT! OUTSTANDING - toe tapping, tears, all the dreadful memories of Sept 11 2001. Amazing show. For the first time in a very long while, life was normal. The theatre appeared to be at capacity. Outstanding day.
16 June - And then the music stopped and a whole lot of people were left without chairs. We had spent the day in the city and as we were leaving a building via an elevator with 5 people in it we heard about a new case having been reported in Bondi Junction. Far, far too close to home - like 2 train stops away.
17 June - next door's renovation (AKA 'The Demolition from Hell') was doing our heads in big time. We thought the noise and vibration was going to see our walls collapsing around us. We went out for a Thai lunch, visited a bookstall, took a long, long walk up Oxford Street and back. Fresh air and sunshine and thankfully the noise was over by the time we ventured home.
18 June - We so enjoyed our Oxford Street jaunt yesterday, we figured out Crown Street would be a good adventure as well. It had been years since we last visited Crown Street - all good stuff. Renovation still not underway - just ongoing pure destruction. May never finish at this rate - they'll have our walls down before they get a new bathroom and kitchen in there.
19 June - Rain! Actual wetness from the actual sky! Quite wet indeed. We headed out on one of our regular walking routes and decided to visit the Five Ways Festival in Paddington. The weather was a shame for them as it has been so incredibly fine up to now. On the same note, very lucky that 'Limo Driver / Bondi Junction Man' wasn't out and about spewing virus this week. This turned out to be the last day we voluntarily visited a supermarket. Who knew...
20 June - Honestly. Masks, rules, bleating. Tired of it. Jack of it. Very good article about countries making plans to open up whereas here in Australia we're pottering along, vacinating in our spare time, not a race, no rush, Covid's not in the community. Blah blah blah. The inability to get travel insurance is going to be a HUGE barrier to visiting the you know, Rest of the World. We walked into the city and back again (to avoid using the buses) and did a massive Paddy's Market shop to restock our fruit and veges. The outbreak is not going well (mind you, from the virus's point of view - it's going exceptionally well).
21 June - It's Monday so that means it's burger and dancing day. Woo hoo! Due to being strenuous exercise - no masks required (thank god). A couple of members of the class decided to leave at the beginning of the lesson. Fair enough.
22-23 June - Walking. Always with the walking. Bit tuckered out after dancing and a big walk up and back Oxford Street. We ordered an NZ stamp catalogue online so I'm ready for lockdown. We hung a mirror and a beautiful brass fish we acquired a week or so back. We are super happy with our little hobbit hole - which is lucky because the situation is starting to look very dire. We're not going to shops, cafes, food places, opera house or supermarkets. The shows are still going at the opera house and we considered getting Rush tix to Aida... but decided against it. Luckily the apartment is stocked with everything possible. Pizza night at home. Suspect there'll be a lot of that going forward.
24 June - We took a long walk up and back Oxford Street into the city for a Paddy's Market shop with our trolley. We're getting very fit indeed and avoiding doors. If everyone avoided doors, there'd be a lot less cases. We weren't happy at all having to sign in with the QR code - we raced through the shopping in 20 minutes and shot out again. Having done a 14 day self-quarantine last year, we're keen to never have to do that again. All quiet on the western front. And all the others.
25 June - Right. Lockdown(ish) announced for 5 odd local government areas in East/Central/Inner West, including us here in the City of Sydney. Finally. We are glad we shopped yesterday. During our evening walk there were so many people out at cafes and restaurants for a 'last hurrah' before the lockdown kicked in at midnight. We suspect there'll be a lot of cases in next 5 days linked back to tonight. We heard from our owners in Tasmania today, cancelling our 3 week housesit. Makes sense. Can't say we're surprised (or happy) but that's the way the cookie crumbles.
26 June - Well that was the shortest lockdown ever. Was supposed to apply from midnight to the 5 local government areas most affected. Well lots of cases today... and the total got lost in the additional announcement that the brown stuff has slammed into the fan and they've extended the lockdown area to all of Greater Sydney. Feel less lonely now. For something different we did a very long walk. And just to share the love, we baked bread to torment the entire ground floor. And by 'we baked' I mean we hiffed a mix into the breadmaker with a lot of water and left it to it's devices while we went walking.
27-29 June - Blursday. Danged if I know. Must have done something. Probably involved breakfast/lunch/dinner and a walk. Over-walked, overwhelmed and over it.
30 June - The time has come, the Walrus said, to finally give in and go through a door and do some grocery shopping. Not many punters around the local Woolworths. We've always had fun grocery shopping together, the world over - it's much harder with one person doing it - QR checkin outside, mask on, get trolley, sanitise trolley, sanitise hands, actually get shopping items, then to checkout, getting bags out, unloading, scanning loyalty card, checking prices scan correctly whilst simultaneously packing groceries then paying via discount gift card (never ever pay retail). Sanitising upon departure, remove mask, QR checkout. Palaver. Unfortunately the way of the world at the moment and for the foreseeable future. Exhaustipating. I am literally too tired to give a s**t.
JULY - The month of lockdown. 1 July - 24 cases. A slightly upward trajectory. Coffee shops still pounding away. 3 July - 35 cases. 4 July - We are walking a lot due to... nothing else to do really. Weather has been typically fine and sunny. We knocked ourselves out and did a huge walk through Woolloomooloo, around Mrs Macquarie's Chair, Farm Cove, Opera House and home. 12,666 steps. Tuckered out. 6 July - Sydney on tenterhooks... will they or won't they extend the lockdown? 7 July... ? Yup - another week. We think that is code for Christmas. We were due to fly to Tasmania on 11 July - and had been looking forward to our 3 week trip immensely. We knew by this stage we weren't going (Tassie doesn't want us and we're in lockdown). So we waited and waited and waited - he who jumps first, loses when it comes to changing or cancelling flights. Having waited patiently, eventually Qantas kindly cancelled our original flight scheduled for 11 July and sneakily 're-accommodated' us on an earlier flight that day. Since they cancelled it (vs. us changing the dates or cancelling it), we're due for a full refund (in the fullness of time of course...). Was an excellent experience dealing with AMEX Travel for the first time. Well as happy as one can be. Took our life in hands and went out this morning - our fridge/freezer is an underbench model - which means we have to shop every 7-10 days, even with a solidly stocked pantry. Sigh... Ah well... the end of the world beckons... must get out and in amongst it.
And time passed...
10 July and 50 cases. Sigh... Trundled into Harris Farms for our fresh food. More walking. Always with the walking. 11 July, 77 cases. That's it. We're all f**ked. In honour thereof (since this lockdown isn't ending any time soon), we went to Aldi for coffee pods. Months and months worth. Right, that's us stocked up for Armageddon. 12 July, 112 cases. 13 July, 89 - green shoots eh. Masks in apartment building common areas now compulsory... James looks handsome as he puts on his PPE to take out the rubbish. We have hung masks on the door k*** so they're easy to hand. Not as though we're in a rush to use the lift to do laundry anyway... In terms of all the things we're not doing - it's gotten to the point I've revisited my stamp collection. That's how desperate times have become. 14 July - 97 cases. Since when is 'at least it's under 100' something to celebrate. We're now locked down for at least another 2 weeks - till end of July. We had a French restaurant Groupon booked for our wedding anniversary (in lieu of celebrating in Tasmania). Cancelled - went smoothly which is always a blessing. 15 July and 65 cases - but 28 of them were gadding all over the place spreading it far and wide. Depressed a bit. Melbourne back into lockdown for 5 days - no doubt they'll do it so much better than NSW. Covid - the gift that keeps on giving. Who'da thunk it - cheering at a footy match could contribute to aerosol spread. Hmmm. So much sitting and listening to bad news leads to cold feet so we did a spot of online shopping and ordered some bargain Uggs for James - turned up very quickly and great. 16 July - 97 cases. Same crap, different day. It's gotten to the point where doing the shopping at Coles has become a big adventure. Speaking of, we had a celebratory bottle of bubbles and sushi from our favourite spot tonight - serious wasabi hits. Weather has been changeable, positively Melbournian - sunshine this morning, then, very quickly, pouring rain, then sun, then very cold and strong winds. Crazy. 17 July - 111 odd cases. Very dark day. After NSW pfaffing about for about 3 weeks, it looks like the state is now going into something approaching a hard lockdown. 18 July - 105 cases. Usual walk. 19 July - 98 cases, 20 July - 78 cases, 21 July - 110 cases. Yes indeedy, we are in a very comfortable hand-basket en route to hell. In today's press conference our wonderful Premier (who gave me my Pfizer shots) in fact pulled a full Trump and said lots of tests obviously leads to lots of cases. Oh dear. Had a huge day out - went to Woollies and Harris Farms. 22 July - 124 cases and 48 people willy-nilly spreading it in the community. Most shops are shut now. Vital coffee shops still open of course - this is Sydney after all. Cases just seem to be going up inexorably. 23 July - 136 cases and 50 strollers. And now it's a national emergency. Even NZ has closed off to all of Australia. Any way out? Only way out? Ninja gears on, packs packed, overland on foot to Darwin and then swimming for it. Hang on, Indonesia is probably the closest place we can reach. Just what we need - another plague island. Made a night of it and 'ate out'. We bought Thai from our favourite local. Set up our whizz bang dining table, used Thai cutlery bought in Phuket many years ago. Even some candles for the whole lockdown / restaurant at home vibe.. Lovely. 24 July - 163 cases. Things can only get better - can't they? 25 July - 'only' 141 cases. Went to Coles (after lunch) and Harris at 8.30 pm (only 11 minutes - is that a record for shopping?). 26 July - 145 cases. Monday Bloody Monday. Our local Woollies is now a casual exposure site between 2.05 and 3.05 pm on 21 July. Having checked it immediately and thankfully missed it by just over an hour. Whoever has been nipping in and out of woollies every second day is either clueless or has a fridge/freezer smaller than ours. Which is physically impossible. We were both a bit tired today - somehow still managed to walk 10,000 steps. No end in sight. 27 July - 172 cases. Jay-sus Mary and Joseph! 28 July - 177 cases. And that's a wrap - lockdown officially extended to 28 August (another 4 weeks). In the background I'm sure I can hear 'Deck the Halls with boughs of holly....' 29 July - 239 cases, whoops. 30 July - Yay! 'only' 170 cases. And, not only that, James is fully vaccinated. The National Cabinet met today. There is now officially a plan to make a plan to have a plan rejoin the world. One Day. All going well. With luck and contributions from all affected stakeholders in the fullness of time. Blah Blah Blah. 31 July - 210. Not Yay. So. Not. Yay. We're over walked, overwhelmed and over it.
I read something today about some of the weird and wonderful compound words in the German language and came across a wonderful concept. 'Fernweh' or 'distance ache'. It is basically the complete opposite of homesickness and describes the longing to be somewhere else, to travel far away and see the world. That is us - and for a long while now. We're dreaming of a white Christmas. Yep.