Days 3529-3614, 1 Aug-25 Oct 2021, Blursday to Reality
Potts Point, New South Wales
We started August with a sense of deja-vu. It was the same old outbreak all over again. We read some words of wisdom which stuck with us - Lockdown results in one of four outcomes (or sometimes a combination thereof) - You either become a chunk, a monk, a hunk or a drunk. Given that we'd been focussed on some weight loss from April, thankfully the chunk option wasn't an option - though had we not already been reducing it could have been a disaster.
Every day brought higher case numbers. Low 200s turned into high 200s, low 300s turned into high 300s. Mid 400s turned into mid 600s over night - which came as a shock. One case turned up in New Zealand and they slammed into lockdown overnight - it was enough to make our ears rattle as far away as Sydney. Mid 600s turned into low 800s and we started getting a bit bothered with these massive jumps. We had been wondering in our abundance of spare time how, given we'd been living freely until mid June, we would ever relate to people who had mass numbers of infections and long, frustrating lockdowns. Given the current situation that is no longer a concern. We can relate no problem at all.
The end of August came and went and the outbreak was going no where fast. Given increasing numbers of vaccinated souls by mid September we were allowed out in groups of no more than 5 for picnics. Big whoop. We were however so desperate to be able to sit on a park bench for a sandwich and a coffee without being fined by the police that we participated wholeheartedly on 13 September 2021 - AKA 'Picnic Day'. Having been fully vaccinated since early June it seemed incomprehensible that anyone was still holding out. We just couldn't figure out what they waiting for.
Housesitting and travel once went hand in hand. How far we had fallen. We no longer spoke about trips taken and housesits in far off exotic lands. No indeed. We started talking about distant lands such as.... Tasmania and New Zealand. Only to have both cancelled... though both happily refunded. Oh no - now we talk excitedly about the day we can visit a supermarket more than 5km away. Those were the days!
In mid August we had a bit of excitement as the Border Force crowd emailed to say 'if you've not used your Get Out of Australia Exemption from needing an Exemption yet' you still can. So that was a surprise. We figured it would have expired or become otherwise useless for some doubtlessly sensible bureaucratic reason. We started mulling and it seemed actually feasible to use the booking to Dublin that we made back in March. Up until now it seemed destined to be cancelled like every other trip here in the land of koalas, covid and confinement. Wow. Started to scheme and plan. Would we even be able to convince anyone to book us as housesitters - applying as we were from Koala-stan?
Mid September saw case numbers into the high 1500s. Deaths were increasing. I gave up keeping records of infections as they just went inexorably higher. Blursday continued. One jab at a time we stumbled towards the future - very very slowly indeed. But we now had a plan. Our first housesit was confirmed for the month of November- old regulars in Ireland with a great many cats. This will be our 6th year with them (less one for the year of 2020). More sits came along and we booked in Paris for the first half of December and Amsterdam for the second half. Then out of no where we had a message from a homeowner in Croatia who had chosen us for a 3 month sit in early 2020 - which fell through due to non-Covid reasons (remember them). Once more we were booked in for 90 days in Croatia. So that was us booked up for almost 6 months. Things were looking up. Decided to take a bit of time off booking housesits and focussed instead on some life admin and the booking of other things.
Having raced to Australia in mid March 2020 as the borders slammed shut around us in Sarajevo, it was all done with a minimum of forward planning - about 4 days from 'Hmmmm... things really aren't looking good and aren't showing signs of improving...' about 6 March. All the way to 'We need to get out of Dodge!' on 13 March and 17 March flying from Sarajevo to Doha to Adelaide to Brisbane. We sorted our sojourn in Australia out on the fly. Closing it all down seemed to take a lot more work - medical checkups, travel vaccines, dental checkups, new specs, schedule a final power account read, paid bills up for a year, wrote and executed new wills (picked up and destroyed old wills), got international vaccine certificates... rather fortunately, finally available about a week before our flight, organised someone to hold a set of keys since our building has given the caretaker the heave-ho, got James a new International Drivers Permit and last but not least bought travel insurance - which all going well and dependent on the phase of the moon will cover us if bad things happen. And renewed our Medicare cards - it's only 10 countries, but knowing that getting sick in the Netherlands, Italy, Ireland, Malta et al is covered by reciprocal healthcare - is a small bit of comfort (and then suspended the private health insurance - which rather happily will save us almost exactly what the travel insurance cost per annum. A blessing from the Department of Small Mercies indeed.) It was truly the never-ending to-do list and I've probably forgotten some things. Europe - here we come. The International Housesitters of Mystery are back in the game.