Day after day,
And I slowly go insane….”
This 80s ballad by Richard Marks succinctly describes many of our recent land bound months. Travel restrictions, particularly Australian border closures and arrival caps put us exactly here…. oceans apart, day after day….. and you know the rest. After leaving the boat and converting our sea legs to land limbs in Sweden, I went home to Oz, and Magnus followed, eventually.
I arrived in Australia after 3 cancelled flights, and Magnus had the same experience. We both had an OK experience in hotel quarantine served in Sydney, as Melbourne was not accepting any international arrivals at the time. I was madly arranging birthday celebrations remotely and attempting to walk the Camino de Santiago virtually; (in increments of 10 meters pacing up and down my room until I had blisters from all the pivoting on hotel carpet!) and Magnus improved his ping pong considerably thanks to VR.
The feeling of wind in my hair as I stepped outside after 2 weeks of not so much as an open window was bliss. The quarantine was mandatory, so there is nothing to discuss really. In truth, we were both pretty happy to get to Australia after all the difficulties.
Our year on land passed pleasantly. The Swedish winter was shrouded in COVID restrictions, so social gatherings were held outside to minimse risk. This meant eating, drinking, and making merry IN THE SNOW! C’est la vie. Magnus spent a cosy white Christmas with family, and skiing and skating on the lake made for some glorious winter days.
In contrast, the Melbourne summer proved predictably warm, and included milestone family birthdays (21 and 80) and a BABY being born! The celebrations were wedged between and within tough COVID lockdowns. The lockdowns have thankfully finished, but were relentless; totalling 262 days since March 2020. This meant most people (including me) worked from home, with very few acceptable reasons to leave one’s own property, and even then remaining within 5km of home.
There grew a deep weariness, and many people did it tough. Homeschooling is not easy, and of course many businesses did not survive. Vaccination uptake was frustratingly slow, so the lockdowns continued. Magnus and I became vaccination evangelists; give us 5 minutes and we would launch into a zealous frenzy of pro vax arguments. I am not sure this helped Australia’s vax statistics; but not for want of trying on our part.
When Magnus returned to Sweden ahead of me, he walked into almost total freedom – and must have breathed a deep sigh of relief. Accordingly, I lived somewhat vicariously, marvelling at people out AT RESTAURANTS for goodness’ sake!! And of course many other normal social experiences that remained far out of reach in Melbourne.
When I arrived a bit later, I felt quite under dressed sans facial covering, and still sometimes find myself fumbling in my pocket for a mask as I enter a shop.
This habit will no doubt come in handy as we travel south to warmer climes to resume life on Almazul for Season 2. Masks are still required in many circumstances in Curacao, so in our preparation for leaving Sweden, we have stashed our remaining mask cache amongst the many boat parts. Our effort to balance clothes, shoes, sailing requisites, and boat parts in our allotted baggage limits is a physical and psychological wrestle. (For me anyway – I am not quite as content as the Captain to wear ONE pair of shorts for 14 months…. but hey, each to their own!)
SOME NEW EXPERIENCES:
- We took up cycling with zeal in Australia during lock down. I am a newbie really, but my foldable bike experience in Spain and Swedish cycle commuting proved better then nowt, and Magnus discovered that it is “just like riding a bike” actually. We bought old bikes from the local men’s shed, and did our best to give them a good hiding! The hills around Clematis are unforgiving, and quite a tough initiation, but certainly helped the old knees develop a more youthful demeanor, eventually.
- Living in the cellar – renting Magnus’ house out has been a great solution, and the small apartment in the cellar is perfect for short stays, and gives us both freedom to roam AND a home base in Sweden.
- Going to a game of ice hockey. Kindly escorted by neighbors, I REALLY enjoyed the exciting game, atmosphere, dining experience, and cheer squad efforts. Importantly, the home team were definitively victorious. Go guldsvart!
- Being a Grandma….. I am teary and smiling as I write this. The joy, and love for all concerned is quite overwhelming. After tearing myself away from hands on grand mothering, I am mastering reading stories over video chat, and my wavering renditions of “Kumbaya” from the other side of the globe still induce heavy eyelids apparently.
- Being with our respective families, including the baby…. (We have to take turns with families obviously – but are figuring things out.)
- Melbourne lockdown. The jokes about working from home dress codes etc wore thin, and going out to dinner became a bucket list item. But… our little household developed a routine, sharing cooking, exercise, movies, and the responsibility to come up with an idea for “something fun” once a week. We had zoom chats of course, and also held “Murder Mystery” evenings with family remotely, complete with dress ups, props, and accents. Two of my nephews floored us by revealing a remarkable talent for accents. One was a faultless Texan drawl, and the other a uncannily accurate Scottish lilt, probably reminiscent of his great grandfather.
FOOD AND BEVVY HIGHLIGHTS:
- Fondue – for fun this winter we tried a recipe given to us by a passionate Swiss foodie whilst in Guadeloupe. Perfect!
- Swedish pizza in Australia, in a Chinese restaurant. The owner had lived in Luleå for 20 years, and had added the Swedish pizza as a successful side hustle to his otherwise eastern menu.
- New Australian wine fave; Pepperjack Grenache. We have long since appreciated the McLaren Vale Shiraz from the same stable, but the Grenache was a revelation! Ours was a 2020. (Absurdly, this was first sampled from the Swedish government controlled bottle shop, Systembolaget.)
- Sushi and taco bowls. These delights were prepared by Bonnie – highly recommended!
- Blueberry muffins, a la Lara. All the good stuff, none of the bad – AND delicious!
We are about to depart Sweden (av temp between 0-6 c ATM) for Almazul, in Curacao (average temp 26-30 c). I am imagining our arrival at the airport as a stripping frenzy, as we panic to shed the heavy duty warm jackets and multiple other suffocating layers. Well me, anyway.
Talk soon xxx