Making the best of longer isolation

Our prime minister, Mark Rutte, gave a press conference yesterday and all measures that had been taken to combat the Corona virus have been extended from April 6th till April 28th. To quote the statement:

“The extension means that sports facilities, establishments serving food and drink, childcare centres and other locations will remain closed until 28 April inclusive. Schools will remain closed until at least the end of the May school holidays. The ban on events still applies until 1 June.”

It’s all getting more and more grim.

Total number of confirmed cases: 12,595 (+845)
Total number of confirmed cases who are or were admitted to hospital: 4.712(+722)
Total number of reported deaths: 1.039 (+175)
The number of patients admitted to hospital and the number of deceased patients reported in the Netherlands are increasing less rapidly than would have been expected without measures in place. The province of Noord-Brabant seems to have moved past the peak of new hospital admissions. Hospital admissions are still increasing in Zuid-Holland, Noord-Holland, Gelderland and Limburg.

We live in Zuid-Holland so we’re still getting the worst in this part of the country. It’s no surprise that the measures have been extended and, listening to the press conference yesterday, chances are that the measures will be extended even longer after that date. We’ll have to wait and see. I’ve got to say that with all the criticism I have had in the past of our PM and his policies, I do feel like he is handling this crisis very well.

So, at the very least, we have another 4 weeks of this isolation thing to go… I am extremely grateful that Mr Esther and I both have steady work and a steady paycheck. Not everyone has that luxury and very many don’t have work they can do from home but this stay at home thing is not a holiday either like many in (social-)media do seem to suggest. So many ads and social media posts giving well-meant advice to combat boredom and I keep on thinking, “Really? Is no one else working except for hospital & care staff, grocery store staff and Mr Esther and I”? I really don’t have time to read 10 books a week, watch 20 Netflix series, do full time meditation retreats and play indoor games all day (even if I do have a day off work today). I’m not so much bothered by boredom, rather I am affected by restriction. Our world is large in virtual life but very small and confined in real life. And even then I am lucky that I have a good home life, a good internet connection, am healthy and not lonely.

I hope all these measures to stay at home will help stop the spread of the disease, I hope that all healthcare staff and all other people that work so hard to keep everything going get through this unscathed, I hope that all those who are now not able to work or fear losing their jobs and businesses stay well, I hope that those who have difficult at home lives or no home at all come through this alright and I also hope that in all this darkness we can also try to see some light now and again. With so many people here and around the world getting sick and dying, and these economic problems looming, and our home lives and contacts being restricted, life can be a little demoralizing. So, for me as a cup half full sort of person, I’m tyring to make the most of the little things, like enjoying a geriatric 15 year old cat in the sunshine in our back garden…


…or taking a walk with my home office colleague while keeping our distance from others…


Our black cat is happy that we’re home all day as it means she can always find someone to stretch out on (mostly on my daughter who, by the way, is bored)…


… and faithful reader Squirrel sent me this picture of her son which made me smile and that she asked me to blur and share on my blog. She says, “My son is creating 3D printing masks at home, in his narrow student studio, during spare times.”

Radagast son1

And last but not least, sharing a gorgeous Richard Armitage in Uncle Vanya image might help a tiny bit as well with cheering up. It’s topical too, as he is a doctor.

20200327 RA in Uncle Vanya2

If Dr. Astrov really were a good doctor, I’m sure he’d say, “Take care of yourselves and each other!” and I second that. Here’s to making the best of at least another 4 weeks in isolation.


Shopping in Corona times

As of today, here in The Netherlands, there are 7431 confirmed Covid-19 cases, 2151 of these people are in hospital and 434 people have died. Numbers are still rising here although yesterday and today they have said the rise seems to be a little less steep due to all the measures taken. Measures here in The Netherlands to prevent the spread of the Corona virus were tightened three days ago, like not being allowed outside with more than 3 people in a group, the rule to keep at least 1,5 meter distance strongly reiterated and the shops must take measures to ensure people stay 1,5 meters apart.

I ventured out to the stores in the little mall across the street yesterday, we needed some groceries and I had a trip to make to the post office, and sure enough things looked different in the shops. There were signs, like this one I saw as I passed the butcher’s where not more than 5 people are allowed in at a time and they are told to keep a distance.


Other shops had marked the floors where people queue, indicating the 1,5 meter distance…

At the supermarket there were markings where you can queue for the shopping carts and a guy in an emergency vest was checking that not too many people went into the store at the same time…

I use a self-service scanner to scan my groceries and the scanner tells shoppers to come alone (so not in groups) and has a 1,5 meter warning text…


At the self-service check-out there are partitions so contact can be avoided…


I ran into a neighbour at the store and we stood and talked to each other for a bit with that distance between us. It felt weird.

Today, after a very busy day working from home, Mr Esther and I walked to a DIY store (a bit over a half hour’s walk away) during what would normally be rush hour on a Thursday afternoon. There were some cars, a few occasional bikers (normally you’d be run over by bikers while walking on a bike path at such a time!) and virtually no pedestrians in the streets at 5.30 pm. It’s almost eery.

Our little family ended the day yesterday by playing a game, which is lovely, but I wonder how sick we will get of Rummikub by the time this ends.


It looks like our reality will continue to look like this for a while. I so hope it will all help keep the virus somewhat in check so that the hospitals can keep up. We are living in such surreal times right now!

Social distancing…

… because of Covid-19 has started for real at our house, now that the working week has begun. Yesterday it was announced by our government that in addition to everyone being asked to work from home as much as possible also all schools will be closed until April 6th (before it was only higher education that was shut down).

My son has had a slight cold for some days now (no fever, no breathing problems or anything, just some sniffles) and had to stay home from the hotel he works at for his internship. His next internship, due to begin at the end of May in Spain, looks likely to be cancelled. My daughter has no more classes starting today. She was due to start an exam week this week, it is as yet unclear how that will proceed. She also has finals coming up in May, no idea yet how that will work either.

Mr. Esther is working from home, as am I. So this morning looks like this in our house…

I guess this can be a good thing for the family bond but I suspect that the kids will go stir-crazy, there are already early signs of that on this first day of the working week. They make me laugh but it gets a little disruptive when we’re trying to video-conference or make work calls. The kids are starting to manage it by going off for a walk together (outside of our little shopping mall across the street it is a relatively quiet residential area here), keeping the recommended minimum 1.5 meter distance between them and the rest of the world. As I write this, Mr. Esther is actually kicking them out. And my daughter just walked by to type this: “goodbye groetjes mini esther” (groetjes = greetings in Dutch). Oh man, these are going to be some eventful weeks in our house…

This is the first time in my lifetime that a worldwide shutdown is happening. My daughter was commenting yesterday on how monumental this feels: “One day they will teach about this in history class and I will have experienced it!” she said. These certainly are unusual times. I hope everyone stays well!

Corona strikes

Yesterday at work, at just after 3pm, everyone was watching the TV news for breaking Corona virus news here in The Netherlands…

All large gatherings of over 100 people are cancelled till the end of the month and people are encouraged to work from home as much as possible. This means no more handball for my son for the rest of the month, no more soccer for my daughter (both are very bummed about that!) and no David Bowie Lazarus musical for Mr Esther and me at the end of the month. I work at an Applied Sciences University and all educational activities have been cancelled, so no students and teachers at work today and for the rest of the month. I did come in today for an IT coaching session I am giving for two people but the normally full office where I sit looks like this today…


The decision may come to close the school completely, also for all support services, so it is possible that I will be working from home for the rest of the month starting next week. Let’s just hope all of this helps to keep people safe and healthy!