Socializing again

We had our first post-lockdown house guest: my 21 year old niece came to stay with us from abroad for 5 days, negative Covid tested and half-vaccinated (getting her second shot soon). She met up with some Dutch friends and of course came to see the family. It was good to reconnect again, especially for the cousins. My niece is studying at a university in South Korea and my daughter is already planning her trip to visit her there after she graduates high school next year.

After I dropped my niece off at the airport to fly home to my brother (her dad) yesterday morning, I drove to Delft to have my first post-lockdown lunch with two friends of mine. We hadn’t seen each other in over a year. No kisses and hugs hello, because you never know with high Covid infection numbers now, but a lovely outdoor lunch and time to catch up again in person.

A week and a half ago I also met up outdoors and socially distanced with 12 or 13 colleagues of mine for late afternoon drinks before the summer holidays start and next week I have a dinner planned with 3 ex-colleagues who have become friends. Although everything is happening with some distancing (except my niece’s visit), it feels like social life is picking up again. It’s lovely but also feels a little weird and I find I need a little time to adjust. Have I become even more introverted since the lockdowns started last year March? I find that while I’m really happy to see people again, I’m also really happy to come back home and crawl back into my own world again.

After I finish this post, I’m off to do some grocery shopping and then I think I’ll put the laptop away for a change and start crawling back into books again. Actor D.B. Woodside posted this on his Instagram stories…

…. and I’m thinking, yes, reading is a great idea! We have tried to make our kids read in the past as well but alas, it didn’t stick and they are not great readers now. Even I, who used to be a great reader when I was younger (before kids), have been neglecting my reading for quite a while now. Seeing D.B.’s daughter like that reminds me of my own childhood reading days and how I loved reading then and now I really want to disappear into a book again. Counterbalancing the socializing with reading seems like a great idea, no?

Stirring news (good and bad)

My son is over the moon excited that his favourite basketball player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, won the NBA championships with his fave team, the Milwaukee Bucks. His instagram stories are filled with pictures celebrating that (I took screenshots)…

And also a little video of Giannis celebrating…

Junior has been walking around the house in his Giannis jersey, basking in the win even now, two days later. This is good excitement!

Less good is the news from a day or two ago that the Norwegian women’s beach handball team was fined for playing in shorts instead of bikini bottoms.

I hope other teams will join them in their protest and that the (misogynistic) rules will indeed change!

And then today I read some Eric Clapton news…

I had no idea he was in the covidiot category and I now find that he is a racist too. Apparently there was even a Rock Against Racism movement in the 1970s formed directly in opposition to what Clapton had said. I had somehow never heard of this before. Bowie in the seventies also made some controversial statements (I did know that) which also led to this anti racism movement but he retracted them vehemently later, something Clapton does not seem to have done. Not that I have ever been a huge Clapton fan but I do like some of the songs he made and reading this caught me by surprise (not in a good way) and made me cringe. I have never given Eric Clapton that much thought or have known that much about him but somehow I had never pictured him being someone with views such as these. Is it a coincidence that there seems to be a big overlap between covidiots and racists? Another example for me that these views aren’t only held by a few fringe lunatics but are more mainstream than many wish to believe. That is scary. So, yes, go ahead, cancel his concerts if he doesn’t want to abide by common sense Covid rules, I’d be fine with that.

Let me end on something more positive: a librarian from Northampshire got a Richard Armitage life-size cut out for her retirement! Lucky woman.

And ooh, I am just reading some more Armitage excitement: Guylty has received a package from the man himself that will go into the upcoming birthday auction that she is organizing! Pop over to her blog to see. The excitement builds! It looks like it may be an item related to this role… or not…

Isn’t it great that there is always some good news to balance the not so good?

Victories, tennis discoveries, and holidays

Last week’s victories

One: On Sunday I got my second Covid vaccination and it feels like such a relief!

Two: My sister in law (well, not officially, but she is my younger sister’s awesome partner) has an autoimmune disease and it was uncertain whether she could even develop Covid-19 antibodies. She’s had two vaccinations and was tested earlier this week and it turns out the vaccination has indeed worked for her and she does have the antibodies now. Yay!

Three: after broad consideration and lengthy discussions my son has decided on a gap year once he receives his diploma in September and we fully support it. He is proactive about it too, has made an initial plan, and we are proud of his ability to follow his gut and do what’s right for him. It was a really hard sell for my mother and aunt, who had all sorts of opinions on it, and then it also became a whole big thing with my mother on other fronts not to do with my son. This has cost me an inordinate amount of energy last week, on top of being ill with the flu, but after a lot of reassurance and explaining, all is right with the world again and I am feeling better (flu-wise and mother-wise). Most importantly, though, my son’s choices have been accepted, which I hope will counteract any possible negative family gossip.


Tennis discoveries

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been following what I could of Wimbledon these past few weeks and there is some really exciting new young tennis talent coming up! I was especially struck by the 18 year old English player Emma Raducanu, who made an impressive Wimbledon debut but had to pull out.

I also loved the 17 year old American quarter finalist Coco Gauff, who had aleady impressed at age 15 two years ago (so, technically not a new discovery for me) and who is only two days younger than my niece in London…

The 25 year old Australian Ashleigh Barty, who won the women’s singles title this year, has also wormed herself into my heart. I probably should know her as she’s the number 1 female tennis player, but I’ve been out of it with the tennis for a long time and didn’t know her before Wimbledon. Now I do and I hope she’ll win more as well.

With the men, the new ones (to me) were the 25 year old Italian Wimbledon runner up Matteo Berrettini who was impressive…

… as was 20 year old Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime (who lost to Berrettini in the quarter final).

And 24 year old Polish player Hubert Hurkacz impressed by beating Roger Federer in the quarter final in three sets, winning the last set 6-0!

I think it’s time to dip back into following tennis more again (a long time ago I used to do so avidly). Now that these awesome young players are coming in, I feel a sense of excitement coming back into the sport for me and it will hopefully not only be the same ones winning all the matches anymore (although, don’t get me wrong, I love Roger Federer and I always root for him). They could all theoretically be my children, especially the younger players (Raducanu, Gauff and Auger Aliassime) who are the age of my own kids. Yikes, I’m really old.


Holidays

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, we have plans to go to France for our summer holidays in a month. We were doing really well here with our Covid numbers and then our government let go of many restrictions, and WHAM! Covid infections are on a steep rise again!

Source

65% of the Dutch population has received one dose of vaccination and about 39% is fully vaccinated but by far not enough people are protected yet. So, the infection numbers are sky-rocketing, especially amongst younger people who have been going out en-masse to discos and nightclubs where most of the infections have been happening. Last Friday during an emergency press conference some restrictions have been put back into place. This sky-rocketing of cases means that our country may become ‘red’ in Europe, which in turn means that travel restrictions for the Dutch may be tightened and this whole France holiday we have planned may have to be canceled. I really hope not, I really hope infections will drastically fall again, and I really hope we can still go on our socially distanced holiday as planned… I love my house, am comfortable in it, but I so need that break abroad. Fingers crossed.

Venturing out more again

It’s going well here with the Corona crisis and vaccinations make it possible for people to move more freely now. This means that larger events are possible again and travel has also opened up. I’m chomping at the bit for travel, so we bit the bullet last weekend and just went ahead and booked our summer holiday. Eek!

We don’t dare to fly yet but one of the good things about living in Europe, and also living in a small country, is that you don’t have to drive far to go abroad. We also wanted something self-contained so that we can easily social distance. Junior isn’t coming with us, he is holidaying with his girlfriend, so it’s just the three of us. We booked a cottage to the north-west of Nantes, right near Brittany, in France for two weeks from mid to end August.

France requires from EU citizens either a recent negative Corona test before entry or a full vaccination that is two weeks or older. Mr Esther and I will have the full vaccination, mini me will only have received her second vaccination 3 days before we leave, so she will need to test right before we go. As we only drive through Belgium and won’t be there for more than 48 hours we won’t have to do anything special there.

Anyway, we felt we got a pretty good deal on that cottage for the middle of summer, so decided to also book two days in a hotel in Paris before that. Mini me really wanted that stopover in Paris (about 5 hours drive for us) as the last time we were there (for one day, during another summer holiday) she was 4 and a half years old and she barely remembers it…

We have a little time yet to get used to the idea of feeling brave enough to travel again and we can also cancel the trip without losing money up to a week before we leave, so that gives us a little peace of mind.

It’s not only the planned August holiday that will have me venturing out more again. Yesterday evening in the parents’ chat group of my daughter’s football team it was suggested we go to a live match the Dutch national women’s football team will be playing on Saturday, July 3rd. It’ll be a practice match against South Africa about an hour an a half away. Our Dutch women’s team is very good, they won the European Championships in 2017 and came in second (losing to the US) in the World Championships in 2019.

There was a lot of enthusiasm for this plan and I admit, the outing appealed to me as well. They needed parents to drive, so I volunteered and will be going as well. My daughter is a little dismayed as she doesn’t want me interfering with her enjoying the day with her team mates but I promised I’d keep a low profile and stick with the other parents. And oh my goodness, do I even remember how to still be social around other parents? We’ll see. We need to show a recent negative Covid test before being allowed to enter the stadium, so mini me and I have a testing appointment next week Friday afternoon. So far, I haven’t needed to Covid test before (the only one of the four of us who hasn’t had to) so I need to work up a little bravery to tolerate that swab up my nose.

It feels weird to be making these venturing out more plans but it also feels good that life can be picked up again somewhat.

The end in sight

Took the afternoon off work today so that I could accompany Mr E for his second Covid-19 jab. I didn’t go in with him, just waited outside, but we took advantage of the warm weather and went out for an outdoor lunch after. It’s been quite hot today, hot enough that the fire department had to cool down the building where vaccinations were taking place…

We drove on to a spot my husband had recently discovered alongside the Lek river, in the shade underneath some old trees. It was gorgeous sitting there, watching boats and cargo barges going by.

Fun little tidbit: yesterday I read that it was the 49th birthday of my fave David Bowie album and today I saw a ‘Ziggy’ car (see number plate) parked at the river, as if in celebration of that little fact. 🙂

Vaccination has taken flight here and with a bit of luck as of tomorrow people born in 2001 (like my son!) can make their appointments. Corona cases are in rapid decline here and it looks like some more restrictions may be lifted soon, even the working from home order may be lifted. It all feels so very weird to me, I think I may need to re-learn to socialize. I can totally relate to this…

The end of the pandemic seems to be in sight and I have to admit it feels very strange that (a part of) the world is returning to ‘normal’. I am thrilled that cases are falling and less people are getting sick, I am thrilled that we have a vaccine to protect us, but I am less thrilled at the prospect of everything going back to the way it used to be. Maybe I don’t want everything to go back to what it used to be…