And now, the end is near…

… and the summer will really start winding down here. We’ve been having a few nice, sunny and not too hot days here this past week. My favourite weather, really, which is 20-25 degrees Celsius (in the 70s Fahrenheit) with sunshine. On Sunday mini-me and I picked up my brother (who has just returned from a stint in Malta) and my mother and we headed to the beach. My mother isn’t that great of a walker anymore, so my brother and I took turns sitting with her in a cafe and walking with mini-me on the beach. It was lovely out there. Quite a lot of people there, but luckily it was easy to socially distance…

In the meantime, Mr. Esther went for a bike ride and Mr. Esther junior played handball outdoors in an away game and badly injured the middle finger of his left hand. The top of his finger is just hanging there loosely, looking very odd. I took him to the hospital yesterday for x-rays.

Luckily he has very little pain and it turns out that nothing was broken but he does have a torn tendon. Tomorrow his finger will be put into a splint for 6-8 weeks so that it can heal properly and doesn’t have to be taped to his ring finger anymore.

This afternoon, after some work meetings online, I took a few hours to work outside. Our old cat is curled up right near me, which is always lovely…

… and I am fully aware that this may be the last time this year that working outside like this will be possible. Chillier weather is predicted from tomorrow, so I guess that is when autumn will really start for us.

Corona cases are on the rise here in The Netherlands. Measures were tightened slightly last week but I suspect stricter restrictions may be coming. Add that to the weather getting cooler and we may be stuck inside for the foreseeable future more than ever these coming weeks/months. Mr. Esther and I will really have to make more of an effort to actually stick our noses outside our front door every day (mini-me and Mr Esther junior have school/internships and their sports activities to drag them out of the house… for now, in any case). Such strange times we live in and I’m not only talking disease; I almost fear reading the news, especially US news, every day. I so hope for some light at the end of the tunnel soon…

Corona hair

It’s still pretty quiet this morning at work, so taking a quick time-out for a little post.

Went for a lovely walk with Mr Esther yesterday afternoon.

We also sat on a little bench overlooking the water for a little while. A few slight drops of rain started to fall and if there is one thing Mr Esther hates in life, it’s feeling raindrops falling on his head. Can you too now hear that song in your mind?

Anyway, I pulled up his hoodie and when I looked at him from the side like that, he totally looked like a garden gnome or even Papa Smurf! It’s the beard… his ‘corona beard’ that he hasn’t shaved since March this year (at least not in length, he has trimmed the sides now and again)…

This morning I saw myself on camera during a short work call and my hair is also getting long as I too haven’t had it cut since March. It’s weird, I only really notice it during these work calls. I did trim my own bangs once, back in May as I see from a picture I posted on blog then, but now I’m just letting it all grow. For the first time since I can remember, I won’t be having actual bangs. Took a snapshot with my laptop camera as today I’ve gotta say the hair looks pretty decent (I only brushed it this morning)…

… and I see that I forgot to put my mascara on. Oh well. Anyway, hair is getting long (and really doesn’t always look like this!). The intention was to not cut our hair until this corona thing is over but I wonder if we’ll be able to keep that up without becoming too shaggy and what we’ll look like then!

Working at home for the foreseeable future

I’ve been working on an advice memo all morning that I finished just after noon, so I only read yesterday evening’s update from the uni I work at after lunch today (not my translation, the second half of that first sentence isn’t quite right):

“Online education and working from home will be the norm throughout the 2020/2021 academic year; therefore, do not come on location if you are not scheduled to or have work that can’t be done at home. We will only come to the university of applied sciences when necessary.”

So, working from home it is for me until at least next year summer! What strange times we live in. Not sure whether I’m really happy about it or not. On the one hand, I love working from home, always have, and I won’t mind working from home for most of my hours. On the other hand I do miss some of the physical social interaction. Oh well, at least the cats are happy, they hover around us all day, like yesterday in our front garden (it may be hard to discern, but the black bundle on the left on that stone table is our black cat on her preferred spot where she can oversee her dominion…).

When will this disease and this crisis finally end, I wonder?

Back to work

Yep, after 4 weeks off (luxury, I know!) it’s back to work again for me today. About 40 messages on Teams and around 100 e-mails… not too bad during a summer holiday period. Mr Esther has 275 new e-mails in his inbox. Yikes.

Still working from home during this Corona crisis and it doesn’t look like I’ll be going into the office again any time soon, with cases slowly on the rise again here in The Netherlands, especially in the city where my applied sciences university is. So it’s back to the grind here at home…

Not really in the mood for it yet, hence this little blogging break, but I do need to get back to it. On we go!

Holiday in times of Corona

I never only take one picture when I’m out and about, I take tons and Mr Esther takes even more. We’ve been quite busy on holiday, seeing a lot. Today is a day for doing nothing so I thought I’d post pics of what we’ve been up to. If reading people’s holiday stories and looking at endless slide shows are a chore, feel free to skip this post!

Our holiday cottage in the southern tip of The Netherlands near Maastricht is nice.

On our first real day trip we went to the Three Countries Point where the borders of The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany meet. It’s also the location of the highest point in The Netherlands. My country is very flat, so being here in the southern tip of The Netherlands almost feels foreign in itself as the scenery is so different from the rest of the country (OK, technically the following first picture is just across the border in Belgium).

There’s a marker right near the Three Countries Point that shows the highest point of The Netherlands in Vaals (322.5 meters above sea level). Peanuts in a lot of countries but a small matter of pride here.

A few meters on at the Three Countries Point we were told in German and Dutch that wearing a mask was desired but in Belgium that wearing a mask was mandatory.

So we donned our masks for the first time this holiday (not everyone did, but better safe than sorry, we figured)…

… and admired the pie-points that signified where The Netherlands is (smallest part of the pie), followed by Belgium, and half the pie belonged to Germany.

From there we drove on to Verviers in Belgium which turned out to not be the most amazing place but we did sit down there for drinks. In the center of town masks were mandatory, so we donned ours again.

We drove through the Belgian village of Limbourg, which is the source of the name of the Dutch province Limburg (our holiday cottage is in Limburg).

We ended the day with a little stop in the woods. Mini-me chased butterflies and we even saw deer.

The next day we went into Maastricht for the day, to get to know it a bit and walk around.

Except for in public transport, masks aren’t mandatory anywhere in The Netherlands. It was quite busy, though! We did our best to keep a distance but it felt like many people didn’t pay that much attention to how much distance they were keeping. There were signs up reminding people to avoid crowds, keep a distance, stay right, adhere to one way traffic…

Mini-me needed a shirt to sleep in, so she and I went into two or three stores until we found something while Mr Esther went to a bookstore inside an old church building. We were going to join him there but by the time we got there it felt too crowded for me, so mini-me and I sat down for some drinks instead on the square in front of the store and awaited Mr. Esther. It had been doable inside, he said, but it was good to be out again.

We soon left the busy shopping streets, visited the Basilica of Our Lady Maastricht and explored the somewhat quieter other streets of Maastricht.

We still plan on returning to Maastricht to actually visit the St. Servatius church, hopefully sometime this weekend. It’s hot here now and will be for the next few days, so it will be good to do something inside.

The day after Maastricht we went to the German city of Aachen.

The cathedral is in an octagon form and is a thing of beauty, especially the ceilings. It was constructed by order of Charlemagne and he was buried there at the beginning of the 9th century. Now his bones are held in a 13th century golden chest. The church was used for coronations of German kings and queens until the 14th century.

In the gift shop they sold “Corona angels” (i.e. tiny angels with masks on)! Couldn’t resist and bought my mother one (she loves angels).

Aachen is a lovely city, with old features and modern shopping and mini-me was happy to finally eat a German bratwurst again! It was busy but a little less busy than Maastricht, which was good.

The next day we went to Heerlen. Not a special city (although there were some nice murals on houses) but we especially went to visit the museum housing the remains of an excavated Roman bath house…

We drove on to the German town of Jülich which isn’t so special either but it has a huge old fort there. I liked the little street library there in an old phone booth and as we were back in Germany, where masks are mandatory inside public spaces such as shops, we were back to carrying our masks openly on us so we could quickly put them on as needed.

After some busy days sightseeing we got lazy and spent a day at our cottage. That evening we did go out for dinner in a neighbouring village, with a nice view over the countryside that does not feel like The Netherlands.

Yesterday we drove to Luxemburg for a day. We stopped at Clervaux in the north of Luxemburg (about an hour away)…

… and then drove on to Luxemburg city (another hour on). It’s a nice city which has huge gorges, pretty cool to see. I had been there many years ago during my first holiday with Mr Esther but didn’t remember much about it, except for the gorges. Luxemburg too was busy but not too busy.

On our way back, we stopped in the Belgian city of Liege for dinner, donning face masks in the city center yet again…

So, that’s it, our summer holiday away up till now! Mr Esther and mini-me went away with the car this afternoon. Mr Esther wants to try and follow some old Roman roads and they’ll get some groceries on the way back while I sit here with my laptop at the cottage in the shade and blog.

It’s hot today, so it’s good we’re not marching through some hot, busy city right now. The battery on my laptop is running low and even in the shade I’m hot, so I’m heading inside our air-conditioned cottage soon to read. Even with restrictions, this holiday during Corona times is still fun. I just love to be travelling again, even if it isn’t that far away.