Monthly Archives: April 2020

Australia, Melbourne – the bits of life I am not so keen on at the moment and my friend Misery Bear

I have been fairly optimistic so far in my posts about all the things that are ok about the current situation – and generally I do feel pretty ok and entertained but of course there are a few things that I find particularly irritating (but not the end of the world for sure:).

CLEANING AN APARTMENT – I am renting one while in Melbourne and to be honest I haven’t done much in the way of cleaning my own place for decades – if I was down to my last dollar I would find a way to pay for someone else to do it for me. Of course not possible these days and my German mother taught me well so I have not forgotten how to use a mop or a vacuum cleaner but in the intervening years things have moved on.

Here is the mop and bucket – now with a nifty pedal to push down on to spin the mop dry before you use it – very clever.

Dripping wet before and then after the pedal is pushed and the spinner spins – totally dry – who knew?

Even vacuum cleaners are not what I remember – now they are slim and cordless (for up to 40 minutes although who in their right mind would vacuum for that long anyway?)

New (at least to me) style vacuum cleaner.

My ignorance may shock some but I have to confess that driving a rental car a couple of years ago in New Zealand after not driving for about 15 years was the first time I noticed that cars didn’t need keys to start them any more!

Will I ever get any joy out of housework? – absolutely not. I do not have a domestic bone in my body BUT like Maslow suggested – we all have our own hierarchy of needs and my need for a clean and tidy environment just marginally exceeds my intense dislike of cleaning. Although, I have to add that cleaning, while dull and time consuming, is not that difficult and I have concluded that even a man could do it!

CANCELLING OR HAVING STUFF CANCELLED – seems particularly onerous when you are permanently on the road and lots of things – flights, accommodation, cruises, theatre, exhibitions etc have been booked in advance. Some refunds are easier to obtain than others and at the moment whether it is a refund or a voucher it takes ages so having to set up a bookkeeping business to keep track of ensuring that eventually everything works out. Clearly when I can travel again my destinations will be based on what flight vouchers I have to use up by the end of 2021.

LACK OF PERSONAL SERVICES – this is really first world stuff – no nail bars (why are my toes so much further away from me than they used to be?); no brow or lash bars, no beauticians BUT thankfully hair salons are considered essential services here so I have not had to embrace grey (as if that is ever going to happen while I am still breathing).

Colour restored and I feel GOOD! (Thanks to Del on Commercial Road)

FAMOUT AND NOT SO FAMOUS CELEBRITIES TRYING TO “CHEER US UP” – please just stop. The disappointment of hearing people who I usually love to watch live with a band and other enhancements just singing to us in their pyjamas and beanie hats or in their post bath towels – is not working for me. Mostly I feel I could do just as well as them singing in my shower – which I will definitely not be broadcasting to all and sundry. I’ll just listen to the versions that sound really good on Spotify thanks.


PEOPLE MOANING ABOUT HOW AWFUL ISOLATION IS – Get a Grip! No bombs falling out of the sky; no hunger (or even toilet paper rationing); many parts of the world where you can still go for one walk a day; so much available entertainment and education at home; alcohol still considered essential; people who are lucky enough to have jobs can work from home and keep them.

The really tough time will be after we can all go out again and it will last a lot longer. But that’s just my view…..

Videos, GIFS and Memes – some funny others not so much but given sense of humour differs so much this is the one (thanks to Jane and John) that creases me up every time I watch it and is my favourite – especially for my solo friends and travellers.

Now I am going to stop complaining about things that aren’t really worth complaining about and head out on my daily stroll so that I can listen to the wonderful Oliver Kitteridge Again on Audible., Yesterday I saw these and from now on optimism will be back on my agenda:)

Australia, Melbourne – Nomadic life of the solo traveller now VERY challenged – but here’s what I am gaining from lockdown (part 1B) – What I’m learning about, what I’m watching, how I’m staying connected and how I’m keeping things a “bit normal”.

While I am still enjoying my daily walks in South Yarra (and thankfully we are having a very mild Autumn so far) mostly on my own but sometimes with the allowed “one other person at a distance”, I am also quite enjoying the time indoors as well thanks to modern technology. I really feel for some of my friends in countries where exercise outdoors is prohibited – hang on in there….

WHAT I’M LEARNING – Thanks to my friend Felicity for introducing me to free online learning – especially Edx and Khan Academy. So far I have taken three History of Art courses – and I really like the make up of written text and video and the fact that everything is in short sharp bites of info. I am now working through 20th century World History – WW1 covered and now onto WW2 (not the most cheerful of topics but especially of interest to me having spent a few months in Eastern Europe last year). Here’s an extract of a Khan Academy course page -how fantastic to be able to learn more about things that interest me for FREE! I think they are really great.

Extract of sub courses on 20th century history from Khan Academy

While my friend Marjory was over we became avid watchers of The Chase – twice a day – the UK version at 3pm and the Aussie version at 5pm. I love a quiz and although it was more fun shouting out the answers with someone else in the room I am getting used to talking to myself anyway so I shout them out to an empty room. I love knowing a little about a lot of things and it appeals to my competitive nature!

My favourite Chaser is Paul the Sinnerman

WHAT I’M WATCHING – And then there is Netflix. Whenever I travel I like to pick a genre of tv series to watch – for this Covid19 I am mostly focussing on non English speaking TV series (with subtitles – never dubbing which I hate!). My faves over the past few weeks are Money Heist (Spain), Fauda (Israel), The Break (France), Unorthodox (Yiddish and German), Giri/Haji (Japanese/English), The Awakening of Motti Wolkenbruch (Yiddish/German), Bonus Family (Swedish). And on my forthcoming list are The Valhalla Murders and Babylon Berlin. I generally prefer the quality of writing for TV series over movies – especially if watching at home.

Love this series

ACHIEVING SOME THINGS EVERY DAY -I have decided that while I am living comfortably in leggings, t shirts and sweatshirts – I will shower, dress and even put on my usual make up every day (that’s just my thing, I am not preaching). I also try to plan each day with a bit of an itinerary to give shape to my day and to help satisfy my achievement oriented personality! Even though I don’t work anymore I do like to organise my time and have some sense of achievement at the end of the day. So my current daily agenda might be something like: Get up, shower, get dressed and made up; watch news for no more than 30 minutes (everything is repeated after that); take my daily 10,000 step walk; buy groceries as needed; take an online class; read for an hour; do an online jigsaw; watch the Chase; do laundry; watch an episode or two of something; enjoy first drink of the day (have been strict about only drinking from 6pm onwards); make dinner; home manicure, enjoy 2nd drink of the day, sleep zzz. Maybe not the most exciting but I find I can easily fill time and do some different things every day.

The bottle isn’t always empty but the glass usually is!

And then there is also the regular chances to catch up with friends all over the world via whatsapp or zoom. I can honestly say I have probably spent more time just casually chatting with mates online since this all started than I ever have before. It’s nice:)

A modern day “Brady Bunch”moment – for those old enough to remember the credits!

As I am still loving my walks and noticing what’s around me – here are some new photos of things I have seen along the way in lovely Melbourne

Flowers still keep blooming in Autumn over here
Visions of Melbourne (from a distance)

Next update – the things I don’t find much fun about lockdown.

Australia, Melbourne – Nomadic life now VERY challenged – but here’s what I like to do (part 1A) – MY DAILY WALK

And I thought the first four weeks here were a bit weird. But as we all know things took a turn for the worse and we live in this strange dystopian way where we actively walk away from anyone who gets too close to us on the pavement – if you are a big city girl like me that is just the “normal thing” to do anyway!

But – as with all things strange and new you learn about yourself and how you choose to react to external factors you can’t control. Being an only child and someone who has travelled solo very often I am not daunted by my own company and probably do a lot better being on my own than I might be if I lived with more people! In fact I find I agree with almost everything I am thinking and saying to myself (conversations with self are also a plus as long as you remember there really is only one of you in the room:)

So in the absence of being able to post on my travels for a while and rather than repost my previous trips (which you can find easily if you want to visit other parts of the world virtually) – here’s my first post about what I actually like about being “stuck” in Melbourne for however long it will be – after the “likes” (and there are a few) I will confess to what I don’t like as much (that will be part 2)

WHAT I LIKE. (Would be great to hear from others what they enjoy about this situation we all find ourselves in) and to get ideas on how you fill your time.

1. MY DAILY WALK (and I know some locations are not allowed to do that but thankfully we still can as long as we are sensible) – where I try and manage 10000 steps while avoiding other human beings. This has made me do more exercise in isolation than I generally did when I wasn’t! 10 Gold starts for me.

Because it is the only time I can be out and about I move much more slowly and take the time to see things I would normally have charged past. So far this includes flowers (and I get to practise my iphone photo skills too) and enjoying the first signs of Autumn.

Anyone who knows the names of all these flowers – let me know – my knowledge in this space is classic for a Londoner – if it’s not a tulip, a rose or a daffodil I’m stuck.
I know the bird of paradise flower!
Colours of Autumn in Fawkner Park – how fab to be in a place with flowers and Autumnal colours at the same time

The other thing I like about my daily walk is that I can multi-task (some things never change). In this case I am either listening to podcasts or Audible books. Some of my faves have been – PODCASTS (To catch and Kill, The Drop Out, The Thinking Traveller, Blood Territory (an audible podcast). BOOKS (everything by Jessie Burton – The miniaturist, The Muse and The Confession (saving that one) – great new talent. The Pearl Thief by Fiona McIntosh; I’m thinking of downloading all the Harry Potter books narrated by Stephen Fry.

Taking daily walks has also meant I have started to go to places I didn’t even know existed before. My favourites are Fawkner Park and the Yarra trail by the river. I discovered the Federation Bells and saw a kookaburra very close up.

A cheeky kookaburra seems very at home when there are less people around on the Yarra trail
The Federation Bells doing their thing
A perfect tree in Fawkner Park

Of course I am actually writing this post right now because it is bucketing down outside so my walk may be jeopardised today. Unlike many of my fellow Brits I have never understood the desire to walk for hours in the pouring rain – why this should be deemed fun is beyond me but I know there are a lot of ardent walkers back there in Blighty (some are even good friends of mine:) – so there must be something to it I suppose – maybe the pub at the end?

Ooh – rain just stopped – I’m out of here….