Thursday, 16 April 2020

Covid-19 update - The best laid plans

For about 1/3 of my working life I was an English teacher and I loved doing that.  I miss that job and I miss all of my students (some of whom will be reading this.  Hi!!  I am doing well.).  It will probably come as a little surprise when I say that during my school years, I hated English.  It was my least favourite subject!  Why?  One word......Shakespeare.  Now there are probably going to be people gasping in shock at me saying that.  One person I hope doesn't read this is my good friend Atra (although she does know how I feel about his writing).  Having said that, one novel that I remember studying was a book by John Steinbeck called "Of Mice and Men".  The title of this book comes from the saying "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry" which means you can plan all you want but there will probably be something that happens that will spoil your plans.  Well, I had great plans to get this blog going again before covid-19 knocked on the world's door and burst into everyone's lives uninvited!

I had gone to visit a small country town not too far from Melbourne, known for its traditional, historical architecture and its food.  A couple of photos.

Oops, sorry I don't know how that last one got in there.....

As I said, I had gone there but then a few days later lockdowns started due to the coronavirus and I didn't get around to posting.  I will when I have the chance to go back and refresh my mind after all of this craziness.

In all of this isolation it is easy to go crazy so I decided to do a couple of things to keep my mind working.  I set up a sports quiz chat on Facebook Messenger for myself and a few friends and someone will occasionally post a sports trivia question for the others to answer.  That is fun.  Also my mother is stuck down in Tasmania and so we message each other every couple of days with trivia questions and little challenges to keep ourselves occupied and doing something.  Today my Mother challenged me to write a post about what I have been doing in lockdown, so here it is!

Early in the covid-19 days I thought to myself, if things get serious, what is the best way for me to get through this and it was pretty easy to come up with the solution.  Turn completely nocturnal!  Sleep during the day then be active and awake at night.  I have always been a night owl so staying awake is easy for me.  Early in the pandemic I had started a full time job, but that disappeared after one week because of the virus.  Of course I am not alone, a lot of people lost their jobs when the coronavirus hit.  I am just one of many.  With no work, I set about becoming nocturnal

So, what does my nocturnal life look like?  Well, I usually get up late in the afternoon or early in the evening and after having a bite to eat, I usually head off to the supermarket to get some food.  After I get back home, the rest of my day (night) is made up of keeping myself amused with TV, Xbox video games and Youtube.  The really difficult thing for me is that I love watching sports, all kinds of sports but there are no sports being played right now which is really disappointing.  Hopefully they will return soon.  Also, either just before or just after midnight I will go for a walk to get some fresh air and exercise.  The great thing about that time of night, especially in the current circumstances, it is so peaceful and quiet!  So tonight on my walk I decided to take a few photos just to show what lockdown in Melbourne is like!  I started my walk at about 10pm, so not too late.

This place here

is a liquor store that specialises in local craft beer.  Their selection is amazing.  You can buy some beers to take home, or they have a big , beautiful, comfortable leather sofa that you can chill out on and have a drink there so it is kind of a bottle shop combined with a bar.  However, covid-19 stopped the bar part....

What a shame.

This place

is a cat rescue / adoption place.  They also have a cat lounge where you can go and hang out with the cats that they have there.  I was looking forward to doing that, but

they are closed until the pandemic passes.  

Honestly, the roads are dead quiet!

I could walk along the middle of the road quite safely!

Trains, trams and buses are still running

but they all simple resemble nomadic ghost towns...

As with most places, here restaurants can stay open but only for take away or delivery and I happened to come across this place tonight on my walk.

Sure!  Sounds good.  I ordered and stepped back outside to wait and this bottle shop next door

was pumping out some loud tunes!  This was the place to be.  Pizza and loud music, it felt like covid-19 had become a distant memory.........if only.

I grabbed my pizza and looked around for a place to eat it (it would have been very cold had I waited until I got home to eat it).

This bus shelter worked well!

So I sat down with my pizza,

and kicked back to eat and watch the world going on around me.


Reminders everywhere.....

I finished eating and continued on my way and passed a sudden hub of activity.

A couple of restaurants and all of those cars?  Uber Eats!  Well, even in lockdown, people still gotta eat!

Some of the most affected places are pubs.

With social distancing and lockdown happening, there is just no business for them.  I know of some who have kept their kitchens going and are doing take away and delivery, but still, they are being hit hard.  I walked a little further and came to this street.

Now this street is usually buzzing with activity, all of the Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants open late and usually full.  Now?  Not so much.

I walked past one last place that I thought I want to return to when covid-19 is a thing of the past.

Yeah, I want to try some Fried Hustle.  Who wouldn't?!!  I look forward to it....

Anyway, that's enough from me.  I hope you are all healthy and are keeping safe.  Please keep up with your lockdowns and social distancing.  The sooner this thing is gone, the sooner we can return to something resembling normality.  Please leave a message below and let me know how you are doing and what you are doing during the lockdown.

See you next time.

Friday, 6 March 2020

I'm back!!

Hi!  Long time no see, and what a journey the last 2 years have been.  If you had been a regular reader / follower of my blog you haven't heard from me in a year and a half and you would have noticed that I had slowed right down with my posts in the 6 - 12 months before that.  If you know me, you probably know most of what has happened to me over the last couple of years.  For those of you who don't know me, you may be asking "What happened?  Where have you been?".  Well, please allow me to fill you in.

My last year in Japan, especially, was not so enjoyable.  I developed some health issues and subsequently spent some time in hospital.  The issues I had in Japan made me realise that if something serious did happen to me, I had no social welfare assistance in Japan.  Of course I had health insurance but if I had to spend any length of time off work, I would have zero income.  This was on factor.

The second factor was that I realised that, in all, I had spent nearly a quarter of my life living away from my family, my brothers, sisters and my mother.  I had a nephew that I had never met and a great niece that I hope to meet soon.

So, I made the heartbreaking decision to return home, to my birth home and I make that distinction because Japan had become my home.  I say heartbreaking because the night that I made the decision to finish my life in Japan, I was in tears.  I left many dear friends in Japan and I left a big part of my heart in Japan.  Those of you who read these pages regularly will know the passion that I had for Japan and sharing the lesser known parts of Japan, Japanese history and Japanese culture and for sharing this with people.  So, yes, I have left a lot of me back in Japan.  I hope people continue to come here and read about the magical country that I home.

The first couple of months back home, I felt totally lost, completely disoriented and confused.  I am incredibly lucky that I had family to move back to (my older sister who gave me a roof and some time for me to start clearing my head before she, thankfully, picked me up, gave me a kick up the bum and told me to get on with my life again).  I spent Christmas with most of my family (which helped).  

Just today I decided that I am going to continue with this blog, just with a change in focus from Japan to the rest of my life's adventures.  That is why I am here now.  I am going to keep going with this blog, as it gives me something productive to do.  Also I thought to myself, when I eventually do leave this world, what will I have left behind?  Nothing concrete.  But by keeping this going, I leave this behind, my life less normal (don't worry, I don't plan on going anywhere anytime soon!!).  I will go back to Japan, I am putting plans in place for my next visit as you read this.  As I said, I left a big part of myself back there and left some people who are incredibly close to me there and I say to them, I will see you soon.

So, what now?  I want to share a part of a poem about where I come from.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror,
The wide brown land for me!
(Written by Dorothea Mackellar.  Full version can be found here.)

This is Australia and welcome to my next chapter......