O’ mice and men…

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, gang aft agley.
Rabbie Burns 1785

Tasmania

Today is 15th May 2020. The last blog finished on the 27th Feb 2020, about 9 weeks ago. In the intervening time the world’s normal parameters shifted somewhat. Covid-19 happened. This is what we’ve been up to since then.

Mona

We left the last blog in Tasmania. Jenni and I had just waved bye to friends Kyl and Dave and would shortly be departing for Sydney for a short break before our big European adventure. Of course we didn’t end up going to Europe but we’ll get to that.

8th May 2020

We drove the scenic route from our Airbnb to the airport through Lewisham. Tasmania pulled out all the stops reminding us what we were leaving. The skies were clear blue and the seas calm and smooth.

Lewisham, Tasmania

As we were planning to be in Europe for 3 months or more we’d arranged to leave the Mazda in a secure location. Sorell Secure Storage proved to be a perfect place, we rented a container and parked Mazzie there before heading to the airport. At $170 per month is was less than half the cost of the alternative options.

Secure parking for the next 3 months

Sydney

The flight to Sydney was uneventful. We were to be in Sydney for about 3 weeks before flying to Dublin. While in Sydney we had arranged to stay part of the time with friends and catch up with clients and family. We watched the news each day and assessed and reassessed our plans many times over.

The Covid-19 epidemic was all over the news and was having an effect on every day life. At this stage we hadn’t yet had lockdown but the world was getting more and more aware of cross infections. We even took to the elbow greeting rather than hugs when greeting family. This is Jenni and her brother Mark greeting at our last meal out in The Merton Hotel in Sydney.

Elbow bump greetings are the norm now.

At this point we still intended to leave for Dublin in about 2 weeks. Mostly that was decision was driven my by the “it’ll be alright” attitude.

While we were in Sydney we had planned to meet some clients. On the way to one meeting this appeared in the sky over Sydney. Maybe a little prophetic.

I didn’t know if they were going to say, 1) It’s Hammer Time 2) Right there thank you very much 3) In the name of love or, 4) Wait a minute, fill my cup put some liquer in it.

I have been visiting this client for years, they have one of the best views over Sydney Harbour but they have these automatic blinds that close to provide shade from the direct sun. They have never been open more than a crack but this day they opened up a bit more and allowed me to get this snap on my phone.

Cruise ship or Covid-19 incubator

Shortly after this, each day, sometimes several times a day, the news of world wide restrictions started getting worse. Tasmania and Western Australia announced a 14 day compulsory isolation period when arriving into each state. Spain and Italy, both places we had planned to go, closed their borders completely and locked everyone inside their homes. Ireland closed the fucking pubs and cancelled St. Patrick’s Day for fuck sake, now that is getting serious.

Our new assessment, based to the rapid lock down restrictions, was that we may get out but I may not be allowed back in as my permenant residency visa still handn’t been approved. We recuctantly agreed we wouldn’t travel and would cancel the big adventure. We told all our friends and family we wouldn’t be coming. We then spent hours, days unravelling all our travel plans and cancelling or postponing everything we could.

We of course, had to have a couple of leaving dinner dates with friends Carol and Greg…

Greg’s new Bar-B-Que

And Mark and Kathy…

Mark and Kathy’s new Bar-B-Que

Both Bar-B-Ques of course, it is Australia after all, and both observing social distancing.

Back to Tasmania

We then tried to book a flight to, and somewhere to stay in, Tasmania where we had planned to sit still and weather it all out. This is where we got really lucky. We were looking for something quite impossible. A 6-8 months rental property, fully furnished, near Dodges Ferry where we ideally wanted to be settled. On our first search on Realestate.com up popped the perfect place. It was an Airbnb home, fully furnished, where the owner wanted to rent it out to December. The advert had been up on the site just 3 hours. It had the phone number of the Estate Agent. We called. It was still available. A short time later we had confirmed it was ours till Decemeber. This is a picture from the advert.

Our temporary Tasmanian home.

We couldn’t believe how lucky this all worked out. With our date for moving in confirmed we then tried to book a flight back to Tasmania. Several flight bookings, cancellations, rebooking, rearranged moving in dates and diverted flights later we arrived back in Tasmania. That last sentence took nearly 2 weeks and a million phone calls to resolve.

Leaving Sydney

8:30am Sydney Airport on a weekday.
Sydney Airport, leaving for Tasmania

Back in Tasmania

We knew we would have to stay in isolation for 14 days but were just happy to be back.

Then 3 things happened. 1) The day after we arrived back in Tasmania the Government announced all new arrivals would have to be in Government controlled isolation locations, dodged that one, 2) Australia closed it’s borders to all non-residents and 3) I got my permanent residency visa approved.

The first day back in Tasmania the weather threw us a party and put on a great show during the day.

Wondeful Tasmanian skies.

Part way through our self managed isolation we had a visit from the army checking that we weren’t leaving the house. The Tasmanian’s were taking this seriously. It really didn’t feel like much of a chore to be isolated here.

Isolation Over. We can go out.

Pubs and restaurants were shut, so were music venues and cinemas. However there is a private path to the beach across the road at the bottom of the garden. Our daily exercise now takes us along and back the 3 Kms or so of Park Beach.

Beautiful Park Beach

Shed refurbishment

Two vital shops are still open. Bunnings DIY and the local BWS bottle shop / off license / liquor store. Both these establishments are vital to me completing the refurbishment of our shed on the block. Remember we have a block of land near Dodges Ferry with some beach shacks on it that we are refurbishing. Well this gave us the opportunity to complete one of the big tasks. Insulating and fixing up the metal shed.

Bought a window off Gumtree, thats where it’s going
Big hole needed, no going back now
The window is in, Steve looks happy
Insulation sorted, nail gun, what would I do without you?
Panels on and painted, electrics in.
Ceiling is on, lights are all wired up, now all we need is a door
That’ll do, oh and look at that fancy floor, matches the door.
This is the start of the weekend queue at Bunnings if you go any time after 9am

I’m very happy with the result, Steve and I worked hard at it. What I lack in skill I make up for in the ability to hide most of the faults and fixes.

Work

Jenni and I and the rest of the team have been working away during this time. As a business our work practices weren’t really affected, all our team have always been able to work remotely. We’ve been a cyber business for years, some might say ahead of the curve. So we continue to keep the lights on and support our clients through this period.

Now we have a place where we will be staying still for a few months I’ve started home brewing again. Some Irish Special Super Black Obsidian Stout is in the brewer as the first batch. I’ll keep you posted on progress.

Jenni and I continue to enjoy a daily walk along the beach. 6kms round trip each day.
It’s usually as busy as this.

It was during this time I crossed a milestone and made it into my 60th year. Well in actuality, when you turn 60 you are in your 61st year. We had planned to celebrate it with family and friends in Ireland. It was disappointing not to be able to make it but we will see you all next year when this all blows over. Will give my liver a chance to get up to full fitness for the trip. Meanwhile Jenni and I will tough it out in Tasmania.

Toughing it out Tasmanian style, sundowner drinks on the back deck. Training the liver for the UK trip next year

So to round up I’ll show some of the beautiful things we’ve experienced on our daily beach walks and around the house.

Starfish trying to get back into the sea.
Thought this was a dead star fish until it started wriggling. We placed it back into the water.
The retreating tide makes such beautiful and intricate patterns in the sand
Kookaburra pays us a visit
Black Cockatoo keeping its eye on me
View of Mount Wellington at sunset through the trees from the back deck
The skies here are so clear and void of light pollution
Seeing the Aurora from the back deck was pretty special

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