Reflections #20: Feeling Isolated in Isolation

Close-up of Zarina wearing a corona face mask

On the last Sunday of the month I write my personal review of the previous four weeks. While the first five months of 2020 seem to have flown by, June felt to last forever. Having been in lockdown for three months during the saddest period in my life, certainly started to take its toll this month. In today’s blog post: mental health during lockdown, the current Covid situation in the UK and what I make of the Black Lives Matter protest. Finally, there are also updates on my lockdown vegetables and sixpack, and of course my monthly recommendations for films and series!

Mental health during lockdown

Looking back at the first six months of 2020, it’s been both the most uneventful year but also the year with the most life-altering events. Starting with the death of my best friend in January, 2020 has been hard for my mental health. Not being helped by three months of lockdown. A time that literally made me feel isolated and alone.

When my cousin Maikel passed away in his sleep almost three weeks ago from a heart attack, I was heartbroken I couldn’t fly back home to attend the funeral. Not only to pay my respect to my cousin, but also to support my mum, aunt and the rest of the family.

And while some countries started to relax their restrictions over June, the situation in the UK didn’t improve much. Unable to go out for non-essential outings still, the lockdown really started to wear me down this last month. Making me feel not only locked in physically, but also mentally, leading to closing myself off from the world in many different forms.

It’s also been five months ago since I last saw my friends and family, the longest time ever. Although travel might be possible soon again, I’m not eager to jump on the first plane or train to the Netherlands yet. Not only because I find the situation in the UK too unstable still, but also because I expect travel will be a real hassle.

What’s the current Covid situation in the UK?

So what’s the Covid situation in the UK then? For my friends in the Netherlands, where rules have been more relaxed from the start, it’s difficult to imagine what it’s like here.

DIY stores didn’t re-open till early May and the first non-essential shops didn’t open till two weeks ago. So far, all cinemas, theatres, venues, restaurants, bars and cafés are still closed. It’s still not allowed to go visit family or friends inside their home nor can you stay outside your own home overnight. This is very different from the Netherlands where people have been able to go to local holiday parks for a mini break for a while now.

But in the last month large groups of Brits have started to ignore the government guidelines. Following the scandal around Dominic Cummings, the ‘brains’ behind Brexit and Boris Johnson’s adviser, at the end of May the country’s been in complete mayhem.

For those who don’t know the story: Cummings broke the government advice regarding self-isolation and gave some lame-ass excuses trying to justify his actions. Being defended by his buddy Johnson, Cummings wasn’t reprimanded. This obviously pissed off the people followed by mass gatherings soon afterwards.

Because it was incredibly summery weather, beaches and outdoor areas were absolutely packed. The same happened again this week. It makes me so angry to see people being so extremely selfish and the government being so ineffective at putting a stop at this.

The packed beaches in Bournemouth, UK, even made it to the German news

But then again, the government is too distracted wasting millions of pounds on worthless projects. Such as spending £11 million on a Covid tracking app which they then abandoned because there were too many issues with it. And this week the British government announced their ‘coronaphobia campaign’, nudging Brits to return to public buildings such as pubs when they’re re-opened again.

Judging from the packed beaches this week, I don’t think people suffer from coronaphobia though. Still, the government plans on spending £20 million on their campaign. All the while, Hubby and so many people we know have lost all their income and fall between the cracks of all government financial support programmes. And to make things worse, they’re still all expected to foot the higher tax bill next year of course.

As you can tell, I’m really angry at the government and how inefficient they’ve been at handling the pandemic. However, I’m well aware that it’s so much worse in many other countries and that so many more people are suffering. I also like to believe the majority of Brits are still sensible and adhere to social distancing and that the media is only highlighting the extreme cases. So, let me just stop my rant here and quickly move on to other topics.

Update on my sixpack

From the beginning of lockdown, I’ve been exercising nearly daily at home using the Les Mills On Demand classes. Alternating between cardio and core-focussed classes, have definitely started to shape my abs.

Although it’s difficult to capture in a photo, I have noticed a clearer definition of my oblique muscles. Judge for yourself in the photos below taken in week 1 (mid-March) and week 14 (earlier this week). Since I’m not following a special diet, the progress is slow, but at least it’s there.

Black Lives Matter

Taking place during the pandemic, the worldwide Black Live Matters protests have been scary to witness from a health-perspective. However, I am grateful for the attention it has drawn to racial inequality.

Although there’s a long long way to go yet, the powerful movement has been successful in opening up discussions in society and some governments. The Dutch Prime Minister, for example, admitted institutional racism exists even in a liberal and multi-cultural country as the Netherlands. And in the UK, some statues of controversial historical figures have been taken down.

Black Lives Matter protesters in front of Winston Churchill's statue in London
(Photo: James Eades on Unsplash)

However, I don’t believe erasing such troublesome characters and events from our history books is the right way to go forward. Instead, in order to learn from our mistakes and flaws, I think it would be much better to acknowledge the evil side of colonialism.

Especially in context of Brexit, with most of its supporters wishing to return to the times of the Great British Empire, it’s important to learn how one’s own country and culture was built and thrived on slavery and immigration.

Black Lives Matter protesters in front of Parliament in London
(Photo: James Eades on Unsplash)

Unable to capture my own thoughts and emotions regarding the Black Lives Matter protests, I re-shared my older blog post Why I Can’t Bear the Question: But Where Are You REALLY From? this month. I had some great responses from readers saying that it was such a valuable addition to the current discussion about race and systematic inequality.

On a much larger and painful level, both the Black Lives Matter demonstrations and death of my cousin ripped off the scars of a deep family trauma. Because Maikel wasn’t the first son my aunt lost. It’s 21 years ago that her then 38-year old son Humphrey died as a result of what they refer to as ‘pointless violence’ (zinloos geweld) in the Netherlands.

Whilst walking his dog one evening in his hometown of Sittard, he bumped into two drunk guys who, for no reason, beat him up so severely he died from his injuries a few hours later in hospital. Being white and premier league football players, the killers were only sentenced to community service. I’m convinced that there would have been a severe prison sentence had the killers been of colour and the victim a white person.

The impressive silent march held for my cousin following his death might have been some comfort to his two children, siblings and parents, but the lack of justice is a bitter pill to swallow. It shows the racial inequality in the political and legal system, even in a sophisticated and forward-thinking country as the Netherlands indeed.

Update on my lockdown vegetables

Let’s move on to a lighter topic now and have a look at my lockdown vegetables. I posted photos of my tomato plants in last month’s personal review, and below you see a more recent photo of them.

I was so pleased to see the first three tomatoes appear three weeks ago! But so far, these are still the only ones. A lot can happen in a month’s time though, so who knows we might be drowning in homegrown tomatoes when I get back to you again in my next personal update next month.

Films and series recommendations

Still unable to go to the cinema, most of the films and series we watched this last month has been through streaming services. It was refreshing to discover more art films on both Amazon Prime and Netflix. (Although being able to find them on Netflix is a bit convoluted.)

Especially the 1976 thriller/drama The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, starring a 14-year old Jodie Foster was a great find on Netflix. However, personally I most of all enjoyed the comedy about Euro Vision that Netflix dropped last Friday. Starring Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams and Dan Stevens (in a brilliant role), this feel-good comedy Euro Vision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga was exactly what I needed.

Here’s a complete list of my the films and series I watched in June. To make it easier for you, I indicated all my must-watch recommendations with a * in front of the title.

Films

  • *Adult Life Skills (Netflix)
  • *Euro Vision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (Netflix)
  • *Freaks (Netflix)
  • *I See You
  • *Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, The (Netflix)
  • Longest Week, The (Amazon)
  • Prevenge (Amazon)
  • Remainder (Amazon)
  • *Take Me (Netflix)
  • Thoroughbreds (Amazon)
  • Vast of Night, The (Amazon)
  • You Should Have Left

Series

  • *Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Netflix)
  • *Catastrophe SE03-04
  • *Dix Pour Cent SE01-3 (Netflix)
  • *Forever SE01 (Amazon)
  • *Master of None SE01-02 (Netflix)

Blog posts I wrote this month

If you missed any of this month’s blog posts, here’s your chance to catch up!

To lighten things up this month, I published the third instalment of my series of funny Dutch phrases in English. After my favourite Dutch phrases about animals and food, I shared some of the funniest Dutch sayings about clothing this month.

Following my guide about the best things to do around Tower Bridge earlier this year, I compiled a special guide about the best things to do around London Bridge. While they’re only about 1 kilometre apart from one another, the areas around both bridges are home to most of the famous London landmarks.

Finally, on my cultural travel blog Miss Travel Clogs I wrote a colourful guide about the top 10 street art cities in the UK. It’s a great addition to my previous guide about the best places to see street art in London.

Blog posts I wrote in May 2020

the best things to do near London Bridge

Things to Do Near London Bridge (+ Free Map)

Following my list with things to do around Tower Bridge, here’s a your ultimate guide to the best things to do near London Bridge. This London guide covers common questions asked by first-time visitors to London, such as: What is there to do near London Bridge? And: What is near London Bridge Station? Find all the answers here!

Read More…

What has your month been like? Tell me in a comment below!
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Zarina xxx

One thought on “Reflections #20: Feeling Isolated in Isolation

  1. Esther van den Bergh

    My condolances to you and your family regarding the loss of your nephew. And such a traumatic event that killed his brother as well. And you are right, change the colour and the sentence changes as well. Institutionalised racism is defenitely a problem in The Netherlands as well.
    I don’t think destroying statues will change this, I rather think it would be better to present the right information at such statues so people can inform themselves about how things went down in history, and are told the dark sides of our history. That said, I do think it is necessary to protest racism and it is great to see how many people are going to these demonstrations. Hopefully change will come.

    Mental health is so important and the lockdown will have a devastating effect on it for many people. I know this first hand, I told you about this in private. I had my first meeting with a volunteer from Exodus who will help me with this PTSS and the next one is due upcomingTuesday. No idea how many it will take. One every three weeks for it is very intense and I feel really gutted afterwards but it is the right way to handle it, I think.

    I hope you will soon be able to visit your family again. The government’s decisions re the virus are incomprehensible, both in NL as well in GB. ‘Zwalkend’ is the Dutch word I find fitting, and I think it is more about money making then about protecting the citizens.

    Great there are some tomatoes! Hopefully more will show up! 🙂 My tomato plants are still too small to bear fruit but my lettuce tastes great and I already had a lot of strawberries and raspberries as well, they are so sweet!
    And your abs are doing great! Slowly but surely, the best way I think…

    As for my month, it was a stressful month with the PTSS, a former neighbour (72) that suddenly showed signs of psychosis and for who I am the only person he can fall back on.
    I visited Margreet at her home for the first time since her operation. Outside in front of her house though since her daughter smokes inside, which makes me mad. She ought to do this outside with her mum having so much trouble breathing! It was good to see she felt so much better although her breathing still needs some time to recover.
    I had a visit from a friend I made on Twitter, we started following each other 8 years ago. We had never met in person. I looked forward to it and it was great to finally meet.
    I visited my father in Haarlem once a week this past month, he sold his car so this will be a regular event. Before he did visit me in Hoofddorp by car sometimes but since he went nowhere else with it, it became very expensive, not worth the money. I don’t mind driving to Haarlem, I always enjoy a good ride in my Canta, it relaxes me.
    I also enjoyed some visits of C., these visits give me a lot of positive energy, they balance things out, so to say.

    Hopefully things will change for the better re the virus. Although I do go around doing things again I am very careful and I avoid supermarkets, public transport and gatherings of people. But it would be great when we can hug each other again without having to think about being contaminated. We all need physical contact with other people in our lives…

    Thank you, I do hope July will be a better month for you…
    xx

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