Day 403 – Don’t waste the day

It is hot out there today. Really hot. Paula Fish would be having great time.

Big plus: I don’t need to light the fire we still don’t have.

I got out early for a reasonably brisk 5km. Back in the day, it used to be all about how fast I could get up a hill. And it will be like that again sometime soon. However, in my current condition, it’s more about whether I make it up the hill at all (I did) and whether there’s a sneaky episode of vasovagal syncope waiting for me near the top (there almost was). Who knew that there was a long tunnel at the top of Visser Avenue?
But the hills are good for training, and the view from the top was pretty special. I didn’t take a camera with me (because who does?), but I might pop up there and get a pano across the city if there’s a suitable morning soon.

Once I’d recovered, it was off to do those pesky Monday morning errands in seventeen different places across the Southern Suburbs. All went well apart from the frankly stupid decision to take Wynberg Main Road as a shortcut. Wynberg Main Road is never a shortcut, although you do get to see all sorts of interesting people along there. It’s like the Dubai Airport or the Deep Space Nine of Cape Town, but grimier and with a lot more taxis.

However, despite that minor inconvenience, everything got done and I was back in time to unpack the shopping to Charlotte de Witte’s There’s No One Left To Trust. There’s a time and a place for heavy techo, and today it was 12ish and in my kitchen.

However, that’s not all. With winter on the way (it’s just around mid-30s outside) (yes, Celcius), I’m not wasting this peach of a day.
Braai tyd vanaand because you never know when your next chance will be. It might be tomorrow, but it might not.
Looking at the forecast, it probably will be tomorrow.

Anyway, I need to sort a few more things out – lunch and a blog post (this are it) – before heading out to get the kids from school and the usual afternoon chaos ensues, so let’s chat again Tuesday, hey?

Keep safe, keep well.

Day 15 – A walk

Seriously? Seriously.

We’re lucky (and organised) enough to be sorted for most of our shopping requirements. But with a couple of tweenagers in the house, some of the perishable items have taken a bit of a hammering. Bread. Milk. Fruit.

The fruit is not such an issue: we have a delivery coming today or tomorrow (supporting local producers and business) (more on here about this sort of thing “soon”), but bread and milk are staples. Not like stationery staples, obviously: are those even essential items, anyway?

I think I mentioned about the risk of shopping here, in that we are safe from the virus while we’re isolated in our home, but as soon as that isolation is broken, by someone coming in for lunch “to discuss masks and gloves”* or by me going out to buy stuff from Pick n Pay. So it’s not a decision to be taken lightly: I don’t want to risk bringing coronavirus into, but these are things we do need before we kill one another. Catch 22.

The thing is, when I did that “big” shop last week, I went to a proper supermarket and pushed a trolley around. It took time, and I was exposed to [gasp] other people for ages, but we needed food. Car journey, big supermarket, real life.

Yesterday was different – just bread and milk (ok, and bacon – always bacon), but all that was needed was an in-and-out job. The best place to do an in-and-out job is the mini-supermarket 600m down the road.

So I walked there. I walked there. I walked. Walked.

Feet. Fresh air. Legs. Tarmac. Sunshine.

I now have milk, bread (and yes, bacon). And 1.2km of proper stride length walking under my belt. Great news, guys: everything still works! Pavements still exist. My legs can still propel me down to the shops and back. I wanted to break into a little run, but that would have limited the amount of time I could legally spend outside.

And aside from actually within the supermarket (where it was still all very social distancy), absolutely zero contact with anyone else at all.

But please, please remember: this is a lockdown. Staying at home is the best way of preventing the spread of the virus. While my 10 minutes outside was absolutely (and weirdly) lovely, it was a necessary trip to buy essential items.
Not a jog or a dog walk.

Stay home, stay safe. Wash your hands.



* Context: here.

Day 8 – I went out

I did. We needed shopping, so I went to the shop.

Obviously, everywhere was much quieter than usual, but not empty. Several (or more) cars on the roads, as well. My chosen supermarket had a one-in, one-out policy running to limit the number of shoppers in the place, but I was there early enough to not have to queue, although there was quite a wait by the time I left.

There was plenty of hand sanitiser available and it was being liberally squirted everywhere while I was in there. There were lots of people in face masks and lots of people not using face masks very well, although the best effort at pseudo-PPE was a guy in DIY safety specs, who had tissue paper wrapped around his lower face. When I saw him, I spluttered with laughter, eliciting immediate glances of concern from the paranoid shoppers around me.

As far as stock went, it was mostly ok. Frozen veg was gone, canned veg was a little short, and the range of fresh veg wasn’t great. So yes, veg was a bit of an issue. There were weird holes in the shelves: jam, chicken, rusks and rooibos tea all AWOL. But generally it was a reasonable experience – nowhere near as weird as I thought it would be – and now we’re stocked up for the next couple of weeks. I might not have to go out again. Ever.

Now that I – and through me, the family – have been exposed to the outside world again, we’re going to be doing even more handwashing and not touching of faces for the next few days. I’ve already disinfected the car and left the shopping bags on the washing line to bake any viruses off in the sun.

Day 5 – Shopping

I’m not shopping today. I’m just talking about it.

We’re still doing ok on the things we bought in before the lockdown started. And no, we didn’t stockpile. We don’t have the space or the moral delinquency for that. We just bought sensibly for a couple of weeks ahead (because it was obvious that this was going to happen) and we’ve been careful with what we’ve used.

I will have to venture out and shop this week though. I’m planning to combine it with a blood donation. We’re a bit short on fresh stuff: bread and milk and fruit and veg.

There’s a list of essential items that you are allowed to buy:

It forms part of the legislation around the lockdown which I shared here. And it seems completely reasonable until you start looking at the details.

Now, to be fair, I do understand some of the reasoning behind this – everything should be done to keep supermarkets stocked with essential items, and so transport systems don’t need to be overwhelmed or distracted by stuff we can manage without right now: cut flowers, clothing, gardening goods etc.

I get it. It’s just where those lines between “essential” and “non-essential” have been drawn that’s possibly up for debate.

Let’s look at the big ones: alcohol and faaags.

Alcohol, I can understand. SA has a huge problem with alcohol, and cooping people up in a tiny space for 3 (or more) weeks with nothing to do but drink is a recipe for disaster. That’s not great for those people who don’t have a dependency on drink, but that’s not what this is about.

Tobacco though? Isn’t that the other way around? I’m not a smoker and I recognise that it’s not a healthy habit, but it seems to me that as a coping mechanism, tobacco has a place in this lockdown. And forcing the 20% of South Africans who smoke (that’s 10 million people) to go cold turkey with basically no warning whatsoever seems like a very bad idea to me.

And then some of the things that I’ve seen and heard on social media. Like the fact that you can buy floor cleaner, but you can’t buy a mop. To be fair, one is pretty much useless without the other. It’s not something that I would feel to be hugely essential during the lockdown, sure. But if you’re going to allow one, why on earth not the other?

And then there’s crisps/chips/crisps. I’ve seen images of entire crisp/chip/crisp aisles taped off at the supermarkets. Apparently, you can buy potatoes, just not processed potatoes. Why? And where does that leave us on the biltong front? Because denying South Africans access to biltong is denying them a basic human right. Like denying them the freedom to walk around outside.


Some of these questions may be answered when I head out later in the week, but it might well be the case that my journey out will end up with me finding more of these mildly bizarre dichotomies while I’m trying to keep the family fed for the next few weeks.

I’ll keep you posted. (Because let’s face it, you’ve really nothing better to do right now.)

Good Friday Shopping

This morning, I felt that my knee was doing well enough for me to try some DIY. Like, all the tasks that had been put off because my knee wasn’t well enough. So I packed the kids into the car and headed for Builder’s Warehouse: our local DIY behemoth.

Of course, today is a public holiday, and they’re open from 0900-1700 on public holidays. It says so on their website and on the big sign next to their… very closed doors.

They’re not open. At all. Not even a little bit.

So you can’t buy bricks, but you can pop across the road to Toys R Us: a store which is in dire financial straits and closing stores worldwide, but which is ironically open in Tokai right now.

Many malls and shopping centres are operating an “Optional Trading” policy today, and as it’s a religious holiday, I guess it’s reasonable to assume that on this most holy of Christian days, it’s God who decides which stores get to open and which aren’t allowed to.

We went to Constantia Village to investigate and found that She’d made some interesting choices as to what was open and what was closed:

You can buy crystals (Spilhaus) but not trendy casserole dishes (Le Creuset).
Amazingly, you can buy gin (PnP Liquor), but not jewellery (Peter Gilder).
You can buy childrens clothes (Earthchild), but not adult clothes (Revenge).
You can buy water filter cartridges (H2O International), but you can’t pick up concert tickets (Computicket).
You can’t get your haircut at all (Edge, Partners).
Unless you are a lady (Carlton).
But your nails are going to have to wait (ManiPedi).
Absolutely no sunglasses (The Village Eyewear).
But coffee gets the nod (Seattle Coffee Company).
Not leather goods though, for they are the Devil’s work (Tsonga).
Oh, and you can’t buy perfume (My Perfume Shop), but also, you can (Red Square by Edgars).

The Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways…