I think we’re pretty well all settled down now from our move across the globe. It always takes some time to build up a daily routine and a bit of momentum after a big move. The normal mix of emotions of missing friends from PNG, excitement at all the new and shiny, and surprise at the changes at home are all there; but the surprise of course is the biggest one this time round!
When we left for PNG no one had heard of Coronavirus and we spent the first 9 months of the crisis in the bush where it wasn’t a concern. We returned to the UK at the peak of the second wave and the third national lock down.
So what’s changed? We’ve been dropped straight into lock-down life and we’re seeing it for the first time. Here’s what we’re noticing:
- It’s very hard/impossible to keep up to date with people.
We’ve been home for a month and the only way we’ve had to up with family or friends is through Zoom.
It’s been interesting. On the one hand, the quality and depth of our conversations are more substantial. When you call someone you never call for 30 seconds to 5 minutes (like a normal catch up chat). Its always 45 mins to an hour and a half.
For the first two weeks, I set the goal of phoning someone every day to start reconnecting with people, and it was great, but I couldn’t keep it up! In-depth chats over the phone are tiring and every day was too much for me, I burned out with it actually and don’t feel like too many more right now 🙂
Also when that’s how you’re connecting with people geography doesn’t matter. I’ve been chatting to friends in Canada, the US, PNG and various people all over the UK. I intended to catch up with my friends here in Bracknell, but the rules of geography don’t apply to phone calls. I can talk to anyone in the world, and that adds to the sense of being overwhelmed and ‘zoomed out’.
I can’t schedule an hour-long chat with each friend once a week and so we don’t get to talk. It’s a curious mix of lots more talking and connecting with a few people while feeling like you don’t get to talk to anyone.
It’s pretty funny to be able to travel all the way across the globe and then have the same means of communication with people as we had in the bush 🙂
- It’s hardest on the kids
Lock me in a room with a laptop and an internet connection and I’ll keep myself productive and entertained for months. Oscar is missing his friends and we’re the only people he gets to see.
He loves being able to watch cartoons on the TV, but we’re limiting him to an hour or so once every 2 days. Finding other things for him to do is a challenge though (it’s far too cold for him to enjoy being outside!). It feels a lot like bush living. As parents, we were daydreaming about the clubs, daycare, playgrounds, library classes and toddler this that and everything available at home. Nope, just Mum and Dad at home, a lot like the bush, minus his friends.
- It’s not as strict as the news was making it out to be
Watching the UK news from PNG we imagined life was all about living in a hermetically sealed bubble and following strict rules. Our first time outside after our 10 days of self-isolation we felt a little like we were breaking the rules taking our toddler for a walk. Surely police would check our ‘papers’ at any moment. Nope. And the park looked just like a normal Saturday morning: people everywhere.
We’re out of milk, so I guess we’ll just go without because food delivery is in 4 days. We can take one for the team and just use tap water…. Not so much. Life seems to be going on just as normal. 0Popping to the shops for milk is necessary retail, so put a mask on and off you go. The UK rules are much more flexible than we were expecting.
- Life is comfortable
Lockdown isn’t easy, but we’re still in awe of how easy it is compared to life in the bush. We can buy whatever our hearts desire and have it within 2 days from Amazon. Our house gets delivery after delivery as we replace worn, full of holes, sun-bleached clothes, get new books for Oscar to read, a cot, newborn car seats, and replacement toothbrush heads. My oh my, the ease of having anything we need delivered.
And the food! Fresh meat, fresh milk, grapes, parsnips, Dr Pepper, bourbon biscuits, jaffa cakes, fresh chickens half the price of Goroka chickens, gravy, custard, peaches, apples, bread, and sauce pastes. Never mind takeaways and restaurants, what you can get from the supermarket is blowing us away!
Reliable internet, Youtube, streaming services, being able to update software without anxiously eyeing the data budget.
Access to a midwife and the NHS, being a 20-minute drive from a hospital.
A washing machine that takes care of everything in one button push and the fact that clothes actually dry here! We still can’t get over the fact that we don’t need to leave laundry out for 2-3 days to get it dry, it dries overnight!!
I don’t want to downplay the difficulty of lockdown; it is a challenge and everyone experiences it differently . We’re just fresh into it, coming from a different angle.
We’ve settled into a routine that gives me 4 hours a day for work which right now involves working on the linguistic analysis of the Kovol language (hence the phonemics blogs!), making videos and preparing for upcoming (Zoom) presentations.
It’s a bit of a stretch for us as Gerdine gets so tired carrying twins and Oscar doesn’t always cooperate 🙂 At 30 weeks now Gerdine is ready to be done with pregnancy. Its heavy, she’s not sleeping well and sometimes she doesn’t know how she’ll manage another 7 weeks of it.
The silver lining is an end date. The babies will be induced at 37 weeks if they haven’t come already, so we’re looking at end of March babies 🙂
There is lots for us to enjoy and there are lots of opportunities each day, so we’re not likely to get bored anytime soon! We’re feeling a bit guilty we’re not ‘in the trenches’ with Philip and Natalie in Kovol though!