Hope you are all safe and well. This month has really gone quickly, maybe because we were actually doing something.
Phase 2 has Started
May has been so different compared to last month. At the beginning of May we were starting phase 2 of lockdown. At first, we still had to complete self-certification forms to prove we are out for a reason. One of the reasons was that we could actually go for a walk and with someone else in our household. This meant that on 4th May, John and I were able to go for a walk together for the first time in ages, and farther than 200 metres from the house. It was so lovely to be able to walk and not have to bring shopping back, and together.
Also, it meant that we could walk on the beach. I had never really been a beach person, probably being born in the middle of England and not really seeing the sea until I was a bit older was a factor. On holidays I always liked to dip my feet in and walk along the beach, even though I sometimes found it really tough work. Sally and Steve definitely seen me struggle, ha-ha. I guess I was just used to walking on solid ground. But I have never gone in fully in the sea. Since living here, we have had many walks on the beach and I have felt the call to dive in to the sea on a hot sunny day. A major problem is that I can’t swim. I haven’t really been fully in a pool since primary school, so any knowledge I had of swimming or the confidence that I will not die has completely gone. I do have a plan to learn.
Anyway, I digress. Lockdown had taken away the option of walking on the beach and surprisingly I felt pretty sad about it. But now we can. The first time back was so lovely, I felt free. I am sure we didn’t take it for granted as we never had it until we moved here. But now, we appreciate it even more.
At the beginning of phase two, we in Calabria were given two different rules, one by the national government and another by the Calabrian president, Santelli. So there was confusion for what bars and restaurants can do. Restaurants and bars could open if they had outside seating, according to Santelli. There were indications that a few places in Scalea were trying to open as soon as possible by having large tables outside and smaller table spaced out and having measures to comply to social distancing and hand sanitising. But before it could happen, the national government went to court to stop the measures by Santelli as it was putting people as risk. She stated that it was OK for the economy of northern regions as factories and industry could open but Calabria’s economy is mainly based on tourism and hospitality, also there are far fewer cases of COVID-19 in Calabria. Anyway, she lost and the national measures were enforced. To be fair, it gave us clarity.
By mid-May, restrictions were further relaxed. Now the forms are no longer needed. Yay! This was such a relief, as well as the saving of paper and ink. We no longer need a reason to go out of our homes. We can spend time on the beach, and bars and restaurants can open with social distancing measures in place. This means that when we go into a bar or restaurant, we must wear a mask, but once we have sat down, we can take the mask off. If we need to get up from the table, we put the mask on. But the good news is, it also means that we can now see friends. We cannot sit too close together as we have to maintain the 1 metre distance rule. Gatherings are still not allowed (not entirely sure what constitutes a gathering) but if we see friends or family on the street or beach or wherever, we can stop and chat but keep the distance. So, we have actually seen all our friends who live in Scalea, which has been lovely, and it is great to feel that normality is slowly returning. We have had a couple of meals. We just have to get used to being that bit farther away from each other.
Walking around Scalea now, you can see that people are relaxed with each other. This is probably because there have been no COVID-19 cases in Scalea at all and everyone has been locked down for many weeks, so we all feel comfortable with locals. We were quite surprised that no one from other parts of Italy or the world has crept in to their second homes during lockdown. So, we still do not have any neighbours. There have been a few internationals that were stuck here for a while at the beginning, but they managed to get home within a few weeks of lockdown starting.
Starting from 3 June, borders will open with EU, Shengen and UK first, and the rest of the world by mid-June. It will be interesting to see how that will feel, living with more risk. I suppose, we need to learn to live with the virus as I do not think it is going to go away completely. But only time will tell.
Other news, as more shops are now open, we can buy more things. So, we are now happy owners of a lemon and a mandarin tree on our terrace. We have finally fulfilled part of the Calabrian dream to own a lemon and orange tree.
They will not produce fruit until late this year or early next but there are the tiny mandarin and lemons starting to grow. Hopefully, we can keep the trees alive.
Our pear tree has an abundant number of baby pears, so if you have any good recipes for pears when they are ripe, please let me know. Although last year, when they were so close to ripening, they were blown off the tree by a major wind. I do hope that will not happen this year.
Our other plants are doing quite well. After a time of looking not great our hibiscus trees are blooming, snapdragon flowers are doing well considering I planted the seeds last year, this year’s seeds are just starting to bud. Basil seeds I planted this year are growing very nicely. Even the coriander seeds I brought back from the UK in October last year is growing, but not that well. I think the seeds are old. So, I bought a packet of seeds from the garden centre here to see how they will grow. I will plant them after I write this post.
First Time Out of Scalea
As we are a little freer, we decided to leave Scalea and walk around Praia A Mare for the first time. We have been to the beach with Dino Island before, but not actually around the town. It looked lovely but it was incredibly quiet. It is definitely geared for a big crowd of holidaymakers that usually visit July and August. It will be interesting to see how many people arrive this year. We will return though.
I have to share a photo of the amazing rainbow over the old town that appeared on the afternoon of 20 May. It happened one last year but it is still amazing to see, and this time I managed to get the whole view in.
Finally, we have done our final test for Level A1 of our Italian course. We are supposed to find out the results in June. I hope we have passed. If so, we will be starting Level A2 in October, maybe in the classroom again. Although John prefers having the lessons at home as there is no waiting for the teacher to finish with other people in the room who are at different levels. I would be happy for her to teach us and then complete the lessons at home as it is better to hear Italian as well as read it and ask questions. We have one final lesson of A1 to complete though, which includes learning the Italian national anthem. Wish us luck!
So that is our story from May. June is officially the start of summer. Hopefully there will be less talk of COVID.