Isolation Diary: Day 32 in Spain Lockdown

Tuesday 21st April 2020

Dinner made by Alex in lockdown

I woke up just before Alex’s alarm starting chiming today. It was his first day back at work, but in lockdown style. It meant the balcony room table would be converted back to his teaching desk and I’d need to make sure not to walk behind the camera again.

I started on my blog post to get myself started. I’d got some statements I needed to design into eye catching advertising graphics so I spent the next two hours making a few of them. I came up with a great idea of how to incorporate less writing but to make more of an impact. In true Lauren form I always end a good idea with “idk something like that”.

Grey cloud Benidorm April

After that though, I was burnt out. It felt like I’d been awake a full day already and everything just felt heavy, inside and outside. A grey cloud seemed to look over me mirroring the weather outside. For the first time in lockdown I cried for no particular reason.

Grey rain clouds over Benidorm

I texted a couple of my friends. “Lockdown is shit isn’t it?”. “Yeah, but it’s worse for you”. I hadn’t even thought about how different lockdown is here compared to our neighbouring countries and how difficult that actually is… for me personally. I’ve just been getting on with it. I start to notice more and more. My friend in Vienna on her long run around the city, friends in the U.K. taking daily walks in nature. Somebody suggested that the Spanish culture doesn’t allow for social distancing, with rules as majority of people, especially the older generation would still kiss and hug friends and acquaintances with no knowing of who is carrying or who is positive and it makes sense. It made me feel a little better to know that it’s okay to feel down, and we all have these rough lockdown days.

I’d had a bacon cob and a cup of coffee for breakfast and Alex headed off to carrefour. It’s weird to think I haven’t been to a supermarket or anywhere outside of the 50m perimeter of my house for the past 5 weeks. “it’s okay, it’s not great. It’s not nice in there”, was Alex’s response to coming home again. Like in the U.K., the supermarkets are better in the morning he said. There’s less of a police presence around again now that Easter has passed.

I felt fed up. I struggled to keep positive, I struggled to be productive and I struggled to get moving after that. People on Twitter kindly suggested different ways to feel better, “take a mental health day” I didn’t need one of those. Having previously struggled with mental health I wouldn’t do it a disservice to say that one down day is a mental health issue. “Do nothing and you’ll be fresh tomorrow”, I imagine that works for a lot of people. I appreciated their ideas as it made me realise what I didn’t and did need to do. I knew if I did nothing I’d then feel guilty for doing nothing and I’d carry it on for longer. I knew what I was going to do to feel better.

Old ugly Benidorm layout

Lets move the entire bedroom around”,

Really? I love how I’ve been off work for two weeks but now is the time you want to move the bedroom”. He did smile when he said this. If he was that bothered I would’ve stopped ha.

New bedroom renovation done in lockdown

Hoover at the ready, and a lot of moving of furniture we changed the bedroom from an awful, ugly bedroom which both of us hated to a nice, welcoming room that doesn’t feel an eye sore when you walk in the front door. It’s so much brighter in there. And roomier. I never realised just how big that room was. I don’t have many before photos of it because it wasn’t a nice room to be in. The biggest problem was trying to find where to put the huge wooden unit. It’s not a particularly nice looking unit and if it was my house, it’d have gone, but we managed to fit it against the wall and used the side of it to put some photos which is proper me. I’ve always loved tacking stuff to the wall. I even cleared out three bags of clothes.

Computer desk in lockdown bedroom renovation

I set my timer and did my French practise. I’m quite enjoying learning it especially when a lot of it from school is now coming back to me. I’m moving on quite far with it now, it’s much easier to translate bits into English as it’s so similar to Spanish. The problem is translating into French when I try and add the Spanish equivalent. Like son and sont.

I finished The Unhoneymooners and I loved it. There was the right amount of drama and love story without it being too bleugh. I haven’t yet started another book yet so that’s a task for Wednesday. I’ve read 9 books now in lockdown. GoodReads sets you an automatic task of reading 12 books a year, so I’m full speed ahead to complete that. I’ll have to up the challenge to 24 books at this rate!

Alex setting the table in lockdown

Alex made us a delicious dinner that we ate on the table out on the balcony room, if the sun had been visible it’d been sunset. Not like the glorious sunset from the night before. We had chicken wrapped in bacon with Philadelphia cheese, spinach, lemon and black pepper with peppers stuffed with rice, chilli flakes and lime topped off with grated cheese. Alex loves experimenting with flavours and different dinners. He watches a cooking show on Netflix and tries out some of those too. I’m very grateful to have somebody who loves to cook and I’m sure he’s grateful that I eat more than just 2 different dinners now!

After dinner, our friends FaceTimed us. Nobody really has a lot to say in lockdown as everybody is doing the same thing. Staying home. Watching some TV, reading some books and working from home. It was really nice to see them though and catch up and have a laugh. Our friend is learning Spanish and, to be fair to him, he’s doing well! Our friend already speaks Spanish as she used to live in Spain too and went to school here but our other friend never knew any so we were surprised to hear how many words he now knew!

FaceTiming our friends in lockdown

I had to drag myself to do my ab blaster and a yoga flow then. My muscles were already agony and tired from the workout yesterday so it made this one much more uncomfortable. “Keep wailing like that and we’ll have the neighbours call the police”. Honestly, it was awful. But I did it.

It was a lot more comfortable in our new bedroom layout. I didn’t look at the room and feel angry being in there. Have you ever played The Sims and when they go into a room they don’t like for a particular reason their mood drops and they lose some of their “needs met” goals? That’s how I was with the bedroom. Now, it was a nice place to be. I took a look around before getting my iPad out to play some brawl stars. After midnight, I started doing my French and studied that for half hour. Guess that means I don’t have to do it in the morning!

The government have retracted their statement about children only being able to go out to mimic adult activities. Part of me thinks this new plan was the plan all along. They just wanted some uproar so they could retract their statement and be the government of the people and show how lovely and caring they are for listening. As of Sunday, children aged 14 and under will be able to take leisurely walks. They’ll be allowed to go outside and walk with a parent who they live with. Children aged 15-17 will be allowed to do this on their own. Adults will not be able to go outside for walks or anything like that unless accompanying a child who lives with them. Children will still not be able to use parks or the beaches or play with friends but they will be allowed to go out and do exercise maintaining social distancing with no time limit. It’s a real major step towards the transitional period out of lockdown so I’m taking it as a major positive. I just hope that soon adults will be able to do the same thing.

I got asked why Alex and I moved to Benidorm and I realised I’ve never quite answered it.

“Love reading your blog but I wonder if you could share with us your reasons for moving to Spain and why you chose Benidorm? It’s quite unusual for a young couple to make such a change in lifestyle?”

The story of how Benidorm came around is quite lengthy. Moving to Spain was something I’d always considered. I liked the idea of learning a new language and I liked the landscape. I was 17 and decided to book a holiday with my boyfriend at the time. I didn’t want to go somewhere new, I wanted to go somewhere safe and somewhere that I knew where I was at all times. I’d chose the Hotel Bali as I’d never been to the Poniente/La Cala area of Benidorm. I ended up breaking up with that boyfriend and going in the summer holidays with my mum.

Sitting on the hotel Bali steps in Benidorm

I met a Spanish lifeguard and had an extended holiday romance. 3 times I went back to the Hotel Bali that summer that I turned 18. I was working at Tesco at the time and it seemed funny to be spending out on hotels when I could just find an apartment. At the time, the Spanish rental prices were so cheap. I found one on the front line of Poniente which was perfect for holidays back and forward. It was cheap to upkeep and in a safe aparthotel.

Flash forward to 2014 and I’d stopped talking to the Spanish boy. I’d got tired of being let down constantly (also found out he had a girlfriend which he always said he was going to break up with but never did. Even though I now had an apartment in the same city…). I knew Alex from Twitter and work. I didn’t know him enough yet to talk to him out of work but we had followed each other on Twitter. He was on a stag do in February half term and I was in Spain. He asked for my number on Twitter, which I thought was forward but turns out he was drunk so. His friend ended up texting me to begin with on his behalf saying he’d been talking about me etc etc.

Anyway, I tried to convince Alex to come to Benidorm but he would not have it. Why would he come to Britain in the sun? He’d told me he’d seen the newspapers about Benidorm and there was absolutely zero chance he was coming over. Anyway, he’d seen me uploading photos and saw me on a midnight walk in video and realised there was only Spanish voices about. Eventually, he agreed to come in the summer.

Our first time to Spain as a proper couple

He ended up loving the area where the apartment was. For the next couple of years Alex spent time back in university training to be a teacher. Each year he would apply to different schools on the Costa Blanca and started to get to know who was in charge in different places. In 2017, after he’d finished his NQT year he ended up getting offered a job out in an English private school in Benidorm.

By now, lots of things had changed. We’d made friends, which we went out to the cinema or dinners, or days out with every weekend. We had Marley. We had all of our family in England and it was a major choice. Many times we thought about turning it down and keeping the apartment as just a holiday home. But after reasoning from loved one: if you don’t do it now, you never will and better to try it now and if you don’t like it you’ve got it out your system and if you don’t do it now you’ll regret it you’ve not got any commitments. We gave it a go. Alex has always wanted to live abroad but didn’t particularly care where, I’ve always wanted to at least try living in Spain. Three years later and we’re still here. Alex has moved into a different job which he loves much more, there’s more progression for movement and I’m still at the job I got within the first week of moving.

If we do ever move back, we’d definitely keep our apartment as a holiday home.

So there you have it, Benidorm was more for convenience than anything else. We loved the area and there’s something for everybody. I didn’t want to move to Spain and end up having to live 40 years in the past where we’d have to just go to a bakery to get bread. Or where entertainment (or some British food) was non-existent. I like that not far away we have the restaurants from around the world, and cinemas in English and bowling alleys without having to live in it. We are in a quiet area and get to wake up and hear the sea waves everyday. We’ve moved apartments but still in the same area.

Sorry it that was super long! If you have any questions my messages are always open! It gives me ideas of what to write too so I love it!

Keep safe,

L x

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Hola! I'm Lauren ("Loh - run") — A twenty-something, engaged, English girl living on the Costa Blanca, obsessed with travel, love and elephants.

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