Posted in The Quarantine Diaries, Writing

Coming Up

I’m in organisation mode right now, at home and online. So while I’m taking a quick break from cleaning my house I wanted to let you all know what I’ve got planned for evallone.com in the coming weeks.

Armchair Traveller

Since quarantine is still ongoing, it doesn’t look like we’re travelling anywhere new anytime soon – the next best option? Memories! I’m trawling through my archives; photos and journals, and I’ll be writing up posts of my favourite places, things to do, and best experiences. I’ll also be giving advice on sites in and around Glasgow like museums and great days out.

52- Week Challenge

The last 30-day blogging challenge was fun but a bit hefty trying to post everyday. I found a good year long weekly challenge that’ll allow me to share a little more stuff with everyone but without being so spammy. Here’s a copy of the challenge if you want to join in.

52-week challenge. Credit: Adventures with Amanda

Diversions

Obviously, I’ve still being crocheting nearly every day. Though I did lose my crojo for a bit, more that I couldn’t get any patterns to work for me. Damn v-shaped scarves! I guess sometimes watching videos instead of reading patterns can cause a little difficulty… and trying to work on multiple projects at the same time isn’t a great idea. One ball at a time!

Giant round granny blanket

I finished watching all 12 seasons of Bones a few weeks ago! It was epic and sad, I won’t spoil it but the ending was not what I expected, but for once a show had a decent ending! Naturally that spawned a ‘watching’ slump, I have Ally McBeal for my lawyer show, Grey’s Anatomy and New Amsterdam for medical shows, The Walking Dead for zombies, Winona Earp, Vanessa Van Helsing and Grimm for weirdo shows… so I had no normal crime shows. I dabbled a bit in NCIS a few times and it’s good but I’m not hooked yet… I am however addicted now to Criminal Minds, criminally so. Sorry. I’m nearly on season 3, in a matter of days… How have I never seen this show before? Led by the delightful Mandy Patinkin (also known as Saul in Homeland – I’m also catching up with that) the team is the BAU, Behavioural Analysis Unit within the FBI who profile and catch killers. It’s not Bones but the story lines are compelling and the dialogue is quick-fire and witty.

Books

I just finished reading Lonely Planet’s How to be a Travel Writer by Don George and Janine Eberle, while detailed and insightful, it was also dreadfully negative and off-putting. Perhaps some would say it’s realist but after reaching the last page, I feel far less-inclined now to pursue any kind of travel writing. The suggestions seem to be that if you’re lucky enough to already be loaded then go fly off somewhere and experience the life and culture then come home and write a bunch of articles with different slants and send them off to magazines and newspapers and hope you make a few hundred quid off them. Otherwise, the game is already over for you. Maybe I’m more of a dreamer, I’d like to believe that sometimes things can just work out. In the mean time, I’ll be writing all my travel stuff on here and attempt some other publications soon.

I’ve also ended my Kindle Unlimited subscription because I already have a ton of books in the house and purchased on my kindle (and audible) that I need to get through. Plus I realised that I’ve had most of the same books in my KU library for years so I’m paying £7.99 a month for nothing. I’ve put Audible on pause for a few months, I have a decent stack of books to get through and some are lectures so are 20+ hours and I have IT by Stephen King which clocks in close to 50 hours.

And I’m working on my novel, I promise. I’m feeling very inspired right now, especially since the new Dresden Files book, Peace Talks, is launching in July (likely the only good thing to happen in 2020) so I want to plough through as much of mine as I can before then.

Anyone started a new show? Or enjoying a new book? Let me know!

e x

Posted in The Quarantine Diaries

I am Procrastinator…

Hear me… get back to you later with that one.

Nothing really matters

I’ve done nothing but avoid things for the last couple of days. And why not? It’s not like anyone’s really doing anything now. Except I have a to-do list a mile long of all the things I wanted to progress with when I had the time. Even this post has been sitting in my drafts for four days.. But what even is a day anymore?

Shopping’s not as fun as it was

I haven’t left the house in nearly a week, apart from taking out the bins. I’ll go to Lidl tomorrow but it’s all fairly dramatic these days. Last time a guy smooshed himself against the shelves of cereal as he walked passed me as if I was marching around with open sores, and a woman tutted when I turned my trolly round and headed back up the aisle.

To-do or not to-do?

Alas, I have re-investigated my to-do list and broken it down into the more urgent, pressing tasks and the things that aren’t immediate or take a bit more time to work through – i.e. writing the next chapter of my book. I’m also using this time for personal development, continuing to study Italian (I went back to the beginning again) using an awesome course on Edx through Wellesley College (they have a fantastic range of free courses covering almost everything you could imagine). Plus I am seriously trying to self-teach Dutch, I’d gotten into quite a good rhythm with it last year, but then the tonsils happened. It’s a delightful language and I spend over €60 on Dutch Grammar books from a cracking wee bookshop in the Hague three years ago. It’s the first language I’ve tried to self-teach as is very difficult to find Dutch classes in Glasgow, and not ones that fit my schedule. I did, however, purchase a course on Udemy that focuses on Dutch and Flemish variants so my goal right now is to use that course to get more of an ear for the sounds and practice repeating words and sentences and then return to the grammar books.

It’s a progression from playing the Sims all day, right? (Though there’s nothing really wrong with it.)

What things are you starting to do to stay sane?

e x

Posted in The Quarantine Diaries

The Quarantine Diaries: Wins

As much as I want to cry myself into oblivion for all the things I’m not getting to do, I figured a better use of my time would be to look for the positives, no matter how small. I have a home with a study and lots of books, I have no children, I have wine, I have food and I have internet.

Bringing Italy Home

I resurrected my old espresso machine. I’ve had it for maybe a decade and never really used it; it was long before I was a barista so I wasn’t too sure how to use it properly. It was a happy prop. I dug it out of the shed at mother’s house and brought it home and I finally got round to ordering a milk jug from Amazon. I already have a few different coffee syrups so it was time to set up my home coffee shop!

Espresso machine
My wee espresso machine

I can start my morning in true Italian style with a milky soya cappuccino before switching to espresso or black americano for the rest of the day.

Foamy Cappuccino
A very foamy cappuccino

Or when it’s late and I’m feeling chilly I can have my winter speciality of a Cinnamon steamer: steamed soya milk over cinnamon syrup and topped with a generous dash of cinnamon powder.

Ha! Just saved myself £3 a drink. I’m having fun getting to play barista again, and once it’s all over I can serve my guests proper hot drinks. I used to get compliments on my hot chocolates and mochas, not that I could drink them… But that’s something to investigate post-Corona, vegan hot chocolate powder!

What’s the cost to you?

Now that I’m master of my own coffee again, and that I haven’t overpaid for coffee in about 9 weeks, I’m honestly doubting whether I could ever go back to that. In the olden days when we actually left the house in the morning and took public transport to work, I used to make a large coffee in my reusable coffee cup and chug dark perfection awkwardly while I read about the destruction of Carthage. If said black magic hadn’t woken me sufficiently by the time I got off the bus, I would be tempted as I passed Caffè Nero en route to work. Really it depended on just how exhausted I felt and at what point in the pay cycle I was at. On the times when I did purchase said coffee, it was rarely worth it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Caffè Nero for the most part, however considering they charge £2.70 for an Americano it only seems right to pay the extra 50p or so to make it a latte instead. But then I ask for soya milk and they groan, and find the old yellow stickered jug and steam whatever is left in it and after a good long while of waiting, they pass me a scalding, burnt-tasting, toffee-coloured drink and I feel instant regret.

Filter for life

Say what you will about Starbucks but every store has a filter coffee machine, plus it’s only around £1.55 for a small, sorry, Tall filter coffee. They’re always very sweet about it, especially if they say it might be a wee wait because they’ll brew me a fresh pot, or if they’re out for the day they’ll make me an Americano for the same price. (The filter truly tastes better though). And if you get the drink to sit in, refills are free for filter coffee, which is perfect for a day of studying.

Some of the larger Costa stores have a filter machine, but I’ve never actually been in when it’s worked or when they can be bothered using it. My own local Costa is a moderate size and I can see they really don’t have space to put in a filter machine, but I’m probably going to be suggesting this when everything goes back to ‘normal’.

If I can make fancy coffees at home, can I ever go back to paying nearly £4 for one? Filter coffee is cheap to make and if even Starbucks can give free refills then I think every chain can recognise the benefits of offering a cheaper, equally tasty, alternative to people who’ve learned they can survive without the unnecessary expense, though who may miss the atmosphere and social aspects of being around people.

I’m curious to see how we will go back, we’re all creatures of habit. I miss hanging in Waterstones and going to the pub for a drink and a chat, but it’s not clear yet how we can return to jam-packed bars, suffocating concerts and busy rush-hour public transport. But I’ll be drinking cappuccino until then. (And I wholeheartedly advise anyone who can and is interested into purchasing a wee espresso machine.)

And on that happy note, coffee hours are now over; it’s wine o’clock.

Moscato Bianco

e x

Posted in rant, The Quarantine Diaries

The Quarantine Diaries: Losses

My mood is souring and has been over the last few days. The frustration of not being able to go anywhere of importance is still like banging my head off a wall, except now I’m aware of the futility of the action before I do it, i.e. I’m no longer thinking in terms of what I’d like to do; instead, what I should have been able to do.

The reason I’m feeling extra pissy right now, is because I should have worked a half shift today and left the office at lunchtime, happily giving everyone the figurative finger and shouting ‘me ne vado’ at anyone who happened to see me. I should have spent today packing my suitcases and charging up the kindle, watching an Italian film and singing myself to sleep with ‘Una Notte a Napoli’. Then tomorrow, I should have been meeting Mamma and there should have been a leisurely taxi journey to the Holiday Inn at the Airport where we should have spent a pleasant afternoon and evening giddily preparing ourselves for the adventure ahead.

Friday morning at 7:25am I should have been on the fucking plane to Naples.


Too damn true…

I saw this above tweet about a month ago, right around the point when we all realised Coronavirus was here to fuck up everything and I got the email to say the holiday was cancelled. Now we were fortunate enough to get a full refund from the holiday provider, the insurance and the airport hotel, however, are refusing to refund anything. I understand what no cancellation means, but I didn’t cancel – Jet2 did. And if no virus had appeared, then we’d be in the damn hotel and making use of the insurance now wouldn’t we?!

I digress. I get it, I do. This is not a joke. All the years that people called me nuts for raving about horror movies, and having a zombie plan in place (not to mention a ton of tinned food – I didn’t need to panic buy, Karen) and it’s finally here. Governmental response has been far more meh, than in any zombie film I’ve ever seen, yet given the track records and who we’re talking about, did we really expect them to step up?

But as the tweet above says, we can still be aware of the gravity of this situation and still be sad for the things we’re losing out on and missing. No one ever expected life to be shut down almost completely, not during ‘peace time’ anyway. The debates will continue forever about why Coronavirus happened, what it will mean for the future, and what does it say about societies and consumer lifestyles.

Before all that we can still lament, people missed out on weddings, births have happened in private, funerals are restricted, milestone birthday parties have gone on zoom and wishes are sent via TikTok dances. And for me, it was the chance to return to one of my most favourite places on this spectacular planet after seven whole years. A place that shaped me and formed me; from the first time I was there in 2008 and I was just a 19 year-old stuck with family and practising tiny bits of Italian, awed that I could order full meals and have basic conversations by the end of the holiday. When I returned in 2009, young free and single and only 20 years old, the feeling was unreal, the high wasn’t like anything I’d ever experienced. By the time I’d arrived in Sorrento, I’d had so many wonderful, random conversations and met a whole host of colourful characters. It was then I made more memories, took more chances and grew more confident, not only in myself but in my ability to do the things I’d set my mind to. I chose to learn Italian, I chose to keep studying and working away when others told me to chill out and relax. Now I can relax by the pool with a limoncello and having a fantastic conversation with the hotel staff teasing about the effect of Federico Moccia and Tiziano Ferro on my life.

Well, I should have been relaxing by the pool…

e x