Coffee and a Catch Up 04

Well, hello! Sunday’s here, and it’s time for this fortnight’s coffee and a catch up post. The idea behind these posts was that they’d be space for a little update from me, but also an opportunity to share some of my favourite coffee shops in Hanoi (and try out some new ones, too). Well, get excited. This one comes from … my flat.

Yes, I’m currently self-isolating (along with my boyfriend) in our flat. I’ve treated myself to a white hot chocolate sachet sent over by family, with added marshmallows, of course.

We haven’t been out – at all – since last Monday. I’m sure you can guess this is due to covid. Currently, the city isn’t in lockdown. Vietnam has a very thorough track and trace procedures, and last weekend someone unfortunately died in a building close to my home. There’s a Starbucks, which we’d popped into the week before, and anyone who went there (or elsewhere in the building) has to self-isolate for a while. I’m about a week in and only have a few days left.

More on that later. Let’s go back to the first week of the fortnight…

The two weeks since my last C&CU post has been half-term holiday, and the first week before isolating was wonderful. It was Tet (Lunar New Year), so there were celebrations going on, the weather was beautiful and the pollution was relatively low, meaning I was getting out for lots of long walks with a podcast. I caught up with friends: we chatted over frothy mochas & cake, we did an online art class. I popped out to coffee shops to write and read. We cooked, ate out, had friends over to share the caramel shortbread I’d made and obviously made that feta pasta (well worth the hype).

Honestly, it was such a lovely week. I thought I’d be disappointed we’d not been on holiday (as we fortunately have been able to do for all our other school holidays), but actually, I loved just relaxing and doing things in Hanoi I enjoy, but often don’t prioritise during term time.

I think that’s why this week has been so bittersweet. On the one hand, I’ve really enjoyed the time at home without the distractions of seeing people. It’s given me a solid chunk of time to get on with life admin ahead of moving home, to continue some projects and start a new one too. That was my mentality for the first several days of isolation. But on the other hand, having time off work but being stuck inside – during which I’m not even supposed to head out for a walk – has left me looking back fondly on the freedom I was enjoying just a week ago.

Of course, one day this week was a special one. Pancake Day! Bookending the day with my vegan pancakes was a flippin’ good way to eat well (& live well) that day.

I know many of you reading have been in lockdown or some form of very restrictive ‘normality’ for a long time. I had around a month of it last March/April time, but I take my hat off to those of you still coping with it. I hope it ends for everyone soon. Safely, but soon.

Life Lately, in isolation:

5 Things I’m Grateful For

  • Ol for being my boyfriend, friend, card game opponent, jigsaw buddy, TV watcher, sofa snuggler, washer-upper, cook, cleaner and an all round good egg. Thanks for helping me keep sane
  • Long chats with people back home, filling my evenings with chatter and laughter
  • Time to focus on those bits of life admin that get forgotten about
  • The Hanoi friends who have checked in and asked whether we need anything
  • Sunny days – the few we’ve had – spent with the balcony doors wide open, sunlight pouring in, providing that all important dose of vitamin D
  • The pink blossom on the tree on the balcony which brightens up the view when it’s grey outside
  • The opportunity to be flexible with my time – have lie ins, cook when I fancy, read, write, watch, listen to things whenever I like
  • The fact I can see these few days of isolation as a positive, given it’s short term and the end is in sight

Read more about gratitude here.

I’ve been reading

  • Elizabeth is Missing by Emma
    This has been on my bookcase for months but I was putting off reading it. Actually, this provided the perfect ‘light read’ I needed, but it’s not without its depth. It’s a psychological mystery story which also look at the effects of aging and memory loss through it’s narrator – Maud – an elderly lady battling dementia with one or two mysteries to solve. I loved this story and have just spotted that it was turned into a film, so I’ll add that to my TBW list.
  • The Incendiaries by R. O. Kwon
    I’m currently reading this book and really enjoying it so far. More details once I’ve finished!

I’ve been listening to

  • Past episodes of The Kitchen Club podcast by Sarah Malcolm & Serena Louth. Interviews with people in the food & wellbeing space. Easy listening.
  • I also downloaded Blinkist and have enjoyed listening to some summaries and key takeaways from influential books

I’ve been watching

I never usually have much for this section given I don’t watch much TV, but half term & isolation has meant plenty of time for watching things…

  • It’s A Sin – A raw and moving look at the lives of a group of friends during the 80s and 90s in the UK, focusing around AIDS.
  • Chernobyl – As the title suggests, this drama focuses on the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl power plant, and the lives of those who tried to limit its consequences.
  • I May Destroy You – We finally caught up with Michaela Coel’s latest creation, which is an exploration of sexual consent and its blurred lines in dating and relationships

I don’t think I’ve watched 3 consecutive programmes I’ve loved this much – ever. All three taught me a lot about their respective themes and they raised questions about humanity and our reactions to tragedy and loss. I would highly recommend all three shows.

More posts from this fortnight

Something to Tell You
Chuc Mung Nam Moi! Notes on Lunar New Year in Vietnam
Books about Love that I Love
Vegan Pancakes
The Joy of Pancake Day

Niobe xx

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