Business as unusual


Hey! How are you doing?

Things changed over the last week.

Thursday 12th March

Prizren on Thursday

Arrived in Prizren, the University I had a meeting at was already shutdown but the city was bustling. The cafes and bars on the riverfront in the cities pedestrianised heart were full. And the roads were clogged with cars.


See Thursday.



Planned with Rosie – who was in the capital Pristina – to convene at the North Macedonia border and cross together. Before I even set off I heard borders were for all intents and purposes closed. And public transport was cancelled. The city was more or less a ghost town. The roads were quiet. Rosie managed to hitch a lift and we reunited in Prizren, where we are effectively stuck.


Pashtriku from Arra Hostel

The part of me that likes puns, finds it glorious that we’re stuck in Prizren. So that’s all of me then. We are sole residents of the Arra Hostel, perched overlooking the city’s main mosque and below the fortress. Always good to have a defensive position to hand, though its armaments leave much to be desired.

Dominating our view is Pashtriku, almost 2000 metres of free standing chocolate box mountain in the middle distance and I’m mesmerised by it. The sun sets behind it and to the right of it is a dream like string of snow-capped mountains which comes in and out of view and is dressed up in purples at sunset. There are worse places to be for an indefinite period of time, if we can just scout out a #NewStorySwimmers swimmin hole we’ll be set.

Business as Unusual

Prizren’s prized 500 year old tree

The situation is unusual and unexpected. It’s putting ‘normal’ into some perspective. Much has already changed, with the ‘impossible’ becoming ever so possible over night, over morning or over just an hour or two.

It seems like now is a moment for taking a look at what the business as usual which is being disrupted means. It’s unclear how many people’s lives have been saved by the actions to limit the spread of COVID-19, and how many will be saved. However, conservative estimates say that more than 50,000 lives have been saved in China just through the fall in air pollution during the lockdown, and maybe closer to 80,000. In Italy there’s been shown to be a massive drop in the worst types of air pollution.

Dolphins are being spotted closer and closer to the italian coast, the normally polluted canals of Venice are clearing and so the fish can be seen for the first time in decades. Wild Boars and their young are even starting to explore towns in Sardinia.
It’s a powerful reminder that what we do for ‘The Planet’ we do for ourselves, because the rest of the nature will thrive without our influence and can when we let it.

Social closening

I may just be fortunate to know almost exclusively excellent people, or maybe it’s nothing special. This moment of what could be panic I’ve had much more (digital!) contact with friends, the internet isn’t new but there’s something in what’s happening now that’s making people think of others. Or at least, it’s making the people that I know think of others. And from my own particular version of the internet it sounds like it’s a common theme. As well as lots of excellently silly gifs, memes, videos etc.

This week I lead a yoga class for some friends, and planning on doing more – internet connection willing – if you’re keen to join drop me a line! Can accommodate heroes, no wait wrong Bowie song I meant Absolute Beginners, up to people who are already quite good. As my sister says:

You don’t need to be flexible to do yoga, you just need nostrils.

Thalia Watmough, my sister amongst other things

A friend – who up until last night I hadn’t caught up with on the phone in maybe a year or more- is also planning a digital concert, and some old work colleagues are arranging a (digital) drink.

Let’s just take a moment to be grateful for the internet.

‘Normal Service’

Strange times

The days are passing like nobody’s business. If they manage to slow down somewhat I’ll be taking this moment of being in one place to catch up on telling the many lovely parts of a new story I’ve found over the last 3 and a half months. I hope that in some small way that they’ll be of some use.

In between that whilst getting out and about is still acceptable public behaviour Rosie and I are eyeing up some of the nearby mountains to get up – in a totally safe way, no putting extra strain on medical resources here. I’ll also be reading books, learning some Russian for the times ahead, mending kit and bodies, watching films and making food. I’ve also been on a ‘good’ or at least well filled vein of jokes. Arguably. See @elmers87 on twitter to have your own opinion. And occasionally doing things like “One Kilometre an Hour” to break up the days and provide structure.

Social distancing activity #1

In the meantime keep well, keep calm, do what’s best for everyone. Probably a good idea to pop the kettle on looks like it could be a long one.

Ok bye! *Long-distance high-five!* (Probably best in the circumstances)

Peace + fun,


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