Published

Pandemic policy update

It’s been awhile since I posted an update on Coronavirus restrictions, because it feels as though barely anything has changed. I’m pleased to stand corrected, there is some slow progress.

Today’s national pandemic policy

Status: Partly loosened strict lockdown

• daycare centres and primary schools are open *
• secondary schools taught remotely, but can offer one in-person class per week *
• adults can participate in sports activities at outdoor sports facilities in groups of up to 4 people *
• retail stores can offer click and collect, as well as appointments booked at least 4 hours in advance *
• contact-based professions (hairdressers, driving instructors) open *
• the curfew has been shifted back to 10pm *
• funerals may be attended by no more than 50 people *
• weddings may be attended by no more than 30 people *
• do not travel abroad and do not book trips abroad until 15 May *
• only go outside with members of your household, on your own or with 1 other person
• no more than 1 person aged 13 or over at your home per day
• visit no more than 1 other household per day

• work from home. Only people whose presence is essential to operational processes can go to work
• masks to be worn in indoor spaces
• public transport should be used for essential travel only
• food and drinks establishments are closed, takeaways excepted
• all museums, zoos, cinemas, amusement parks and other public spaces are closed
• no alcohol sold after 8pm

*revised from the previous policy update

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Crossing the threshold

I have lived in rental properties all my life – for the entirety of my childhood, and for the seventeen years of my *officially* adult life. Before we moved to the Netherlands, MR suggested that we buy, rather than rent, a house. It took me awhile to come round to the idea, foreign as it is, but we are now looking for our own home.

On arrival we were ignorant to the state of housing here. We have since learned that houses are, comparative to London, somewhat reasonably priced and in decent condition, and that one hundred percent mortgages and home-owner tax benefits are available. Breezy, no?

Poster by Ruben Pater

We have also discovered that the demand for housing far outweighs the supply. I don’t know the exact details, but I believe the crisis emerged loosely around 2015 as a result of a parliamentary pause on building to minimise environmental impact. Particularly in the Randstad, this has resulted in 8-12% over-bidding as the norm and property values literally doubling since 2015 – check any address on the government’s value register. Skyrocketing prices in Amsterdam have compounded, in part, due to the rise in foreign investment and the doubling of tourists per year from four to eight million between 2004 and 2017 (read more).

Poster by Ruben Pater

Contextual complexities aside, the present possibility to own our own home feels life-changing for me. I was raised by a single mother on a receptionist’s wage, although her parents – who were generous with us in care and finances – were comfortable. This goes some way in explaining the conflict between my middle class values and my working class psyche. But, as Eula Biss points out, defining class is a tricky task.

Read more

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In the mirror, Wednesday

She’d always had circles beneath her eyes, but in recent years they’d grown darker, deeper, puffier. Vague attempts to get more sleep or eat better usually fell by the wayside, and only stretches of rest seemed to have an effect. Today, remnants of mascara showed, faintly smudged, at the base of both lower lashes.

At some point, she couldn’t remember when, sun spots had appeared. The largest one, the size of a shelled pistachio, enveloped the narrow end of her left eyebrow. Another sat just above the end of her right eyebrow, and made her wonder about the correlation between sun exposure and the sensitivity of the eye area.

Two distinct freckles rested on her left cheekbone, forming a discreet constellation with two more pairs on the delicate underside of her neck. More subtle freckles were generously distributed across her face, evidence of a childhood in the sun now dulled by grey skies that had pervaded the last decade.

Faint blotches are visible on either side of her chin. As a teen her skin had been enviably clear, but in her early twenties her hormones had wreaked a late vengeance. His appearance marked their disappearance, an indication of his stabilising effect on her.

An exercise in paying attention, after Anne Lamott.

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Pandemic policy update

Today’s national pandemic policy, announced 2 February

Status: Continued strict lockdown with a curfew

• primary schools and childcare centres will reopen as of 8 Feb *
• retail stores will remain closed, however as of 10 Feb customers can collect goods ordered in advance, at pre-agreed times *
• the curfew, between 21.00 and 4.30, will remain in place until 10 Feb, when it will be reviewed *
• only go outside with members of your household, on your own or with 1 other person *
• no more than 1 person aged 13 or over at your home per day
• visit no more than 1 other household per day
• Work from home. Only people whose presence is essential to operational processes can go to work
• do not travel abroad and do not book trips abroad until 31 March
• masks to be worn in indoor spaces
• public transport should be used for essential travel only
• food and drinks establishments are closed, takeaways excepted
• all retail stores, museums, zoos, cinemas, amusement parks and other public spaces are closed
• no alcohol sold after 8pm

*revised from the previous policy update

Published

In the mirror, Sunday

Windswept, white tips splay forth, like piercing sunbeams, their roots merging into a medium-brown part just left of centre. A blonde wave gathers fine glossy strands upward and across, eventually disappearing from sight into a messy tuck at the back of the head. The hairline cascades, as if a curtain pulled back by ties, not once, but twice. Wispy soft tufts gather delicately before small, pinned ears ending in rounded lobes, each displaying a bright gem encircled in gold – a rare gift from her father.

An exercise in paying attention, after Anne Lamott.

Published

Pandemic policy update

National pandemic policy, effective from 23 January

Status: Strict lockdown with a curfew

• no-one is permitted to be outdoors between 21.00 and 4.30 without an official curfew exemption *
• no more than 1 person aged 13 or over at your home per day *
• visit no more than 1 other household per day *
• work from home. Only people whose presence is essential to operational processes can go to work *
• do not travel abroad and do not book trips abroad until 31 March *
• masks to be worn in indoor spaces
• public transport should be used for essential travel only
• no more than 2 people can form a group outside the home
• food and drinks establishments are closed, takeaways excepted
• all retail stores, museums, zoos, cinemas, amusement parks and other public spaces are closed
• no alcohol sold after 8pm

*revised from the previous policy update

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The shape of success

Earlier in the week I stumbled across an old personal note which triggered an everyday epiphany. The note was written in a very pragmatic Q and A format around 2018, after some years of disappointing freelance work. One question in particular caught my eye, it read What does success [in my work] look like to me?. I’d outlined five simple fundamentals:

  • autonomy over my work
  • feeling intellectually challenged
  • cooperative working relationships
  • being able to pass on knowledge through mentoring
  • being relatively financially comfortable

Returning to these fundamentals, so explicitly articulated, it dawned on me that I can count myself successful.

I never imagined that I would work anywhere other than small, boutique design studios, but sometimes, often, our abstract projection of success is incongruent with our granular definition of it.

Published

Pandemic policy update

National pandemic policy, effective from 15 December

Status: Strict Lockdown

• public transport should be used for essential travel only *
• no more than 1 group of up to 2 visitors to your home in one day *
• no more than 2 people can form a group outside the home *
• all retail stores, museums, zoos, cinemas, amusement parks and other public spaces are closed *
• do not travel abroad and do not book trips abroad until mid-March *
• work from home, unless that is not possible
• masks to be worn in indoor spaces
• no alcohol sold after 8pm

• food and drinks establishments are closed, takeaways excepted

*revised from the previous policy update

Published

Pandemic policy update

National pandemic policy, in place from 17 November:

Status: Loosened Partial Lockdown

• travel as little as possible *
• maximum of 3 visitors to your home in one day *
• no more than 4 people can form a group outside the home *
• all food and drinks establishments are closed, takeaways excepted
• museums, zoos, amusement parks by staggered appointment *
• work from home, unless that is not possible
• masks to be worn in indoor spaces
• retail stores closed by 8pm
• no alcohol sold after 8pm

*revised from the previous policy update