Best lockdown shopping!

It’s my day-off from training so I am writing another post.

I imagine some of us indulged in retail therapy during the last seven weeks in order to alleviate the hardship of the lockdown.

I was certainly one of those people and treated myself a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.

Ta-dah!

In fact, I was considering about buying the pair long before this coronavirus business. ‘Do I really need them?’ I was asking myself every time I came across people who were sporting the pairs. Wouldn’t they be another wasted tech gadgets, like my AirPods? (unfortunately, my ear shape wasn’t suitable for Apple’s wireless earbuds.)

Then, I noticed one of my teammates came to the practice with a pair of Beats’ noise-cancelling headphones. He was commuting to the ice rink using public transport and therefore the headphones were essential for his journey. ‘Hey Dennis, can I try your pair? I’m pondering about buying one for myself.’ He handed me his pair and I was blown away by the comfort of the over-ear headset as soon as I tried them. ‘Wow, they are so nice! Much better than on-ear or in-ear types!’ I was sold…

A few days later, I visited a local Currys PC World to sample headphones. My budget was £170 max and as far as I researched the web, Sony’s MDR-1AM2 appeared ideal. ‘Can I see noise-cancelling headphones, please?’ I was led to the far end of the store with a wall a full of headphones. ‘These are MDR-1AM2.’, the shop assistant pointed at one of the display models on a shelf. I duly tried them on and listened to a sample track. Hmm…, they are okay, I thought but not 100% impressed. Then, I tried Sony’s top range pair WH-1000XM3…

OMG! I was amazed. The pair was unbelievably comfortable. The part which sat on the top of my head was well-padded and the ear pads which encased my entire ears were plush. I felt the headphones securely fitted without scarifying the comfort.

‘They are nice, aren’t they?’, the assistant gleefully asked me. Oh yeah, I was sold except about the price tag of £269. I painfully realised what difference £110 could make. I loved the WH-1000 pair the most but £100 more was a stretch. So I walked out of the store empty handed.

Then, the lockdown commenced and my world had become very different from the one I knew – spending far long time at home. Hubbie was busy running his business at home and there were many Zoom meetings and phone calls. Even though we got on well as always, being together 24/7 could be testing as a couple. I tried to get by this “new-normal” by wearing a pair of old on-ear headphones but found they were simply too uncomfortable to wear all day long.

‘All right! I’m gonna buy these Sony pair for myself!’

Since I am not paying monthly subscriptions to our team, I should use the money to pay for the headphones, I reasoned. And it was the best decision I ever made!

Ever since the headphones were delivered to my door step, I have been inseparable from them. I just LOVE listening my favourite tunes through them. THEY ARE GREAT! My playlist lifts me up so much and literally, the music is saving me every single day of the coronavirus lockdown. And the comfort, oh my, it is heavenly. I just immerse into music and float. No more discomfort on my earlobes! The money was very well worth spent. That’s all I can say…

I am alive & kicking!

Despite the fact that I had more time on my hands, I was neglecting my blog until this morning and I do apologise for my laziness. It was not that I was being a couch potato, watching Netflix non-stop but I was on my feet most of the time, training or doing housekeeping.

I’m obsessed about my snap shot…

I am always a bit of busy bee and hate sitting around unless I’m ill. So you can easily imagine what this coronavirus lockdown has been affecting my psyche? I feel like I’m a trapped animal and struggling to be free!

Exercising hard and feeling exhausted by the end of day does help to alleviate my frustration towards this house arrest. The fatigue makes me feel like I am getting somewhere and becoming a better hockey player than pre-lockdown me.

There is one image in my head which spurs me on. The image of me chasing a puck along the board, racing with my teammates and beating them. The vision really helps me pedal harder on an exercise bike and motivates me to keep on lifting a barbell.

I am sure all of us under the lockdown hold images like mine close to hearts which give us comfort and help us to look forward to future. Even though no one knows what kind of future awaits us, we have to keep hoping it will be a better one and we will rejoice together.

In the meantime, I will step away from my manic exercise regime time to time and update my blog more often…

Beginner’s luck?

Now, the lockdown is its sixth week and we are not only finding ourselves adopting to the new normal but also facing new necessities such as grooming dogs at home.

Pre-haircut Bella

Since the lockdown started, the weather in London was like early summer and Bella’s coat was a little too long for it. Since her usual groomer was closed for an indefinite period, I had to take up the challenge…

After I bathed her, dried her and combed her, she was ready to be given a haircut.

Lots of hair!

Despite my concern, Bella wasn’t too frightened by the sound of a clipper. It was really funny to discover that she seemed to know who was the real boss in here – she wasn’t very co-operative when Hubbie was holding her – she wriggled and yelped with no apparent reason, but she behaved much better as soon as I started to clip her alone. Hahah!

Much tidier Bella

I wouldn’t never had dreamt of grooming Bella until the lockdown and I kind of liked the idea of doing it by myself from then on.

What was the famous saying? “Necessity is the mother of invention”?

I never gonna thank the COVID-19 ever but without the lockdown, I never knew my new possibilities…

Light traveller

This morning, I saw a traffic warden on our street for the first time since the lockdown has started.

They were standing a lot closer…

While the warden was issuing a ticket, a few construction workers came out from a building site nearby and approached him, protesting about the penalty. At one stage, the distance between them was less than 1m even though the confrontation lasted nearly 5 minutes. ‘Gee, is it really necessary? Where is the social-distancing rule?’ I was biting my lips while I was watching the exchange.

Issuing parking fines to construction workers, who weren’t banned from working but also were discouraged to use public transports, was one thing but also sending out those traffic wardens to the street without appropriate protections was another thing I really wanted to question Hackney Council. Sure, they would want to recoup some revenue they lost during the lockdown. But they must also remember that they had their duty to protect everyone from the virus.

Ok, it’s enough for my corona moaning.

As I mentioned in the previous post that mum and I were not light travellers even though we wished to be one. We would love to travel with a minimum luggage like a small carry-on each, instead of being laden with multiple bags of all sizes and makes like Samwise “Sam” Gamgee in The Lords of the Rings and trudging on down the street.

Sam, you travel in style…

When I fantasise about being an light traveller, one image pops up in my mind is a TV advert I watched when I was a teenager. In it, a guy in a pair of faded Levi’s 501 slipped his passport in to the rear pocket and casually walked towards a departure. Needless to say, he had no luggage to hamper his style. Oh, how we would love to be unshackled like him but sadly it would not gonna happen. Do you know why? Let me explain.

We stayed at Le Boulvardier and this was their reception / bar area.

Funky decor, huh?

We didn’t see the staffs when we arrived because the bar was closed then.

A view towards the bar entrance from the street.

During our road trip, we discovered that the majority of the hotels we stayed didn’t have a coffee maker or a hairdryer in the room. We, especially mum, loved drinking coffee and having no facility to make one in our room was a big headache. I imagined that the hotels expected us to go out and have our caffeine fix at cafes nearby. But mum didn’t like French style coffee (she preferred American style) and also she wanted to drink it and relax in the privacy of our own room. ‘I don’t want to go out for coffee first thing in the morning!’, mum would moan.

So, my solution was storing everything we imagined we would need during the holiday, such as a kettle, a hairdryer and a yoga mat(!) in the boot, and bring it (or them) to our room when necessary.

Le Boulvardier’s room was one of those minimalist kinds with very basic amenities – no coffee maker and no hairdryer.

‘Good job that we decided to bring a kettle and a hairdryer from the car then!’

If the car park was near the hotel, I wouldn’t have minded doing a few trips to transport our necessities to our room. However, the parking at Lyon was more than a few streets away from our hotel and therefore I decided to bring everything, a kettle, a hairdryer, cups, etc.

Shame, we didn’t drink at the bar!

One day, we should try to be light travellers by setting a baggage allowance, like one carry-on each. I bet it won’t be easy but we probably can learn to live with a little bit of inconvenience and even enjoy it as an out of ordinary experience…

Exploring Lyon

We alighted the metro at Hôtel de Ville and came out to Place des Terreau. As we approached the square, we saw some white tents and an event was underway.

What is this all about?

It turned out that the event was promoting Paris 2024 Olympics game, letting kids ride stationary bikes and doing some ball games on a makeshift turf.

How could anyone in the square ever imagine Tokyo 2020 would have to be postponed? I sincerely hope we all can cheer the Olympians and Paralympians in 2021 without the fear of COVID-19.

Musée des Beaux-Arts
Fontaine Bartholdi
Hôtel de Ville

‘Shall we walk around the south side of the square as they recommended it?’

One of the shop assistants, who helped mum to choose a pair of sandals after our unsuccessful visit to Monoprix, suggested that the area would have more private shops than Rue de la République area.

Looks promising!

True to her recommendation, we saw more than a few interesting shops along Rue Romaine and Rue Saint-Polycarpe. I bought a canvas tote bag and mum bought some beautiful cards.

Vintage and handmade gems!

After satisfying our pleasure shopping urge, we strolled down Rue Désirée and came out to Place Louis Pradel…

Warm Saturday afternoon
Lovely weather!

As we headed towards a metro station, we encountered a crowd coming out of Opéra National de Lyon and much to our delight, they started singing and dancing!

Carefree joy of pre-coronavirus…

I will most definitely dance in the street when the world is free from this nasty virus, COVID-19!!

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