December – Winter Catch Up

I’ve been tempted to feel like nothing really happened in December, but it is not true. A lot happened: we flew home to Egypt and Jolly had boys sleep over for his birthday. Then, despite there being very few restrictions here in Egypt, we all had to be so very more careful as everyone we knew seemed to get COVID all at once. Like most people, we had a weird Christmas and had a delightfully family-focused New Year playing mahjongg. 

There has been a lot of playing mahjongg since Jolly got it for Christmas. It’s a tile-laying game from China. The English equivalent is probably Rummicub, but mahjongg is more complicated. So I have learnt to write the numbers from 1-9 in Mandarin.

I have, of course been practicing my Arabic so that I’m ready for lessons once we start and I’ve been finding I’ve lost less in the 3 months away, than I expected to, which is nice. I have a two made things to work on: the first is memorising the vocabulary that I have technically ‘learnt’ and the second is being able to speak and listen fast enough for actual conversation, which is where some friends of mine have been helping me. I had a nice, mostly Arabic phone call the other day. As well as the numbers in Mandarin I have been flitting between other languages, learning bits and pieces. Half the Hebrew alphabet, a few greetings in Afrikaans, the first few levels on French Duolingo. I don’t think it will come to much, but at least it’s reminding me how far I’ve come with my Arabic.

It’s also part of a new motto of mine. I’m trying to make this year about experimenting and trying the new things that present themselves, or I have a fancy to do. Last week it was to learn the Hebrew alphabet, today it might be learning to code, and tomorrow to watch youtube videos to learn how to dance – ‘giving it a go’ without putting pressure on myself to continue doing the thing if it doesn’t work out.

Jolly has begun playing football again and I go with him. Those three precious hours a week to sit outside in the cold, night air and be in the ‘real world’ even if I’m only watching it over the rim of a novel and a really bad hot chocolate (that café used to serve nice hot chocolate – what happened?) It’s really easy, when we’re all staying inside to feel a bit stuck in a bubble of my own little life, so it is nice to get out regularly.

Since finishing my exams, I have found it quite difficult to write for fun. I can sometimes manage 10-15 minutes. I wrote over 60+ essays in the UK trip alone, nevermind all the practice before we travelled, so I knew my mind probably just wanted a break. Instead I was reading a lot in the Bible and a lot of novels and also drawing a whole lot. Recently, however, I have been picking up how much I’m able to write and loving it. Possibly it was my A level results coming through that helped (I was very happy with how I did), or maybe I’ve just had the time I need. I hope some of the stories and poems make their way onto here.

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