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  • Sonja Lembke

Changes – Moving and My 19th Birthday

Updated: Jan 28

I’ve been living in Corbenic for four months now. Contrary to my intent to continue travelling, this was only possible to a limited extent due to new coronavirus restrictions in Scotland. As a result, I did not travel as much as I would have liked but I also enjoyed the more relaxed days off too because a few factors were causing me stress. But the challenging situations were balanced out by my two highlights so far: my 19th birthday and Corbenic’s Advent Market.


At the end of October, I was still able to go to Dundee and St. Andrews on one of my days off. I visited the McManus Museum in Dundee, which hosts an interesting exhibition about the city. In St. Andrews, I went to see the cathedral ruins and the beach, which the city is famous for, and both were good objects for photography. On November 13th, Perth and Kinross moved from level 2 to level 3 covid-19 restrictions, including a travel ban to other areas. Consequently, the outings with the house on Saturdays were very limited. Most of the time, we went somewhere for a walk and got takeaway hot chocolate. One of those walks’ destinations was Taymouth Castle in Kenmore, which was very impressive. By the end of November, I have completed my driving assessment. I am now allowed to drive Corbenic’s co-worker car, which will hopefully allow me to realise travel plans within the restrictions and outside of cities more easily.


I often experienced stress paired with headaches during the last two months. This was caused by a variety of factors apart from normal work. There have been lots of false fire alarms, I was studying for an English language certificate, I spent much time thinking about what I want to study after this year, which is why I participated in many virtual open days of universities… Yoga helped me counter the stress and feel more balanced. I started a 30-day yoga challenge in November and I want to continue the daily practice because it proved very beneficial for me.


A big change for Mullach was one of our residents moving to another house in Corbenic and a new resident moving in. Just around the time of the moving, health issues of our old resident occurred and she couldn’t move into the new house as planned. She transitionally stayed at another house where a room was free. Meanwhile, our new resident had already moved in, so we had to care for five instead of four residents temporarily. After a few weeks, when the health of our former resident had improved, she could move into her new house. Our new resident has brought more life to our house, but sadly also more incidents, involving physical violence, which are getting graver and more frequent the longer she has been in Mullach. We are currently working on a solution which is best for both the resident and our house. In those situations, I notice more than ever what a good team of staff and volunteers we are. We give each other support after incidents and it is much fun working together despite the arising challenges.


In October and November, we celebrated two residents’ birthdays, including a 50th birthday. Sadly, we couldn’t go out for dinner because of one of the residents’ said health issues. On my 19th birthday, however, we went for a lunch outing to “Uisge” in Murthly (would highly recommend, vegan options available). The residents and co-workers sang for me and I got a present from Mullach and my fellow volunteers. The whole day was very nice and I am happy that we could do something special that everyone enjoyed. I had a video call with my parents in the evening when I was off. I unpacked my parents’ present and we talked a lot. That evening, the homesickness hit me hard again, but in general it was much less present than during the first two months. The day after my birthday, I had a zoom meeting with my friends from home. I was so relieved that the atmosphere was exactly like when meeting in person and as always, we had lots of fun. The day after that, I went for an outing with two of my new friends from Corbenic. We walked from Moulin to Pitlochry and around Loch Faskally with its beautiful autumn colours (as can be seen in the photo).


My second big highlight of the last two months (or my time here in Corbenic in general) was the Advent Market on November 28th. In house bubbles, we were looking at the stands in the main hall, presenting all sorts of Christmassy things made in the workshops. Prior to the Advent Market, I was asked to play the piano for some background music. But when the last five minutes for Mullach were announced, I even plucked up the courage to sing for my house. I haven’t felt that nervous in a long time. But although my hands and my voice were shaking, I was happy with my performance. It was so liberating to finally share my biggest passion with the residents and my co-workers. The market continued in the estate workshop, offering Lángos (a traditional Hungarian dish), soup and mulled wine. The last station was at the farm workshop, serving waffles and marshmallows. After we had finished our tour around the Advent Market, I went to the main hall again in order to play the piano for other houses. I even spontaneously formed a trio with two other co-workers, singing Christmas songs. Although people from outside of Corbenic couldn’t come, the Advent Market was a complete success.


After all these changes, be it the moving of a resident or my birthday, I am looking forward to the Advent and Christmas. I am curious how Christmas will be celebrated in Scotland and in Corbenic in particular. I wish everyone a merry (pre-)Christmas season and a healthy and happy new year!

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