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Posts Tagged ‘Wellington’

New Zealand is often accused of being behind the times, usually by people who have never been here, who don’t know anything about the social innovations throughout our history, who think (mistakenly) that their country is at the cutting edge of everything, or that the way they do things is “modern” and the way we do things is “old-fashioned” despite any evidence to the contrary, or based on anecdotes from the 1960s or 70s! (Don’t get me started on specific examples I’ve encountered over the years.) However, in the last couple of years, we have been blissfully behind the times. As you know, we’ve been living largely pre-COVID lives, with crowds without social distancing, and largely mask-free.

That was until we had an outbreak of COVID in the community in August. After a relatively brief lockdown, outside of Auckland the rest of the country is almost back to normal. We’re in our Alert Level 2, which means we are under restrictions that will seem very familiar to so many of you, even though there are no known cases in Wellington. There are limits on the size of gatherings indoors (50, increasing to 100 at midnight tonight), and for the first time, given the arrival of the delta variant, there’s a requirement to wear masks everywhere. It’s something I’ve watched on international media over the last year and more, and have marvelled at how strange it seemed. Yet now, it is something we’re getting used to seeing and doing, surprisingly quickly.

You will, no doubt, laugh at the next few paragraphs. My thoughts must seem so 2020 to my overseas friends! Until this latest community outbreak, I had worn masks only a handful of times – a few times to visit my father-in-law in his retirement home last year before he died, once to see my doctor, and once on a bus. 4-5 times in 18 months. But the last few weeks I have been out wearing a mask, and have decided I don’t mind wearing masks (too much). There’s even a major advantage to it, I discovered. I don’t have to wear make-up if I’m just dashing to the shops. No-one will see my face anyway. Mascara only may be necessary if I’m going to see someone I know (I have pathetic eyelashes), otherwise my face goes bare. And I love it!

But there are downsides. Masks with ear-loops and ear-rings do not mix. I discovered this today, and have probably worn a mask and ear-rings together for the last time! There’s the danger of hurting my ear, or losing my ear-ring, or becoming entangled at an embarrassing time. A small stud might be easier, but as my hair has now grown over my earlobes, I know I can skip the ear-rings and not commit a fashion faux pas. The hardest thing is that masks are so hot! They’re fine outside if it is cold or windy, but inside they get steamy. I remember my friend Cee (from DC) telling me this last year. Sorry, Cee, I never quite realised how bad it can be. And it’s not even summer here. I don’t know how people with hot summers have coped. (Yes, I can “hear” the collective eyeroll from my US/Canadian/European/Asian friends, and I’m sorry!)

I also hate the thought of wearing a mask for long periods of time. Yes, I know many of you have had to do this for a long time already, and I have nothing but sympathy for anyone who has had to do this. But we’re thinking of going to a movie tomorrow, and I’m not particularly thrilled about the idea of two hours wearing a mask! Likewise, the thought of wearing a mask on a long-haul flight – 12 hours with no relief – makes me shudder. But I’ll have to get used to the idea if I ever want to escape these shores.

Fortunately, there seems to be a high level of compliance here, perhaps because we still have the chance to kick COVID’s butt one last time. Restrictions are lifting. Case numbers are falling. Our measures are working. Early next year, and once our vaccination rates are high enough (the government is aiming at a rate of 90% of those eligible) we will be opening our border restrictions, letting the outside world back in, and along with that we will probably have to learn to live with COVID here in the community. But for the next few months at least, I can sit in a restaurant – as my husband and I did today, taking advantage of the restarted Wellington on a Plate burger festival – and feel confident that no-one in the restaurant is infectious. We’re all hoping for one last Christmas and summer free of this, at least, before we face the inevitable. And if achieving that means I have to wear a mask to see an amazing Surrealist exhibition as we did today, then I’m fine with that. Even if I’m behind the times, and I’m still mourning (in anticipation) the loss of our previous lifestyle. I’m going to suck it up. I hoping everyone else here will do that too. For one last COVID-free summer. That’s our hope.

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Today, New Zealand has moved from its highest COVID alert level to level 3. It seems that we no longer have community transmission, though we are still getting a few new cases every day. (Today there were one confirmed and two probable new cases.) The difference is that businesses that can operate safely are allowed to open (contactless retail, construction, for example), though most people are still asked to work from home, and schools are partially open (to children under 14 whose parents have to go out to work). We have a little more freedom in terms of leisure – we can go further to exercise now – but essentially we are still on lockdown for another two weeks, but with takeaways.

Apparently this morning there were queues outside KFC and McDonald’s. Actually, just as I wrote this, I heard that major queues* are requiring police to direct traffic. I find that a sad indictment on our society, but understand it. I saw a comment on the page of a local deli/coffee shop, thanking them for opening for takeaway coffee this morning, and declaring it the best cup of coffee they’d ever had! I can relate to that too, as I haven’t had a coffee in the last five weeks! I’m going to wait until the novelty wears off before I head for a takeaway barista-made flat white.

Anyway, to mark the beginning of the lifting of restrictions here (though they are still stronger than in Australia or Canada or many other places), I thought I’d be really lazy, and give you a some photos I’ve taken – on my phone and with my camera – over the last five weeks on lockdown.

Even though I haven’t been baking a lot, I’ve been doing a bit.

Early in lockdown, we had an eerie misty morning. My husband alerted me to a kereru (native wood pigeon) on the lines at our gate, and I dashed out with my camera. We were up in the clouds (or the clouds were down around us), there were no cars and just the odd jogger, so I was able to stand in the middle of the road and snap this beauty. Later, he/she moved to our trees, and you can see that the mist had lifted.

All around the world, I understand, people have been putting teddy bears in their windows, to help amuse children on their walks. Around my suburb there are bears and other stuffed toys in countless windows, as well as cars. They don’t only amuse children, as one enterprising family on a steep street on our (almost daily) walk has kept us amused. I missed the photos when I first saw their teddy – dressed as a cricket player complete with bat and pads, and another day as a skier with woollen beanie and skis and ski poles – but have snapped a few others.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been watching andbeyond travel’s daily safari game drives via Wild Earth or Wildwatch Live both on Youtube, or andbeyond on Facebook. It has been a joy. I kept wanting to be there to take the photos, then I realised I could take screenshots. These are the photos I’d have taken if I’d been there.

First there were the birds:

Then the animals:

Then the sunrises:

As we’ve been on lockdown, autumn has arrived. So I’ve changed my blog header, and snapped a few leaves from our oak tree.

It’s a beautiful day today, we’ve been on a walk up and down my neighbourhood hills, all the windows in our house are open, and it could well be the last day we are able to do that before winter arrives. But I am daring to say the long cold winter ahead of us, which looked very gloomy this time five weeks ago, doesn’t look quite so gloomy today.

IMG_20200426_124522 yellow daisy

 

(edit) * of cars, queuing for drive-through orders

 

 

 

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After a longer than usual and excellent workout, I’m enjoying a very smooth flat white, double shot, of course, and I’m still reeling at hearing the woman before me ask for a half- strength latte, though she qualified that as a semi-shot, which in Wellington is actually a quarter strength, but maybe I’m just being pedantic. It’s a cold spring day,  and in deference to the month, I’ve refused to wear a winter coat, though I do have a scarf keeping the back of my neck warm. It is sunny, though, and so in spots, out of the wind, it will, in fact, be quite warm, but there still isn’t anyone sitting in the outside seating today, despite it looking like summer out on the water, with some kayakers and a few yachts heading out for Friday afternoon on the harbour in a brisk breeze.

So I’m enjoying my coffee, and the chill music, and the bustle of the cafe, and my book, the recent winner of the Man Booker prize, which is very promising so far. My reading mojo has returned recently, even though Goodreads tells me I’ve only read 28 books so far this year. Maybe I’m reading more know due to the fact that I keep putting e-books on hold at the library, and they keep coming available all at the same time, so I have to adhere to those deadlines. Some of the 28 have been very good, but I haven’t rated any with five stars yet, as I’m quite stingy with my ratings at that level, though generous with two stars ( it was ok) and three stars (I liked it).  Still, I have high hopes for Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings, and enjoyed Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen very much, and hope I can get my hands on the other shortlist nominees soon.

Even though the cafe is busy this morning, it is relatively peaceful, as I’m sitting on the quiet side, and so all the conversation from the other patrons is just a hum in the background,  and there are none of the piercing screams from children that I’ve endured previously. Come to think of it, the noise level has improved considerably since the management put up this sign. You’ve got to love their style …

Behave or the Kraken will get you

Behave or the Kraken will get you

* even though I’m posting this on Saturday.

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