Tuesday 31 August 2021

A post from Karol

 I thought it would be good to have a first person update from the team in St John's Town of Dalry in Scotland, so I asked Karol to write a blogpost for me about how he, Olek and Marta have felt and coped with all having COVID. As you will read, they have all been very fortunate to have reasonably mild symptoms, all in all. 

Having covid 19



It started on my first week - I did a test in the morning, it shot up to positive really quick. I was scared. Then I had heard I have to spend 10 Days in the house! I couldn’t believe it! The first day was boring.

Second day just played in my room on my phone and Oculus/VR and I got kind of bored. So far I was only coughing in the morning and evening and a tiny bit through out the day. Day 3 I got to go on the computer but I didn’t. On day 4 I went on the computer, then my Mum walked in and said Oscar my friend has Covid like me because he came over the day before we found out I have it; and so I spoke to him every day to see how he is feeling. So far he is not too bad, neither am I. But yesterday (day 6) I found out that I didn’t have it any more because I was negative; so that was great news but I still had to do 10 days in quarantine. I have been playing on the computer with Oscar from his house. By the way, day 5 nothing happened but I did get a new phone a Samsung galaxy A12, and it is great it is the biggest phone I have ever had.



My brother


My brother also got covid - he was hit worse than me. I don’t know why he has been coughing more.

Also binge watching a lot of Netflix on his TV.

He was also pretty mad for the first 2 days. We (when I say we I mean me and my Mum) were not too happy by this, especially my Mum. But he is a bit better now which is really good for everyone.

This bit is not long because I don’t know what my brother has been up to that much, sorry Grammy.

And maybe Grandad.


My Mum


A few days after I got covid, my Mum was not feeling the best - her voice like just disappeared! I did play some board games with her which we both enjoyed, I hope. Like Olek my brother she was hit pretty bad with covid.   She was coughing in the morning and evening like me and she had a hard time sleeping she said. Mum is also feeling better I am pretty sure which is great.




Grammy, I hope you like this love you so much, not the most, but hope you enjoy it. 😊

Sunday 29 August 2021

And the third person tests positive

 Marta, the lovely mother of our grandsons has also tested positive now in Scotland. Fortunately she is fully vaccinated so we have our fingers crossed that she too will only be slightly affected.

Marta said she had thought it was inevitable that she would get it - after all, she is looking after 2 infected kids. And as we know here in NZ, many of our infections are household contacts.

One piece of good news is that Karol has now returned a negative test - yay!!

Here in Waikanae, David and I are coping well with lockdown. 

David is busy working on the thing we don't talk about (his travel insurance claim for his eye treatment when we were in the UK back in 2019). He finally sent in his claim about a couple of months ago and was convinced they would agree to settle because he thought his case was compelling. I thought his case was watertight too, and his arguments for the claim being valid were right, but I didn't think they would agree - they are an insurance company after all. And sure enough, we had a letter back about 3 weeks ago saying (using the same paragraphs from their first letter, just copied and pasted) that they were disallowing the claim. Quelle surprise - not!

The reason this is a subject we don't talk about is because we argue about our different approaches - it stresses me so much that he chooses to go through the process rigidly and I use the prescribed process until I think it's just not practicable anymore - I am a project manager, after all, and progress towards deadlines is critical so a project can be finished! Given the travel agent we bought our tickets through suggested that we mention seeking recourse through the Insurance Ombudsman in the first letter as that often results in the company settling with an ex gratia payment, that is what I would have done. But the insurance company's process says that's the last step, not the first or second so what's your guess about whether that suggestion was taken up?... AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

So, since the claim was disallowed, we have agreed that he should/could do it his way and we just wouldn't discuss it. From my perspective, the money we spent back in 2019 is gone, and if we don't get any of it back, I have already kissed it off anyway. So I have no real investment in the outcome, and we each find our different approaches very stressful/impossible to accept. And to be honest, the dishonesty and lack of integrity of the insurance company drive me nuts, so best I stay well away!

Change of subject to what I am doing in lockdown: I am still going walking Monday, Wednesday and Friday with Ann, me in Waikanae and her in Nelson chatting all the while on WhatsApp; and 3 times a week, we play 5 Crowns with Ann and Salvi on WhatsApp too (video). 

I am also writing feedback to RNZ when I read their articles and see them selecting a small going off portion of a fact and then opining on it as if they are reporting factually. I'm calling out the behaviour rather than debating the issue or opinion. I'm also describing their writing as blogging (where opinion is fine and there is no requirement to have even a remote relationship with facts - apart from my blogposts of course. As we all know, my posts are full of facts and my opinion is always right ... 😇😁😎) And of course, when RNZ staff report factually, I also give them positive feedback and thank them.

Change of subject to what is due this afternoon: Today we find out whether there will be any change in Alert Levels. Late last week (Thursday or Friday, cannot be sure which it was) our wonderful PM presaged that Auckland and Northland would be staying in Alert Level 4 and the remainder of the country would go down to Alert Level 3. The decision whether to proceed to this change will be made in Cabinet today and will be based on case numbers and spread of the infection - if the additional cases are all household contacts or picked up at places of interest, then we (those of us south of the Auckland regional border) will be able to go down to AL3. If however the spread is outside those, we will probably have AL4 continue for a period.

AL3 has been described as AL4 with takeaways 😁😁, so it won't be any different for us as we rarely partakeaway... 

But when we get down to AL2 we will be able to take the motorhome away - planning is afoot with timing being the only variable!

Thursday 26 August 2021

Reality hits home

 We are feeling a bit battered at the moment - both of our lovely grandsons who live in Scotland have tested positive for COVID-19. For us it has been an anxious 48 hours, but so far they are both in pretty good shape. Olek has been feeling a bit sick, but is OK, he says; and Karol is feeling fine and happy.

David and I were both really anxious when we first heard from Marta about their infection, but regular contact with all three of them is easing our minds. 

As I write, David is on WhatsApp to Olek, who is sounding pretty good.

Marta is making sure they are well hydrated, taking plenty of vitamins and magnesium, lemon and honey drinks, eating healthily when they are hungry and getting some sunshine. While they are confined to barracks, they are interacting with friends on social media.

Marta called us on Messenger a couple of days ago to show us Karol and her outside in the sunshine playing Rummikub - he looked and sounded fine, and while we were chatting, they continued playing - and he won!

He looks OK, doesn't he? I like his T shirt - Limited Edition est. 2005 Well, actually, I rather like him too! He is a gem.

As we know, caring for teenagers (actual and incipient) who are mostly confined to their rooms is pretty testing and when they need to be confined to their rooms but are not really poorly, it is difficult for them and difficult for their carers. So Marta is wisely indulging in some self care this evening. 

Marta sent me this after I had posted the blog - I asked if she was OK if I added it, and she said that was fine. Quite hard to find, isn't she??? And it definitely looks like self care to me!

Monday 23 August 2021

Cases are increasing, lockdown has been extended

 We are on Day 7 of lockdown and yesterday, after the Cabinet meeting, our lovely PM announced the following:

  • lockdown in Alert Level 4 for NZ would be extended until Friday at 11.59pm with information provided on Thursday at 1pm whether that 
    • needed to be extended, 
    • could be reduced in level, 
    • would be regionalised based on risk profile of particular areas of the country
  • lockdown in Alert Level 4 in Auckland where the biggest majority of cases currently are (we had 107 cases as at yesterday morning's count, and 7 of them, I think, are in Wellington, with the remainder in Auckland) is extended to Tuesday 31st August, with information provided after Cabinet on Monday afternoon, whether that
    • needed to be extended, 
    • could be reduced in level.

David and I are unsure what will happen in the rest of NZ, but we are fairly sure that Auckland's AL4 will need to continue.

As Jacinda (world famous PM) and Ashley Bloomfield (DG of Health) both stated, the peak of infections is still to come, even though we locked down hard and early. Last year, in our first surge of COVID-19, we had up to 89 cases a day at one stage while in AL4 before the case numbers started to drop. There is no reason to suggest that the delta variant, which is much more transmissible, will deliver fewer cases! 

I am interested to read in British media that our elimination approach is being slammed (by Nigel Farage and others of his ilk) as unrealistic and is making NZ an unwelcoming place because we are only letting NZ citizens and residents return to the country. My use of 'interesting' is the English variety, i.e. it means I hear what you say but I think it is absolute bullsh*t. 

Because of course, the British response, most particularly the response in England, has been so inordinately successful, hasn't it? Remind me how many deaths in the UK?

Harsh but reflective of the Farage, BJ and Rees Mogg attitude, I think. Yes?

And before anyone says but NZ is a small island with a small population, and it's remote and at the bottom of the world, I acknowledge all those things are true.

But here's the thing: we have a similar sized population to Scotland, and the First Minister of Scotland has invoked tougher rules on the Scots than in England, and yet sadly Scotland has lost 10,000 people to COVID-19. NZ lost 26. Until this delta outbreak, we had fewer than 3000 cases, and I don't know how many Scotland had or currently has. And our grandsons live there and it makes me anxious.

So I will stand by our response of going into lockdown hard and early, and we will be getting our second vaccinations tomorrow, and I will be out exercising (walking, I am 70 after all) wearing a mask and making sure I stay more than 2 metres away from others, and I won't be panic buying toilet paper. 

I'm an energy saver - I walk, not run ..


One of the rhododendrons in our garden - just starting to flower. We don't usually see this happen, because we are most often in the UK on the boat at this time. And we are also seeing the most beautiful magnolias in bloom around the neighbourhood here in Waikanae.
This kereru (native wood pigeon) was in a tree across the road the other day when I came back from my walk - it waited patiently while I took lots of photos, turned obligingly so I could get a variety of shots and then flew away when I walked into our driveway.  Lovely!

And I won't be moaning about an extension to lockdown if/when it occurs, because I am fairly sure that we will stamp out this outbreak. And if another one occurs later, I will support the government's approach because 

  • it is based on advice from scientists and health professionals, 
  • it is focused on the wellbeing of the country in terms of health and financial security, 
  • it has worked in the past, 
  • it has been refined and planned ahead for, and 
  • it will work again,
  • it will save lives, 
  • it will ensure our health system can cope, 
  • it will allow our economy** to recover quickly, as it already has from the first outbreak last year.

There may come a time when we have to live with the virus, but that time needs, for the wellbeing of NZ and our world, to be when enough people are vaccinated that the virus mutations are few because there are not enough hosts for it to develop and change in.

In the meantime, I am staying home, staying in touch with friends, looking after David (who needs no looking after but I enjoy it and so does he) and feeling fine!

We usually go out for Saturday breakfast with Gary, Bruce, David R, John and Leith, but we cannot at the moment. So I made a Saturday breakfast for us at home. I had spinach and cheese omelette, breakfast potatoes (cooked with garlic and salt) alongside a solitary mushroom and tomato half - you will see why I was rationed when you look at the next photo ...

See David's vegan brekkie platter: multiple mushrooms and tomato halves, plus, red onion, spinach, capsicum and potatoes - I forgot to put the corn kernels on. But don't worry because they got added to the Mexican tomato and bean soup later that day!


** PS I know there are sectors of our economy that will struggle to survive this - tourism that tends to rely on high cost experiences for overseas visitors is the main one. In the hiatus that we had (over a year since our first outbreak back in March 2020 with only 2 minor outbreaks until last week) NZers have been exploring their own country instead of travelling overseas. When our tourism operators come to the realisation that NZers, even when overseas, do not spend the kind of money that overseas tourists do here, and reduce their prices to make them affordable and attractive to NZers, then once this outbreak is over, even more NZers will be out and about spending money seeing and experiencing this place. (Sorry, that last sentence is clumsy in its construction, but you get my drift.)

OK, rant over. 

Some things to make you smile while I recover my equilibrium ...

This look is the one I use on David - but somehow he doesn't notice it so I am making a headband and a sign on a stick that says FO-IR. I'm sure you can work it out...

Dogs are so clever...

This made me smile!


Our son Tim and his partner Dana had the boys and dogs with them on a holiday somewhere on the south coast of England.  It wasn't that warm apparently - so not a bad summer not to be on the boat, I gather.

Olek (16.5 years old) and Storm

Karol (11.5 years old) with his paddle board

Kai and Storm at the beach in England - Storm now has a poorly tummy because she will eat whatever she scents ...

Now it's time to make a veg curry and cauliflower rice for dinner - if I do it now the flavours will have time to percolate nicely through the veg. I've already baked two loaves of sourdough this morning so it hasn't all been ranting ...

Even though I am grumpy at the moment, never forget that this is true. Mxx

Thursday 19 August 2021

And here we are again - in lockdown!

It's now Friday 20 August, and we have been in lockdown at Alert Level 4 since Tuesday night at 11.59pm. The dreaded Delta variant escaped somehow from MIQ and as is its wont, has spread rapidly. The first case was notified on Tuesday and we were in lockdown that night, with just one known case. However, the first case tested for, a man aged 58, was not the index case. It turns out that his employee also has it, as do the employee's flatmates, 

  • one of whom is a teacher, so the pupils (3000 strong) and teachers at Avondale College are all in isolation, and testing has been set up for them
  • one is a nurse/healthcare worker at a hospital
  • one is a uni student

Since then the places of interest strike fear into the heart: bars, pubs, the casino, a lecture theatre at the AUT, cafes, supermarkets, malls, playgrounds ...

And this morning it was announced that two pupils, each at different colleges, have also tested positive. So that is two more large school communities going in to isolation.

And at lunchtime we heard that there are now three cases down here in Wellington. So it is likely (my surmising) that any students at AUT or others who had been close to any of the cases while they were infectious and then came back to Wellington - either returning home from business or holiday or coming back from uni to see out lockdown at home with the parentals - has brought it with them. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

The good news includes:

  • David and I are wearing our masks EVERYWHERE when we go outside the house
  • David had his penultimate and last radiation sessions without any impact of the lockdown - that was a stroke of luck really, as there had been a slip that blocked the railway line and the state highway below it on Tuesday. Because we knew that getting home again after his Tuesday session would be problematic, we booked him a room at a hotel across the road from the hospital. So in the morning, he stayed in his room having been granted a late checkout, then went over for his treatment and his appointment with the radiation oncologist, and I picked him up to bring him home. I brought a Bounty Bar for him as a treat - bloody hell, they are excessively sweet!
  • even though it wasn't medically indicated, for his peace of mind, David arranged and paid for a post treatment PSA test. As we expected and hoped for, the reading showed as undetectable, i.e. <0.03, which is what we had been wanting to see, but didn't, after the operation last year! He also had his testosterone level tested - that was also very low because of the Androgen Deprivation Therapy (hormone suppressant). The one piece of bad news is that he STILL ISN'T DUSTING!!! 
  • the pantry is full and we can exist happily on current supplies for some weeks if necessary
  • mostly, people are being sensible and kind and thoughtful. Mostly we are being good members of the team of 5 million. We have a few virulent anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers - I think they have been learning from the dumpster's faux noise idiots in the US how to think their rights to be stupid are more important than the health and wellbeing of the communities they live in.

  • we have plenty to do 
    • baking sourdough - I've got it sussed now apart from the hiccup of earlier this week where I kneaded all of the air out of the loaves before putting them into the fridge to prove overnight. Not a good idea to deflate them at that point, Marilyn. But the sparrows and blackbirds have been happy to eat the pancake loaves. The loaves did have to be chopped up so the birds didn't get beak strain trying to fight their way into the solidity ...
    • collecting driftwood off the beach for the garden and walking on the beach avoiding the Portuguese men of war that have washed up on the tide.
    • reading
    • listening to podcasts
    • teaching David some recipes
      • mexican tomato soup - really just a question of emptying lots of cans into a large saucepan...
      • a vegetarian Tom Kha soup: assemble the broth ingredients and put them on to simmer, then assemble and chop a variety of suitable vegetable chunks, remove the broth bits that are not appetising (lemongrass stalks, coriander roots, chunks of galangal, kaffir lime leaves, ...), add the veg chunks and fish sauce, taste, adjust seasonings and serve.
    • watching Netflix and Acorn
    • preparing nice food to eat, in particular a graduation dinner for David as he had completed his radiation sessions

      Vegetarian fresh spring rolls that I made - tasted yum with a mix of sweet chilli and soy sauce, but I need to learn to fill them more and roll them tighter!

      David ready for fizzy wine and food.
      We had planned a graduation dinner out with friends, but lockdown prevented that so it was a tete a tete dinner chez nous instead!

      Fresh spring rolls, vegetarian Tom Kha soup and lemon cheesecakes.

      Drinking fizzy wine, not chardonnay ...

    • walking virtually with my friend Ann who is in Nelson - our arrangement is wonderful in lockdown because we are over 100 miles apart and talk on WhatsApp as we walk. Lots of laughs and interest.
Soon we will find out what is to happen about lockdown levels - now that there are cases in Wellington, my hunch is we will be all staying at Level 4. Just have to wait till after the Cabinet meeting for that info.

 I will keep you posted!


Saturday 7 August 2021

Some new stats

75% of radiation sessions completed

8 sessions to go; last day is Wednesday 18 August.

50% of David's and my COVID 19 vaccinations undertaken - Wednesday was the day, and the second dose is scheduled for Wednesday 25 August. Excellent planning as that leaves us plenty of time to get up to Auckland for Lynne's birthday and to visit friends on the way!

50% of our son Tim's vaccinations done (he had his first one on Friday morning, UK time)

We are a Pfizer family:

  • Kirsty in Sydney has had both of her Pfizer vaccinations 
  • David and I have had Pfizer here in NZ, and 
  • Tim has had his first dose of Pfizer in London.

4.6 on the Richter scale: the earthquake that shook Wellington and the Kapiti Coast at 3.51am on Thursday while we were in bed in a motel across the road from Wellington Hospital - stayed overnight on Wednesday in case David felt a bit poorly after the vaccination for the train/bus trip in on Thursday. But no, we were fine apart from a sore left arm each.