Thursday 30 September 2021

And away we went!

On Wednesday 8 September (I think), all of NZ apart from Auckland (which continued to be in Alert Level 4) came out of Alert Level 3 into Alert Level 2 Delta variety, aka Delta Level 2.

Being down into DL2 meant that we were allowed to leave our local region. It also meant we were allowed to meet up with friends in cafes, as long as there were not more than 50 people inside any cafe. (If there is an outside area, then 100 people can frequent the cafe/bar/restaurant outside.)

So our first action was to meet up with Bruce, Gary and David R, plus Peter McC for breakfast at Cafe Lane in Paraparaumu Beach. The second action was to come back home and finish packing the motorhome so we could head away. 

We are notoriously slow at packing said motorhome, but this time we were much faster and less stressed in execution. I am sure that was because:

a) I didn't decant the entire contents of the fridges (we have two), the freezer or the pantries (we have two) into the motorhome - instead, I worked out how long we would be away and how many meals that would require, and only packed either already cooked and frozen meals or the ingredients for simple meals;

b) I didn't decant the entire contents of my wardrobe and chest of drawers into the motorhome either ...

c) and a bonus: I found a zipped packing bag in the motorhome that contained all of my pairs of shorts (I had wondered where they were but it has been winter and therefore identifying their location hadn't been too high a priority);

d) David was more abstemious about the technology he packed;

e) we had done some of the prep work the day before - partially filling the water tank, prepping the toilet cassette, putting the required bedding (apart from favourite pillows) and towels on board.

And the bike rack and the bike were loaded on by the two of us without any cross words - now that is a miracle, because we are always both sure we know best how a task should be done ...

So by 1pm, we were ready to go! Not a fast get-away, but certainly reasonably stress-free for us. And no need for lunch because we had had a big breakfast!

We were making for the Hawke's Bay; actually we were heading to Bay View to stay in a motorcamp there for one night. It's a few kms north of Napier - a fact I hadn't clocked when I'd found it and made the booking. 

It wasn't a quick trip - we had debated whether to take the Pahiatua Track (David's preference) or the Ashhurst Saddle (mine). We each thought our option was quicker/shorter. David's thinking was based on google maps saying the journey times were the same, mine was based on memory of travelling each of them and having the impression that the Ashhurst option was quicker.

So that we could, as all good boffins do, base our future plans on empirical evidence, I suggested we do the Pahiatua Track on the way to HB, and the Ashhurst Saddle on the way back. Good marriages are kept safe through the art of making such compromises, don't you think?

The weather on the drive up was pretty crappy - lots of rain, but fortunately no real wind to contend with. We arrived in Bay View at about 5.45pm and I was pleased to pull up and park in the allotted slot.  That took a few goes actually - the slots were not numbered and finding the boundaries between grassy sites was a bit hit and miss. Fortunately, it didn't matter too much as the whole camping ground was reasonably empty - even though we had seen a few motorhomes on the road as we travelled, it didn't look like any of them were joining us!

Dinner was a warmed up something that I cannot remember and I was into bed pretty shortly thereafter. And I don't remember hearing the wind or the rain during the night!

In the morning the sun had come out, we had a walk around the campsite - it's a lovely place and I had missed that fact in my tiredness the previous evening. Next time we come back (and we will) we will ask for a site up on the stopbank above the beach, weather permitting, so we can look out to sea and back to Napier Harbour.

After  collecting some free lemons outside the kitchen as I checked out the camp facilities (very nice - clean, in good condition) we headed back to Hastings so that David could catch up with an old school friend - another David. While they had their catch up, I stayed in the motorhome parked on an adjacent street and had a cup of tea and a quiet session reading my kindle. A peaceful time to read is always welcome!

Then shopping! One of the main purposes of our trip to the Hawke's Bay was to collect David's new e-bike from the amazing cycling emporium called The Hub. It is in Heretaunga St in Hastings and the team there are wonderful. If you are in the market for a bike they are the guys to see!

David's bike was purchased, tried out by David on the driveway that extends right around the outside of their building, the seat was adjusted, instructions were given; and the guys also fitted mudguards to my bike after a phone call to Jeff at Burnsie's Bikes here in Waikanae, to make sure he hadn't yet ordered any for me. While they did that task, we went across the road to a lovely cafe for lunch - masks on, of course, while we waited for our food. Then Dean effortlessly (dammit!) lifted our bikes on to the motorhome bike rack, helped us secure them, and off we went. But not far! David called the insurance company to make sure the bikes would be covered by our policy, and I had to go back into the shop to find out the wattage of the bikes. And David didn't even blink when I did a U turn on Heretaunga St in the motorhome!!! Wow!!

Then it was off to Chris and Willie's place in Waimarama where we have our own motorhome parking place beside their house and a power hook up as well!

It is always fun staying with them - we are aligned politically which helps, so we could happily and jointly slag off the Leader of the Opposition and other equally dishonest politicians and non-reporters and non-journalists in the media.

On Friday, in spite of the weather not being the best for cycling, we decided we had to go for an inaugural ride while we had Willie and Chris's experience and guidance. So we headed out to do a ride along a stopbank (a dyke according to C&W - they are Dutch after all, even though they have been in NZ for about 47 years - they came here when they were very young adults back in the 70s). At first it was fine but then the WIND!! It was getting stronger all the time and I found myself riding along on a lean to stop myself from being blown over! And given we were on a stopbank/dyke, we were up higher with steepish sides. I didn't want to be blown off the path and down the bank, now did I?

So back we came and decided to try another path that wound around the side of a nearby hill. That was a more challenging track - narrow, lots of sharp corners and lots of up and downing - and a long steep drop off to one side ... Once again, I was the first to chicken out, so back we came. The wind had risen even more and when we had to cross the road, to head back down to where the motorhome and car were parked, I could barely hold my bike and walk with it ... Fortunately the ride back down to the parking area was sheltered and really pleasant.

Still smiling, and still able to stand after the ride!


You can see by Willie's hair that it was very windy - and that was after the ride with our bikes back on board.

Even though the conditions hadn't been the best, we were thrilled we had been out and that we had both coped well on the new bikes - and both of us could still walk and stand upright when we got off, so that was a bonus!

Yummy dinner that night, made by Willie - I had had to have an afternoon nana nap for some reason... Willie made a spiced roasted cauliflower dish, and spiced quinoa and lentils, plus a roasted vegetable salad. And even though I'd had a nana nap, I still went to bed early and left Chris and David talking technology stuff.

We headed home on Saturday - fortunately the wind had dropped and it was a pleasant drive. Lunch in Woodville: a takeaway pottle of soup for David (tomato and capsicum) and a cheese scone for me (not as good as the MoF ones I make, by the way...). Then over the Ashhurst Saddle - definitely faster and shorter, as we both agreed.

I am not sure when our next trip away will be - I am now doing a piece of work for about 6 weeks (through till late October having started it on 13 September), and while I could do it at various locations while we are away in the motorhome, it is probably more efficient to work in the sunroom here at Cafe Rata. 

At least if we are here, David doesn't have to find something silent and/or away to do while I am conducting interviews by video or writing a report in the limited living space - he is happily burrowing himself away in his office and only appears to make cups of tea for me on an irregular schedule! 

But now he is enjoying himself hugely because he has brought out all of our video tapes taken several years ago, and he keeps calling me in to show me footage of our beautiful elder grandson when we lived in Church Enstone - the grandson, Olek, is now 16.5 years old and that footage will have been taken back in 2006 when he was in his second year. 💗💗💗 We are really looking forward to sharing them with Olek, and his mum and his dad, and probably his babca Jola.

On my walk (remotely accompanied on WhatsApp by my friend Ann who walks in Stoke) around the Garden Area of Waikanae this morning, I took these photos.

Spring is definitely here, and the photo doesn't do the view justice.


Aren't those blossoms beautiful?

We are just loving being here in spring - lots and lots of the young tui are flying in and out of the kowhai trees and our cabbage tree, and singing and calling and generally being teenaged hoons. They are a delight to watch and listen to!


Below are some memes I've found or been sent over the last few weeks - I share them with you for your amusement!

Seems entirely apposite here in NZ where the media are constantly asking for certainty and advancing their own theories which are almost never accurate! And which I am sure cause alarm and anxiety in a number of members of the public, dammit!

This did make me laugh!

As did this ...

And this ...

Monday 6 September 2021

You heard it here first!

 I have been officially notified by David that I am NOT impatient! yay! Cause for celebration all round!

For more years than I care to remember (well, probably about 5 or so, in reality) David has told me I am impatient - usually when I have had to wait for someone who says they are ready but then has a last pee, cleans their teeth, brushes their hair, checks all doors and windows, and needs a last minute snack and another pee (guess who - aha, it's the ubiquitous ACP), or when I have had to ask again and then wait for something to be done that was committed to and then not delivered on when agreed (guess by whom - yes, you're right, it's the ACP again).

However, all of that characterising me as impatient has come to an end, so I have been told. And how did that mind change come about?

Well, ACP has been once again working on the medical insurance claim. He's been preparing a letter to their adjudicator for the last two or three weeks. So that it doesn't end up being his life's work, he has been getting up super early to work on it. By super early, I mean any time from about 4am onwards. I know: extreme, isn't it?











CUE HUSBAND "Never let me say again that you are impatient, Marilyn! It is not true! Thirty six minutes ago I said I'd get you a cup of tea and I am only just bringing it to you now. And you didn't complain or call out or criticise! So you are not impatient and I have been misrepresenting you for all this time. I am sorry, darling."


See? I have it from the horse's mouth! The patience of a saint is what I have. Get it? Got it? Good!

And tonight at 11.59pm all of the country apart from the Auckland area goes down from Alert Level 3 (Auckland is still in AL4) to Alert Level 2, Delta version. That means we can cross regional boundaries, but not go through Auckland unless we have a compelling reason to do so, a set destination and documentation that supports that. 

Indoor venues can only have 50 people max in them (last time it was 100), all people have to be seated, each table of patrons can only be served by one server, all servers must wear masks, there can be no bar service - the same rules (apart from masks) applied last time too. 

Same rules apply for outdoor venues, but the people limit is 100.

Gyms can open but people need to be able to be 2 metres apart (last time it was 1 metre)

We must wear masks at indoor places apart from bars and restaurants/cafes.

Weddings, funerals, tangihanga can still only have 50 people - the thinking is that these are events where people want to be physically close and hug/kiss/hongi, so limiting the number of people who will be in close contact reduces the risk of such an event being a super spreader. (Way back last year when Covid-19 first came to NZ, a wedding where one guest had come from Italy, I think, resulted in a significant number of cases, and because people had travelled from around NZ to the wedding, infected people became their own little spreader events when they returned home.)

We will be heading away in the motorhome either tomorrow or Thursday for our brief cycle collecting sojourn in the Hawke's Bay. We will be scanning in and wearing masks wherever we go, as is also required under AL2 Delta version, aka Delta Level 2.

I read this morning that some idiotic people who are not scanning in, are signing in (and plan to continue to do so) using false names and phone numbers. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

Friday 3 September 2021

Twenty four hours of very mixed feelings

About 26 hours ago, David and I had phoned our wonderful daughter to sing happy birthday to her - it is a tradition, and while David has quite a good singing voice and I can sort of carry a tune, we deliberately sing the birthday song off key and raucously. I think it's for effect and to make sure the kids don't think we are being mawkish and sentimental - heaven forfend!

As it was, this time because Kirsty has exhorted David to be concise in explaining stuff, he sang alone at double speed, and then I sang. Her response 'You two are dorks!' So obviously we did good!

Then 22 hours ago, we heard the good news that the number of COVID cases in the community for the previous day was 28, and all of them were of people who were close contacts of current cases, so all of them were already in isolation. The number of cases has dropped for the last 4 days out of five, so we were well pleased.

There was the case of a young man who was extremely distressed at having tested positive a day or so before and in his distress he absconded at about 1am from the MIQ hotel he and his family were in (he was sharing a room with his teenaged brother). When his mother called her sons' room in the morning, the teenager woke and realised his brother wasn't there. The mother immediately got in touch with the security staff and military who run the facility. The police were notified and the young man was found at his home. The good news was that he had walked home, had not had any contact with anyone on the way, had not visited anywhere, and had gone to bed when he got home.

So no risk to the community, but he has been charged, appeared in court through video link (a humane aspect - the video link was provided by the policeman who was keeping an eye on him in custody). There is distress for his family and a fairly substantial amount of scaremongering by the media with incomplete facts, guesses and speculation before the Deputy PM gave the complete picture at the 1pm briefing. And of course, the media had turned up at his home, so now, even if the name suppression is in place, anyone with Google Street View and a basic knowledge of the area can track the house down and be pricks to the family when they are allowed out of MIQ. And given he is not white, the racist abuse has already started.

And of course, a media beat up of the so called failures of the MIQ staff and processes. And as you know, the media are absolute experts at everything and they, alongsode the Opposition, could have done a MUCH better job and would never allow any slip ups. Of course they wouldn't!

And also a beat up of failures at the airport because 4 students had at various times broken Alert Level 4 rules and flown either out of Auckland to their home cities or back from their home cities to Auckland. Not one word of criticism of the students from the media even though one of the young women said she hadn't been aware of the rules (FFS!!!), not one word of criticism of their parents for allowing them to travel or not telling them of the rules or not stopping them or not reporting them (as the Samoan mother had done about her son's transgression). But criticism of the airport's security systems, of the government for not closing those gaps. Can anyone guess the difference between the young Samoan man and the students?

And then at 2pm, my new e-bike was delivered - it is lovely.

You will notice it is RED. It currently doesn't have mudguards but Jeff Burnsie (Burnsie's Bikes Waikanae) will order them as soon as we are in Alert Level 2. We have ordered one the same but slightly larger (a Medium instead of a Small) for David from a dealer in the Hawke's Bay as Jeff had no more stock. We will go to collect it when we are back in Alert Level 2 and can cross regional boundaries.

I did a few little rides without the e facility to get my balance back and to start getting familiar with it. I am still a bit chary of biking since my fall in Amsterdam back in 2007. Did you know that when crossing tram tracks on your bike in the rain, you need to approach them at right angles? Neither did I. If you don't, the back wheel slides into the tram track and off you go, face planting on the roadway. Not good. Painful. Messy. Black eye, Facial nerve damage which thankfully (and very unusually) healed, but only because I had a lot of massage and drainage work done on my head and face. So a fair amount of wariness about biking is still in my brain.

(Sunday morning: I have edited this section, based on information that has been released since I first wrote - I do not want to be promulgating misinformation. Edits are in italics.) And then at 5pm I noticed on my phone that there was a press conference with the PM and the Police Commissioner. It turns out there had been a lone wolf terrorist attack in an Auckland supermarket that afternoon. Because the man was unable to be imprisoned and was known (from 2016) to be a threat, and his refugee status was unable to be revoked and he was unable to be deported back to Sri Lanka (although that was under appeal and was due to be resolved about now) since his release from prison on remand 53 days prior to the attack, he had been under 24/7 close surveillance. So when he started attacking people in the supermarket with a knife he took from a shelf there, the police were already following him. They confronted him, warned him and then shot him dead. He was killed within 120 - 150 seconds of starting his rampage - the first victim must have been on his/her own and did not make any noise. So the police think that there was a 60 - 90 second period before they knew he was stabbing people. He critically injured three people,  two have moderate injuries, I believe, and the other two were injured but not severely. At this point, none of the injured have died. Let's hope it stays that way and that they all make a full recovery. Apart from those critically injured, all of the others have been released from hospital and are recovering at their homes.

And of course, the racist vitriol will be all over social media. The man was ISIS inspired. But we can bet our boots that a segment of our society will blame all muslims.

I had a sleepless night - thinking about the people in the supermarket - staff and customers - and their terror, fear, fright and the acts of heroism. I thought too about the Special Tactics Group personnel who were on surveillance duty, and who had to follow him until he did something that he could be arrested for. They will be feeling that if only they had been closer they could have prevented injuries to others. But the man was surveillance savvy, so they had a distance they had to keep. They will also be feeling pleased that they did their jobs and prevented anyone else from being killed or injured. So a mixed bag for them. I thought too that our wonderful Prime Minister was probably also lying awake - at the press conference she was clearly really angry that the courts' interpretation of the law (and the law's shortcomings) had prevented this man from being in prison. She said yesterday that she had also looked with the legal people at whether he could be sectioned but apparently that remedy was not legally available either. And of course, since then, even though the legislation to fix this loophole/failing is just out of Select Committee, she is already being blamed by the media for not having done the work faster. And barely a mention that the current Leader of the Opposition was Justice Minister when the requirement for change was first mooted and she removed it from Crown Law's work programme. Although, to be fair, Kim Hill, a Saturday morning radio host did interview said LoO this morning, but her response was that it was a decision of Cabinet at the time and that it wasn't fair to be asked about things that had occurred 8 years ago...

And here's headline on Stuff right now: A terror attack that occurred while the Government was watching. And what is the implication in that?

And now it's not even noon, and my eyes are heavy as is my heart, I am unutterably angry, and I need to rest.

To try to get myself out of feeling so crappy, I have been out for a short bike ride - 20 minutes only. And most of it without the e function engaged to increase my leg strength. And when I had to stop at an intersection, I discovered my legs were struggling to work! 

And what was worse was that the step counter on my phone doesn't work when it's in the back pocket of my jeans while I am biking - I need bike shorts so I can keep the phone in a leg pocket! What is the point of exercising if the effort is not being recorded!? I also need padded bike shorts to assist with the sore bum problem!

I am going to have a cup of tea, a couple of magnesium and some B vitamins and take myself back to bed for a bit. I need to retreat from the world for a while.