Archive for the ‘Covid 19’ Category

At midnight tonight some pandemic restrictions will ease. We will no longer need to scan or sign in at shops and cafés. I can stop filling in the Covid Outing Diary I’ve been keeping meticulously for many months.

We do not hug
bump elbows instead
shop in masks
show vaccine passes
keep one metre distant
do what we should
sigh for what once we could





between safe                and sociable

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Ark Epidemic

I’ve been contemplating “in the dark” which is the theme for this week’s poetry group, and the pandemic is also on my mind. A poem I learned as a child keeps coming to the fore. I remembered that it came from a book I read, and Google tells me it’s by Susan Coolidge who wrote the books about What Katy Did. It must have made a strong impression on me as I memorised it and can still remember most of it over six decades later. Maybe I just have an affinity for rhyming verse. Do you have a childhood poem that’s stayed with you?

Measles in the Ark

by Susan Coolidge

The night it was horribly dark,
The measles broke out in the Ark;
Little Japheth, and Shem, and all the young Hams,
Were screaming at once for potatoes and clams.
And ” What shall I do,” said poor Mrs. Noah,
” All alone by myself in this terrible shower?
I know what I’ll do: I’ll step down in the hold,
And wake up a lioness grim and old,
And tie her close to the children’s door,
And give her a ginger-cake to roar
At the top of her voice for an hour or more;
And I’ll tell the children to cease their din,
Or I’ll let that grim old party in,
To stop their squeazles and likewise their measles.”
She practised this with the greatest success:
She was everyone’s grandmother, I guess.

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Te Pae, our new Convention Centre, is finally open. As Chair of a nearby neighbourhood group I had an invitation to the official opening, but passed it on to someone else, so I haven’t yet been inside. Yesterday I was pleased to discover it’s now possible to walk across the Square side of Te Pae. This makes it easier to go between Turanga and Gloucester Street West, a route I often take on my way to the WEA or the Art Gallery.

Te Pae facing Cathedral Square

I occasionally went to functions in the old Convention Centre, and don’t imagine I’ll have much reason to visit the new one, but I’ll be interested to see inside eventually. A public Open Day had been planned but was postponed due to Covid 19 restrictions. It’s good to have the Armagh Street side free of road blocks at last.

Armagh Street side of Te Pae
Te Pae riverside

I just hope Te Pae doesn’t end up being a burden on ratepayers. It’s supposed to bring an economic boost to the city, but that’s not practical at present.

It’s good that we can now walk by
our new venue that’s named Te Pae

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A dear friend suggested years ago that I put my name down with U3A Christchurch Central two years before I left paid work, as at that stage they had a two year waiting list. I failed to heed his advice, and when in September 2020 I made inquiries about joining I was told the waiting list was then 18 months. I knew other U3A groups had shorter waiting times, but I wanted Christchurch Central as its meetings are at the Art Gallery, within walking distance of home.

Last month I received an email advising me a place was available, I confirmed my acceptance, and sent the $50 annual subscription. Further emails gave details of the year’s first three week course, explained numbers at each session were limited because of Red traffic light restrictions, and invited me to book if I wanted to come. The first course was to be Getting to know you – Voices from our members with two people giving half hour talks at each of the weekly meetings. Because I was unsure how much I’d enjoy these, and uncertain what other commitments I might have for future Tuesday mornings, I booked for just the first week, and soon received a message to say that was confirmed, but the other two weeks were fully booked with ten on a waiting list.

They sent a contact details form which offered an opportunity to say where you might volunteer. I ticked that I was willing to help serve tea and coffee, or to thank a speaker, but I did not offer to help organise a course – maybe later. It also asked for previous occupation/area of expertise/current interests, and I imagine these details may be used for planning future courses.

Art Gallery Entrance

After showing my vaccine pass and signing in at the Art Gallery, I signed in for the U3A session and introduced myself as a new member. Because of current restrictions there was no tea and coffee, and no encouragement to mingle beforehand. However, I was warmly greeted by the Membership person, then went in to the theatre, where every second seat had a sign saying Please do not use this seat. Stay safe in Level 2. Everyone was responsibly wearing a mask, many with a medical one under a cloth one. It’s hard to recognise people in masks but I saw at least two women I know.

The first speaker was Jane Ellis who spoke about Memories and Memorials. She started with a quote from Luis Bunuel: “You have to begin to lose your memory if only in bits and pieces, to realise that memory is what makes our lives. Life without memory is no life at all.”

Jane showed photos of memorials at Arthur’s Pass, including a Memorial Book in the chapel. She went on to talk about the development of the 19th Battalion and Armoured Regiment Memorial in Victoria Park, including the addition of a plaque to the Regiment’s mascot dog in 2017. Her talk finished with photos from her garden, where plants hold memories of her mother.

Rosemary Anderson, the second speaker, told about her trip to Uganda in 2015 which began with volunteering for an educational charity. On her arrival in Uganda she found there were no road rules. She stayed in a village near the River Nile, in a room with a strong padlock, and was obliged to wear the key around her neck. After this volunteer assignment she travelled across the equator to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

I thoroughly enjoyed both these talks, and wish now that I had booked for the other two sessions of this course. It’s just a pity the social aspect isn’t easily available at present.

I’m glad that I’ve joined U3A
and look forward to next meeting day

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The Great India

It had been raining for a day and a half. My beach walk was cancelled and Stephen suggested we go somewhere for coffee as an antidote to cabin fever. I wasn’t keen to go inside anywhere that might be crowded, but I had an inspiration and suggested we go to The Great India in Woodham Road for lunch.

The Great India

I’d been before with a group of women friends and knew they had a $12 lunch special. There was only one other couple there, and we were easily able to be physically distanced, with Hindi music playing gently in the background. Stephen had Chicken Tikka Masala and I chose Chicken Jalfrezi.

We were given warmed plates – always the sign of a good restaurant – and our meals were delicious, mine generously laced with capsicum, served with rice and freshly cooked naan.

Meals at The Great India

Stephen had an Elephant Beer, but I was content with water. The $12 special includes a can of soft drink, but the only available options were Coke and Fanta, so we declined this. The Great India offers free delivery within 4km and this is a service we may well avail ourselves of in the future, especially if we need to self-isolate.

We think this India is Great
for low-priced lunch on pre-warmed plate

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Friday was a good day. our poetry group had an excellent meeting and there was an article in the Press about a site close to our cottage. This contained an error which I was able to use as a hook for a letter to the Editor.

Saturday started well with our weekly Zoom call to the daughters. I then checked the Press, found they hadn’t printed my letter, but on page 3 they’d used some of the information I’d given to print a correction to the previous day’s article. I felt miffed!

A break in the rain meant I could go out for a 20 minute walk. When I got home I went to do my daily Wordle, and found I couldn’t access it. The address bar at the top of the screen showed figures for the statistics for the 40 Wordles I’ve completed, but the screen was blank. I use Firefox as my preferred browser, believing their ethics are better than some providers. However, needs must when the devil drives (a phrase used by Shakespeare in 1601). I turned to Chrome and there Wordle awaited. I solved it on the second try, but my statistics didn’t show. Googling gave me a hint that Firefox had a loop around Wordle, but I still can’t get in that way today.

A friend visited in the afternoon and we enjoyed playing Canasta. She beat me in all three games, but I will have a chance for revenge in the not-too-distant future.

It’s raining again today, so no beach walk. Another walk was cancelled last Thursday because of rain. I heard the Auckland Harbour Bridge will be closed for several hours today because of high winds, and there are slips and road closures in Wellington. I hope the wet weather may dampen the enthusiasm of the peculiar protesters outside Parliament.

I had some setbacks yesterday
but better times are on their way

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Yesterday was the first time our poetry group had met in its usual venue for six months, and it felt good to be back to something approaching normal.

We needed to show vaccine passes, scan or sign in, and wear masks in the library and corridor. However once we were in the meeting room we were able to remove our masks – much easier for talking and reading poems. Usually we’d be a group of eight or ten, but yesterday there were only five, which meant we could sit well-spaced, and I always enjoy a smaller group. We opened windows and left the door ajar to allow plenty of ventilation.

We were more widely spaced than this!

In the past I took public transport to get to this meeting, and I vacillated over what I’d do under the red traffic light. I discussed this with a friend in Wellington who regularly takes the bus, because she works in the inner city where parking is prohibitively expensive. I’d almost decided I would bravely use public transport, but in yesterday morning’s Press there was a letter from someone describing how she’d been on a bus this week where neither the driver nor several passengers wore masks. After reading that I decided to take the car.

Our theme for this meeting was Before and After. Here’s something I wrote:

Pause for Pandemic

I remember the time
when flu was The Virus
before we were told to stay home
before we all bought masks
before Zoom meetings
became the way to keep in touch

Now double jabbed
and boostered too
we scan in everywhere
show our vaccine passes
use Greek letters
and wonder whether
there will ever be an after

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Despite being under the red traffic light we are still keen to support local hospitality businesses. Now that we are boostered and Omicron has not spread as fast as predicted, we thought it was safe to venture out yesterday morning. We chose to go to Child Sister, which is on Manchester Street, just across from the Margaret Mahy Family Playground, and there is free two hour parking nearby in Cambridge Terrace.

This cafe has been open for two and a half years and has proved popular. The inside was busy, with mainly young customers, but we were the only ones choosing to sit outside despite the mild weather. In these Covid days I think outside seating is most desirable.

I chose a double cheese scone with potato and chilli which they offered to toast, something I appreciate which seems to be more common now. The scone was delicious and I declined to share it with the importunate black-billed gull/tarāpuka who came asking. Stephen, who is a softer touch, offered a corner of his croissant and immediately the gull’s friends and relations swooped in, but soon left disappointed.

Child Sister is a good spot to people watch, and their food most acceptable.

A cafe that has seats outside
where drinks and good food coincide

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The vaccination process has definitely improved over the past few months. The local District Health Board was slow to get its system under way, and despite being vulnerable because of our ages and Stephen’s health conditions we didn’t get our first jab until late August. Our second came in the second week of October.

The medical centre where we’d had these phoned a few weeks ago and booked us in for boosters on February 15th. At the time I inquired whether that could be brought forward if the interval between 2nd and 3rd jabs was shortened, and was told that would not be possible because of capacity issues.

This week the government announced that the gap between 2nd and 3rd jabs had been reduced from four months to three months and those who were now eligible (us!) could get their boosters from Friday 4 Feb. On Thursday 3 Feb. we were at the Woodham Road Pharmacy, using their postal services, and asked whether we could book in there for our booster. I was told they couldn’t take bookings and that I should either book online or phone the national booking number. When I said I’d book online I was advised it was better to phone because that system would be more up-to-date with any cancellations.

When I got home I duly phoned, waited five minutes to be answered, and then spent fifteen minutes with a very helpful woman arranging bookings for both Stephen and me for Friday 4 Feb. This woman was very thorough, checking all details carefully, and ensuring I had Stephen’s permission to speak on his behalf.

On Friday afternoon we arrived ten minutes early for our appointment and were taken almost immediately. The vaccination was quick and painless, and we have so far experienced no side effects. Our antibodies should be activated within a few days, and I shall now feel much more relaxed going out and about, unless the Covid positive numbers have the rapid increase that’s been predicted.

Yesterday we had our groceries delivered, but next week we may go to the supermarket. My poetry group has a scheduled meeting next Friday at a library. Everyone is required to show a vaccine pass, scan or sign in, and wear a mask. Usually I would take the bus, but it might be prudent at present to take the car.

Our antibodies will grow strong
and tell the virus to move on

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We are limiting our outings now that Omicron is here, but we needed to go out to celebrate Stephen’s birthday, and started with breakfast at Kin Bistro at Ballantynes. Ballantynes had been closed for the previous three days, having moved their annual sale online out of “an abundance of caution”. They have a staff member stationed at each of their six entrances checking that everyone is wearing a mask. The cost of this must add to their daily expenses and I wonder what, if any, profit they are making these days. The time for department stores has definitely passed and we are lucky that Ballantyne’s has managed to hold on and remain the anchor of the central city shopping area.

The bistro was quiet at just after 9am. The only other customers were two socially distanced single men, one engrossed in the Press and the other engrossed in his phone. I wondered whether they live centrally and frequently come there for a lonely breakfast. We savoured our poached eggs, mine with mushrooms, and Stephen’s with bacon and Cumberland sausage. It doesn’t seem right with Covid to ask a waiter to use my camera to take a photo, so I just snapped our meals.

Breakfast at Ballantyne’s

Afterwards we strolled down to Riverside Market to buy some cheese, then back to Scorpio Books where Stephen chose a Turkish cookbook as his birthday present.

In the evening we dined at Venuti in Colombo Street. They opened soon after the earthquakes and have long been a favourite. We were pleased to see four other groups of early diners – surely not bad for a Monday evening during a pandemic. Our chosen table was in the corner by the door, well away from anyone else. We finished our meal with a shared Tiramisu, absolutely my favourite dessert, and absolutely yummy.

Once was Tiramisu

On birthdays we choose to eat out
despite the virus that’s about

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