Posts Tagged ‘Covid 19’


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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Masking up

Today I wore a face mask for the very first time. I took Bus 865 to Northlands, with about a dozen other passengers, only one of whom was wearing a mask. I had wondered whether my glasses would steam up, but this didn’t happen, perhaps because my glasses have a water-repellent coating. Wearing a mask made me feel connected to my U.K. daughters, who are obliged to frequently wear masks. and who have just embarked on another four weeks of lockdown.

Both Jacinda (P.M.) and Lianne (Mayor) are encouraging mask-wearing on public transport, now we have new community transmission in Christchurch. I want to support them and set a good example, especially as my not-so-smartphone can’t access the tracer app (although I keep a careful log of where I’ve been).

Breathing felt a little stale with a mask, particularly as the temperature today is 27 degrees. It was a relief to remove the mask when the bus arrived at my destination, and feel fresh air on my face. I then entered Northlands Mall, where the air felt less fresh – probably because of cleaning products they use.

On buses we should wear a mask
it’s surely not too much to ask

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To celebrate the move to Level One we had morning tea at Under the Red Verandah.  They were busy but we found a shady seat in their attractive garden where birds twittered and bees buzzed.

The large fluffy dog in the centre of the photo is a friendly Leonberger who enjoyed snuffling Stephen’s leg for traces of Ziggy.

I had a smoothie and a ginormous cheese scone which means I don’t need any lunch.  As we left we admired a decorative fluffy being served in an elegant cup to a small girl.

It’s wonderful that we no longer need to worry about social distancing,  I haven’t been on public transport, so haven’t yet needed to wear my mask.

Restrictions have all gone once more.
What else does this year have in store?


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A doctor’s appointment yesterday demonstrated some of the changes that have been brought about by Covid 19.  When I arrived the receptionist asked whether I had any coughs, cold, or flu-like symptoms.  Her next question was whether I’d been “hanging around” cruise ships, airports, Auckland, or Customs areas.  The idea of my hanging around cruise ships conjured up some strange scenarios, but I was quick to deny any such activity.

My doctor’s been in new rooms for some time now, but this was only the third time I’d visited, and the first time since Covid appeared.  In the waiting room I sat at a different angle to previously and noted a long mirror at seated head height.  I later confirmed that the mirror was in fact transparent from the other side so staff seated at desks behind it could keep an eye on the waiting room.  Chairs for those waiting were socially distanced, and there were no magazines.  I wished I’d brought something to read.  Of the five people waiting three were looking at their phones, and the other was writing notes like me.  Coast Radio was playing, a station I’ve had recommended, but never actually tried.  While they had advertisements I was pleased to find they include acknowledgements of local events.

The practice nurses who used to wear professional white smocks were this time  dressed in pale blue pyjama-type outfits , the tops patterned with illustrations from Spongebob Squarepants.  I didn’t like to ask to take a photo, but I did ask whether this was for the benefit of child patients, and was told no, this was the only option available at the time of lockdown.  I guess they’d be more easily changed and laundered than the previous white smocks.

My annual Well Woman check went smoothly, and after discussing my recent eye exam with the doctor she gave me a referral to an eye specialist.  I’m mainly using only my right eye at present, but the cataract in my left eye isn’t bad enough to warrant a referral to the public system.  I’ve decided that rather than wait (and add to the CDHB’s burden) I’ll pay to have it removed privately.  We shall see . . . . (in my case, literally).

This virus means the doctor’s changed
with practices all re-arranged

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Four of us decided to go together to He Puna Taimoana, the New Brighton hot pools on Friday afternoon.  We’d booked earlier in the week, before Covid 19 again reared its ugly head, but we didn’t see any reason to cancel just because we were in Level Two.

You need to book and pay online beforehand and choose one of the daily time slots.  For those of us who are Christchurch residents and Super Gold Card holders the price is a reasonable $10.  We lined up outside at the allotted time and were quickly admitted.  There’s plenty of room to change, including private cubicles for those that want them, with the changing area all heated.

I wanted to hire a locker to ensure security for my wallet and camera, but this proved difficult.  The lockers do not accept cash.  You have to use a credit card, and I was unsuccessful on two attempts to do this.  The Life Guard assured me that there had been no problems with people leaving valuables in the outside cubby holes, so that’s what I did, and I was able to keep an eye on my things all the time.  Because we are now in Level Two the Sauna and Steam Room were not available, but there were several pools to choose from, and the experience was gorgeous.

He Puna Taimoana

We started in a pool that was 33-38 degrees, then moved to a warmer one (38-40 degrees) for a while, then back to the cooler one when we started to feel too hot.  The hotter pool was at the edge of the complex where you could see through a fence to the surf below.  We agreed the experience is as good as the pools at Hanmer, without the need to drive for an hour and a half to get there.  While you can smell chlorine, the salty water is buoyant and pleasurable to soak in.

I understand the original plan was for the pools to take 150 people at a time, but the advent of Covid meant this was reduced to 80, and on Friday at Level Two the limit was 65, which meant there was no crowding and everyone was able to be socially distant.  When you get out there are good warm showers, a costume drying machine, and hair dryers available.

There’s an onsite café, but we chose to walk down the shabby and sadly deserted New Brighton Mall to have afternoon tea at Switch Espresso in Carnaby Lane.  This café has interesting decor and a good selection of treats.

Switch Espresso Café

I liked their footpath sign outside inviting you to play the Chicken Game.

Chicken Game

We all enjoyed our soak in the hot salty water, will definitely go again, and highly recommend the experience.

I loved our visit to He Puna
could wish that we had gone there sooner.

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With Level Two looming the city was quiet yesterday morning.  Maybe everyone had gone to the malls to stock up?  On a couple of intersections someone had written a chalk message saying that Elijah had forewarned us of this development.


Warning from the Prophet Elijah

Someone else was drawing more positive messages with chalk.

Chalk art

I had intended just to return a library book, then decided to take a few more out – just in case . . . .   We’ve booked to swim at New Brighton hot pools on Friday.  The Council says all their facilities will be open, but some may be operating slightly differently.

Gap Filler have installed frames in various spots, including this one in New Regent Street.

Framing New Regent Street

You are invited to take a photo and record how the city changes.  It was very quiet here, despite being close to lunch time.

A clever woman from Amsterdam has posted a video showing how to make a mask from a sock.  This took just a couple of minutes and was very easy to do.  We shall all have masks, even if we have to go sockless!

Instant mask

We all know what we have to do
as we descend to Level Two



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Dr Ashley Bloomfield (surely he’ll soon be Sir Ashley) has asked us all to Be Prepared.  A local second wave of coronavirus is likely and when (not if) it arrives we will all be encouraged to wear masks in shops and on public transport.  It’s important for everyone to have their masks ready just in case.

I bought a couple of disposable masks four months ago and we’ve not yet needed to use them.  On Friday I went in to a chemist and bought two more, finding that the price has now doubled.  I was keen to get some reusable masks, but these were difficult to obtain online, and I wondered whether perhaps I could make some.  I don’t possess a sewing machine but found online instructions for hand sewn ones.  Rather than cut up a good scarf I experimented with some green linen that has been in a cupboard for years.  It was inclined to fray but I managed to make the prescribed shape.  However it seemed rather small, and would be even smaller once I’d hemmed the ends to take elastic.  There is some elastic in my sewing kit but only enough for two masks and I was loath to squander it on such an amateurish product.

My mock-up mask

Instead we decided yesterday to go into town and see whether we could find any fabric masks for sale.  I asked first at a gift shop who said they didn’t have any but were planning to order some.  At Ballantynes the customer service woman said they didn’t stock them.  She told me Shopology by the Riverside Market had some very sophisticated ones for $69, but they’d sold out.  She didn’t know of anywhere else in the inner city that had reusable masks.

I went across to the Cashel Street Pharmacy where I was shown a reusable mask that was already sold  and told they will have more in next Monday.  I ordered four, at $20 each, and felt pleased we’d done the best we could to follow Dr Ashley’s instructions.  I hope we never need to use them.

As it was time for brunch we went to the Riverside Market,  This was bustling as usual, and we ended up at Shaka Bros.  Stephen had a Wake’n’Bacon, basically a big breakfast, while I had fries.  This is the second lot of chips I’ve had in two weeks – not good for my healthy eating regime.  My preference would have been a scone but they don’t  do cabinet food.  Most of their selection is hamburgers which I don’t particularly like.  My hot chocolate was okay, but not as piping hot as I like it.  I was happy they didn’t add marshmallows.

Shaka Bros

Afterwards we walked round the market where there are always new things to see.  One surprising sight was straps of licorice and candy, some stuffed with sherbet.  The woman told us they’d come from Spain.  I can appreciate the Spanish economy may need our custom, but I would have thought there are healthier products we could be importing.

Spanish Sweets

I had to look around and ask
but finally I found a mask

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Under Alert Level Two we’re allowed to meet with friends again, although hugs are not recommended.  This morning Christine and I walked around McCormack’s Bay where we saw a giant Teddy in a window.

Ruth @ McCormack's Bay (Small)

Ruth at McCormack’s Bay


Giant Teddy in McCormack's Bay Rd (Small)

Teddy in McCormack’s Bay Road

Along Beachville Road the new (and controversial) Redcliffs School is almost complete and planned to be open on 22 June.

Redcliffs School

We came back along the wonderful coastal pathway for morning tea at The Front Room at the Mt Pleasant Community Centre.  It really felt just like old pre-Covid times.  There are now no active cases of the virus anywhere in the South Island, so we can all feel a little more relaxed.

We have resumed our monthly walk
a chance to exercise and talk

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We celebrated the move to Alert Level Two by going out for breakfast.  One of our favourite local cafés is Table at Monks by the Margaret Mahy Playground.  Once we were up and dressed I phoned to check if they were open for in-house breakfasts, and was told yes.  It was exciting to know we could finally have a meal away from home.  We often went to cafés and restaurants during Cathryn’s first weeks here, but hadn’t eaten out since we were in Greymouth almost eight weeks ago.

When we arrived at 8am we were invited to sit at a table.  I asked if we could take their Press, which was okay, but I did wonder how they will clean it before someone else wants it.  The waiter asked if we had a cellphone, and I said no – that’s easier than explaining that my not-so-smartphone can’t download the app. for registration.  Instead we filled out a form that asked for name, address, phone number, email, date, and time.  This is more comprehensive than my experience in shops which usually just ask for name and phone number.

We relished our breakfasts (mushrooms and egg on polenta for me), the first meal Stephen’s had that he hasn’t cooked himself.

Mushrooms and egg on polenta

I didn’t feel I could ask the waiter to use my camera, so attempted a selfie – not my forté.

Breakfasting at Monks

We were at the café for about an hour and during that time no-one else came to dine in, although there were three takeaway coffee customers.  It may take a while for people to venture out, and I guess not many would go out for breakfast early on a misty Thursday morning anyway, especially as this will be the first day back at work for some.

It really was a special treat
to go to a café to eat

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Visits to my blog over the last seven weeks have been the most numerous I’ve seen for several years.  People confined to home are spending more time on the internet, and I’m benefitting.  It’s not easy finding new things to write about when social interaction is limited, plus I’ve been reading fewer books.

I have been watching more television, thanks to Vodafone TV and Netflix.  Last night I watched Becoming, the documentary about Michelle Obama, a truly amazing woman.  The previous evening I saw The Two Popes, which gave a fascinating glimpse inside the Vatican and the Catholic Church, but neither of these films inspired me to write a post about them.

In this morning’s early hours I again listened to Jim Mora’s interview with Neil Gaiman, currently in lockdown in Aotearoa.  I love Neil’s Mushroom Hunters poem, and found his interview enthralling, although I’ve never read his books.

On days when I don’t post, the number of blog visitors declines, and I’m keen to write regularly.  This week I took the brave step of posting stories about my parents and my birth.  Brave, because I don’t usually share such personal details, but I thought Why not?  Both my parents and my only sibling are long dead, so they won’t be complaining.  I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a memoir, and for me the easiest way to do this is by gradual blog posts.  Trying to create a book of memoir seems like too much hard work, requiring research for social context, plus it would be  unlikely to ever be published.  Blogging is an easier way to go, and satisfying, especially when I receive comments.

Poetry writing has hardly happened for me during rāhui, except for a daily couplet in my Poetry Diary.  That gift is one I continue to use and cherish.  The WEA offered an online course in Haiku which I enrolled for, and which started today.  To my relief it comes via e-mail rather than in Zoom sessions, and I hope the discipline of a shorter form may joggle my muse into action.  The tutor is Japanese, and uses Japanese examples, but promotes the 5-7-5 syllable format.  This confuses me as I was taught that the Japanese language doesn’t have syllables.  They use on, sound symbols that are usually based on consonants rather than vowels, and 17 (5 + 7 + 5) is a characteristic rather than a rule.  Poets in Aotearoa are not inclined to use 5-7-5 for haiku that gain publication.  However the 5-7-5 format is a good discipline and it will be fun to experiment.

Tomorrow, the 50th day of rāhui, we will move to Level Two, with more freedom to shop, eat out, have haircuts, etc.  It’s interesting to remember that the 50th day after the February 2011 earthquakes was the day we were finally released from the inner city cordon.  Is 50 a magic number?  When will we next be restricted for 50 days?

My poetry may come alive
if I embrace five-seven-five


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