Wild weather in Wellington

Today is Wednesday 23 June. Kia ora katoa.

Well, things have been happening here.  It’s been very cold. I went to church last Sunday, to be greeted loudly by bagpipes. I’m afraid I don’t much like bagpipes. You have to be a really good bagpipe player to wow me. I missed the organ, too. The weather was terrible; JD had an appointment so I had morning tea afterwards.

On Monday afternoon there was an adventure. I had booked two tickets for another French Film Festival offering, and had invited a friend to come with me. These movies are fully booked now, so you can’t make a spontaneous decision to go, even for daytime showings. The movie was at 3:45 pm. It was the shortest day of the year. The weather was terrible. JD had an appointment, so couldn’t take us into town, but offered to pick us up afterwards.

I got JD to drop me off at the Johnsonville Shopping Centre. He so helpfully asked me to pick up a script for him. I did all that (yes, there were issues, these thigs are always complicated), and made my way to the Station, where we were due to catch the 2:30 pm train. There was no shelter there, and I got very wet, thinking, this is truly insane. But as the train was about to leave, my friend arrived, and we caught it together. Once safely onboard, we marvelled at how bad the weather was outside, compared with the warmth and comfort within!  In Wellington, we caught a bus that went up Taranaki Street, got off, crossed the busy road safely at a controlled crossing, and made our way to the theatre.

Once there (it was full of people), we got our tickets and ordered hot drinks. Two people kindly moved to let us sit down at a table. When it’s wet, I have so much stuff: jacket, gloves, scarf, handbag, tote bag, and so on. We enjoyed our tea and coffee, and made our way into the theatre. The film hadn’t quite started – they were doing the promotional stuff at the beginning.

Fortunately, we both enjoyed the film. It was very French, but very funny, and the heroine was very likeable. The film had a good script, and the references were relatable.  I was so pleased that we both enjoyed it, and it was nice and warm. I felt that the adventure had been worth while, in spite of the awful weather. Afterwards, JD not only met us, he had parked right outside. Despite being not yet 6 pm, it was really dark outside, and felt much later.

The next day the weather was wild again. I had an early start: it was my last Tai Chi lesson for the term, so I really wanted to go. There was a good turn out, and it was lovely. It’s nice to have got over my phobias about the form!

Afterwards I caught the train into Wellington, and then a bus into the CBD. I first chose the Funicular Café, but a sign up said it was closed. I then walked to Whitcoulls, thinking I could have lunch at the café upstairs there. The strong smell of cooking oil put me right off. I walked along the “arcade” that goes northwards from the upstairs level of Whitcoulls, and discovered a very nice café, which I hadn’t known about. It was large, spacious, sheltered, and seemed to have quite a wide range of food. I had my first coffee of the day there, and lingered for a while. The café was busy, but I never felt the need to vacate my chair and make more space available, as I feel at so many places, when they’re obviously busy and you’ve finished eating and drinking.

Afterwards, I caught a No 14 bus to Wilton, and got off in Molesworth Street, across the road from the New World supermarket, where I did some shopping, and where JD met me. I always like to shop there, although they didn’t have raspberries! They did have nice salads.

On Wednesday morning I got up early to go to hymn singing. It was very cold. As I was finishing getting ready, JD came and told me the breaking news: that someone from Sydney had flown in to Wellington late Friday night, had flown out on Monday, and had since tested positive for Covid 19. He advised me not to go; I poo-pooed this suggestion. I’d got up early, so of course I was going. I felt that Thursday morning’s singing would carry some risk, and I might be prepared not to go to that.

As we drove to Khandallah, more details became clear on the car radio: the Qantas flight the person flew in on, and places he’d visited on Saturday: he’d stayed at Rydges Hotel; he’d been to Te Papa (where there’s a new exhibition of Surrealist Art); he’d been to a chemist in Lambton Quay (actually there are several), and he’d been to Jack Hackett’s Bar. I noted mentally that the Bar is quite a long way from the Hotel: did this person catch a bus, taxi, or uber back there?  Dr Bloomfield said he didn’t know if the person had the Delta variant of Covid 19, but it didn’t matter (actually, I think it does matter).

I got to hymn singing, to find the organist had decided not to go ahead. Several people turned up, only to be told it wasn’t happening. There was a bit of discussion. Someone told me the person had been diagnosed with the Delta variant of Covid 19: as far as I know, a specialist said it could easily be the Delta variant. Has this been confirmed? Once again, you can see how the rumour mill takes over, and “nervous Nellies (and Neds)” are pitted against the rest of us who would perhaps be prepared to take more risks. We were advised to wear masks, but I was the only person wearing one – I only encountered one other person, a Chinese gentleman.  I texted JD, and asked him to pick me up at the supermarket. I had been wondering what to do on this day – now that question became even more immediate.

At around 1 pm it was announced that the Wellington area would go to Level 2 from 6 pm tonight until 11:59 pm on Sunday. The main restriction, it seems, is that if you go to a café, the three “S’s” apply: separated, seated, and served. You have to be seated, served by one person, and you can’t order cabinet food. Tables have to be separated. Meanwhile, we have been finding out what other places our non-hero visited: Unity Books, (I almost went there yesterday); Floridita’s restaurant; a Countdown supermarket, the Lido Café, and others. There were lots of people at Te Papa.  It seems the Delta variant is very transmissible indeed. Authorities have spoken about “fleeting contact” as a possible source of contagion. There’s debate on Reddit as to just what counts as ‘fleeting contact”. Our person of interest did scan where he went, so that’s a good thing. But goodness gracious me, he went to lots of places! One wonders why we aren’t at level 3. My cell phone did beep, to warn me that we’re going to level 2, tonight.

A level of caution is being displayed, in some areas. The Khandallah Community Centre has cancelled all activities for the rest of the week, including their AGM that was supposed to be held this evening.  I do find it frustrating that we only know now of the danger, given that I’ve been to lots of places in the meantime.

Meanwhile, there is an expanding cluster in Sydney, the Trans-Tasman travel bubble has been paused, and some Australian states are not letting NSW folk in. As usual, I have mixed feelings: frustration at not being vaccinated yet (Group 3 seems to have been vapourised); a “no worries” approach to limitations; frustration at not being able to do “normal” things, and some fear of becoming ill, given that it’s so cold and gloomy at present. I guess we’re still fortunate to be here.

We are heading into the July School Holidays, with my activities shutting down for a time, even hymn singing, which is going to take two weeks off. I will be at my wits end, not really knowing what to do with myself.  What lies ahead? Who knows. I imagine that all activities, sports practices, games, stores,  theatres etc will be (re)assessing their positions. And our options.

Now. At 4:54 pm, there are multiple locations where this dude has been: the Pickle and Pie Café, a barber’s shop, food courts at Wellington Airport, One Red Dog (this person had quite good taste!) But think of the rest rooms, a dangerous area at the best of times. Think of all that flushing, handling, queueing and so on. Now stop thinking. In a bookshop, one tends to handle the books. One wants to handle the books. When did you last wash your hands? When did you last sanitise?

Questions abound as to what the implications may be. I didn’t go to any of these spots (between Saturday and today), but I might have. And what about all the other people who were there?  I expect that, as usual, we’ll just have to wait and see. What the effects and implications may be. Nga mihi.

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