The lovely Te Rauparaha Park in Porirua with its fine Peace Memorial

It’s now Thursday March 31st, 2022. Kia ora!

This morning I went to Tai Chi at Mana. It was the last session for the term. It was a lovely, fine, sunny day; yesterday’s fog has lifted.  JD had a RAT test this morning; thankfully, it was negative.  This Tai Chi group doesn’t meet again till May 5, after Easter, school holidays and Anzac Day.  I suspect I won’t be able to go then.

Afterwards, we decided to try out the new Transmission Gully motorway.  We drove north from Mana, on a largely deserted road (I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so deserted!) State Highway 59 (formerly State Highway 1). This morning the Dompost had a really nice lift-out about the new highway; I read most, but not all of it. We drive north to just past Paekakariki, where I assume that we can turn right to head south on the new road, but I am proved wrong: we can drive under the new road, and around a new roundabout, and then head north again, or south back the way we came. This entrance is not finished yet – I assume it will be, eventually.

We head north on the Expressway (Motorway Ends); what I wonder, is the difference between a motorway and an expressway?  We drive north, taking the Raumati Exit; this lets us turn around the roundabout and head south towards Wellington. We aren’t the only ones – several cars turned off at the QE2 Park/McKays crossing turn off; now I know why.

The new Transmission Gully road is amazing. It is quite steep in places; there are three lanes (or a slow lane) in steep uphill places.  It is quite wonderful, although it does need resealing in places.  There’s some confusion with the signage around the Raumati turnoff; but the new road is very pleasing. There’s quite a lot of traffic, but no queues.  Easter will be interesting! I assume there’ll be a queue somewhere, but perhaps not until you get to Otaki, now. A comment has been received: is it faster? What a stupid question. I’d say it would be, since it’s more direct, and there’s no stopping, although if it were really busy the old road might be faster.

We want to go to Nada in Tawa on the way home, so we don’t take the Porirua exit (although there is a sign saying Tawa this exit); I suspect this exit goes to Kenepuru, where, from the Kenepuru end, there is some very impressive construction.  We drive on and find ourselves on the old State Highway One, i.e. the new road (now SH1) merges with the old motorway between Wellington and Porirua. We take the old (existing) Tawa exit, and make our way to Nada.  While they were using a food truck for a few weeks, it’s evident that they’ve made some changes inside to the café, making it feel safer to buy takeaways, with more space for sitting down if you needed to (there are also tables outside).  It’s not a very attractive place to sit, but there is a coffee machine, and china cups, as well as takeaway cups.  There are no cheese scones today, or cream donuts, so I choose salmon and cucumber sandwiches instead.  It seems that eating fish, or taking an Omega 3 supplement, offers some protection against cataracts.

Apparently a police car got stuck in gravel on the new Transmission Gully road, after ticketing several drivers (presumably for exceeding the 100k speed limit.  You’re not allowed to stop on this road; and indeed, why would you? It’s separated, so no head-on collisions; now, the remaining SH1 between Linden and Johnsonville should surely be three lanes each way? There’s a very narrow stretch behind Johnsonville; I don’t know how you’d widen that.

Today’s Covid 19 report is much as we’ve come to expect, with still an alarming number of deaths, while there are fewer new cases overall, and fewer hospitalisations. There are 15,520 new cases, but there’ve been 22 deaths. There are 830 people in hospital, and 28 of them are in Intensive Care.  Today I’ve received no emails from Metlink to say that services are cancelled.

Of the people whose deaths were reported on Thursday, one was from Northland, ten were from Auckland, one was from Waikato, two were from Bay of Plenty, two were from Lakes, two were from Wellington, and four were from Canterbury. Two were in their 50s, four were in their 60s, three were in their 70s, six were in their 80s and seven were over 90. Fifteen were female and seven were male. Meanwhile, hospitalisations were declining, particularly in the Northern region. Apparently one third of those hospitalised are children or young people, while the average age of patients remains 56 – it has hovered around this mark. (Correction: about 1/3 of people with Covid 19 are children. Anecdotally, they can be quite sick).

It’s reported that there were new community cases in Northland (662), Auckland (2708), Waikato (1352), Bay of Plenty (825), Lakes (348), Hawke’s Bay (917), MidCentral (812), Whanganui (360), Taranaki (608), Tairāwhiti (201), Wairarapa (146), Capital and Coast (1009), Hutt Valley (587), Nelson Marlborough (729), Canterbury (2379), South Canterbury (305), Southern (1212), West Coast (77); and 13 in unknown locations.

JD and I walked up to the local store in the late afternoon, on this beautiful day. Imagine my shock, on returning, to get another Bluetooth alert on my phone, this time through the Covid tracer ap.  It said that someone had tested positive for Covid 19, and the exposure was on Tuesday 29 March. I checked my Covid 19 diary, and I hadn’t recorded any locations that day.  But I had been on a lovely picnic at a park in Porirua with two of my sons and two of my grandchildren. We were outside the entire time; I suspect my phone must have been close enough to an infected person’s phone to cause the alert. I contacted them both; one wasn’t pinged at all. I think of all the places I’ve been in the last few days – not many, mind, that I would think would be far more risky. The alert tells me to monitor symptoms for 10 days.  I’m already doing that! We all are!  I don’t have to isolate, or be tested this time, although I may take a RAT test. That is just so annoying; every time one thinks I should get out more, something like this happens.  I am missing out in the Pre-Easter Lenten rituals; I guess I am doing my own version of Lent, by not taking part in things I would like to take part in.

It’s now Friday April 1st.

Someone from Access comes to do some housework. It seems as though it’s ages since anyone came, so that’s nice, although it just gets harder and harder to “prepare”: changing the towels and putting the soiled ones on to wash; changing the bedlinen and putting the soiled sheets on to wash; putting the other washing on; folding and putting away JD’s clean washing; emptying rubbish bins; checking the dirty dishes are loaded in the dishwasher, and general tidying up. Still, it’s good to have vacuuming done and the bathrooms cleaned and the kitchen floor cleaned.  I just find the whole business, which is meant to be a help, very tiring, and I wish it were easier.

The Covid 19 report is improving, in terms of numbers, apart from a continuing high death rate.  The total of new cases today is 13,475, but there have been 17 further deaths. There are 764 people in hospital (a welcome reduction, but 31 in Intensive Care. So that’s still mixed. It’s alarming that people are still dying with this illness. Today I get messages from Metlink to say that some services have been cancelled because of illness due to omicron.

Overseas, some interesting things are happening. Activities around the events of January 6 in the US are heating up, as more and more evidence emerges and the US Department of Justice gets more involved in investigations and perhaps trials. Madison Cawthorn has distinguished himself with his admission of invitations to orgies, and use of a key bump of cocaine. The latter had many of us rushing to google “key bump”. It seems that this has aroused Republican displeasure, and the need for Kevin McCarthy to have a chat with Cawthorn. Well, fancy that!  The head of the CIA has been diagnosed with Covid 19; President Biden has had another booster injection; I am worried that he’s been close to people with Covid 19; he must also be exhausted from his recent trip to Europe, finishing in Poland. Trump also asked Putin for information about  Joe Biden.  Really!  Many people are shocked, including some Republicans.

Meanwhile, with regard to the situation in Ukraine, both GCHQ in the UK and the White House claim that Putin’s not being given correct information about the failure of Russian troops in the war. Well, we’ve all seen that, but I guess it’s official now. It’s said that there’s safe transportation out of Mariupol for its citizens, but I read later that Russians had interfered with 25 buses taking Ukrainian citizens to safety. It seems there are attempts at negotiations, but no one trusts Putin.  Russian troops have evidently left Chernobyl, because the soldiers there were getting sick from the radiation.  Well after the nuclear catastrophe, the area (the “exclusion zone”) remains radioactive, all these years later. Apparently the Russian troops did not know about the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl in April 1986, and wore no protective clothing. It’s also said that Russian troops shot down some of their own planes.  Some Ukrainian areas have been “liberated” by Ukrainian forces, but they fear being re-captured by the Russians.  There are mines, too; in some areas, drones are being used to detect them.

I listen to Charlie Sykes on the Bulwark podcast most weekdays – although I avoid chats that are about how awful the Democrats are – but I have been appalled this past week to hear Charlie advertising cigars.  Surely smoking cigars is a health risk, but Charlie endorses them!  I do appreciate the “free” podcast, and I know most podcasts carry some advertising, some of it more annoying than others; you have to pay to avoid the ads; which I don’t intend to do. I just felt that Charlie had sunk to new depths. Counselling, cereals, vitamins, cheaper insurance etc I’m prepared to put up with.

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

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