Remembrance of Things Past

The beautiful Raspberry Café

It’s now Friday September 30th, 2022. Kia ora!

We spent a few days in Christchurch during the week. We had a lovely time, of course, but I was badly surprised by how tired and exhausted I was. We flew south on Monday afternoon – around the time of the memorial service for Queen Elizabeth II. Of course, when I booked our tickets I didn’t know that Monday September 26 would be a public holiday. I had forgotten how cramped it is at the back of an Airbus; we were almost in the back row.

We had a delicious dinner of baked chicken with green olives and lemon, roasted potatoes and vegetables, with lemon posset for dessert.

The next day I was to meet an old friend at the lovely café at the Christchurch Art Gallery. We had delicious omelettes and salad, and lots of black coffee. It was roomy, and not busy, and we had a good talk.

Afterwards I caught an Uber home; there was confusion, of course, about where to pick me up. I had caught an Uber there, but the return car was determined to pick me up in Worcester St; the bright sun shining on my phone made it difficult to see the phone.

That evening, we had dinner at a Greek restaurant.  We had haloumi cheese, flavoured with oregano, soaked in Greek brandy, and flamed – with pita bread. It was delicious. Afterwards, we shared mains, with my cousin and I sharing a delicious pork belly dish.  Perhaps there were too many flavours – I soon felt quite unwell, although the food was delicious. It wasn’t the kind of straightforward Greek food I was expecting, like lamb kebabs with the lovely garlicky mashed potato dish and a salad!

The next day started out fine, but soon turned to drizzling and being overcast. We drove to Governor’s Bay, and had a delicious lunch there. I had a Greek salad with lamb and pork meatballs and pita bread with garlic butter.

That night we had roast lamb with roast vegetables and leeks, followed by a delicious chocolate slice.

On Thursday we met another friend who had moved from Auckland. We saw and admired her lovely house, and then went to Raspberry Café for another beautiful lunch. Keeping the Greek theme alive, I had another Greek salad, this time with lamb steaks, tzatziki, carrot humus, and lots of cucumber. Then we shared delicious cakes for dessert, and black coffee.

It was surprisingly emotional meeting old friends again, as well as my lovely cousin and her husband.  We are all aging, of course, and have already lost a dear friend to breast cancer (two years ago now); the wife of another dear friend has dementia. So things have changed. As well as growing older, and having various physical trials, we all get very tired, and are wary of infecting each other.  The friend I met on Tuesday I first met at a La Léche League meeting, when our eldest sons were babies.  Our children went to the same primary school, and our second sons learnt violin together at a music centre.  Like several other friends of mine, she had a daughter after having three sons.

The friend we met on Thursday had been at our wedding, and at our wedding anniversary party just over a year ago.  We had known her (and her parents) since our university days.  We later swapped houses for holidays.

A great deal has happened in the intervening years.  These occasions are really special.

After this we went to Riccarton Mall, where I redeemed a voucher we’d been given a year ago – on a queen size sheet set which had been reduced. I would have liked to spend more time shopping, but we were short of time and I was exhausted. I should put in a credit for this Westfield Mall (we don’t have one in the Wellington area).  Farmers in Riccarton Mall honoured the voucher, which I hadn’t been able to use earlier.

Our flight back to Wellington was supposed to leave just after 7 pm, but it was delayed. When we were asked to board, it was raining outside, and we had to walk a long way, past one plane, and climb the narrow, steep steps.  But there seemed to be more room in this ATR than in the Airbus we had travelled in on Monday. I had chosen seats nearer the front of the plane, but as they were boarding from the rear, I still had to walk a long way.

On board there were a few bumps taking off, but we were glad of the coffee and snack offered to us on the slightly longer trip home. It was just as well, because after landing with a bump, we then had to wait several minutes on the tarmac before the plane could be parked and we could exit. The kind steward held my bag for me while I descended the steps. After the motion of the plane, I’m always swaying myself for a while. Again, there was a long way to walk back to the airport building. We were the last off the plane, so it was a long, lonely walk to baggage claim. Out bags were there, though, and we caught a taxi home.

I slept better last night than I did in Christchurch, but it’s very cold here, and mostly raining. JD took me out for a Christchurch-type lunch; instead, we shared a delicious pizza, delicious coffee, and a chocolate éclair. I brought a roast vegetable salad home for an evening meal. There must be a new chef and barista at our local café; everything tasted better than usual.

In the evening we spoke to our son in the UK about the economic crisis there. They’re both economists, so while I won’t say they enjoyed the discussion, it was nice that they could have an interesting discussion about it. In England some banks have cancelled mortgage lending; I assume they’ve cancelled approved lending that hasn’t been taken up yet. That of course impacts a wide circle of people, not just would-be buyers.

It’s now Saturday October 1st.

Today we went shopping at New World in Thorndon. It was certainly  different there: I saw very few masks, although I wore mine; it was busy, but people didn’t seem to be trying to avoid each other; there seemed to be a new sense of casualness.  Also, lots of things were missing, or short dated: there were no raspberries, tomatoes are still expensive, and there wasn’t much lettuce. I ended up buying mesclun, not my first preference, and salads. There were no pies, so we bought a quiche. We also bought ice cream, coffee beans, and pâté, also some biscuits.

It will be a busy day tomorrow, so the rest of the day is very quiet.

It’s now Sunday October 2nd.

Sadly, I’m not feeling so well today. I have been fighting off what is, I hope, just a cold, not flu or coronavirus, with a raspy throat and a bit of coughing.  I’ve been taking an anti-viral supplement, but in spite of sleeping much better in my own bed, I wake up feeling quite unwell. I definitely have a sore throat now, and strange feelings in my chest, with a chesty cough. I was going to go to church, visit a friend, and then go to a concert at my church, but, alas, I’m not going anywhere. I sent an apology to my friend, zoomed into the church service, and sent another apology for the concert. Yesterday I felt that I could do this all, but now, sadly, I don’t feel like doing anything. It’s quite a busy week ahead – although it’s school holidays, we have engagements tomorrow, on Wednesday and Friday. I feel pleased now that I didn’t organise anything else. Tomorrow morning we’ll do Covid 19 tests again.

In Ukraine, Ukrainian forces have taken back the city of Lyman (which had been taken by Russian forces). This is despite Putin’s annexation of four provinces (including Lyman) and a rock concert and a terrifying speech in Moscow. It seems his forced conscriptions are going really badly. No one wants to go and fight in Ukraine; we’ve seen photos of queues of cars trying to get out of Russian. Former US ambassador Michael McFaull apparently said more men had left Russia than had been conscripted. There are photos of conscripted men being sent into areas quite unprepared for them, including a field strewn with snow! Yes, winter is coming (in the northern hemisphere).

In the UK, Prime Minister Truss seems determined to pursue her doom-laden budget, despite its already visible effects. She’s even warning of more cuts to welfare payments; she was going to ban strikes, but already there’s a rail strike. Won’t someone stop this madness? The Iron Lady was quite something; this is next-level crazy, however.  PM Liz Truss did not win a popular mandate for what she’s doing. The British Labour Party is doing rather well in the polls, where Sir Keir Starmer is emerging as a credible leader of the UK.

In the US, people are agonising over the coming mid-term elections, where margins are narrowing. Whatever. The devastating effects of Hurricane Ian are becoming more evident every day. The death toll is now at least 35 people. 

It’s now Monday October 3rd.

This morning we were due to go out for morning tea, to a group that John really wants to be part of.  We both did covid 19 RAT tests, which were negative, thankfully. I felt a bit better than yesterday.  I had wondered what the dress code was; my google results said don’t wear black!  I really wanted to wear black trousers, a cream jersey and a woollen jacket; I actually wore a navy blue skirt and blouse with my light blue top from a David Jones’ sale (when it was still open, before Covid).  It was a bit of a rush: the first hose I put on had a run, so I had to find another pair. I ended up applying makeup in the car. When we got there, guess what most women were wearing: black trousers with a jersey, and differing degrees of scarves and jewellery. The men wore “smart casual”, with not all of them wearing ties, and some woollen jerseys rather than jackets.  It was quite pleasant, but we didn’t know many people there.  I didn’t cough at all.

Afterwards we visited JD’s aunt.  When JD rang first, she had a coughing fit, so we felt less guilty about visiting her.

We had lunch at a bakery (many places are closed on a Monday), and bought a Shepherd’s Pie to bring home. I saw very few masks while we were out.

We came home using the Transmission Gully highway, having turned off at the new-ish Manor park intersection. It’s really confusing. You turn left, go around a roundabout, and then take the Haywards Road to Pauatahanui. There have been tremendous improvements in the road, which are still continuing. There was a huge slip. At Pauatahanui we turned onto the new highway to drive back to Johnsonville – remembering to post our returns for the local body elections. I was going to post them yesterday in Khandallah, but didn’t go out.

The latest Covid 19 figures are reported today. In the last week there have been 9,975 new cases, 33 deaths, and 111 people in hospital (as at last night), with 7 in Intensive Care.  Evidently 10% of the new cases are reinfections.

Of the deaths being reported, 13 were from the Auckland region, two were from Waikato, two were from Bay of Plenty, one was from Lakes, one was from Hawke’s Bay, two were from Taranaki, two were from MidCentral, one was from Wellington region, six were from Canterbury, one was from South Canterbury, two were from Southern.

Two were in their 40s, three were in their 50s, two were in their 60s, three were in their 70s, 15 were in their 80s and eight were aged over 90. Of these people, 11 were women and 22 were men.

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

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