Back in the Wetlands

In Auckland many beautiful homes are teetering on cliff tops.

It’s now Tuesday January 31st, 2023. Kia ora!

Last Sunday we had lunch with a nephew and his partner who live in Melbourne, before flying back to New Zealand.  I was quite amazed on the drive there: there are lots of big houses in Churton Park, where I live, but these Australian houses are bigger!  My first thought would be how do you clean it? And then how do you heat it?  Still, it’s very nice to have plenty of room, and a big dining table. 

We had very nice pizza and salads, and then a caramel cheesecake with cream and ice cream – delicious.  There was a bit of talk about my husband’s family history. Afterwards my sister-in-law dropped us off at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport.

Well, this Airport could certainly do with a re-vamp.  We couldn’t check in for our flight, so we sat down near the Air New Zealand kiosks. There were lots of people there, and seating was in short supply. You had to pay $4 for a trolley, so we didn’t. There was an information board above where we were sitting; eventually it said we could check in. We did that, and dropped our bags off, and proceeded to go through security. And then my troubles started again. Again there was the body scanner: the dude operating it told me to sit on a chair nearby while he scanned other people. Was I meant to wait? He then seemed to forget about me.

Meanwhile, JD was several feet away from me, as I watched with dismay my carry-on bag being emptied and rifled through, spilling out my cardigan, which was in a plastic bag in a tote bag within the carry-on bag;  he found a water bottle – silly me, I should have discarded it, but sometimes you just need a drink and can’t get one. I left my seat and went to rescue my carry-on bag and my handbag. I just hate letting these go out of my sight. Meanwhile, had I been asked to wait by the body-scanner guy? I didn’t want to do anything wrong here. He was busy scanning people, and seemed to have forgotten about me. I joined JD and we proceeded through to the Duty Free store.

Although I was quite shaken, I really wanted to get an opal bracelet here. On a previous trip we’d bought a beautiful opal bracelet, which I was very fond of. Furthermore, at that time they were advertising 50% off the retail price, and I felt we’d got a good deal. Sadly, this bracelet fell off my wrist, and I looked everywhere on my walk to the Churton Park shops, not finding it, and I left a message at the New World Supermarket there. It wasn’t there, and it wasn’t handed in, so I had to accept the loss and hope that another such opportunity would arise.

There were very few bracelets for sale. There was lots of Swarovski jewellery, but I didn’t want Swarovski. Eventually we found something we both liked, although it’s quite different from my former bracelet. My birthday is coming up soon, so I feel a little justified in wanting to buy something.

Then we found a café where we bought coffee and I tried to rest while we waited to board our flight. I enjoyed reading my book, although I would have liked a more comfortable seat! At least I could put my feet up.

Then we moved through to the departure lounge, and again sat and waited.

The flight back to Wellington was uneventful, apart from a two patches of turbulence. I was afraid we’d run into a thunderstorm near Wellington, but we did not. Dinner was served – braised beef with some very overcooked broccoli and sweet potato, and a caramel slice, followed by coffee. Again, I found the food container far too small, and it was really difficult to cut the food with the wooden cutlery. The beef was quite tough, and in large chunks. It was hard to be tidy, and I’m not a messy person!  There was a bread roll too, and a container of butter and sunflower oil: you squeezed the contents onto the roll. What a novelty! This was a really nice mixture.  Of course I didn’t need the roll, but eating it helped to pass the time.

The entertainment was sadly lacking. There were no movies or television shows I wanted to watch, or even to watch again. I was so glad I had my book to read – although I’d been tempted to finish it back in Australia.

Then we descended to Wellington Airport, a remarkably smooth descent and landing. I’ve never had such a smooth descent and landing.  Although I thought I’d need my puffer jacket, it was so warm in Wellington that I didn’t put it, or my cardigan, on.  It was much muggier than Australia, and we missed the dry heat of Adelaide and Melbourne, although the latter was a bit stickier than Adelaide.

Then we went through the disembarking routines, collecting our checked baggage along the way. It had arrived, safe and sound. We caught a taxi home, and marvelled that it had all gone so smoothly.

Now back in Wellington, there is lots to catch up on. We keep getting dire reports of the continuing flooding in Auckland, north of Auckland, the Coromandel. Waitomo, Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, and now Rotorua. In Auckland all education facilities including early childcare are closed for a week until February 7. Unfortunately many only heard this via the news media. The newly elected mayor of Auckland, Wayne Brown,  is being widely criticised for his (lack of) response; he is blaming emergency procedures, which are about to be upgraded; nevertheless, he is the mayor. In these situations you really need a leader to be inspirational and reassuring.

This morning it was fine and warm, although there was fog over Wellington Airport for a time. Then this afternoon it became much cooler, and rained heavily for a time. The Labour Party has gone up in the polls, and the new Prime Minister Hipkins has edged just ahead of National’s Chris Luxon in a new poll. PM Hipkins has also done a cabinet reshuffle. So he continues to hog the limelight!

This morning I had an Aclasta infusion at the Medical Centre. I actually slept really well last night, after several nights of a few hours of disturbed sleep; I didn’t wake till almost 9 am! So I had a bit of a rush to have breakfast and get showered and ready. It all went smoothly, and afterwards I walked to the Johnsonville Shopping Centre. I’d drunk a large (very nice) coffee while I was being infused, and needed to use the rest room.  While I was there, I noticed my left elbow had been bleeding, and the site of the line looked a bit messy. I went to the chemist to pick up a repeat prescription, and asked them to put something over it. They got alarmed; wouldn’t touch the wound; got the chemist to look at it when he was free; he advised me to go back to the Medical Centre. I did this, but by this time the nurse who’d given me the infusion had gone to lunch. They found another nurse to look at it, and she established that I was no longer bleeding, cleaned me up, and put a new plaster on.  No further drama.

There is lots to catch up on. Two Listener magazines were delivered while we were away, and there are television programs to catch up on. So important!  Actually I really missed newspapers during our time in Oz, although I knew to expect this. They’re very scarce even in the shops! I know I can look up the websites online, but it ain’t the same.

I did listen to several podcasts while we were away, but there was a The Rest is History podcast about Hitler and the Nazi Party’s electoral win, and their subsequent steps to ensure that they had supreme power.  This included the Reichstag Fire; and questions as to whether this could happen again. I finally managed to listen to the whole thing.  I also caught up with The Rest is Politics podcast, talking about Prime Minister Ardern’s seemingly sudden resignation. Politics is a brutal world, as the hosts reminded us again.

Yesterday we went shopping; I walked to the local supermarket to buy fresh croissants for lunch (you always need to check the labels for today’s date!). There were plenty of eggs there, but I didn’t buy any, since I was walking and didn’t want to carry too much. But at Thorndon New World, where we went later, there were no eggs! None at all.  There were no pies, either, but we did get some Caesar Salad and coleslaw for dinner.  I bought fresh raspberries, too, but there didn’t seem to be many in the punnet. I bought some rhubarb sticks; sadly, there was none ready cut.  And we got more Vogel bread, bananas and Havarti cheese slices, which I’ve been unable to get. I like to get a large container of Greek yoghurt sweetened with honey: they had five other flavours (plain, lite, vanilla, mixed berry, and blueberry), but no honey-sweetened yoghurt. I don’t like the berry one, so I got blueberry flavoured.  It was quiet there, which was nice.

I am amazed again looking at the devastating weather conditions, worsened by the fog at Wellington Airport earlier today. Again, DG, we flew to Australia from Auckland and back into Wellington, avoiding any disruptions. 

It’s now Wednesday February 1st.

Last night I had a really bad night. Reactions to my infusion really kicked in. After trying to get to sleep, I realised there was a problem with my legs. It wasn’t cramp or Restless Leg Syndrome, but more like the “growing pains” I had experienced while growing up. I took one Sinemet tablet, but felt very nauseous and didn’t dare to take more. I wondered if the Sinemet would interfere with my Aclasta infusion. I got out and read the fact sheet I’d been given. It didn’t say anything about “growing pains”; it said, rather heartlessly I thought, that surely a few side effects was better than having a fall! Well, I suppose it is, but I had a very uncomfortable night. I got up to get a drink at one point, thinking that might help. Perhaps it did; who knows. I listened to many podcasts, one (American Scandal) about a case in Chicago in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s of brutality by while police against black suspects. It was truly shocking. And it’s happened again, with Tyre Nichols.  The (police), i.e. the gang in blue are still just that – the gang in blue.

In Auckland and northern areas heavy rainfall continues, but it doesn’t affect everyone, of course. Newly elected mayor Wayne Brown needs a lesson in making the media his friend; then he could take some control over the narrative. He manages to look heartless and uncaring, when people want someone to take charge and inspire them. New Prime Minister Hipkins is doing rather well, on the other hand. Former Prime Minister Ardern has posted on Instagram, giving some really useful information. Now she’s one to take charge in a crisis. Yesterday it was announced that in Auckland ECE (Early Childhood Education Centres) can open if it is safe to do so. Today it’s announced that schools can open from tomorrow (Thursday).

That’s it for now. Tomorrow I hope to go to my Thursday singing group, providing I have a better night/ Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi nui.

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