Sunday, January 17, 2021

Are we normal or just lucky?

 Random thoughts on the new normal and how it will affect our lives this year!

Yes, I feel normal but are we really? As commented by a visitor to the Americas Cup on TV last week, it is hard to believe that where he was from no one was out with anyone else but after several days he felt that the NZ normal was great.

Watching coverage of the America’s Cup races and the crowds along the waterfront, New Zealand vs Pakistan or West Indies cricket, walking through Pukekura Park with thousands of others it really is hard to believe that the rest of the world does not have the same normal as we do any longer? Are we special or just lucky in that our distance, size of population and the fact that we locked our country down early, has given rise to this near normal state of affairs for our country. I attended a wedding with over 100 people and not a mask in sight. I have been following friends who have been touring the country this holiday break and they have been at cricket matches, dining in restaurants, playing the tourist at beaches and other attractions with others who are not in the bubble. I visited MOTAT last week and although not crowded it was still an almost normal visit aside from the sanitizer and Covid app sign in.

Even my online watching has become a bit isolated. Many regular blog writers, Facebook posters or instagrammers are all commenting on how the Covid state of affairs is affecting them. They are finding new hobbies, directions to take their creativity, waiting for numerous parcels to arrive with purchases because they cannot drive to the shop to choose a thread or fabric in person.

I am finding that my new normal for projects is looking at what I have and trying to use something up. I did this last year for the Peppermint Purple SAL. I used a piece of hardanger fabric and threads purchased in 2016 and 2000. The final item was made from material I already had except for the outside piece which I purchased especially. That fabric is now being used by my sister for her Japanese quilt.

Inside fabric and border fabrics were from the stash as was the wadding and calico.

Finished Peppermint Purple SAL 2020. 
Quote is from Eeyore.
Back fabric - bought for the project

Our guild project for this year is going to be Wessex embroidery. Once again the normal thing would be to start the project but in the interest of using stash I am going to continue my sampler with chocolate sayings and see how far I can get. It may also be possible to turn it into the needle packet Holder but I am not holding my breath. Perhaps it will be a holder for knitting needles. Who can tell in this new normal when stuff may be in short supply and my stash is going to be more important.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Summer holidays are different now

Summer holiday this break has been several days at Oakura beach including new year and the Festival of Lights, then Stratford and now Auckland for a friend’s niece wedding. Enjoyed the summer sun at the Chelsea sugar factory cafe for brunch and having a doughnut for afternoon tea today.  Relaxing is great when you have a good book, bit of embroidery and a friend to share it with including cups of tea and coffee. We have semi binge watched Bridgerton which was great. I have read the books and they are really fun.

Lunch at Mokau. 
Oakura beach 
Lunch at Chelsea sugar factory. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Pretend tropical vacation

It’s vacation time in a post COVID world. Stephanie and I were planning a summer vacation in winter so Port Douglas was the chosen spot as it usually has temps over 25 in July. Unfortunately with the post COVID closed borders and no international travel m6 passport received a slight shock and was taken for a walk around the house before being put back in its folder.
Vacation planning had our flights to Aussie cancelled but not my flight to Auckland so I chose to visit and we have had a three day vacay; Cambridge one night, the Rotorua two nights. A visit to a friend Leah in Cambridge was lovely and onto Hobbiton the next morning. Arriving in Rotorua we checked in to our not adult only hotel, found our way downtown and booked tickets for the redwood tree walk. We wandered through the government gardens and drove out to the redwood forest as dusk came upon us,  it was a magical experience with the lights and bridges and mystical felling being high in the trees.  Dinner that evening was at an Indian restaurant in Eat Street.
Hobbiton: being hobbit sized we fit nicely
Amongst the redwood trees. 

The government buildings.
Tuesday 7 July: day three of the vacay had us sleeping in and breakfasting leisurely at the hotel. Shopping was the agenda item for the day so we visited the Central Mall and picked up the various items that we had on a list from Stephanie’s Mum.  A drive down to the lake front and a very short walk along the board walk we found ourselves by the Lakeland Queen paddle steamer. A chance discovery found that the cruise was going for an hours tour so we booked ourselves on it and filled in the next hour by driving past the government building to Sulfer Point lookout, a walk and photo op at the buildings then back to the cruise.  Thanks Ewan for lunch. Once back we decided to do the day walk through the trees but it was raining so carried onto the Blue Lake and lookout point to see the Green Lake. Back down to Rotorua the rain was heavier so picking up swimsuits we took ourselves to the Polynesian Spa for our Swim. A luxurious hour or more passed in the different pools as we felt ourselves relax.  Back to the hotel for a short rest, vacationing is Very tiring we braved Eat Street once again to try El Mexicano Zapata, which was delightful. Rather larger portion sizes than we expected we left by waddling out the door and home to rest and have a reasonable early night.
Selfie time at the Green Lake. 

Final days

Just found that this blog had not got posted so posting it now. What a different world it was when I wrote this on getting back to NZ in January. Posting date July 6, 2020.

Our final days were spent in Hong Kong which was an experience. Smallest hotel room ever but on the 21st floor. Lots of fun travelling on a great subway system, finding ourselves on the big bus tour before we had even thought about it, going up Mt Victoria and nearly being blown away, walking up to see the giant Buddha as well as travelling back on the local bus and seeing more of the Various islands. Lots of native forest and walks that could happen.  The sheer size of the buildings, number of people, in various places, juxtaposition of high end shopping with barely basic markets and Mum and dad stores. The fact that the high rise buildings had stores all around the bottom and there were 20 of the same in the one block. The goldfish market we were told about was stunning. Trying dim sum at a restaurant where no one spoke English and Hong Kong Disney where the ride “It’s a small world” was closed.
These are the final days of another amazing trip to the uk with Stephanie and meeting friends and family once again. Hoping to do it all again in four years.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Onto Lisbon and Portugal

11 January last day in Lisbon so both up early and after breakfast went for a walk around to check out last minute shopping. Nothing open so missed the opportunity. 
10 January. Decided on later start and breakfast was depleted. Caught the 28 tram to the end of the line then wandered around finding the walls and castle of San Jorge. Finally made our way to the entrance and decided would not go in but went up the church tower to see amazing views. More wandering past castle walls and we eventually were back at the hotel. After a cuppa we set off for the museum of contemporary art. Well we were amazed but the Sarah Affroso exhibition was interesting. More following our noses and we found amorino for an ice cream stop. Onto the queue for the Santa Justa Elevador and an hour later we were up the top. Spectacular views and we could just see the moon rising. We raced down to the waterfront and took photos of the sunset and rising moon. Back to the hotel and a decision to go back to the same restaurant for dinner. We tried the goat cheese, honey and walnuts, then the asparagus risotto for main. Delicisio. More taking in the sights and a stop in Ale-Hop (chain store). Back to the hotel and packing commenced. We had not bought as much as expected. A late night as both reading.
All in all our Lisbon passes were worth it but so many museums and very specific in lots of ways. 

9 January. An early start and a walk to Rossi station to catch the train to Sintra. We were earlier than expected. Started our Lisboa card at 9.00. An interesting train trip thru the burbs to Sintra and accosted at station by all the tour guides. Found the bus ticket and hoped on the bus to Pena Palace. Inspiring colours and tiny rooms this was restored by a former king. The outside is almost as colourful as the inside. Fog ruined the views. Onto the bus again to Sintra village was next stop. We went through the national palace and it was a very well organised space but funny with every room a different floor level and ceiling height. Next tourist stop was the Sintra myths and legends which was an automatic GPS activated story through five levels of the building. Interesting also. A lunch stop of baguette, milk tarts and coffee. Bus back to station then train to town. On our way back we stopped at dama e vagabond (lady & the tramp) for dinner. An early night was called for. 

8 January: today was our booked trip so a walk to the Hard Rock Cafe was the start. 
Batalha is a church site. Built for the memory of the war against Spain over 200 years ago. Very plain church, a unesco site but unfinished towers on part of the building. 
Nazere was lunch stop. Famous for giant waves, fusing in the past and an old legend linking to Virgin Mary. 
Next stop was obidos a walled city and UNESCO city of literature. It was also to try ginja the national liquor. An amazing walk around more cobbled streets and tiny shops and houses. The fog hit as we left so the pleasant views were misted out. 
Once back in Lisbon we went to have gelato and coffee in the plaza Comércio. A good dinner. 
Fatima shrine
13 May 1917 to three shepherds saw Virgin Mary. 
Tour with Miguel. Have a great history of Portugal and Fatima shrine. Was an expansive place but felt very divorced from the miracle of the vision. Found cheap coffee and nice coffee cloth to buy. 

7 January first day Lisbon card. We got started with riding the tram the wrong way but that was okay and eventually got to Belém where we wandered past the modern art gallery and along the foreshore you Belém tower. We went in as it was free with our pass. A stunning place it must have been. Along the foreshore and we found the monastery of Jerome was our next free stop. Well organised tour. Along to the archeology museum as part of our ticket. Lunch was pastries and cod cakes at the pastries de Belém. Pilar 7 was the next stop about building the suspension bridge and a great view from the top of the elevator. Back to town, did the Lisbon story and dinner of kebabs. A good day and great use of our time. 

7 January: a hard nights sleep as the bed is not that comfy for me. A nice breakfast in the hotel and then off to the comercio plaza to catch the tram to Belem but unfortunately we went the wrong way first. Still a good use for our Lisboa ticket. Got to be
Me and walked around the contemporary art museum to the tower of Belem where we went in for free. 

6 January: breakfast at the Gatwick hotel then over to catch our flight which was delayed about an hour. Arrived Lisbon, collected bags and got a Uber to our hotel. Settled in and then walked up through the old town to find the info centre to get our Lisbon tickets. Back to the plaza  Comércio for dinner. 

View towards castle St Jorge

Last nights sunset

Friday, January 10, 2020

Kent and Environs

5 January: up early and packed. Watched Sanditon with Stephanie and Virginia while Luke and Mark were at his rugby training. Macaroni for lunch and then Mark took us to the hotel at Gatwick. Had a small dinner in the hotel and a repackaging to take only two suitcases with us. 

4 January: early start for Stephanie to return the car. We walked into town again and did shopping then after lunch we went to Walmer castle. An interesting space as it was all circular. Interesting gardens used by the queen mother. A drive along to Deal and we walked out to the end of the pier and had coffee while in Deal. Home to pack. 

3 January; walked to town with Holly and Ayo to see canterbury tales. It was really good and funny. Had cream tea at tiny Tim’s tea shop with princess Charlotte and prince Louis teas. Walked to view the cathedral to view. Then home to go out for lunch at Chilham but the wool pack was booked out. Had a walk around and then drove to the Granville in lower Hadres. 

2 January: visited Scotney Castle. A delightful place with a ruined castle in the grounds.
Bodiam Castle was next on the tour and this castle was destroyed but left as a shell. Rye was the next destination and it was lovely to walk around. Went into the church and also the lookout. Weather was good but still couldn’t see France. Home again and nachos for tea. An earlish night. 

1 January: visited Dover for a walk along the cliffs but too wet. Want to the castle which was a good trip once again. We watched the fog roll in and completely cover us in. Dinner was hotpot and veges. An earlier night which was good. 

London visit

London visit and the new year celebrations in Canterbury. 
31 December: 
Went down to the Tate Modern to meet Erin and friends as a last farewell. We had to meet Holly and Ayo about 1pm at Victoria bus station but we were late and they were later. Stephanie and I had time to walk around the station and shops until they arrived and we had a late lunch. Onto the bus and a dark ride to Canterbury where we were met by Mark. A good evening followed with dinner, then Christmas parcels for those who missed out earlier. The kids got out the Nintendo and we all had a go at the dance competition. Unfortunately we were mostly hopeless but hilarity ensued. We then watched the London fireworks and departed for bed.

30 January: Travelled by train to Windsor with a stop at Paddington station and change trains at Slough. A long wait to vidd SSD it the castle but it was worth it in the end. We went through the chapel and it was amazing. The old apartments and the reconstruction of the destroyed areas was startling. It is so good that it had been redone. Hopefully Notre dame will be the same. We met for lunch with David at a pub and a walk down the long walk to enjoy the sunshine. Back to London, then it was time to meet holly and ayo for dinner then night bus tour. This was really good and we had an entertaining guide on the bus. Walk through Leicester square, m and m shop and back to hotel. This was a really late night. 

29 January: the bags arrived. Woo hoo, fresh clothing and Erin able to get sorted with things for Stephanie. We set off after breakfast to get to Trafalgar Square and walk up the Mall towards Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard. Found a spot on the Victoria statue and watched as the guard went along the road to Clarence House and St James Palace as well. It was cool to see the horses go off too.  Afterwards we walked down to Westminster and I left the girls to go to Southwark for lunch with Tina, Jill and Liz. So much fun was had with catching up and finding out what all had been up to in the intervening years. Finally left about five and walked back to the hotel to meet Erin and Stephanie where they wondered where I had got to. Erins friends Maggie and Siobhan met us in the hotel after we walked to the other side of St Paul’s and we found a local pub called the Punch for dinner. Erin left to go with the girls so they could get settled for the next few nights. An earliest night and a good sleep.
28 January:a good start to the day with wonderful shower and still no bags. After breakfast got the bus and train over to south Kensington. Did the walk along to Egerton Gardens where Erin’s dad used to live in the 1980’s. Along to Harrods and a complete circuit to find the ira memorial. Into Harrods to view the usual food hall and no sale bargains. Looked all over the shop and did get a little bag as a memento. Lunch at the Paxton then a walk along rotten Row to the Albert Memorial and Albert hall. Could not get in to see the card exhibition as fully booked. Caught a bus around Hyde park corner and onto fortnum and Mason. Saw more Christmas lights and other highlights to point out to Erin. Walked home via Somerset house which had a fortnum’s shop in it and skating. Dumped out parcels and back out again to visit Covent Garden where we went to Carluccis for dinner. Back to the hotel to enquire about the bags. 

Changing of the guard 

Windsor Castle with David and Stephanie 

Harrods with Virginia and Stephsnie

Lunch with the girls