Thursday 29 October 2020

Fox News deliberately misleads the public. Which is not news, of course.

Sigh. It's Fox News - what else would you expect? But, for those (hopefully very few) readers here who might be inclined to accept the nonsense this "news" channel promotes, here are the facts about what is properly termed Managed Isolation in New Zealand:

- You return from overseas

- You are taken to a 4- or 5-star hotel, not of your choosing (which may even be in a different city, according to demand)

- You are confined to your room, except for daily walks that may be only around an open carpark space; but you're also allowed to go out into a fenced-off area where you may speak to friends and family from a distance of two metres

- You do not pay anything for this hotel, if you are a returning Kiwi - not for the food, the WiFi, the accommodation. (If you are a returning Kiwi who chose to go overseas since the pandemic began, then you will be charged $3,100 for your two week stay.)

- You can use UberEats, order from supermarkets, receive packages up to and including exercise bikes, but not home baking

- You will be tested on Days 3 and 12, and then, if clear, released on Day 14

- If you test positive, you will be removed to a special quarantine hotel and taken to hospital if necessary

- If you refuse the tests, you will have to stay in the hotel for another fortnight 

That's all very far from imprisonment in a "terrifying quarantine camp", Fox, you stupid, irritating, irresponsible panic-monger. How do I know all this? Because my daughter is in managed isolation right now, and sent me the photos I've used here. 

As a result of all this, we have had just 25 deaths overall, and are currently living an almost-normal life, with kids at school, people at work, sports events and concerts happening, restaurants and bars operating as usual. The only Covid signs you'll see ih New Zealand are masks on public transport, people scanning the QR codes outside shops and businesses, bottles of hand sanitiser everywhere, and a bit of social distancing. End of. Spit.

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Once in a blue moon? Not any more.

Crispy prawn tacos from the Mint AS food truck
Seeing as how it is my birthday today, as a token gesture towards the (increasingly tiresome and irrelevant) custom of celebrating the occasion, I have drunk what is likely to be my last ever Blue Moon beer. It was given me as a 6-pack, brought back from the US by the Baby on her last-but-one trip, and eked out since then in a very miserly manner. Regular 😀 readers will recall, since I have harped on about it a number of times, that I first tasted this beer six years ago while on a post-IPW famil in Wisconsin, at lunch in Popeye's Restaurant on the shores of Lake Geneva. It was properly served with a slice of orange, and I became an instant fan, and have sought it out ever since.

Sidenote: we had a little down-time for browsing round the town and, while trying on a top (which I bought and still like), I heard a woman in the next changing room say excitedly, three times, "You're gonna grieve yourself to death!" Still trying to imagine the scenario for that. Also, in April, the lake was still partly frozen and clinking musically with small icebergs - inside which it's apparently possible to find freshly-frozen fish, we were told.

Anyway, I've found Blue Moon in some odd places since, including on tap in the Lord Nelson pub beside the Thames where I saw a couple of clichĂ© red-coated Chelsea Pensioners walking past. The most unexpected place, though, was in the bottle shop around the block from where I used to live in Auckland - what a joy that was! But a few years later, the imports ceased, and that was that. sigh. 

That glass, by the way, I bought in Reykjavik in celebration of the Einstök beer I enjoyed there - that memory, though, always tinged with regret over the four bottles of my airport-bought six-pack that I left, forgotten and unopened, under my seat in the van I did my guided tour in. An unplanned tip for Påll, which I'm sure he enjoyed - but I would have appreciated it more...

Tuesday 27 October 2020

No-rcas. Again.

"I know you're busy with work..." said a begging emailer today. Huh. Chance would be a fine thing. What work I've been doing has mostly been recycling material from earlier trips around NZ, and spying out new things that I could write about remotely - just like every other travel writer in the country. To be fair, there's a rich source of story content here - but oh, how nice it would be, to write about somewhere overseas! But that won't be happening for ages - even though Australia is now happy to accept Kiwis in some states, we'd still have to go into (and pay for) isolation on return. Not worth it.

But - just so an entire month doesn't go by without an entry in this blog - I did do something new a couple of weeks ago. Well, sort of new. I went out for the afternoon with the Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari - nearly five hours cruising around the Gulf in a catamaran, looking out for cetaceans. Of course, it goes without saying that there wouldn't be orcas, since as a species they are still intent on avoiding me. [Their latest stiletto to my heart was to learn from an old man this very morning while out on my walk, that he (as addicted as any teenager) had once looked up from his phone at the beach just below - my beach, the one I walk along every day, that's just a couple of minutes from my house - to see two orcas cruising around the bay, right by the shore, hunting rays. Could that be any more painful for me?]

That was also a disappointment to the woman waiting next to me before boarding, when I couldn't help telling her they'd be a no-show - but this was her third safari with the company, so she knew she was going to enjoy herself anyway.

It was school holidays, and there were lots of kids on board who were thrilled just to be on a boat, which was fun to see, as a person who takes ferries as they do buses. The captain was droll and laid-back, the staff were enthusiastic, both just as they should be, and we had a lovely cruise over blue water past leafy beachside suburbs and bush-covered islands. We might have seen all sorts of species, from pygmy blue whales right up to humpbacks, but had to make do with some distant puffs - blows, we in the know call them - from some Bryde's whales. No spectacular breaching, such as I've seen before in Hawaii, and Alaska, and Galapagos - so it was just as well that a bunch of common dolphins turned up and obligingly put on a show in the bow-wave and wake, leaping and diving entertainingly. Not as spectacularly as that amazing performance I watched from shore in Kaikoura, where the dolphins were literally cartwheeling, hundreds and hundreds of them - but good enough to be the highlight of a relaxing day out in the harbour.

The most amazing thing were the people who spent the entire time on the bows of the catamaran, despite the captain's warnings about splashes when crossing ferry wakes. They stood there like figureheads, utterly drenched, and unflinching. Apparently, it's common. Amazing.

So, it was a good trip out - lovely weather, perfect sea conditions, some sightings, well organised and interesting. It was just a shame that, on the way back, I asked one of the marine biologists on board about her top sighting, and she lit up while describing seeing a pod of orcas hunting and eating common dolphins right by the boat. Spoilt the whole trip for me, but it was entirely my fault. I literally asked for it. Tch.


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