One week into 2021

Happy New Year!

Our daughter Sophie on New Year’s Eve at our friend’s house in Wellington.

I have to say I’m feeling very fortunate to be living freely in New Zealand at the moment. Writing about all our freedoms seems a little unfair when so many people around the world are struggling with the Covid-19 Pandemic, facing lockdowns and huge restrictions on normal day to day activities. I have many dear friends in the UK with children unable to attend school, others not sure if they’ll sit exams later in the year and some in their first year at University, but not really able to enjoy the experience in a normal way. I know people working in schools, caring for children of essential workers. For my Dad life is extremely hard, caring for my Mum in their home. He can’t take her to the supermarket to get basic foods as her Alzheimer’s disease has progressed to the point she has no understanding of wearing a mask. She touches everything and has no idea about basic hygiene. They can take a walk, but it’s mid-winter, dark and cold. It’s hard for Dad to even get Mum dressed to go out for a walk. At least he is able to have a carer visit once a week, to give him a chance to do some essential shopping and go for a walk.

The new strain of the Covid-19 disease is spreading faster than before and the hospitals in the UK are at bursting point. I talk to my Dad on Skype a couple of times a week and am extremely grateful to friends who check in on him, as well as my amazing sister. She stayed with my folks for a week over Christmas and is going to join them for a couple of weeks during the current lockdown, as she works from home anyway. Her company will be a huge delight to my Dad.

I really can’t see when I’ll be able to fly to the UK. At the moment, if I were to leave New Zealand, the biggest problem would be getting back. New Zealanders are waiting at least 80 days to get back – having to book a pre-departure covid test – and get the results back – all within 72 hours prior to flying. They also have to book their flights to tie in with a place at one of the quarantine hotels in New Zealand, where anyone entering the country has to stay for two weeks and test negative before leaving.

There’s no way I could leave my husband and three children, without knowing when I’d be able to return. My dear husband’s parents are struggling too, with his Mum caring for his soon to turn 88 year old Dad, who has dementia, from home also.

All we can do is hold them close in our hearts and thoughts, and call them often.

Here in New Zealand we were fortunate to have a really lovely break over Christmas and New Year, with hubby taking some well earned time off (he works with people in Australia and the UK, so he spends hours on ‘Zoom’ calls, which anyone who does a lot of them will appreciate how tiring they are).

Sophie and Alice, with their Dad, enjoying Adrenaline Forest in Porirua over the holidays.

Sophie reaching the highest level at Adrenaline Forest!

Our three daughters loved having more time with their Dad and we enjoyed a lovely sunny day for Christmas and New Year. New Year’s Eve was spent with friends in the early evening, before watching the moon rise over Lyall Bay and then seeing in 2021 at home.

Sunset on the last day of 2020 in New Zealand.

Full moon on New Year’s Eve 2020/21

Hubbies New Year’s Eve drinks (before and after midnight!)

Christmas Day for us was very relaxed, opening presents around 10am and calling family in the UK, playing games and enjoying dinner together, before playing at the beach.

Meri Kirihimete from Aotearoa / Merry Christmas from New Zealand

Hubby and I on Christmas Day, raising out glasses and thinking of our families in the UK. (My dress made my oldest daughter!)

Christmas Day fun at Lyall Bay Beach in Wellington

Christmas Day at the beach.

On Christmas Eve we had our close friends over for a BBQ dinner, again we felt so fortunate to be able to share time with friends.

Christmas Eve with friends

Hubbie started back at work this week, but the light evenings and summer weather allow for evening play at the beach and the park.

Sophie and Alice swimming in the local bay one evening as the sun sunk its golden orb down on the horizon.

Evening kick around with Dad!

Of course in March 2020 New Zealand was on the verge of entering 7 weeks of a full lock-down and playing at the beach wasn’t permitted. Hopefully there are no slip ups at any of the quarantine facilities that result in any community cases – if that happens then local area lockdowns could still happen. We are living relatively normally in New Zealand, but there is a plea to the public to not be complacent and to continue scanning into places (which only a small minority of the population are currently doing), because should there be an outbreak due to a slip up then being able to contact people in close contact to an infected person is of paramount importance.

New Zealanders are spending their summer holidays travelling around the country, visiting friends and family and trying out things they may not normally do, with the hashtag #DoSomethingNEWNewZealand being promoted by the NZ Tourism Board. There’s no option to travel overseas, so some of the revenue that overseas tourists would usually be providing to the economy is coming from New Zealanders. I understand that interior decorators and home renovating businesses are also thriving, as people spend money they would normally use on an overseas holiday on their homes instead. We definitely fall into both categories, with a kitchen renovation underway and time spent enjoying local tourist spots.

The museum of Te Papa, in central Wellington, is a pleasure to visit at the moment (I confess to normally giving it a wide berth at this time of year – as the influx of overseas tourists usually makes it unpleasantly crowded!). This January I can drive into the carpark and be guaranteed a space! We’ve enjoyed seeing the WOW Up Close exhibition of wearable art, currently on display till mid-February.

Enjoying the Wow Up Close Exhibition with my three daughters at Te Papa Museum, Wellington

Hubby and I have been enjoying some fabulous walks together, including the stunning Paekakariki Escarpment Track (deserving on its own blog post really!).

One of the two swing bridges on the Paekakariki Escarpment Track

Lots of steps (as well as a couple of swing bridges!)

On our doorstep we have so much beautiful scenery, including bush walks and coastal delights. The long evenings are such a gift, one I wish I could wrap up and send to my folks in the UK to tide them over till spring. Chatting to my Dad the other day I said, ‘If only you had a fast forward button to March’.

Evening colours, the scent of fennel and a view of the sea on the south coast of Wellington

Along with enjoying the summer weather and school holidays (well no longer holidays for our oldest, as she has finished school for ever more and is now busy working and doing various volunteer activities in her gap year, before University in 2022!), we’ve started the New Year with all the usual good intentions (ooo and the odd indulgence – all things in moderation!).

A cheeky glass of Pinot Rose at the TK Farmer’s Market in Martinborough on the first Sunday of the New Year!

My main ‘New Year intention’ is to balance running with other sports to benefit my overall physical and mental well being (so I’ve already enjoyed 3 yoga classes in 2021, a swim in the pool with my youngest and a dip in the sea!).

Swimming in the sea at Princess Bay, Wellington

I was proud to have covered over 1,700km in 2020, with over 1,000km of that running. I have no goals on distance this year, as I’m still suffering some aches and pains in my back and along my left side, so it may be that more yoga, swimming and other exercises are what’s called for, and less time on my feet. I’m happy to go with the flow and keep moving in whatever way I can! 

Leaping into 2021 with the first 5km run of the year.

If my body sorts itself out then I’d love to enter a trail running event later in the year. I absolutely loved the Tarawera Ultra Marathon in February 2020, which I wrote about here.

I also celebrated reading more books in 2020 (28) than ever before and have already finished my first book of 2021, so I’m off to a good start!

We now have three more weeks of the school holidays before the new school year starts and we’re planning to enjoy every moment.

Summer days, taken at Princess Bay, Wellington, New Zealand.

Take care wherever you are in the world and I hope you’ve found, and continue to find, some moments of happiness in these crazy times x