Normally at this time of year I look back at small pleasures of the year, but somehow it doesn’t seem right this year. Whatever your own circumstances, the global pandemic has hit us all in some way or another. Whether you have had friends or family members who have had Covid-19 or not (we did) the virus has impacted our lives. I know a few fellow bloggers have caught it, and I hope they are now feeling fit and well.
Here in New Zealand, the government closed the borders and imposed a strict lockdown early on in the middle of March. At Level 4, only supermarkets and pharmacies were open, and we all stayed at home and went daily walks, keeping far away from others. Things were so quiet, so still, that we enjoyed birdsong, and native hawks were seen in the city centre. At Level 3, we could collect takeaways, and some of our favourite restaurants produced dishes that could be easily taken home. At Level 2, shops opened up, masks were worn on public transport and we all faithfully used the track and trace app on our phones. We are now at Level 1, and so there is no need for masks (except when flying), concerts and theatre performances can go on, and life is pretty much as normal, except that the borders are still closed (returning citizens, residents and some key workers are required to go into two weeks of managed isolation in hotels), there are hardly any international flights, and getting goods from overseas is taking longer. Of course the virus is still sitting out there in the world, but we are so grateful for the swift action of the government and the fact we can now go about our daily lives.
Being at home a lot this year has seen a bit more time discovering what we really enjoy…and what we don’t. I have so enjoyed the Six on Saturday blog theme, and have ‘met’ so many people through their gardens all over the world. Many thanks to The Propagator. Many thanks too to all the other bloggers who have supported my little blog – it has been wonderful getting to know so many of you.
I continued with Pilates – both online during lockdown and then back to the studio. I tried a little yoga during lockdown too – in fact I would say I was almost more active and certainly more agile compared to being stuck at a desk in office as I usually am. There was some reading (see my favourite books of the year), a lot of watching of series (remember Tiger King?), and actually attending some live events at the New Zealand Festival at the start of the year, and more recently the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty. I cooked a lot – of course made banana bread – and am now enjoying summer’s seasonal produce.
Obviously, this year there has been no international travel for us. Our trip to Canada was cancelled, which was disappointing of course, but such is life this year. Before lockdown, we had a few days up in the Coromandel, where we experienced the clouds of dust and sand blowing over from the devastating fires in Australia. Yes – the fires were so severe that the smoke haze shrouded parts of the country in an eerie orange haze. We managed a lovely long weekend down in Nelson in February before lockdown, and after lockdown had weekends in Napier and Christchurch (see below: Kaiteriteri, Napier and Akaroa).
My brother Peter died in March after a short illness. It was not possible to go to Scotland where he lived as it was just at the time when the first lockdowns were starting to happen and there was a fear that we might get stranded. You can read my thoughts on my blog here. In September, we had the good news that my nephew (Peter’s younger son) and his wife had a baby boy, Leon. It was such a lovely positive piece of news this year.
We ate so many wonderful things, from oysters in the sun in the Coromandel to my favourite dish of the year, venison tartar at Craggy Range (see the post about the wine tasting tour this was part of). There was some wonderful food at Field & Green and Capitol, and Hillside Kitchen and Cellar. There were lots of trips to Squirrel cafe for Saturday treats, and bread and wine deliveries from Arobake and Noble Rot.
And…we became New Zealand citizens this year! It seemed like the right thing to do.
2020 for us in New Zealand was not as disruptive as it was for many others in the world. Yes we have had lockdown, some people lost jobs, some people worked harder, we all got used to Zoom and Teams calls as part of everyday work life. The cinemas and theatres went dark, but reopened in the latter half of the year. Some restaurants closed, others opened. Covid-19 vaccine has been ordered for everyone in the country, but who knows when it will be received. Talk of opening a trans-Tasman bubble is in the air, but I can’t see that happening for a while yet. It was a year of real ups and downs,
Like probably everyone on the planet is thinking right now, I am reflecting on the year gone by, and wondering what, if anything, we have all learned. As fellow blogger, Real Life of an MSW asks, if we want to leverage this upheaval productively, we must ask ourselves some key questions: How can we turn this disruption into a new beginning? How can we reimagine our lives? What can we create in the wake of this accelerated evolution? What do you all think?
Anyway, wishing you and yours a wonderful 2021, whatever it may bring.
You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram@thistleandkiwis. As for Twitter….am totally inactive these days. If you want to get in touch, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org