The plum blossom's out!
I could have posed the question "what's the link between today's blip and yesterday's?" had this been cherry blossom (the pattern on the fabric!), but it's not – it's on the plum tree. Two years ago, I see that the cherry blossom was opening on 17th August, but it won't be this year – the buds are still small and tight. This day last year, I was stuck in Hong Kong because of the protestors having taken over the airport, and in 2018 we had no plum blossom because the tree had been severely pruned at the wrong time. So it's actually been three years since saw this lovely sight in our garden. The plum tree in blossom is my favourite. Its only just starting to open, so be warned that there may be more blips of a similar nature!
As it happened, I'd actually intended to blip the magnolia tree, which is in full flight now, but the flowers are that impossible shade for photography - deep magenta, which is too garish in the sunlight. Maybe I'll wait for a rainy day! I'd really have preferred a tree with pink and white striped flowers, but Nicky does love what he calls 'jewel colours'. In other words, deeply saturated ones.
In the morning, I'd been to meet S. and Gill at Prego as per our Friday ritual. Gill told us to wrap up warmly so we could sit outside, as she wanted to bring Annie. Sadly, their other dog died a few weeks ago and Annie is still looking for him and seems quite anxious. All she knows is that Toby went out with Gill's husband one day (to the vet, for an investigation) and never returned; the decision was made not to bring him out of the anaesthetic when the prognosis wasn't found to be hopeful. Poor wee Annie isn't herself – she greeted me as ecstatically as usually, but didn't want to sit on my lap, which she normally does, preferring to stay with Gill.
It was a beautifully sunny morning, so shouldn't have been cold (14 degrees!) but the outdoor seating area at Prego doesn't get the sun. After our meeting, I briefly toyed with the idea of going to see M-i-L but decided to go home instead, to watch the 1pm media briefing from The Beehive, led by the Health Minister and the Director General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield. A further 13 positive cases have been identified in the past 24 hours, all but one linked to the known Auckland cluster, though two of them are in a completely new town – Tokoroa, in the North Island.
The big announcement that the country was waiting for came at 5.30pm, when the PM took to the podium with Dr Bloomfield. I think everyone knew by now that Auckland was not going to get out of Level 3 at midnight tonight, and many people were expecting that it might go to Level 4 (full lockdown) with Level 3 for the rest of the North Island, or at least the Waikato and Bay of Plenty areas. However, the news is fairly positive; the government believes that this outbreak is still very well-contained, and being managed appropriately, so that although numbers may still go up for a while, there's no need to go into full lockdown or increase the levels in other geographical regions. Auckland will remain at Alert Level 3 for a further 12 days, with the rest of NZ at Level 2.
One person is in hospital but all the other positive cases from this outbreak have been moved into a managed quarantine facility (hotel). The reason for this has not been publicly stated, but having read an opinion piece by Barbara Dreaver, TVNZ's Pasific Correspondent, I think I understand why.
While I was watching the evening news, I received a message inviting me over to R & S's house for home-made pizza, so that's how I ended the day. Calum was just back from an exciting Outdoor Ed trip that involved sleeping in a snow bivvy (it was very warm, so much so that the roof started dripping on them in the night!) He left his shoes outside overnight, so that in the morning they were frozen solid and he couldn't get his feet into them, which resulted in having to run across a frozen lake in bare feet! He was feeling relieved that the school prom was last Saturday – had it been this weekend, it would have had to have been cancelled, as gatherings are limited to fewer than 100 people in Level 2. The Ceilidh on the 29th of this month is looking doubtful, too….
Christina managed to cancel my flight in return for a credit tonight. I'd been supposed to fly to Auckland next weekend to take Molly up to her new home, but that won't be happening for a while. Strange how these travel disruptions of mine seem to happen in August!