Wednesday, May 4, 2022

When Booty Calls

As life returns to quasi-normal (we’re still under the Orange Covid traffic light setting here), we can now go back to theatres. We’re supposed to wear masks throughout, but everyone I saw took theirs off as soon as they sat down.




BATS Theatre have a show called When Booty Calls, an action romcom with pirates. What’s not to like? We haven’t been to BATS for a while, but this is just the sort of thing at which they excel. Liz and Jen are pirates, marooned ashore after a battle in which they’ve decided that the pirate’s life is not for them. They have to overcome other pirates, love, lust, kraken, and poison to reach the end of the show. It’s very silly, but well-written with great fight scenes and frequent breaking of the fourth wall.

Afterwards we went for dinner at Capitol. Again, we’ve not been there for quite a while, due mainly to their restricted opening hours over the last few months. I asked about this and was delighted to hear that not only will they be opening for lunch again soon, but also that they have a new venture starting at Wellington Zoo, of all places. We’ll keep an eye out on these to see how they go.


Wednesday, March 23, 2022

…And Relax (A Bit)

Today’s announcement of the relaxation of some rules around Covid provide a bit of relief to the beleaguered hospitality and entertainment industries. Not much, but a bit. From Saturday 26th March, we will still be under the red traffic light setting, but…

·         Indoor gatherings can increase from 100 to 200 people

·         Outdoor gatherings are now unlimited

·         Masks no longer required outdoors

·         QR code scanning is no longer required

And from 5th April…

·         Vaccine passes no longer required

·         Mandates for certain sectors to be vaccinated (all except health and aged care, border workers and corrections) to be removed.

The traffic light setting will also be reviewed on 4th April.


Hooray! Unfortunately, this is too late to help Ladyhawke, who has decided to cancel (rather than postpone again) her Time Flies tour . Hopefully, by the time of Midnight Oil’s gig on 10 May, restrictions will have been loosened further to allow indoor concerts to take place.

Moves were already afoot ahead of today’s announcement to get back to pub quiz, as this is still allowable under the red setting, but with a maximum 100 people. This was cancelled by the pub and quizmaster as they wanted to protect themselves as much as possible. The new 200-person limit is higher than the capacity of the Old Bailey, so no worries there.

This also means that the remaining matches of the cricket World Cup and Super Rugby can be played with no restrictions. Sadly, the White Ferns have not been doing too well so it looks unlikely that they’ll make the semi-finals, so we won’t be seeing them in action again. We may look at going to see the Hurricanes in action, though.

 With any luck, the next announcement will see a move to Orange setting, and things will get back to neo-normal.

 

  

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Cricket World Cup

The ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup is under way in New Zealand. There are, in fact, three world cups happening here over the next two years – cricket, rugby and football – of which this is the first. The Basin Reserve in Wellington is a key venue for the competition, so, last year, I took advantage of an earlybird offer to get tickets for all the Wellington matches for a bargain price.

Then New Zealand moved to Covid red traffic light, and all bets were off. Initially, the restriction was a maximum of 100 spectators per match, so all tickets were refunded. Bugger. Since then, spectator numbers have been relaxed, firstly to 10% of a venue’s maximum capacity, and then, by the look of the crowd on Sunday, quietly ignored altogether. As a previous ticket-holder, I was offered tickets prior to the general public, and so we decided to go and see the White Ferns take on Australia. For the price, I might add, of half the total that I paid for seven matches earlier.

The weather wasn’t that great, but it wasn’t raining, just cloudy and grey and with a nagging Southerly keeping us cool, so we were wearing fleeces in the stands. The White Ferns had won the toss and elected to bowl first. They started out strongly, keeping the run rate down at around 3.5 and taking three early wickets to leave the Aussies on 56/3 in the fifteenth over. It looked like we had them on the run, and WASP had gone up to 54% (from a pre-match 26%). Unfortunately, the Aussies didn’t panic, and just carried on accumulating runs, slowly at first, but picking up the pace for a fourth wicket stand of 57, and a fifth wicket 101, which really did the damage. Even so, with Australia on 214/5, and five overs to go, restricting them to a reasonable score was still feasible.


Or it would have been, if the new batter hadn’t been Gardner. She came in and swatted 48 off 18 deliveries, and even though those around her lost their wickets, this took them to a final score of 269/8, leaving the White Ferns a target of 270 to win.

270 isn’t an impossible target, but unfortunately, Australia also have the best bowling attack in the competition. This probably accounts for them being No.1 in the world rankings, favourites to win the competition, and so far unbeaten. Wickets fell quickly and regularly and it soon became apparent, despite a valiant effort from Satterthwaite batting at 4 and accumulating 44 runs, the failure of the top order (Devine 6 and Melie Kerr 1) meant that too much was asked of the lower batters and bowlers. Wickets fell regularly, and when Satterthwaite was caught it was pretty much all over. The White Ferns were bowled out for 128 in the 31st over.

This leaves them fourth in the round robin stage of the competition, and they really need to win their next three matches. Fortunately, they’re against England and Pakistan, who have so far failed to win a single match between them; less fortunately, they must play South Africa, who are also unbeaten so far.


Thursday, February 3, 2022

Border Announcement

The New Zealand government are relaxing the rules around Managed Isolation/Quarantine (MIQ) for New Zealanders. This is effectively re-opening the borders of New Zealand. This will be done in a phased approach, with New Zealanders in Australia able to return home from February 27th, and from other countries from March 13, without the need to enter MIQ, but self-isolating at home.

Yippee!

This is the news we’ve been waiting for, as our trip to the Northern hemisphere is dependent on being able to get back to New Zealand afterwards. It involves self-isolating on return, and taking and submitting RAT results on day 0 and day 5. The self-isolation period by then should only be one week, or may (optimistic scenario) have been abandoned altogether – the isolation period will remain under review.

OK, time to start some serious planning now…

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Red Traffic Light

It appears that the omicron variant has arrived in New Zealand. Predictably, the government has rushed to shut everything down again. The new system of traffic lights has been invoked and the entire country will go to the Red setting from midnight tonight.

 

The Red setting isn’t as bad as the old Level 4 and Level 3 lockdowns, in fact it’s similar to the old Level 2. Gatherings are still allowed up to 100 people indoors or out, and work and transport still goes on, although office workers are encouraged to work from home. Mask wearing and scanning are compulsory, and most businesses have now set themselves up for vaccine passport scanning.

At Zealandia, tours still go ahead with a maximum of eight people per tour. I’ve been doing a lot of tours over the past few weeks as this is the busiest period for us, even with no international tourists – people from all around the country have been visiting Wellington during the school holidays and coming to Zealandia a lot. It is, after all, the number one paid attraction in the capital. I’ll continue to take tours as needed, and also continue with the volunteer Valley Guiding that I usually do at weekends.

What does this mean for sporting events? They’ll still go ahead behind closed doors, so our plans to watch the finals of the Super Smash T20 cricket tournament are in tatters. Also, the ICC Women’s World Cup of Cricket, due to start in a few weeks, is under threat. It all really depends on what happens over the coming weeks. Similarly, gigs will be cancelled or rescheduled (for the third time, for Ladyhawke) unless the settings are reduced in pretty short order.

Hopefully, a managed spread of the disease, without overwhelming the health system, will enable New Zealand to start treating it as endemic, rather than pandemic, some time soon. We are still planning to get to the Northern hemisphere around the middle of this year…watch this space.


Friday, December 10, 2021

The Little Mermaid

It’s Christmas! Well, almost. So far I have avoided #Whamageddon, but last night we went out for that traditional Christmas entertainment, The Panto.

The show starts at 6:30pm as it does attract an audience of small people as well as grown-ups, so we booked an early table at Field & Green. Unfortunately we didn’t have time for ice-cream, so had main courses only, of duck breast and snapper (not together). Field & Green never fails to deliver, and everything was as tasty as usual.


Then across the street to Circa Theatre, where there was a queue outside as people were scanning their vaccination passports. They do really need to find a more efficient way to do this than just having someone with a phone or tablet scanning each one each time you enter a venue.


The panto follows the usual format of a fairy tale, with topical political references and smutty innuendo for the grown-ups. This year's story is The Little Mermaid. The story is set in Wellington Heights, the only part of Wellington still above water in the year 3021. King Lando played by Simon Leary is at war with the Merpeople who live under the sea, led by Neptuna. The cast is led by Circa stalwart Gavin Rutherford as Shelly Bay, and her son Lyall. Coral (the actual mermaid) is played by Natasha McAllister. There’s plenty of songs, from Sweet Child Of Mine to Baby One More Time and Walking On Broken Glass, and lots of “he’s behind you!” and “Oh, no I didn’t!” -ing going on, as well as booing the villain, Bermuda (Neptuna’s sister).

All a jolly good romp, and it played to a packed full house, which is great to see.



Friday, December 3, 2021

Traffic Lights

It’s quiet…too quiet. Yes, whilst the rest of the world has been getting on with life, New Zealand has continued in lockdown, at Level 2 for most of the country (maximum gathering size 100, so no festivals, concerts, gigs, sports crowds, or anything generally fun), and Auckland remaining in Level 3 – even worse, but they’ve recently introduced some easing of restrictions so you can get a haircut and a take-away. Just as a reminder, we went into a “3-day lockdown” on August 18th, and have now been under the current restrictions for 106 days. That’s in addition to three shorter periods earlier in the year, bringing the total number of days under some kind of restriction to 123 days so far this year.


On Friday, though, that all changes, as the government does away with the old Level 1 - Level 4 system, and introduces the new Traffic Lights. Most of the country will move to Orange, whilst Auckland and surounding areas, and some parts of Northland, will remain at Red. No-one will get Green. The difference between the new and old systems is the level of freedom which will be afforded to vaccinated compared to the unvaxxed, and also how businesses will trade depending on whether they adopt the Government’s new app allowing them to capture the vaccination status of their customers. As vaccination rates in New Zealand top 90%, the dwindling number of deniers will find themselves unable to access any venues which demand a vaccination passport.


What does this mean for us? Cricket matches at The Basin – with crowds! There’s the Super Smash T20 competition coming up, and a lot of test matches, so that’s good. Gigs – Ladyhawke is still rearranging hers, but we have tix to see You Am I and Midnight Oil next year. Theatre – we can go to Circa, although they have remained open in Level 2, with just a restriction on numbers. Cinemas no longer need to block off alternate rows of seats. Pub quiz – we no longer have to remain seated at our tables, and the pub can undo the spacing of tables and allow – whisper it! – standing! Bar service! As far as Zealandia goes, tour groups can return to full size, so hopefully we’ll start seeing a pick-up in tour visitors over the Christmas and New Year period.

We’re still waiting for the abolition of MIQ in its entirety, but travel is now allowed into New Zealand in a phased programme, starting with fully-vaxxed returning New Zealanders and eligible Australians, from Australia: 17 January; fully-vaxxed New Zealanders from “non-high risk” countries (currently 9 Southern African countries plus Papua New Guinea) from 14 February; and foreign nationals from “non-high risk” countries from 1 May. Travellers not going into MIQ must test negative pre-departure and on arrival, self-isolate for 7 days, and get a final negative test before “entering the community”. This isn’t really going to work for the tourist industry, is it? “Hey, come to New Zealand and spend your first week self-isolating!”

Further details are “to follow” on this, but at least it looks like our trip to the Northern hemisphere next year will now be feasible.