Auckland is still at Level 3. We are still at Level 2, but after a year and a half of it being kept at bay, COVID-19 is now in Christchurch. There are four cases here.
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Duncan and I are delighted to be double vaccinated, as are most of our friends here.

Since the last epistle, spring has truly sprung in New Zealand and the grass is ‘riz’ (my mum used to say that poem every year and now I have taken on the mantle), as are all the weeds. It's a busy time in the garden. Despite the clocks going forward and having longer evenings (it isn't dark now until well after 8 o'clock), I never seem to get to the bottom of my outside To Do list. Currently:
  1. Scythe grass
  2. Weed
  3. Mulch
  4. Plant seeds/seedlings
  5. Put in steps
  6. Cut and stack wood and kindling
  7. Clean and sharpen tools
  8. Level potting shed
  9. Repaint studio
  10. Make planter boxes
  11. Sand and linseed deck
  12. Attach gutters to studio and downpipes to barrels (half done!)
Time flies by. Molly had her first birthday this month, which means we have had her for over 10 months. She has brought so much fun to our lives and, like me, loves the garden and the beach. But she is 100% Jack Russell (unlike our last Jack Russell) and feels she has to
  • Bark at anyone going up or down our street
  • Go after ducks/chicken/cats/sheep (the chickens keep well away from her, cats taunt her from the neighbour's far fence posts, sheep muscle in nose to nose at the fenceline just daring her to get across, and the duck flies around, lands just out of reach and then takes off before she can get anywhere near).  
  • Dig in my garden
I wouldn't mind the last one if I could train her to sniff out and dig up convolvulus, couch grass and old man's beard...
Despite being back in New Zealand for four years, I can't get used to spring being near the end of the calendar year, rather than the beginning. My seasonal cues are all out of whack and Christmas creeps up on me. Fortunately, our plans are low-key. We are hoping that my sister who lives in Auckland (the other is in London and our brother is in Valencia, Spain) will be able to come down. This seemed definite a month ago, but has become less certain as lockdown has dragged on. We just wait for more people to be vaccinated; 90% of the eligible population is the magic number to give us freedom of movement and we are creeping closer. As I write this, Christchurch is at 90% with a single vaccination and 71% double vaccinated (stats). The numbers are slightly better in Auckland. Fingers crossed that my sister can join me for Christmas.

As the year races to an end, I look back at what I had planned to get done this year and realise I've done hardly any of it. Including producing the first draft of a novel.

To this end, I’ll take part in NaNoWriMo this year. That means writing every day for the month of November. I'll let you know how that went in the next epistle!

Ta ta for now.

PS. If you think someone else might find this interesting, please pass it on.
Copyright © 2021 Alex Hallatt's Cartoons and Writing, All rights reserved.

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