Mols and I have been enjoying the summer, but we are back to work (albeit later than planned).
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We've just moved from red to orange in New Zealand's traffic light system. That should make me feel less anxious, but there's a lot more Covid around than when I last wrote. Just over 500 people in New Zealand have died with Covid, which isn't many relative to other countries, but is still sobering. Apparently our region's cases peaked last month, but it doesn't feel like it, as we know more and more people who have Covid. Since we had nearly 2 years of living in Lyttelton without the virus being here in port, it feels strange. Vaccine passport mandates have gone, masks remain but use is patchy, so we are being careful, preferring to sit outside when we can. But winter is coming.
We haven't had a glorious summer, but we have made the most of it. The campervan trip was great: it didn't rain that much and we went to lots of great beaches, plus we got to turn up to campsites without booking, something that isn't recommended in mid-summer when the international tourists are here.
However, we were surprised that most places we went to were not dog friendly, even on the supposedly wild and laid-back West Coast (which is also one of the rainiest parts of NZ). It was almost impossible to find bars or cafes where we could take a dog inside. Which made it lovely to come home to Lyttelton where dogs are welcome almost everywhere.
Molly and I also had a short camping and paddle-boarding trip to Lake Ohau, testing out other lakes on the way (Lake Pukaki was the warmest and Tekapo was freezing). Our new canvas tent stood up to a night of wind and one of rain and I think I’ve dried it okay to store until next season (canvas tents last longer than plastic ones, but only if they don’t go mouldy!)
Most of the summer has been spent here and Molly and I enjoyed lots of swims at Magazine Bay. But the harbour is becoming cold (we went in on Monday and although I didn't get an ice cream headache, I was about four fingers cold when I got out) so serious swimming season has ended.
Now it's time to focus on the garden, which turned into a jungle when we were away for 2 1/2 weeks and hasn't really recovered since.
And I need to be back to work of course. I've used up my buffer and I am writing my comics on deadline, which I don't like. I want to get ahead in case I get Covid. King Features (my syndicate) have told me not to worry as they can always put in reruns, but I've never used reruns in 15 years so I'd hate to have to start now.
We’ll probably fit in another trip later in the year before the tourists come back in earnest at Christmas (including my sister and her family, yippee!), but I guess that was our last summer of having New Zealand to ourselves as the borders are opening now. Hopefully international tourism will come back gradually. Maybe even sustainably. We'll see.

PS. Molly and I were going to tramp and camp last weekend, but the nights are too dark and cold for me now so I made it a day trip. We drove the electric share car to a walk where dogs are allowed (Mount Grey), provided they are on a lead. I saw so many possums dead on the road on the way in I knew there were no birds in danger of being caught by Molly. If DOC (Department of Conservation) aren’t trapping possums, they definitely aren’t trapping the rats and stoats that decimate ground-nesting birds. So I let Molly off the lead and she was amazingly good, only veering off to grab ridiculously big sticks to play with.

My predator suspicions were confirmed when we got to the ridge and I saw a huge tabby cat prowling through the tussock. Luckily I clipped Molly on before she saw it. She took after the cat at full speed.
Until the bungee cord kicked in.

I don’t think anything will convince her now that cats aren’t ENEMY NUMBER ONE.

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