The Coronavirus Diaries, 13th March 2021

We’re Zooming again tonight but this time everyone is self-catering. I am having scrambled tofu with mushrooms, leeks, spinach, garlic and brown rice. Pudding will be blueberries and plain, unsweetened soya yoghurt. I’d like to have eaten before we meet up, but I was reading the last John le Carré lent to me by Michèle and I didn’t realise it was so late.

The new veganism is still bothering me. I am the only vegan among my friends. I cook them vegan food that doesn’t pretend to be anything else and they like it. I remain unconvinced their reaction would be positive if I were to present them with fake meat, even if I liked it. I do have some fake cheese at the moment. I quite like the fake smoked cheese, and I definitely like the soft cheeses. Except I don’t really think of them as cheese. The current cheese is different. Fake Red Leicester. It is, I have discovered, just perfect in a toasted sandwich. Continue reading

Eat vegan, eat tasty

I really should have known better, but sometimes a bargain seems a bargain, even though as I put it in my basket I calculate how many meals I could make from scratch for the same price. So when I visited a branch of Tesco hoping to buy some spring greens I should have looked at the vegan macaroni cheese Reduced in p[rice), noted that it exists, and left it on the shelf. Maybe had I found those spring greens I might have done. I can buy spring greens in my local branch of Morrison’s, but the ones Tesco and Sainsbury’s sell are much greener, fresher, younger. But there were no spring greens and I was curious, I admit it, about the vegan macaroni cheese, or mac and cheese as it is increasingly called in supermarkets. (I was confused by this name for some time, wrongly assuming it was something to do with the hamburger chain, but it seems a passing fad to sex up a old, familiar, and much loved supper standby).
Well, I shan’t be buying it again. There’s bland, and then several degrees down the scale is Tesco’s vegan macaroni cheese. Fortunately I had some whole grain mustard at the ready and a tasty (home assembled) salad of watercress, spinach, pomegranate seeds, tomatoes, black olives, spring onion and avocado. Continue reading

Going underground

This evening is beautiful and so was this morning. I think the middle of the day was too, but we spent much of it underground continuing our visit to the Waitomo Caves. Photos will follow, or at least I hope they will, I haven’t looked at them yet, so not tonight.
The caves are astounding. Beautiful natural creations of lime, stalactites dripping slowly onto you as you move along the walkways, stalagmites, growing slowly from the floor; one cubic centimetre per hundred years. You mustn’t touch, but looking is enough. The guide on our final tour this afternoon told us how when the caves were first opened and visitors were guided by candlelight, taking around six hours to cover an area we were in for a sixth of that time, they were allowed to break bits of the stalactites off as souvenirs. Then she told us that one passageway had recently been closed to visitors as some had not respected the place and had also been snapping bits off.
On this morning’s tour we watched as the group doing black water rafting drifted by in the water below us. I wasn’t tempted. The landscape is a network of caves. The Waitomo caves are managed by the descendants of the tribes who lived in the area, and our guide this afternoon was a descendant of the man who had first found the entrance into that particular set of caves. Yesterday’s trip to see the glow worms’ (more correctly maggots) was busy. Apparently they can take up to 50 people a time on a tour. By contrast for this afternoon’s tour the group size is a maximum of 18, I don’tknow what the maximum size was for this morning’s tour but we were lucky to be ina group of seven. It was the guide then who said they should more accurately be called maggot tours, but that doesn’t work for the marketing. Continue reading

Of New Shoes, Public Lavatories, and a Miraculous Lunch

First the shoes. Near the local supermarket is a shop with a few shoes on display. I picked one of them up, a pink Skecher. Cousin swears by Skechers, but I have never had a pair. The shoe was as light as air. I was suddenly, and immediately, seized with the absolute need to acquire a pair. What could be better for sightseeing?
On Monday we went in search. We failed. New stock is coming in, but no Skechers in the right size and style for me. Disappointment ballooned above me. But then the assistant produced a pair of equally lightweight shoes of another make, New Balance. Bingo. I have only removed them to sleep in two days.

So now the toilets. Earlier in the year, Lyn, who as I believe I have mentioned before is the most organised person in the planet, sent me a list of places she thought I might like to visit on our trip to the north end of the North Island. I clicked on the the link to Hundertwasser and was amazed. An Austrian, he came to live in Kawakawa and made this outstanding contribution to the town.

Public convenience


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