One year ago when lockdown was our life…

Just a sample! Definitely worth a repost!

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 40 — our town and some brilliant finds

Posted on  by Neil

Yes, the 40th in the series! OMG! Longer actually, as our lockdown began 26 June. So Day 61 in fact.

In accordance with NSW Health advice Saturday 26th June Collegians will be closing its venues from 4pm today. This includes:

Collegians Wollongong, Collegians Balgownie, Collegians Illawarra Leagues, Collegians Figtree & Collegians Port Kembla

At this stage we hope to re-open our doors on Saturday 10th July in accordance with the end of the lock down Midnight Friday 9th July. Pending further advice from NSW Health.

Thank you for your understanding. Stay safe and take care. Collegians Management

Well here we still are… As I have said City Diggers is taking advantage of the lockdown to do major renovations.

The coffee shop bar yesterday!

Talked to a club friend from early on in my return to The Gong, Steve Hitchens, about this yesterday on the phone. BIG changes. But as I said to him, I hope the Bistro menu is better than it was in the lead-up to lockdown — the reason I and Maurice and many others migrated to Illawarra Leagues. Be interested to see the changes though.

Speaking of The Gong, on Thursday I went to town to the chemist as I had to renew some medication. Waiting for the bus at this bus stop I had a conversation which I later reported on Facebook:

At the bus stop in The Gong this morning — a woman around my age was consulting the bus timetable as I scanned the intersection of Crown and Keira for a bus…

“Are they after you?” she suddenly said.

Apparently some kind of police or public order officers had just gone past. I hadn’t noticed…

She laughed and said, “You never know these days, do you?”

We chatted about how things were going. “It’s bad,” she said.

“Yes, but our parents lived through the War,” I replied. “This is not as bad.”

She agreed. “Yes, I was born just after and I remember…”

And told stories of shortages and rations.

“I was born during,” I replied. “And I think now we should be tapping into the spirit our parents had back then.”

“True,” she replied. And went on her way.My bus arrived. A 39. Good, Mount Keira Road service. And I was the only passenger.

Meanwhile the internet continues to deliver, especially through Facebook, some amazing things.

First a family history treasure from the Wollondilly Historical Page on Facebook. I have colourised the image.

John (Jack) Whitfield (1864-1956) joined the Police Force as a Probationary Constable on 28th October 1889. Previous to this he worked as a sawyer with his father W.J.J. Whitfield at his Bluegum Creek Sawmill near the Thirlmere Lakes.John Whitfield was the last constable with the Police Force at Appin. The Court House/Police Station was closed in 1933. Photograph from Whitfield family collection.

Uncle John deserves colour! I met him when I was a kid, but I hardly remember him I’m afraid. I better remember his brother Bill and indeed his other brother, my grandfather Tom. And his sister Annie, who attended the reception in Shellharbour in 1972 for my gold medal Olympian cousin Beverley.

Then on a completely different tack is this brilliant video from journalist George Monbiot on climate change.

So very true! I am ashamed to see that Aussie motormouths like Alan Jones PhD (not) are a significant part of the picture! Game, set and match George! He uses plain and sometimes Anglo-Saxon words at times — perfectly justified, in my view! But if you are a bit precious about such things. be warned if the letter F frightens you….

… Yes, I know absolutely dreadful things have been happening in Afghanistan. On Facebook first thing yesterday I wrote:

I will not spend too much time on this but like everyone I will be following these events closely. Nothing but absolute revulsion can be our attitude, There is nothing good about ISIS, nothing worthy in their cause or their tactics. They appear to hate everyone except themselves.

Any here or in the USA who turns this into partisan politics of any kind is simply contemptible.

But soon after I did share an item from blogging and FB friend in California, Kanani Fong with this note:

Kanani Fong shared this saying “I thought of this photo this morning, when I heard the news about the Kabul airport. It was the last image I saw last night before tucking in. The Marines have always brought a dose of safety and clarity wherever they go. Much love to their family, friends, and fellow Marines.”

Her husband worked as a surgeon with the US military in Afghanistan. She was involved in that excellent documentary Restrepo.

One more — part of a post….

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 35 — so much good reading!

Posted on  by Neil

First let me mention something that happened yesterday morning.

So there was an insistent knock on the door just now, which I eventually heard through my headphones! Not Coles — they delivered my supplies a couple of hours ago.

Turned out to be Australia Post. And inside, a Wollongong Library book I had reserved some weeks ago!

I am looking forward to that one. The author is a Yuin man from the South Coast of NSW. The book has been much praised….

It did not disappoint!

Two years!

ABC News Breakfast reminded us yesterday morning: “It’s two years today since the first pandemic lockdown in Australia.”

So on Tuesday I had lunch at City Diggers again — excellent pan seared barramundi with baked baby potatoes in their jackets, and green beans. Talking with another member, Alan, we reflected on how our habits had changed since the first lockdown. We had never actually spoken before, but he said he had often seen me in the club working on this laptop — so we talked about that too — but he hadn’t seen so much of me lately. Nor was he at the club as much himself. He was also wearing Rabbitohs gear, by the way. So we discussed that too.

Remember?

So here we are in shutdown…

Posted on  by Neil

And here, thanks to Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris in NZ, is one good reason:

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And “At 8.00pm Sunday, there were 669 confirmed cases of coronavirus in NSW — an increase of 136 in 24 hours.”  And “A major crackdown on gatherings will see the closure of indoor venues, including pubs, clubs, sporting and religious venues from midday today in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”

So this morning Wollongong City Diggers posted on Facebook:

Dear Members and Guests, due to an announcement overnight that Clubs will be shut from midday, we have decided not to trade for a short 2.5 hours and then close again. This means Bingo is off, cafe, bistro, bar and gaming are all closed. Anyone with functions still booked will be notified of cancellations. However we will be using this time to commence shutdown procedures and thoroughly cleaning all areas. Obviously, we are unsure when we will reopen, this will be up to the Government and health authorities. We apologise for any inconvenience

… So here I am in Wollongong Library. Do recall that I don’t have the Internet at home, though if this goes on long enough I may change that. Meanwhile, expect thanks to the Library at least one update a week, maybe more…

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Yes, same hoodie!

First day after lockdown here in The Gong…

Posted on  by Neil

And more widely of course. I have already expressed some doubts about the way it is being done, and the pace. But we shall see… Today selections from the past weeks.

Breaking news — lockdown

Posted on June 26, 2021 by Neil

Current stay at home orders will be extended across all of Greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong from 6pm today (June 26) until 11:59pm Friday July 9.

Everyone in these areas must stay home unless it is for an essential reason:-

-Shopping for food or other essential goods or services

– Medical care or compassionate needs (you may leave home for a covid-19 vaccination unless you have been identified as a close contact)

– Exercise outdoors in groups of 10 or fewer

– Essential work or education where you cannot work or study from home

Community sport will not be permitted during this time.

Weddings will not be permitted from 11:59pm Sunday June 27.

Funerals will be limited to 1 person per 4sqm with a cap of 100 people and masks must be worn indoors…

From our Wollongong lockdown…

Posted on June 27, 2021 by Neil

Hoping Willie was right — and anyway the song suits one of my advancing years…. Enjoy.

So, I am rather glad that I went to the Illawarra Leagues Club on Friday for a last meal for a while of their excellent fish and calamari special (@ $7.95!) Took this photo, which now sits at the top of my Facebook:

And I put in the latest footie tips — but I guess that is also now in limbo.

And it was! Same hoodie again!

It will soon be two years since we entered lockdowns — and the elephant in the room

Looking through my blog posts for March 2020 to see what I recorded. So much changed in these two years! I was not blogging every day, and when I did it was a series looking back through the 2010s. But I posted some on the growing pandemic response.

I drafted this yesterday morning and then came YOU KNOW WHAT. Vlad the Invader. The previous night I posted the following poem to Facebook as my thoughts have gone this way several times just lately. As you all know, I was born during World War 2 which inevitably framed my early years — and indeed since. Not that I was close to the action, though some in my family were.

Now to what I set out to share with you.

Dear me! Self-portrait as high-risk category….

Posted on  by Neil

So Victoria and the ACT have just declared State of Emergency! Meanwhile I am still able to self-isolate (kind of) in the Diggers Club…. In some countries this would not be possible. Imagine: Paris with no cafes!

Plenty of fish and chips left for us!

Posted on  by Neil

To think, it’s only a few months ago that I was celebrating sights like this here at City Diggers in Wollongong — squillions of Chinese tourists experiencing our $12 fish and chip special! O tempora, o mores! No longer do they come…

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Today’s Sydney Morning Herald included a supplement from the China Daily, which today bears quite a similarity to our own press! And one hopes indeed the upbeat news is true.

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Officials in Iran meanwhile tell us one person is dying there every ten minutes. And then there is Italy:

A total of 427 deaths were registered in Italy over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 3,405. By comparison, 3,245 people have died in China since the virus first emerged in the city of Wuhan late last year.

However, Italy has far fewer confirmed cases — 41,035 as of Thursday against 80,907 in China. Italy’s outbreak did not come to light until it was first reported in the north of the country on February 21.

So my reading becomes more and more poignant.

So here we are in shutdown…

Posted on  by Neil

And here, thanks to Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris in NZ, is one good reason:

Screen-Shot-2020-03-21-at-5.14.49-PM

And “At 8.00pm Sunday, there were 669 confirmed cases of coronavirus in NSW — an increase of 136 in 24 hours.”  And “A major crackdown on gatherings will see the closure of indoor venues, including pubs, clubs, sporting and religious venues from midday today in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”

So this morning Wollongong City Diggers posted on Facebook:

Dear Members and Guests, due to an announcement overnight that Clubs will be shut from midday, we have decided not to trade for a short 2.5 hours and then close again. This means Bingo is off, cafe, bistro, bar and gaming are all closed. Anyone with functions still booked will be notified of cancellations. However we will be using this time to commence shutdown procedures and thoroughly cleaning all areas. Obviously, we are unsure when we will reopen, this will be up to the Government and health authorities. We apologise for any inconvenience

And Ziggy’s House of Nomms, to choose just one of the regular Friday lunch haunts of Chris T and myself.

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So here I am in Wollongong Library. Do recall that I don’t have the Internet at home, though if this goes on long enough I may change that. Meanwhile, expect thanks to the Library at least one update a week, maybe more…

WIN_20200323_09_23_58_Pro

Just ahead of the Library closing to the public!

COVID, The Gong, Diggers and me — a note

There is another entry, not on this, set to appear tomorrow morning. This is just to let those not on my Facebook know.

Remember last Wednesday?

I had last been there 24 January, and before that 20 December. Again not many people about.

Well that’s annoying! Just had an SMS from Service NSW informing me that on 9th Feb at City Diggers I checked in around the same time as a COVID case and that therefore I must monitor for symptoms and if feeling unwell get a test.

So far nothing new to report. I believe Omicron tends to hit around the third day after exposure — that is past of course — but can take until Day 6, which is tomorrow.

Such an adventure! Into The Gong’s Omicron danger zones…

Recent stats are however kind of encouraging. This graphic is from a few days back, but out of the woods we are not.

Oh, and do keep in mind that it is not a Henny-Penny exercise to remind ourselves that Omicron is not a walk in the park, even if some — quite a few — report being less affected.

On the other hand some have quite the opposite experience, including a friend of my nephew Warren, Robert Whitfield (age 65) who sometimes reads this blog. Warren messaged yesterday: “Robert was not doing too well. Double dosed. Been rushed to hospital 3 times in so many days.”

And it really is true that Omicron has been a real game-changer, as Cyrus says in that video.

Do read the excellent fact sheet put out recently by the World Health Organisation in Europe.

Since the B.1.1.529 variant was declared a Variant of Concern and assigned the name Omicron on 26 November 2021, our understanding of this variant has increased considerably, thanks to collaborative global research and the passing of time, allowing us to observe its behaviour and how it affects individuals and communities over a number of weeks.

Unfortunately, as there are knowledge gaps around Omicron, we have seen a great deal of speculation, assumptions and misinformation being communicated about the variant, making it difficult for individuals and authorities to take informed decisions for health protection.

The latest epidemiological data shows that we are now seeing a rapid increase in the rate of infection of COVID-19 in the WHO European Region, largely as a result of the spread of the new Omicron variant. To put this into scale, in September 2021, we were experiencing over 1 million new COVID-19 cases a week, but by the first week of January 2022 this had increased to more than 7 million reported cases in a single week.

Through monitoring the media, social media and common search engine search terms, and working with fact checkers, we are able to address some of the myths surrounding Omicron, and to give more explanation about the actual facts.

So I ventured out yesterday, needing to go to the pharmacy to renew two of my heart medications. Also, yesterday was the day we pensioners became entitled to free Rapid Antigen Test Kits! Distributed by pharmacies. Except for this slight hitch, as reported on our local news:

So here I am after a rather long absence — not since before Christmas! — in City Diggers, having successfully renewed my medications, but encountering an absence of RATs.

On leaving I noted on Facebook:

About to leave City Diggers to 1) get a bottle of Shiraz at BWS 2) renew my Opal card 3) drop off my overdue library books. Thanks Wollongong Library for waiving fines. The Club is really light on. People really are staying away in droves.

All accomplished. The wine — again the first for a while, as I have not even been to the West Wollongong Bottle-O, proved a success. I have enough left for today as well.

$15 on special

Afterwards: And there was only one other passenger on the Figtree via Mount Keira Road bus on the way home!