Regan and I make it our mission to have as many adventures as possible, even if it is just a weekend camping at a local park.
  • Day78

    Day 14-Freedom

    October 10, 2020 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    The day started the same. Walk around the hotel entrance, breakfast, then work. We were watching the countdown timer until our release at 5.34pm.
    No exercise today but we both went outside for meetings while we walked.

    A couple of days back I watched as the defence guys would go across the road to the 24hr shop to buy cigarettes for the inmates and it gave me an idea. It's our wedding anniversary and in the rush to plan this escape we both forgot that we would be locked down on the big day. So I asked if one of the guys could buy me an anniversary card. The airforce guy said he would ask if anyone was available. What he really meant was that he had no taste and would rather ask one of his female counterparts to choose a card. When I asked her she said there was no way she would get a quality card from the 24hr shop so she opened a plastic bag for me to drop my credit card in (no contact alowed) and 20 minutes later came back with a tasteful card. Such a lovely thing to do for us. That is yet another example of how well we have been looked after. A lot of the officials knew all about our anniversary by the time I had my hands on the card. After smuggling it back to our room it was ready for the big day.

    Packed the bags and discovered we had a lot of stuff. We are still at our weight limit for our flights on Sunday but we will trim. Final health check and signed release forms. All good so far. After moving the furniture back to its original placing we managed to wait til 5.30pm then said goodbye to our luxury suite to sign out.

    There was quite a queue at the lobby but we waited patiently for our turn to check out. We have been waiting to do this for 2 weeks so another few minutes won't hurt. Received our golden ticket to let us through the gate. The police lady wishes us both a happy anniversary. Yet another personal touch from the officials. All good and the gate opens for us while other inmates look on. Freedom. A really strange feeling to look at those fences from the other side.

    We moved about 200 metres to our new hotel wheeling our luggage, checked in, then back to grab our bike box with more stuff to take to Christchurch .
    Out for a lovely meal with friends at a bustling restaurant . No masks, no social distancing, no cold food and Julie wearing lipstick for the first time in 5 months. A few wines and great company. Initially it all felt strange after 7 months of restrictions but the wine relaxed us nicely. Hopefully Melbourne will get back to this normality soon.
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  • Day76

    Day 13- Release imminent

    October 8, 2020 in New Zealand ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

    With only a day to go before we leave our thoughts are focussed on the countdown. We still have a day of work ahead of us but we also will pack and move all the furniture back to original placement. Our second test results were slipped under the door this morning with negatives. Funny that having a negative result is a positive outcome.

    So with the result starts the exit process. Tonight we received our exit plan. A final health check as we leave the hotel. From there we are going to transfer a couple of blocks up the road to another hotel. Big difference is that we can leave whenever we want to and no masks required.

    Todays food was a highlight. Due to popular demand (you know who you are) we ordered congee just to please the readers. Congee is a savoury rice porridge looking food that appears to be available for any meal. We did try it. It was savoury with a soup flavour but the after-taste was more like stale bread. At least we tried it. The other meal was bacon and eggs. Tough choice really!

    Lunch was a lamb wrap which was really good and then our last meal tonight was steak which was as tender as last week. But even with the best food today does not give us any incentive to stay around any longer than we need to.

    Since we arrived we have really noticed the kiwi accents. Admittedly they are stronger up north where we are due to the Pacific Island influence but we have enjoyed not copping flak when we say our room number (sux-one-three).

    Tomorrow we will update this blog in freedom, no masks, and having had a restaurant meal in a restaurant with other people. This is foreign to us after nearly 7 months of restrictions.
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  • Day75

    Day 12 - 2 sleeps til freedom

    October 7, 2020 in New Zealand ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

    Another one of those days where we feel like we shouldn't be here. We are ready to leave. If we thought there was a chance to sweet-talk the officials to set us free we would have attempted it. But we will be around for less than 48 hours now so we are on the homeward stretch.

    Same routine, walk before breakfast for 10 minutes, food delivered, then work. We both attended meetings while walking today. Great for the step count and added to the total nicely. Our exercise on the rooftop was a bit shorter due to a storm. We like fresh air but not desperate enough to get wet.
    Our food today was impressive. Massaman curry for lunch and beef cheek for dinner. No complaints from Room 613. On the walking terrace are the exhausts for the kitchens. Today we enjoyed the beef cheeks being cooked while we were on the roof exercising. Impressive aroma.

    We were warned that there was a new planeload of inmates arriving in the evening so the lobby area is closed to all while they are processed. Straight after dinner
    we went downstairs for air before closure. Not long after we arrived another guest came out to the smokers area. Soon after that the army guy in charge of the hotel came out and isolated him from the rest of the people including us and had some very terse words.

    It appears the guy is in complete isolation due to either a positive test or symptoms and had been confined to his room. He chose to ignore the direction and went and had a smoke. From then on he had an army guy near him while the lifts were deep cleaned. He was not popular. We watched the well oiled isolation management machine in action as they isolated him, cleaned, and told him in straight words the trouble and risk he has caused.

    We of course stayed well away and waited for the lifts to be cleaned. And once in the lift we tried to hold our breath, touch nothing and thorough washing when we got back to our room including binning our masks. We had earlier had some banter with one of the security guys who was asking us how long we had to go then made the wise crack that the rules had changed and we had to stay an extra 5 days. Even with his mask on his smiling eyes gave the joke away. Contact like that is common. It's all very relaxed but with firm rules for us to adhere to. As we saw tonight, if you break the rules you are subjected to a pretty serious talking to. We are unsure what the next steps will be for that guy.
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  • Day74

    Day 11 - the start of the "lasts"

    October 6, 2020 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    We discovered today that there are levels of "groundhog day". We thought we were ok with some days feeling the same but today was quite hard on us. Work started early and finished late for both of us. We had our normal 45 minute exercise time but we both commented that walking and running around the same 300 metre loop for 45 minutes each day is just boring. We are over it but we also knew this day would come. Quite pleased it took til Day 11 before we really felt this way.
    The good thing is that we only have 3 more sleeps in our lovely cocoon. It's a bitter sweet feeling as the luxury is great but the isolation isn't.

    Our second and final covid test today, Julies test was fine and better than the last one. Regans test was uncomfortable and seemed like the nurse was twisting the swab right into the throat. Lots of tears after that one but it's the last time!!! Tomorrow we will get the results and the "golden ticket" to freedom. Once that happens we will be packed and ready for departure on or after 5.34pm on Friday.

    The last couple of days menu plan arrived. We have enjoyed the food but we have now cycled through it and am ready for something else. In fact anything else will be fine by us. Our Friday restaurant "freedom" meal will be amazing. Auckland comes out of Level 2 lockdown tomorrow night so we will experience what we used to have almost 7 months ago.
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  • Day73

    Double Digits Already

    October 5, 2020 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Back to work today which all seems perfectly normal now. Luckily Melbourne has now switched to daylight savings so only a 2 hour difference. It was so much easier to calculate the difference.

    Before breakfast we did our car park walk and made sure we booked our exercise hour for Tuesday. The mornings always seem to fly by and just when the Melbourne day was just getting going when we realised it was lunchtime for us. As we were waiting for the brown bag rattle signalling lunch there was a knock of the door and we were handed a surprise parcel.

    Some very special friends had sent us an isolation surprise package. Inside were some delicious kiwi treats, magazines and some beautiful hand lotion and bath bombs. Queue a soak in the bath tonight and now I smell rose scented. I managed to resist the Cookie Time cookie for all of 30 minutes. Man it was good.

    Lunch today was Regan’s favourite a Korean chicken burger with kimchi. It was also super sized today as the photo shows. The afternoon we did our loops on the terrace rather than the car park and Regan clocked up 4km running. Excitement later in the afternoon with our second covid testing permission forms pushed under our door. Last tick towards liberation on Friday.

    More fried chicken for dinner and a car park walk to help with the digestion. The sky tower was white tonight, not sure if it is supporting anything or just the default lighting.
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  • Day72

    Day 9- weekend done and dusted

    October 4, 2020 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌙 14 °C

    Sunday and we had another day without any big plans. No booked exercise today but we managed 3 walks at the front entrance. 12000 steps on a circuit that’s about 120 steps. We both tried a YouTube yoga workout. Will update tomorrow on how our muscles are feeling.

    We watched a couple of netflix comedies and documentary called The Social Dilemma which was excellent.

    More people left isolation today. We watched with envy as the security guards opened the gates for them. Then later on more replacements arrive to keep the hotel full. Catching a lift down tonight took almost 20 minutes but it gave us a chance to talk to others who were also waiting.
    Lunch was lentil dal which was very nice but dinner was roast lamb which was just as good as last Sunday.
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  • Day71

    Day 8 - day off

    October 3, 2020 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌙 12 °C

    Today was our first break from work so we made the most of it. It's funny how we can fill in a day when there is little to do. After breakfast in bed (we never do that) we had a leisurely morning reading and talking to a friend. We also did some basic housework as there is no cleaning done by the hotel for the duration of our stay. But of course whatever we request arrives at our door soon afterwards. Sheets, towels, teabags, toilet paper all delivered with a smile.

    The afternoon was similar except that we had our 45 minutes exercise booked. The army guys looking after us on the roof exercise area were really relaxed and were happy to let us do 55 minutes before the next bunch of people arrived. The weather was fine and sunny and the fresh air is really good for the mind and attitude. Regan continued his running and skipping and Julie powered around the circuit listening to a podcast. Regan still managed to complete his step goal of 11000 steps per day even in isolation.

    Some of the inmates were released late in the afternoon. The lobby gets closed to everyone else for an hour or so. We managed to watch a few leaving and was great to see the hugs from the people being collected. Just like the airport arrivals hall plus 14days!

    Another catchup with friends and family later on in the day and then it was over. Food was as good as ever but we are now eating a little more sensibly and not devouring all that is served.
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  • Day70


    October 2, 2020 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Today marks our 7th day in Hotel Stamford Plaza. Another work day and it definitely helps to keep us busy. We tend to do some long hours and starting 3 hours before our workmates gives us both some uninterrupted time to hit our tasks. Our days are normally broken with a knock on the door for food and coffee deliveries and our health check of course.

    The hotel has got a lot busier. Another plane load of inmates arrived this morning and swelled the population. There are now about 350 people incarcerated. This does cause a few issues with the lifts as only 1 bubble is allowed for each lift. We have waited up to 20 minutes for a vacant lift during busy times. The exercise slots have been extended due to popularity. But at least we can get fresh air out at the entrance near the smoking area. Another medical event today with a guest so we were asked to return to our room while the ambulance attended. It was not covid related evidently.

    Tomorrow is our first day off work so no big plans so far. We are slowly planning our days after release and will fly to Christchurch a couple of days after we leave the hotel. We are looking forward to normality of a cafe where we can sit down, no masks, and no takeaway coffee cups. Simple pleasures that we used to take for granted.
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  • Day69

    Day 6 - starting to feel like ground hog

    October 1, 2020 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    Woke up this morning and thought here we go again for the first time. Breakfast was poached eggs and beans and then we had a lovely zoom catch up with Ngaire and Graham before we started work. Regan went downstairs for a walking meeting and to book tomorrow’s exercise session. It was around 11am and all the sessions had been fully booked. Tomorrow we will do a pre-breakfast walk to ensure we don’t miss out on Saturday’s walk.

    Work was pretty straightforward today with not too many meetings so neither of us had to use the bathroom office. We are starting to think more seriously about what we do when we leave here next Friday. Once we actually make some decisions we will update everyone.

    After dinner we did our usual laps around the car park. We have been enjoying checking out the colour of the Sky tower each night. It was red last night to support World Heart day and tonight it is pink for Breast cancer awareness month.
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  • Day68

    Day 5 - Negative

    September 30, 2020 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌙 11 °C

    Well as per today's heading we received 2 forms slipped under our door to let us know that we both tested negative. Although we were sure we would be negative, there was that small anxious thought that we had picked up germs somewhere. But now we can safely plan our departure next week and will be confident that our next test on Day 12 will be negative also.

    Day 5 started with a stroll around the hotel entrance before breakfast. Then work for both of us. Back in Heidelberg I would walk during my management meeting so today I did the same back down at the hotel entrance. But today this area was party central. One of our fellow inmates always has his Bluetooth speaker playing music which is great. We call him Bob as he wears a Bob Marley beanie. He has picked up a few smoking mates so today there was a real party happening. I was on mute a lot anyway so not too much music was streamed back to Oz.

    We have moved the furniture. Yes its only one room but it's possible. We now have the desk in front of the TV so we can use the screen on our laptops more comfortably. The TV cabinet which is obviously part of a ships anchor was moved out of the way. We will move it back before we leave. We sent our first load of laundry away today. We get 40 pieces of clothing washed for free and then we are charged after that. Fresh towels, teabags, and dishwashing detergent arrived at our request. And a coffee of course. The service here is really good. The hotel workers need to count their steps as they never stop and always say hi.
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