Lost track of what week of lockdown we're in now? Us too. Not to worry though because we've got a bunch of great ideas of things to do to stay busy this weekend.
Super Saturday is not about a bumper Lotto draw or a major sporting event — tomorrow is national vaccination day. Walk-in and drive-through centres all across the motu are open for longer hours. If we get our vaccination numbers up, we can open up. If you've been vaccine-hesitant, tomorrow is the day to seek out some reliable first-hand information from a professional: talk to your GP or call the Ministry of Health Covid vaccination advice line (0800 28 29 26). If you're fully vaccinated already, today you could gently encourage someone in your life who is vaccine-hesitant to speak to a medical professional about their concerns and get their questions answered. If you've been putting it off for any reason, today is the day to get it done. The Covid-19 website has a good animated series called NZ Covid Facts that explains the mRNA vaccine and how it works. If you'd prefer not to receive your information from a government organisation, then try Doctors stand up for vaccination, an independent website created by doctors, with comprehensive information, FAQs and links to additional research.
To find out where your closest vaccination centre is, go to Health Point.
Yoga online and outside
While local yoga teachers and studios learn to adapt to life with Covid in the community, it's tempting to join the millions already giving their money to the large, mainly American platforms available online. However, they can't give you the personalised experience of joining a live class with a local teacher on Zoom or heading out into the fresh air and rolling out your mat next to eight other real humans who are needing to disconnect from the mental chaos of lockdown life and reconnect with themselves and their physical and mental well-being. Some Tāmaki Makaurau-based studios with comprehensive online schedules include Grey Lynn studio Yoga Ground which offers dynamic Vinyasa classes, Hatha, Yin, Restorative Yoga, and a weekly Kundalini meditation and pranayama; Om Yoga Studio in Stonefields, which has live online classes as well as a large library of pre-recorded content; Yoga West in Titirangi offers daily classes including a post-natal class specifically for restoring the body after pregnancy and childbirth and a restore and meditation class for those who are more in the mood for rolling around on their mat than sweating their way to a handstand; or check out the extraordinary Taane Mete's Instagram where he shares a number of yoga classes grounded in te ao Māori/a Māori worldview. A number of teachers are offering outdoor classes as well, however, you need to pre-book as they fill up fast: Claudia Terzi of Vision Yoga Pilates is teaching at Mission Bay, the Yoga Collective (@nzyogacollective on Facebook and Instagram) is offering classes in Parnell Rose Gardens, Mahi Yoga has classes in the Domain, there's yoga in Keith Hay Park, Vellenoweth Green and quite possibly your local park as well, so check your local community pages. You could even get eight friends together, contact your favourite yoga teacher and ask them to give you a class at your local reserve.
We know many parents in Tāmaki Makaurau are dreading the return to homeschooling this coming week and could do with some help. Here's your science lesson sorted: let your kids loose on the Nanogirl website and have Dr Michelle Dickinson teach them about the wonderful world of science. In the Kids Zone there are loads of great videos, like how to crush a steel drum with air pressure, why do stars twinkle and what is Covid-19. There are tutorials on how to make a balloon rocket, a mini windmill, a hoop glider, a spinning top and loads more that'll keep them curious for hours. Or, for an even more in-depth science learning experience, you can become a paid subscriber to Nanogirl's Lab, where there are guided projects designed specifically for lockdown, in which everything they'll need for their invention can be found around the home.
What to watch
Calum Henderson has pulled together a list of the best things to watch once you've had enough of the picnics and want to retreat indoors.
I Know What You Did Last Summer (Amazon Prime Video)
A cool teen opens the door of her wardrobe and finds a freshly severed goat's head hanging among her frocks, and a chilling message smeared in lipstick on the mirror: The more things change, the more they stay the same.
That's not really what the message says, what it says is of course I Know What You Did Last Summer, but for millennial veterans of the 1997 teen slasher movie (which was itself based on a 1973 novel) it's just another reminder that we have now lived through one full rotation of the popular culture cycle.
It's reassuring to find the I Know What You Did Last Summer class of 2021 are just as brooding and intense as their '97 predecessors were after they accidentally killed someone in a hit-and-run and disposed of the body. They have, of course, been put through a Euphoria filter to make them a little more diverse and a lot more au fait with recreational drugs use, and one of them also has a mukbang (popular Korean eating videos) YouTube channel. But perhaps the most important difference is that the killer who knows what they did last summer has their cellphone numbers this time around.
Although the movie version is of a gilded era when movies clocked in at an easy 100 minutes, it takes almost that long just for the first guilty teen to be picked off in the TV version. There's a lot of neon-lit partying and pensively looking at phones wondering who keeps sending the clown emoji to get through until then, but once the gruesome murder footage starts pinging up in everyone's inbox the old familiar fun of trying to guess who the killer is – and who's next on their list – finally begins.
Barkley Manor (TVNZ 1, 8pm Monday)
From A Dog's Show to Tux Wonder Dogs to Purina Pound Pups, New Zealand has never made a bad TV show about dogs – and there's no reason to believe that will change when Barkley Manor premieres this week. The series goes behind the gates of one of Auckland's most prestigious doggy daycare facilities to meet the pampered pooches within and the humans in charge of training them, grooming them and apparently pushing some of them around in prams. Hosted by Doc Martin himself, Martin Clunes, it's exactly the kind of heartwarming thing we need right now.
The Pact (TVNZ OnDemand, from Monday)
Betty (Irene Wood) and Frank (Ian Mune) are a couple of classic oldies, the kind you see in the paper celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and think, how nice. Chuck their chaotic good daughter, high-achieving son and precocious granddaughter into the mix and you've got a delightful little family unit, which, in The Pact, begins to unravel after one of them becomes terminally ill. Sorry! Some big end-of-life discussions need to be had, and some rather opposing viewpoints need to be worked out to put the family back on course through troubled waters in this new local series created by Harry MacNaughton and Natalie Medlock.
Succession (SoHo and Neon, from Monday)
Everybody's favourite family of loosely fictional media titans, the Roy family are back this week for more Murdochian misadventures. Season three of the HBO series finds patriarch Logan still spitting tacks over an act of skulduggery that took place at the end of season two, at war with one of his terrible sons while the rest of the family back him up out of a misplaced sense of loyalty. The show doesn't take a backward step this season – it's as dramatic and funny and if anything even more intense than before. Take it an episode at a time.
Movie of the Week: Wonder Woman 1984 (Neon)
At some point in the past couple of decades, a lot of the classic superheroes started taking themselves way too seriously – Batman the worst of the lot. Not Wonder Woman, though! The latest one, set in (you guessed it) 1984, may not be especially good by any of the traditional measures of quality, but it still feels like a breath of fresh air – harking back to the days of yore when superhero movies were still made to be watched by children. Much easier to forgive wooden acting and dialogue that sounds like it was written by AI when the movie looks and feels as fun and exciting as they used to.
From the Vault: Phone Booth (2003) (Disney Plus)
If you've already enjoyed Guilty, the new Netflix movie where Jake Gyllenhaal plays a bad-tempered cop managing an intense situation over the phone in an emergency response call centre, why not try Phone Booth. This time it's Colin Farrell, he's in a phone booth (it's 2003) and there's a sniper on the other end threatening to reveal his philandering secrets – or worse. A classic of the man-on-the-phone-the-whole-time genre.
Shop your worries away
It may only provide short-term gain for you personally but, while the shops remain closed, doing a little online retail therapy via local retailers is, if you think about it, actually a community service. Heart of the City is doing their best to bolster the retail sector in the city centre, which is so reliant on foot traffic. If you spend $30 or more at a business in the central city this month, you go in the draw to win one of six $500 vouchers. All city-based businesses are eligible, so that includes ordering takeaways from city restaurants. You don't need us to tell you that Christmas is just around the corner and no one wants to see doors closing permanently in the city if we can help it, so tick some prezzies off your list at the many CBD retailers.
It's cherry blossom season, the perfect time to meet up with your favourite bubble and have a picnic. But let's face it, we've all got lockdown lethargy and preparing anything more than a bag of chips sounds hard. One of the very few upsides to the current restrictions in Auckland is that some excellent cafes and restaurants are really upping their picnic game. Amano has a drool-worthy box available for four or 10 people that includes chicken mayo baguettes, meatball sandwiches, sweet treats and more; Ostro's doing a seafood platter and a roast picnic; NSP has aperitivo picnics; and Lobster & Tap have lobster roll kits. Or, if you're feeling fancy, the Park Hyatt has an afternoon tea box with vegetarian and kids' options available. You could also curate your own picnic with a selection of sandwiches and sweets from Amano Bakery, Ripe Deli or your own local deli if it's operating. You can save yourself a whole lot of food preparation, support the hospitality industry and turn your outdoor catch-up into an Insta-worthy culinary adventure all by ordering a picnic box.
Check out the picnic offerings by Amano, Ostro, NSP, Oji Sushi and Lobster & Tap here.
A care package on the doorstep. A box full of glorious banchan — fermented side dishes — that celebrate Korean culture and the tradition of cooking (a labour of love) and sharing a meal — also the one thing we can do in these strangest of times. Banchan (marinated spicy dried radish, salted squid, anchovies) traditionally accompany a meal: plain rice, a bowl of soup, or a main course like grilled fish. We made a soup — a broth, with tofu and dumplings, and had on the side Gamja jorim (braised potatoes) and Kong jorim (braised soybeans). Created by the art collective Satellites and the Korean Consulate, the banchan transported us briefly and blissfully away to another place, another wonderful culture. See the braised potatoes below and then eat them, like a snack.
Gamja jorim are potatoes braised in a sweet soy sauce (''gamja'' means potatoes and ''jorim'' means boiled or simmered).
200g agria potatoes
1 Tbsp cooking oil
2 Tbsp soy
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1. Rinse the potatoes and cut into 4–5cm cubes.
2. Preheat a large pot on medium–high heat. Drizzle cooking oil into the pan and stir-fry the potatoes for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn.
3. Add the soy, honey, sugar and water into the pot and gently cook at low–medium heat until the potatoes start to feel soft.
4. Increase the heat to medium–high to reduce the liquid until it's nice and sticky, gently stirring to make sure it doesn't burn.
5. Drizzle in sesame oil and add sesame seeds to garnish. Serve warm or cold.
Keep refrigerated. This is best consumed within the week after making, but will last longer.
Get the BBQ fired up
Ahh, the joys of daylight saving ... even when you are at home and there's nowhere to go, there's such a sense of freedom in these long, late evenings.
Whether it's on the balcony or out in the backyard, cooking on the barbecue triggers cues about summer and hanging out, holidays and freedom. We might be locked down, but we can still barbecue.