Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Conference of the Birds in the Garden of Eden

It happened. By 2.30pm I had crawled back into bed and was attempting to sleep, to no avail. It just felt better to be in a horizontal position for some reason, like I could right the conflict of my mind and body by being physically almost upside down. My mind was saying ‘slow down’ and my body was raring to go, soak up and digest all that was to be seen and done.

When Martin had returned from his morning interview, we ventured towards the famous Botanical Gardens, closest to the city centre we have come yet. We suddenly realised we might never see the city centre while we’re here, which is a strange thought. Martin might occasionally have to enter the Red Zone for work but I would probably never have reason to go there.

I had seriously underestimated the scale of the park. You would think, seen as though it is termed a ‘garden’, this might give some impression of the size of the place. Wrong. We walked a fair bit around the block and I don’t think we even managed to see half of the place. It was the most blissful place I have ever been, a slice of heaven on earth. An enormous sense of calm and peacefulness stole over me and it felt like all the world’s wrongs had been righted. So many different species of plant, flower and tree, all standing side by side, united by their differences. So many vivid colours and wonderful smells.

We encountered a whole variety of different bird life along the way and discovered the fearlessness of fowl here. I could walk right up to them to take pictures and they just stared at me, curious. I even had a baby duckling almost graze my knee as I knelt down to get a better look at it and it’s parents didn’t seem bothered at all, giant and colourful as they were.

All the way round, my only thoughts were that all our family and friends were 12000 miles away and not there to share all these beautiful sights and sounds with us. I am feeling an ever increasing desire to bring everyone with us and show them how amazing it is. I just hope we get a lot of visitors; we have so much to show everyone.

We had an hour left on parking so we wandered into the neighbouring Canterbury Museum and paid a $10 donation to look round at the artefacts of early Maori life, a recreation of a street in early days Christchurch, an exhibition of India and China by a famous Kiwi photographer and the Paua House inside which everything is covered in shells. If anything in the world can ever be described as surreal, it was the shell house. A husband had become so sick of being told off for breaking some of his wife’s vast shell collection every time he tried to hoover, he had taken to nailing the shells to the wall until every inch of the wallpaper was concealed by shining mother-of-pearl. I’d have just been glad of a man using a vac!

We finally managed to cook ourselves something edible that evening, to Martin’s great relief, and dined on Beef Madras with Basmati Rice and a Ginger and Lime bitter. We then headed back to New Brighton to have a drive around the residential areas and check out potential houses. Walking along the pier (a modern, less imaginative version of our own Brighton pier) I realised it was mainly inhabited by giant, over-sized seagulls and a rather large population of Thai people illegally fishing, casually stepping over the concrete on which was painted ‘NO FISHING AREA’. I suppose everywhere you go in the world you will come across people who couldn’t care less about rules and abiding by the culture of the country in which they have chosen to live. Oh well. This was the first time I’ve come across anything that’s wound me up so I guess we’re doing fairly good so far.

After a quick stroll across the sands (it had to be quick as the tide was crawling in fast and even the surfers were calling it a day) we hopped back in the Yaris and set off home, noting on the way that perhaps New Brighton was a little too far from the centre and maybe just somewhere to go in the evening and at weekends.

Today is our four year anniversary and since we have the whole day to ourselves, unhindered by interviews and places to be, we are travelling 1.5 hours south to Akaroa, on the Banks Peninsula. The Peninsula was created when two volcanoes erupted and is consequentially built of hardened volcanic lava. It is home to native penguins and seals and the world’s rarest kind of small dolphin....and yet it is a French Colony. They were the first to settle there and as a result the street names are French and it is deemed to be the most Romantic place in the South.

I should probably tie this up now, as we should be setting off! I’m taking my swimwear, just in case! I should be so lucky, Martin hasn’t even brought his trunks.

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