We spent the first 12 days for our time in NZ staying with my parents in Christchurch. Here we recovered from jet lag.
Luuk went to work the day after we arrived and for the whole following week… which meant our trip around the world didn’t gobble up ALL his annual leave.
Me, my parents, and the kids tried to keep busy, in order to resist four hour mid-afternoon naps. We did a supermarket trawl, for all the kiwi goodies we’d been going without for two years (pineapple lumps, gingernuts, raspberry licorice, rice crackers, yoyos, black forest chocolate, venison sausages…)
And then it was coffee time. A great NZ flat white was just spot-on. And so was the lolly cake.
On Saturday morning we visited the farmers’ market at Dean’s Bush. This place is just pumping now. It was always lovely, but I suppose there aren’t a whole lot of other places to go while so much is being rebuilt. We didn’t even get to the first stall before meeting more than one familiar face.
Bumping into people at the Riccarton Market.
It took us probably an hour to get from one end to the other with all the impromptu catch-ups on the way. Luuk and I fortified ourselves with one of the best sausage rolls the world over, about half way along, and there were numerous other tastes and treats before we returned to the cars.
Next stop was the ‘encraftment’ market in the city center.
A friend of mine had a stall at this fantastic local craft market, so I was very excited to see her and browse her lovely wares. It was strange, however, to be back in the city center, which has been largely inaccessible to the public since the earthquakes. The cathedral will be demolished, but part of it remained and we had a good last look through the fences.
On Sunday we visited Ilam Baptist, where we used to go to church. It was wonderful to catch up with everyone (well, those who were there) and the kids enjoyed being around so many other kids. Having warned about two people of our arrival, we ended up lunching on our own, but actually it was quite nice to have a little time out.
And some essential kiwi tucker – fish’n chips from Captain Ben’s.
Dad had the week off work, so the kids got lots of time with their grandparents. I took the opportunity to nap each afternoon, to do a little shopping on my own, and to see friends.
Louis making Christmas cookies with Gran.
Visiting the Christmas Grotto.
Playing on the playground at Hagley Park
(after a lovely coffee and scone at the Curator’s House – things NZ does well…)
Speaking of things NZ does well… kiwi fruit!
Elena spent much of the week climbing up and down my parents’ stair case, and didn’t tumble once (though she terrified us all plenty). The kids also enjoyed the piano, when they weren’t clonking their heads on it.
On the second saturday of our stay we resisted the market-pull and hosted an open-house kind of party, so that we could catch up with as many people as possible, in one day. It was fantasic, and exhausting, and probably fattening, but hey! it’s christmas.
There were lots of kids to play with and we probably neglected our own, talking the day away with friends from so many different circles.
In the evening there was BBQ, and so naturally it rained. Dad has stood in the rain for probably half of my birthdays, ever, cooking our meat. Once again, somehow, that was his lot. We ate our full, and then some, and then some hokey pokey and goodie goodie gum drops ice cream.
Somehow we’d managed to miss people at that one-big-get-together, so on our last night in Christchurch, Eva came over for dinner.
Eva and Louis, nose-bopping.
We were in town long enough to see a few of our closest friends multiple times, to get past the bare-minimum catch-up stuff. Of course it wasn’t long enough, but one day we’ll be back. In the meantime, I haven’t any great certainty or insights into whether or not we want to move back to Christchurch in a hurry. We will most likely be back there sooner or later, but perhaps not forever. The city is changing all the time, and that could be an exciting rebirth to be a part of, or it might just be too difficult, going back. We can only wait and see.