Saturday, October 25, 2014

Things to love about Christchurch and New Zealand

First some things:

This is a little thing, but the Kiwi's (what New Zealanders call themselves), walk around baring their tootsies for all to see.  Not all of them of course, but I'll see a few a day.  And I don't mean at the park or at the beach. I mean walking down a city sidewalk, in the mall, on the bus.   Anywhere and everywhere I have seen naked feet parading about as if there are no pieces of broken glass, spit or any offal that might be lying around.   I've tried it a few times, but just down to the hotel lobby.  I'm not a seasoned skin-on-ground walker yet, I've got to start small.  

The Coffee:
The coffee here is exquisite.  I have never had a bad or poorly poured cup of coffee and while we haven't travelled all over the island, we have stopped in all sorts of coffee shops around NZ and each and every one has been delicious.  That being said,  it's next to impossible to just order plain old boring drip coffee (called Filter Coffee) here.  They just don't do it.  Secondly, they've got things on the menu that I'd never heard of before.  Flat white, long black...they sound like things from an art school. Once you get the lingo down and figure out what you like and want, however, you will be in a super jazzy, everything bright and shiny, feeling on top of the world caffeinated haze.

Less cell phones:
They certainly exist here and people have smart phones and all that jazz too but it seems like less people have their faces in a device than in the States.  On a bus you aren't surrounded by the bluewave glow of iphones all around you and if you need to stop and ask someone a question on the street you don't have to worry that you are interrupting some sort of on going facebook drama that is demanding their immediate attention.  It's a little thing, but I like it. 

Now some places: 
The Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park 
I’m not sure if my love of these places has been given it’s rose-colored lenses by the fact that the Rose Garden has been in full bloom the majority of the time I’ve been visiting them or if it's the fact that I am in Chrischurch in the springtime when every flower is wearing her finery and working full tilt to attract the attention of bees and other such helpful pollinators.  It might also be that this garden has the most incredible trees, varied in species, size and style.   Or maybe is that’s there are a plethora of various little inset gardens for you to take your repose in; the azalea garden, the rainforest garden, the water garden, the rose garden, etc.  Perhaps it’s that the grass has little white snowdrop flowers  beckoning you to walk and picnic amid their cottony countenance.  Whatever the reason, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens are my favorite in the world and I spend as much time in them as I can before heading to the white arid desert ecosystem that houses McMurdo Station.

Alice in Videoland and The Physics Room
The Alice is, by it’s own account, a discerning movie goers Nirvana.   The Physics room is an attached cafe and art house.  Could you ask for a more perfect combination? After seeing whichever little known but excellent foreign film at the Alice theater you can then mosey over to the Physics room and discuss character motives and passions, the placement of this or that in the 2 second scene right after the moment of the secondary plot reveal.  Anyway, you get the idea.     It has about 4 different shows going in a week but they are all shown in the same Cinema, a cosy 40 seat affair with big comfortable red seats and an Egyptian motif and if you go on a Tuesday, tickets are only $10.  the first year we were here the Alice was showing Antarctica: A Year on Ice and it was that documentary that got us interested in wintering in Antarctica. 

The Artwork
Christchurch was hit incredibly hard by an earthquake in 2011.  The main cathedral in town wasn’t the only this that was brought down.  Entire city blocks were, or subsequently have been, leveled.  Old classic buildings were destroyed. The river flooded.  And many businesses were lost.  As a result of this, and unfortunately still 4 years later, Christchurch is in a state of perpetual construction. I was talking with a resident yesterday who told me that officials told them not to expect road construction and reroutes to be done for 10 years as they have to deal with all the systems underneath them first.  However, amid all this construction and, infact, out of the construction has come a community that is making the best out of it’s, literally, crumbled surroundings. In almost every empty lot there is a piece of artwork or display and ,often, they are interactive.  Mini-golf throughout the city,  recycled materials turned into musical instruments,  outdoor sitting areas created from debris.  Even the city officials have a little fun: the road blockers are redesigned to look like sheep.  The city has taken to using the containers originally brought in as temporary structures to create permanent businesses and art designs. The Re:Start mall, also known as the Container Mall is built out of shipping containers and as you walk around the city you’ll see food stalls, art galleries, info booths all made out of shipping containers. 
This is an outdoor dance floor.   $2 and your own IPod in the Dance-O-Mat and for a half hour you can jam out to your favorite beets.  And even lights for the disco ball!  

Costing only $2 to get in, the Canterbury Museum is right next to the botanic gardens and the two complement each other almost as well as bananas and peanutbutter.   Naturally,  I loved the Antarctic exhibit as who doesn't love to tour things that have direct bearing on our adventures,  but I was tickled by many of the other exhibits as well.   My favorite was Fred and Myrtle's Paua House.  Fred was a fisherman and would come home with Paua shells (abalone) and polish them up.  He has so many the Myrtle started putting them on the walls. Ultimately the house was covered from floor to ceiling.  They became a tourist attraction and people from all over came to tour their house.  When they passed their house was donated to the Museum and you can tour it just like when they were living there.   Quite unique.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

King Richard's Fair and Connor's Corn Maze

I had another fun weekend of fall festivities.   On Saturday I went to King Richard's Faire with my family.  My Aunt used to take me when I was little and as I got older she would take my younger brothers and sisters. Guerline sent out a message suggesting we all go again and so we did!  It was wonderful fun! 

The King and Queen of Carvershire opening the faire! 

An acrobatic and comedy routine. 

We all got our faces painted within 5 minutes of walking into the fair.  Don't we all look beautiful? 

The Mud Show. We watched these two men smear mud on their faces, drink muddy water, and then eat mud.  They were hilarious and it was surprisingly entertaining. 

And then they kissed a boy in the Audience.  But it was pretty funny. 

The swan swing!  Nothing better! 

Up, up and away, in my beautiful, my beautiful...swan..? 

My sister Roses. Look at her pretty face! And those leaves are OK too I guess. 

$3 to ride down and a wire on that fun little horse!  Oh, and you get a sword to try and get the brass ring. 

If you make it to the top,  you win $10!  Roses, as you can imagine didn't make it.   Payton, with Guerline holding the bottom, did.  Then Guerline argued with the guy about the fact that he wouldn't pay them. She said the used "teamwork" and they still deserved the cash.  Hilarious.  Needless to say, it didn't work out for them. 

One of the best parts of the fair? Turkey Legs!  Look how dark they are!  They tasted like pork, it was so awesome. 

What did everyone eat?  Three turkey legs, a BBQ sandwich, chicken tenders and fries and Pizza.  All overpriced but relatively tasty.  Well, the Turkey was awesome.  The rest was just OK.  I don't understand why everyone didn't just get the turkey! 

This was, by far, my favorite show. These two women had excellent chemistry and great crowd management.   It took a few minutes to warm up but I was belly laughing by the end. 

That, my friend, is a baby liger! 

Couldn't go to King Richards' Faire without seeing the Joust! 

Payton LOVED the archery and wanted to do it 4 times!  Everyone joined in once. 

Look at that form! 

Watch out for all of our skills! 

Between all of us,  some of our arrows came pretty close. 

Here we are after our fun filled day.  From left to right, Bo, Guerline, Payton, Roses, Auntie, and Shannon 

This is a random photo of Maggie sporting her mustache at Taco Tuesday when we went for dinner at Margarita's! 

King Richard's Faire was great fun and it was followed up with another glorious Fall day with one of my oldest friends, Julie and her fiesty son, Connor.  We went out to Connors Farm Stand (yes, the son and the farm are the same name) to do the Corn Maze but it turned out to be filled with all sorts of entertainment and fun!

In the corn maze you could get clues to tell you which direction to go in.  Here's Julie examining the first clue! 

Connor is destined for photography!  Look how cute we are! 

Aww!  We made it up to get a view of all the corn! 

Don't get lost in the corn, no one will find you!  Connor is hidden in this photos somewhere. 

Wheel-of-Fortune! Spin the wheel and you're given a fun task to do. We got "follow the oldest and cluck like a chicken".  Very fun. 

All the fun things you can do at Farm. 

Oh you know, nothing like a stroll through a hay maze. 

I wish we could have ridden the little cows!

AHHH!   They are so adorable! 


Connor didn't really love this, but I was really excited about it. They are little bicycle tractors!  After Connor stopped riding his, I got in line and went around a few times on my own. 

A giant working rocking chair. 

A big pumpkin!

A big pumpkin and a little pumpkin! 

A big pumpkin, a little pumpkin and a jack-o-lantern!