Friday, 19 February 2010

Chillin' in Christchurch

On Wednesday afternoon (Feb 3) we wandered down to Cathedral Square and into the cathedral. We arrived just in time for the Evensong (Evening Prayer) service which was completely sung by the choir (20 boys and 12 men) except for two short lessons from the Old and New Testaments. It was a nice experience and an escape from all the hubbub out in the square.

The square, in the center of downtown Christchurch, is the home to a giant outdoor chess set (well used), food vendors (Fritz’s Wieners got my money), small market stands, and the venue for street musicians and religious-philosophical entreaties. Our favorite personality was The Wizard dressed in his black robe and pointed hat standing on his ladder espousing his philosophy of life. He arrives in the square in his red push-me-pull-you VW Beetle (two front ends joined together).

The trusty BMW bikes went back to their home at Te Waipounamu on Thursday morning. Aside from the two flat tires, they performed flawlessly taking us a little over 3000 miles while giving us 60-65 mpg. We might be using this model for our trip to South America later this year. John Rains, the owner of the tour company, gave us a ride back to the hotel and mentioned the John Britten Motorcycle Company and the small bike exhibit they had near Cathedral Square. This set us off on another motorcycle history quest.

John Britten was a multi-talented Kiwi (mechanical engineer, artist, architectural designer, business man) whose first love was motorcycles. In the early 1990s, he built the V1000 racing motorcycle that won many races around the world in the 90s. We found the small sign on the street for the BMC, went through a small courtyard, up a set of stairs and through a small office to the one room display of John’s motorcycle building genius. Two of his earlier bikes along with two examples of the V1000 (#s 1 and 9) were on display; the walls were covered with posters, newspaper articles, and other memorabilia celebrating the success of the V1000. We had a very nice discussion with the lady there who knew in detail what John had accomplished. I saw the V1000 race at Daytona in 1994 and remember the big crowds gathered around admiring the bike when it was in the pits. John Britten died of skin cancer in 1995 at the too young age of 45.

On Friday morning, we packed and sorted in preparation for our flight to Fiji on Sunday. Then we walked to the square and climbed the 134 steps in the cathedral steeple to get a bird’s eye view of downtown Christchurch; RA went on her woolen goods buying spree. That evening we had dinner with Rebe Nolan (Angela Pilgrim’s grandmother). Rebe is a delightful octogenarian with whom we had a womderful evening full of conversation and laughter.

Saturday, the 5th, was our last full day in New Zealand and we started it off with an al fresco breakfast just feet from the tram tracks. While we were eating, RA saw a lady with a Corgi and was away to see the dog and talk to its owner. She was soon back to finish eating and then we walked to the shop where the Corgi resided. Lucky’s owners, the Hazeldines, were very gracious and RuthAnn got her Corgi fix.

We spent the rest of the day walking along the Avon River, touring the botanic garden and then the market at the Art Center. It was a very pleasant day in Christchurch and a low key ending to our time in Kiwiland.

1 comment:

  1. I fell in love with Christchurch, back in 2003. One Sunday morning, having nothing required to do, I went over to the same cathedral. Sunday services are an interesting time to meet people, regardless of faith.

    After the services, they serve tea outside in the courtyard. Pouring the tea was none other than the mayor of Christchurch, Mr. Gary Moore.

    How often do you get to fall in love with a city, enjoy its simplicity and tranquility, and meet the mayor?

    Christchurch is, stated simply, where I would like to live, given a choice.

    Jim Shaw