Do all Mums have this thought at a time like this – how could I possibly have a son who is turning 50? He was probably wondering how on earth this happened to him, too. I think it sort of sneaked up on him. Our trip down to Christchurch was to join in son Michael’s 50th birthday celebrations. And celebrate he did, with a dinner for 30 at one of his local haunts. Together with his friends, and his Dad and his wife, we all enjoyed a tasty meal. His good friend Fiona had baked him a birthday cake, decorated Star Trek style. “Captain Groovy” seems to be Michael’s knick name, we were told.
After the meal, some of the guests danced the rest of the night away. Michael and his friends attend Ceroc dance lessons, and I watched as he whirled Fiona around the floor. He never used to be much of a dancer, but these days has taken to it with a vengeance. And so he should – years ago, both his Dad and I very pretty good at Rock’n’Roll, if I do say so myself! Our son should have picked up a few dancing genes from the pair of us.
Many of his friends came up to chat and several told us what a lovely son I had, so kind and well mannered, and what a great job I had done in bringing him up! And they weren’t joking either. Well, I was speechless, and didn’t mention those tiresome teenage years. I’m glad he has matured well, and has such a nice bunch of loyal friends. Moving down to Christchurch from Auckland several years ago has been a great move for him.
He had an informal “at home” the day after his birthday dinner, and we chatted to even more of his group of friends. It turned out to be a very busy afternoon. Michael’s Dad and his wife came calling. So did a whole swag of friends bearing plates of food and gifts, Michael was kept busy at the coffee machine whipping up lattes and cappuccinos as required.
As well as the family celebrations part of our week away, we fitted in some sight seeing as well. We looked through the wire fence surrounding the Christchurch Cathedral, sadly partly demolished now after the terrible 2011 earthquake. We can remember looking through this wonderful building on earlier trips to this city.
The city centre is now full of empty sections where large buildings have been demolished, and many other buildings shored up with steel framing while their fate is being decided. We were keen to see the “Cardboard Cathedral”, the transitional cathedral which was quite quickly built and gives the churchgoers somewhere to gather and worship. Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, it is constructed of cardboard tubes, timber and steel, with a polished concrete floor and polycarbonate roof. Although we had seen pictures of this building, wasn’t quite sure what I expected as we walked inside. It was so light and airy – and although there are no windows, the light filters through strips of the polycarbonate roof showing between the cardboard covered steel girders. It is a very peaceful place indeed, and we were happy to finally get to see it.
The Cardboard Cathedral
We joined the overseas tourists and jumped aboard the Christchurch Tram for a guided tour around the city centre. These beautifully restored trams certainly brought back memories of the Wellington Trams from long ago. Our driver gave us a running commentary of all the interesting buildings we passed, some damaged by the earthquake which wrecked such havoc, some still standing, and lots of empty areas where large buildings had once stood. This vintage tram was obviously purchased from Invercargill in the deep south.
Another little adventure was a trip to the seaside town of New Brighton and the stunning pier. At 300m in length, 6m wide and standing 7m high it is certainly a sight to see as it stretches out into the sea. We walked along the pier, watching as family groups tried their luck fishing with rods and lines. Some lowered their crab nets over the side into the water, baited with fish heads, and pulled them up again with paddle crabs trapped inside. A meal at the New Brighton Club was another highlight. A three course Sunday Roast for only $20 each was a real bargain. Seated at a window seat, we watched over the pier as the lights twinkled in the darkness.
Our two ferry trips across Cook Strait couldn’t have been more different. We experienced rough windy conditions coming down, and the return trip was nice and calm. Mind you, our original afternoon booking for the return voyage was cancelled, and we were rebooked on an evening trip. By the time we docked in Wellington at 10.00pm, we still had quite a long drive home, arriving just before midnight! No wonder we were tired.
It was a great week away, and today we collected Muffy from her stint in the cattery. My goodness, did she tell us off! The poor old girl is starting to feel quite insecure these days, and likes to keep us in view. As long as she can see us, and has a handy lap to curl up on, she is happy.