Escaping to Dunedin for the weekend was a really good decision, it turns out.
I bused down on Friday.
It's a five hour trip which only becomes interesting in the last hour or so when you get to the coastline. This was a very wobbly photo I took.
Got into Dunedin at about 2pm and hung around at the Dunedin Railway Station (above) for a while until my sister finished work. It was a beautiful sunny day, and everything would have been perfect if I could only have found a café. I sat outside with my bags reading From Russia With Love in the sun (which, by the way, is racy in an incredibly old-fashioned, sexist way - but I still had to find out what happened).
My sister V. is married with three kids between the ages of eight and thirteen. They are an awesome family and it was so good to see them again. I also happen to love their house - it's around the Otago peninsula a bit, at the top of a hill, right next to a park with an amazing view of the harbour. They have the most lovely dog, Oscar, as well as a cat called Mufasa, both of whom make me wish that I had a dog and a cat.
When we got there, V., my eldest niece and I went for a walk with Oscar. Dunedin is awesome because it's a city (smallish but still a city) but it's almost like the wilderness is right next door. The wildlife is prolific - sea lions, all manner of birdlife including penguins and falcons, occasinally whales, etc - and there are tons of green green hills.
That evening, V., her husband and I watched Boy, which has just come out on DVD. This is the latest/greatest Kiwi film, directed by Taika Waititi. It's set in the 80s in a tiny community in the North Island and it's about a little boy who is a huge fan of Michael Jackson. It's one of those movies which half the time has you laughing and the other half makes you want to cry. I recommend it highly. Highlights in it were the performances of the children, and their ne'er-do-well father, played by Waititi.
On Saturday, my sister decided to take me to visit Broad Bay China Shop, along with my sister R. who also lives in Dunedin and my niece. I thought this was a strange decision given my current state of earthquake-apprehension. I couldn't drive around Dunedin without audibly wincing at all the tall, old, unstable brick buildings with huge chimneys. So a shop full of breakables wasn't going to be particularly distracting.
It was, however, a good decision. Broad Bay is a short drive around the harbour in a cute wee area, and Broad Bay China is one of the coolest shops I have ever been to. Bursting with china and so many other things, it would undoubtedly be a disaster zone in an earthquake, but nevertheless, it is AWESOME.
Besides the little building you can see in the photo above, there are at least three other rooms jampacked with china, vintage lace, jewellery, clothing, and much much more. There is expensive stuff and there is also stuff that is incredibly affordable and also tempting. I bought stuff and V. bought me a birthday present, and altogether I returned to Christchurch with:
- three saucers with the most beautiful blue and white painted design which I am going to hang on my wall someday.
- a little mug with Big Ears (from Enid Blyton's Noddy books) painted on it.
- salt and pepper shakers that look like toad stools.
- a painted tile which I will use as a hot plate.
This Saturday fast became one of my top Saturdays when we stopped in soon after at Broad Bay cemetery. This tiny cemetery is balanced on a little peninsula, which juts out only a little further (pictured below) with huge pine trees surrounding it. I LOVE CEMETERIES AND I LOVE BROAD BAY CEMETERY. I'd put it in my top ten so far.
That night, V. and family took me up to a secret (okay, not secret but not exactly famous) location up the valley where the Leith River flows. We took torches and raincoats and climbed up a gully until we found glow-worms!! It was an amazing experiential moment, standing in a tight little riverbed gazing up above at the dark lushness of the trees and ferns and the slightly less dark sky, with shining little lights like candles speckled around us in the darkness. I felt like huddling down in a sleeping bag and just watching all night.
On Sunday we went to church in the morning. V. and family attend a lovely little church which always seems so happy and enthusiastic. Good refreshment.
In the afternoon, V. and the kids took me to the beach. It was another beautiful day - I cannot help but mention that Dunedin is not known for good weather two days in a row - so despite the still refreshing winds and still-freezing water we were happily paddling and removing outer layers.
While the boys made dams, V., niece and I went for a walk along the beach with Oscar, who is the most charming dog ever known, past people on horses, past surf lifesavers practising, past more and more dogs who all wanted to play...
... then back to the boys where we too mucked around on the beach with sand and water... Lovely.
On Monday morning I caught up with my sister R. again and then went shopping in Dunedin town before catching my bus home. Great weekend. Much needed.
And now I am back at university, trying to get back into the swing of things. There are huge cracks in the plaster walls on our floor, but we have been assured by the VC that 'all the cracks you may come across have been seen by structural engineers and the buildings are perfectly safe'. Well, fingers crossed!