Sunday, January 24, 2010

An English Summer In New Zealand

Having seemingly carried the English snow weather to Australia, it appears that in New Zealand they are having an English summer. But they can’t blame us for this – it has been going on for some time before we arrived. Several people have told us that it is the worst summer they can ever remember.

So we have not yet got into our walking stride here. Thursday was a write-off in that respect because of our late arrival in Christchurch and various appointments.

After one night at the Annabelle we drove up to Oxford to stay with Denise and Robin Illingworth at Ribblesdale. Here our accommodation is a small cottage set in Denise’s wonderful garden, which attracts coach tours and weddings as well as B&B guests. We picked a very sad day to arrive. Thursday was the funeral of Denise’s father Graeme. We had offered to stay away. Denise would not hear of it but of course we did not see much of her and Robin that day.

Friday we were scheduled for a 5-6 hour walk up Mt Robinson with Jan and Ian, their children Sophie and Felix, and Jan’s parents Robyn and John. We had to call this off because of torrential rain in Oxford and a completely invisible Mt Robinson. Instead we drove into Christchurch, which is nearer the coast and, when we rang, rain-free. They all took us off Bottle Lake Park for a lesser walk. The lesser walk was then itself curtailed by rain and the the fact that our group became separated and turned into a mutual search-party experience. It was Jan and Ian’s wedding anniversary and the plan had been, after the walk in Oxford, to all have a splendid dinner, with Denise and Robin, at the excellent CafĂ© 51. That plan had gone to pot, but we had a very nice picnic at Bottle Lake before Gay and I drove back to Oxford, where we still had the splendid dinner but just with Denise and Robin instead of the planned party of 10.

Saturday the weather was still dismal. Sunday afternoon brought the promised clearing of the skies, but only for an hour or so before it was quickly followed by black clouds, rising winds and a return of the rain. From Monday onwards we are promised, in South Island, 3 days of good weather, so we hope to commence some decent walking, after moving on to Akaroa.

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