April 23rd ………3 days to go

Towards Mt Cook "Aoraki"

Towards Mt Cook “Aoraki”

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Brodie, Zen and Kerry

Brodie, Zen and Kerry

Rex and I reach Christchurch.

Rex and I reach Christchurch.



6.45am 24th April – inter city bus Christchurch

This travelling on a bus malarkey isn’t that bad at all. I actually quite enjoyed the effortless speed in relative comfort, with even a running commentary from drivers Paul (to Lake Tekapo) and George (to Christchurch). I imagined that Rex was also quite content too, tucked away in his own compartment and not having to work hard.

The added touch of a guided commentary is a great gesture (is this just Newman’s coaches?), I think the drivers like it too (fresh captive audience for their personality and it breaks the monotony of just driving). I learnt quite a bit more about the places we travelled through. The “wooing tree” vineyard in Cromwell which has a big tree in the middle and under which reputedly half the towns population were conceived , the legend of Shrek the Merino sheep who had avoided being sheared for 6 years, provided over 50lbs of wool when he was but was then so cold they had to knit him a woolly jacket. He became a superstar in NZ, met the prime minister and raised over 200 thousand dollars for charity. Lots of other stuff was offered and it really helped pass the time. I must admit to dozing off for a while as it was so relaxing (and I was struggling with Eckhart Tolle’s book).

I Woke up when my ears popped near the top of Lindis pass. I had wanted to see what the cycling would have been like if I’d come this way but all I can say is the subsequent downhill bit to Omarama looked a dream ride. We passed through Twizel but did not stop other than to pick up, it looked the the same although I did see a new log cabin on the way out and wondered if it could be Mark and Clare’s.

You know how everyone looks for an empty set of seats when they get on a bus as no one wants to sit next to anyone else unless they have to? Well, I found myself in the predicament of there being no remaining empty sets left when we swapped buses at Lake Tekapo. In such a situation you are then faced with trying to assess the “nuttiness factor” of the occupants purely from visual observation in split seconds and in as discrete a way as possible. At the same time being acutely aware that these occupants are willing you to sit anywhere but next to them!

Well I opted for the safest bet of joining a friendly looking lady with 2 boys who were on the long back row of 5 seats. These turned out to be Kerry, Zen (9) and Brodie (13) from Akaroa. A great selection as it turned out (what impeccable judgement I must have!), and a really nice family.Kerry is a community coordinator and counsellor in Akaroa. They had been to Queenstown to see the oldest son, Flynn, who is working as a greenkeeper at the golf course but may go to Aussie. Kerry is going to go travelling to India this September and touchingly said that it was a trip she had delayed for 19 years whilst her children grew up and Flynn was helping her to pay for the trip. We chatted a lot and the hours passed quickly (poor George the drivers anecdotal commentary becoming background). Zen was a nice lad and loved a recent trip to Aussie with his uncle where they’d gone kayaking 16km in the bush. It was quite sad saying goodbyes when we got in to Christchurch.

There was just enough daylight to have a quick look at Cathedral Square, it was really hard to recognise the place with so many buildings gone. The cathedral looked like a ruin. All quite sorrowful at this time but hopefully from the ashes a better city can eventually emerge. It strikes me that the whole earthquake legacy has caused a lot of issues about how the city should be rebuilt and at what cost.

At least David has got himself a job out of it! He is in a small team of about 5 working for a contractor on demolition. He’s sorted accommodation in a shared house with loads of people but at least has enough drawers for his 12 shirts!. We met at my motel (Admiral on Bealey St) around 7.30 and went up the road to a Speights Ale house recommended by Rick at the Motel. Apart from a very brusque young waitress it was a nice and we both opted for a steak burger (probably because our conversation had ailigned to Fergburgers!). We had a good catch up, I went a bit philosophical but at our parting we ended up telling each other jokes

Before David came round I had a nice phone conversation with Christine, I suppose a ” farewell for now ” chat. Its been really an honour to have gained her friendship and receive some sound advice from at key almost “psychically predicted” times.

I received an e-mail from the Bro. Chris included some quotes about travel and how journeys change you.

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.” Anthony Bourdain

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” Terry Pratchett

“It is a strange thing to come home. While yet on the journey, you cannot at all realize how strange it will be.” – Selma Lagerl

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.’ – Gandalf the Grey

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.’ – Thorin Oakenshield

It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The The ones that really mattered, full of darkness and danger they were. Sometimes you didn’t want to know the end, because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when there’s so much bad that had happened? But in the end it’s only a passing thing, this shadow; even darkness must pass.’ – Samwise Gamgee

Not all those who wander are lost.’ – J.R.R. Tolkien

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’ – Bilbo Baggins

The one which resonates most for me is Terry Pratchetts.

3 thoughts on “April 23rd ………3 days to go

  1. Safe travels home Nick. Thankyou for sharing your story and some of our journey also. True about looking for the seat on the bus thing!!!! Thanks for choosing us!! Go well and may your father’s spirit soar in this beautiful country where sheep get to meet the prime minister!! May you hold those moments that remind us what life truly is.
    Stay safe and embrace the 50 year man with the mean calves whom is on his way home.
    Kerry 🙂

    • Hi Kerry, thank you, for your wonderful company and lovely words. You must do a blog for your adventures in India (please send me a link if you do to nicklockwood2@sky.com). Just be choosy about who you sit next to on the buses! Wishing you and your great family all the best for the future.

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