Cool cheap shit to do without a car in Christchurch

Banks Peninsula has been riven from mainland New Zealand by a cataclysmic volcanic eruption. The rest of the country has been devastated by a vast tsunami, drought, floods and the ensuing mass sickness.  The population has been decimated, starvation and violence are rife*.

It’s amazing the cheery fantasies one can have on the loo in the morning, no?

So I thought I’d start a series of occasional fluff pieces on cool stuff one can do around the hood without an automobile. Just for fun I’m going to throw in the additional handicaps of a toddler and limited moolah.

Just in case you think this blog is descending into lifestyle supplement drivel, I’d like you to know that I’m also working on an incisive piece of investigative journalism about the true cost of the trucking industry, but it’s a bit hard, alright.

I joined a new Facebook group called Secret Christchurch recently but it turns out most people’s idea of a secret isn’t that secret, and mainly revolves around shopping. Now me, I like to spend money, just like the next person, but, as I might have mentioned before, we had a baby almost two years ago, and babies, while cute and all, have a tendency to play havoc with your finances. I had plans to dump the wee snot bag in daycare asap and rush back to work once my maternity leave was up, but when it came down to it, I didn’t. So here we are, at home and broke. My mother told NZ Customs that I was a housewife. Me, I tell people I work part time from home and then segue into a rapturous rant about how fabulous and accommodating my employers have been (they are, thanks guys!) to cover the fact that I have no idea what I am doing with my life. Still that’s for another story. In the meantime, while I’m trying to work out what to do when I grow up, I’ll take the wean on some amusing budget outings and tell you all about it. Deal?

In installment part the first of this exciting new series, Mumminy Umminy** and the Bobbin go to Ferrymead to buy a bathmat.

Going from Lyttelton to Ferrymead is awesome. If you are feeling absurdly energetic you can yomp up over the Bridle Path, down to Heathcote and onwards to the sea. I did that once with the little person on my back, when she was about eight months old. I was bloody knackered afterwards, and she weighed half of what she does now. Now we get the bus through the tunnel and get off on the other side and walk from there.

There’s a lovely wee park in Heathcote, nestled in the valley and with some fine big old trees, it looks like a great place to have summer family picnics. Haven’t done that yet, but it’s on the list of stuff to do when the sun returns. If you hang a left down past the park you’ll come to a cluster of funky local businesses, coffee roaster Upshot and Rhombus cafe, the organic tofu man and the delightful gift shop Blackbird. Head down there on a sunny morning and sit out on the grass with your coffee and you might hear kereru in the trees opposite and see groups of riders from the Heathcote Valley riding school ambling past.

But yesterday we didn’t go that way. Instead we carried on down Bridle Path Road, stroking the venerable gum trees as we went past and I successfully fought the urge to turn up the drive to Aromaunga Flowers and blow the grocery money on great armfuls of lilies and jewel coloured posies of anemones. They grow the flowers on site in acres of glasshouses behind the old homestead, and as I walk up the drive, shaded by the big mature trees, past the graceful house and the older glasshouses, I like to imagine that I live there and grow flowers. I always go there in December for Christmas lilies and big boxes of cherries.

On we went, past the horses in the paddocks in their winter coats, which tickled the Bobbin mightily and past the entrance to Heathcote Quarry, which I am ashamed to confess I have never visited, but I bet it’s brilliant and will be correcting that omission very soon.

Not far from the entrance to the Quarry is a villa with a plaster death mask hanging from its veranda. The eyes are closed and a half smile plays on the full lips. It is hung with wire, so it sways slightly in the breeze. If you’re not expecting it and catch it out of the corner of your eye, as I did the first time, it can give you quite a start. Actually it probably isn’t really a death mask, but a touch of the macabre makes for a far finer anecdote, I always find.

Yesterday morning there was no wind at all. When we came to the estuary it was glassy calm, and the reflections were sharp and perfect. Even the shags drying their wings had their upside down twins. We leaned over the rail of the bridge and could see our own watery faces staring back.

One of my favourite places in Ferrymead is the $2.00 clothing warehouse. This frigid cavern filled with miles of garment rails, crammed with colour coded clothes, is a paradise for the poverty striken clothing fetishist. It took me a while to see the true beauty in the place. The first few times I visited I thought, “Ew! Miles of stinky grubby polyester, run, run away,” which isn’t actually far from the reality, so lower your expectations now. It’s the slops bucket for the city’s better quality second hand clothing emporiums, where they send all the stuff that is too cheap and nasty to be sold in their more expensive city centre shops. So there is a lot of nasty crap. But in the last two years I have grown so much as a person that I am able to see beyond the unpromising first impression to the beautiful pearl hidden within. Yes that’s right folks, I’m poor and I’ve got nothing better to do.

You’ve got to be in the right mood to trawl through hundreds of horrible garments to find the hidden master piece, but the Bobbin loves it there, because there are lots of other kids for her to make eyes at, so I got at least half an hour of uninterrupted browsing, before the poor wee mite got hypothermic and bored and had to be moved to the exciting flesh pots of Mitre 10. In that time I found the most exciting item of clothing ever; a peacock blue velour trackie top, which might not sound initially promising, but this utilitarian item, dear friends, is embroidered with a heraldic crest, bearing the motto “one’s way of life”. I fell on the floor weeping with delighted mirth and had to be given CPR by a passing fellow bargain hunter.

After such dizzy heights of retail bliss, there wasn’t much else to recount. We then went to Mitre 10 and bought a bath mat, as previously advertised and a new wooden toilet seat as a wild impulse purchase (because the manky old plastic one hitherto gracing our not very salubrious loo, had pinched my arse in its gelid maw  one time too many). And on that topic, I have to say, a decent loo seat is a wonderful thing. Which brings me full circle to my apocalyptic morning musings, and so I leave you. Adieu, adieu.

* But on the plus side, property prices in Lyttelton have fallen dramatically.

**That’s me. The Bobbin came up with that all by herself. Gifted child I tell you.

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One thought on “Cool cheap shit to do without a car in Christchurch

  1. Jeez you’re funny – I snorted through my nose in a very attractive manner several times while reading.
    Am very happy to have gambolled through most of the named places so i can giggle happily in recognision, though you did not take me into the joys of Mitre 10 – maybe next time Xx

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