Farewell dear van……

Thursday 4th June
Yesterday we ended up at Kairaki, just north of Christchurch where we’ve spent the night at the beach. We visited Lyttelton Harbour and passed through ChCh on the way, and it’s back to ChCh today for our last night in the van! Very very sad! Really going to miss it, but it’s onwards and upwards with the great adventure…. However, seeing the news reports yesterday of the huge snow dumps around Queenstown just makes us want to go back there. A huge urge to go skiing!!!
There was a car parked next to us yesterday afternoon with a Leeds United sticker on the back! I got talking to the owner who it turned out was from Otley, but had moved here 15 years ago! A small world!
Overnight it’s been very windy and rainy, so maybe it’s a sign that winter is now here, and time to leave the van.
Fantastically, I had a FaceTime call at 6am from the chaps of my old Organised Crime Team days! Ronnie, Toddy, Andre, and Mick, all drinking happily in The Botanist in Leeds! Swanny was on his way having been delayed at the Czech Republic Embassy….. there’s always a tale with Swanny! Cheers boys! It was brilliant to speak with you, and I’m sure I’ll be back on your nights out next year! Maybe!! Ronnie, that beard is just magnificent!!
As our plans are still very fluid, and we’ve squeezed a trip in to India in October, we’re looking at the possibility of spending the last few weeks of our trip away on beaches! And a small trip to Hong Kong too…

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Forget buying a house, we’re buying a peninsula!!!

Friday 5th June
So, the day has finally arrived – time to hand back the van after 41 nights of brilliance. A very sad occasion. However, we’re making up for it by having a couple of nights at “Pomeroys on Kilmore”, a boutique hotel with its own pub and brewery! And very nice it is too! We’re enjoying the luxury of a lovely bed with a big bouncy mattress! And a wet room big enough to dance in (if indeed that is what you wanted to do)! After the confines of the van, this is absolute opulence!
We’ve been around Christchurch this afternoon, and I think it’s difficult for any visitor to get a grasp on the level of destruction caused by the 2011 earthquakes. It’s way worse than I could have imagined, even now 4 years on. There is of course much building going on, and I have no doubt that in time ChCh will spring back to the city it once was, but there are still so many derelict and collapsed buildings. The city centre is a bit like a ghost town, as without the businesses open, there are no customers to attract. We enjoyed the ReStart area where shops and cafes have opened up from shipping containers, but still our overall feeling was one of sorrow for the residents and locals here, and not forgetting the 185 people who lost there lives (how there wasn’t more I have no idea). Randall, I hope your city can find its feet once again as soon as…, and I hope I haven’t painted too dark a picture of it!
Of course there are still beautiful parts, and we had a lovely walk along the River Avon that meanders through the centre.
Right, time to get back to the bar now for the evening session, which I suspect is going to consist of fish and chips and multiple craft beers! Cheers!!

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The quite incredible sight of a collapsed multi storey carpark

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The ReStart container shops

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The damage caused to the cathedral

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£33 million to repair this alone

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How the cathedral used to look, pre earthquake

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More of the cathedral

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A bull on a piano?

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And why wouldn’t you see a wizard wandering around Christchurch?

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Sculpture made from iron girders from NYC Ground Zero, not knowing they’d have their own disaster to contend with in years to come

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The Holiday Inn. Now the Holiday Out.

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