We are enjoying a fine interlude at present.
I am glad, because I wanted my granddaughter Grace to have a better opinion of the city of her birth than the first few days might have given. I went into the city and found myself at the top end of Taranaki Street, near the Pukeahu war memorials. The Australian memorial gift to New Zealand consists of fifteen columns of red sandstone, representing the red centre of Australia, left behind by her sons who went off to war. When I got there, two very fit young exponents of parkour were leaping about, clambering up the columns like Spiderman on speed. I reflected that anyone offering a similar disrespect to one of the memorials in Washington DC would be summarily dealt with as such places are treated with the utmost respect and reverence. Here, no one batted an eye, and I imagined some of the old heroes of Gallipoli watching on with amusement, and perhaps admiration. “This is the kind of freedom we died for” was what I imagined.
On my way back to the car, a strange procession of young people were traipsing up Taranaki Street. These were students of a nearby dance studio who had just participated in the city’s annual Santa Parade.
In the evening, Mary had the idea to take Grace to a neighbourhood on the Eastern side of the valley that was renowned for its adoption of the Christmas lights phenomenon. To our disappointment, it seems that the area has given up on the tradition, except for one house.
There was another house near the hospital whose owner always puts on an amazing show, and charges a $2 entry fee as fundraising for the surf lifesaving people if I recall correctly.