I believed that we were headed for a place in Christchurch so I was surprised when we rapidly left the city and embarked on a journey through fields of pasture, corn and vegetables. The sun was shining and the fields stretched for miles, some bordered by hedges of tall trees (like cypresses) and some by wooden fences. The landscape colouring of gold and green reminded me of Tuscany, although the scale was flatter and larger. The townships were small, with buildings of one storey, reminding me then of towns in American films.
J and F’s house in Rolleston was a one storey house on the corner of a grid planned estate on the edge of fields. With broad avenues and houses in similar styles to each other, the estate held an atmosphere of peace and prosperity. J and F’s house with its wide rooms, modern design and immaculate decoration continued the feeling of serenity. The sitting room with its huge ceiling to floor sliding door windows was filled with light. The windows opened on to decks on both sides of the house, so there was always somewhere to sit in the sun. A huge trampoline took up part of the garden while the rest was laid to lawn edged with shrubs, trees and flowers.
J and F had kindly transformed their large office into a comfortable bedroom for us. There was also a media room just off the sitting room where we watched Love Actually on Christmas Day and where I had my first experience of Breaking Bad. The bathroom had a jacuzzi bath where we spent many a happy morning enjoying double bubbles. (Sinking under clouds of bubbles and drinking fizz).
After Christmas we decanted to Glentunnel Camp Site where we were given the use of a French caravan all to ourselves. It slept four — one double bed and two bunk beds — and had a loo and “shower”. The shower was attached to the taps of the basin and I was too anxious that I might flood the whole caravan to use it. A large fridge and cooker completed the set up and there was ample storage for two people. The dining table had an alarming habit of collapsing when any weight was put on it but we mostly dined outside.
Social life took place in the large awning attached to J and F’s caravan and we scoffed good food and swilled vast quantities of wine there. It was there that we saw in 2017 before retiring to our own caravan for a little light music by candlelight.
Photo Philip Capper