We have spent some time at the weekends in Dunedin lately, the closest venue for the Rugby World Cup 2011. As there is no volunteering here in Christchurch, it seemed appropriate to head south and help out there. I haven’t been to a game and I’m not planning to. Being part of the service team is much more fun.
My sister and her family have been very kind and put us up, late night arrivals and stupidly early departures. Friends of ours own bars in New Zealand’s most Scottish city. It’s been all hands to the pump, literally in my case. Kim has dishpan hands and I have RSI from opening bottles of beer.
We had a good giggle on Saturday. Radio Live rang the bar I was helping in, asking for a staff member to give them a quick description of the atmosphere in the Octagon. The phone was thrust my way. I felt a twinge of disloyalty to my beautiful city as I described the crowds and the fun and the buzz that Dunedin was enjoying – that soon passed as yet another swarm of Barmy Army supporters descended on the bar.
They’re such well behaved lovely people, the rugby crowd. For by far the most part they drink sensibly, they have designated drivers or they walk, and they’re here to enjoy the company and the beauty of New Zealand.
During the buildup on Saturday I served any number of chain mail clad knights. As the evening wore on, I poured pints for penguins and a giant green flower with a very broad Geordie accent. A passing troupe of Vampires and the occasional HRH brightened the throng.
The weather was vile yesterday – cold and raining. Dunedin’s lovely lidded stadium is clearly worth its weight in gold in terms of keeping the crowd from getting wet, but it’s still no butterfly house, only a couple of degrees warmer than it is outside. Lots of polarfleece and puffer jackets in black were the order of the day – England’s away strip is a good sneaky camo colour for further into the tournament, methinks.
We left to come home as dawn broke this morning. Driving over the Kilmog, the light on the hills was so clear and beautiful they looked like they were shouting “Ta-Da!” The alps were dusted with fresh snow, the lambs were springing – it was the green and pleasant land my befreckled forbears must have dreamed of in their darkest moments.
I wished that the crowds enjoying our beautiful southern city had also had the chance to see our national game played in our own little piece of paradise. The blossoms are so gorgeous at the moment, the Botanic Gardens so lovely, and our untouched hills are just aching for a hammering. It’s a great time of year to be a Mainlander.
This week I’m in tidy up mode. I have some business to sort out before the onslaught next week of the Central City Plan hearings and deliberations. We have 7000 (that’s seven thousand) submissions on the document, 500 submitters wishing to speak in person. We will be doing 11 hour days as of next Monday until the job is done, and then deliberations hard on the heels of that. October is going to be a massive month, and not just for the All Blacks.
So this week I’m stopping to smell the daphne, smile at the daffodils, enjoy the sunshine and the blue skies, spend time with family and friends as much as I can. They’re the things that make life worth living, in Christchurch – a place that’s still very much worth living in.