The rain didn’t last long. By the time that we’d made it to the outskirts of Christchurch the drizzle had stopped and the sun was starting to peep through the clouds. Our chariot is a well-used VW T35 camper which has 200+km on the clock and will probably double that before it reaches the end of its working life. Having spent a few minutes this evening working out how best to store our goods and chattels in the van’s various nooks and crannies (what is a cranny?) we’re sure that it’s going to make a perfectly comfortable home for the next five weeks.
First stop of the day was Ashburton Cemetery to call in on Great Uncle George. About a decade ago some kind soul kindly sent me a photo of the grave, so fortunately we were able to recognise it pretty quickly and didn’t have to traipse past too many headstones in order to track him down. Ashburton is quite small now, but judging by the number of folk who were buried there in the first few years of the 20th century it must have been quite a lively place back then (not, of course, for them!). Anyway, the gravestone has stood the test of time for the last century and looks like it will continue to do the job for a few more decades. He was 21 when he died in 1913 – it must have been heartbreaking for his parents to bury their son in a distant, foreign land knowing that they’d never see his last resting place. His sister, my grandmother, lost two husbands and two brothers in less than 7 years; that’s hard.
Getting back to the land of the living we moved on to Timaru which is another 60km or so further down the coast. We didn’t go all the way into the town but had a wander around Caroline Bay and paid our respects to the Pacific Ocean before moving on to Pleasant Point – at which point it was time to pull the waggons into a circle and set up camp for the night.