Australian accents don't vary much from place to place, but their sports do, and in Victoria and Tasmania, Aussie Rules Footy is no 1 and the rest are nowhere. But here in Christchurch God is in his heaven and rugby union is where it's at. As it should be.
My host Matt Donaldson (founder while at Uni of the Richard Loe fan club, so clearly a rugby man who appreciates the darker arts of the game) took me to see the local Super 14 side, the Crusaders. I'm guessing there aren't many muslims in Christchurch, which makes sense when you think about it. Anyway, fans of the Scottish Borders rugby team will see above that while said team may be gone, it's traditions live on, 3 laps of the pitch no less. Though no one announced the recent death of any of the fans' favourite horses, one of the many lows of recent Borders rugby history. The buildup didn't get the game it deserved, 11-7 home win but a bit of slog despite perfect conditions, made worse because all the other NZ Super 14 teams played more exciting games the same weekend.
OK, non-rugby fans can tune back in now. 1st big disaster of this trip was on last full day in Melbourne, when my camera was either mislaid or nabbed, meaning I'll almost certainly have to rely on my memory for the last few days in Tassie and Melbourne, though fortunately most photos prior to that had been copied to a memory stick. New camera purchased, life goes on. I'm taking it easy with Matt and his lovely family, growing fat on their barbeques and teaching the kids to play cricket, which may not fill future generations of England players with terror. I last saw Matt 28 years ago when he was about 7, last time I was in NZ when his Dad was my Dad's boss. Wouldn't have thought those encounters influenced our subsequent lives, but rugby tours and Lord of the Rings movies are the major sporting and cultural references for us both, so maybe...
Couple more days in Christchurch, then car hired for drive down to Queenstown and then the Milford Track, if I can't acquire some sort of niggling injury to get me out of it.
I've added some photos to the last few entries; an unleavened diet of my prose has doubtless been hard going for some!