5 December – Christchurch, Garden City

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We walked again. This time to Mona Vale gardens, and Riccarton Bush. Both houses are still closed, and undergoing repairs, but the gardens at Mona Vale are spectacular. I can imagine my mother’s parents going into raptures over them. My grandparents always leap into my mind whenever I visit a well-tended display of roses.

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Huge lawns sweep to the small river. Seats are dotted about, and a bridge with wooden sides recalls willow pattern plates.

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A few people sit around, youngsters shout and laugh as they run through a water spray. A young woman lies down working on a laptop.

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The large white conservatory, the Bath House, is empty, but near by the formal arches of the rose garden attract us, and just opposite, past a modern statue of Eros, is a pond full of water lilies – so full that young ducklings walk over the leaves towards the food source they’ve identified, picnicking lily-worshippers.

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We sit in the shade at a picnic table for a while, then move away. Along the path I tread on a large dry leaf , so big that I think I’ve dropped something. I search through my bag – no camera. Back to the table and there it is. Ok, it’s my cheap one, but I’m pleased to find it within two minutes of losing it. Memo to self – check, double check.

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We follow Harry’s notes towards Riccarton Street. Full of shops and cafes. Further along we join K . . . ? Street and Riccarton House and Bush. The house is where a family of Scottish settlers lived.

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Jane Deans was largely responsible for the planting. The bush is a section of native trees, now surrounded by a pest-proof fence. We noticed more birdsong in there – a tui was singing.

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Finally the weary walkers wended their way back home for a late lunch.
Later we try to watch “Love Actually”, but it proves too much (froth?) for both of us.