This morning, I woke up feeling that today was going to be a good day. I pulled back my curtains with the sun shining through the clouds, opened the window and took a breath of cool autumn air. Yep, I could feel it. After battling a nasty cold for a few days and blasting my system with Lemsip and Berocca tablets, the good news was that I was on the road to recovery. And best of all, today was the day where I took charge of my own happiness for once in a while.
See, I am the sort of person who absolutely loves to travel and explore places. Being from the country, I got used to rolling green hills and muddy gravel pathways leading up to a breathtaking view, but I still enjoyed going for walks around there every so often. Now that I’m living in the city, there are so many places to go that it can be rather hard to decide where to visit and what to do. On this particular day, I thought that I’d take a walk around the central city of Christchurch and go visit the Art Gallery for some ‘high culture’. So, armed with my phone, Spotify Travel playlist and a keen sense of adventure, I set off.
Parking my car (Scottie – yes, my car has a name) under the shade of some tall trees, I crossed the road and set off through Hagley Park, the music of London Grammar playing through my earphones. Autumn leaves were falling all around me, being whisked this way and that by the breeze. Quite a few golfers were out on the greens, swinging their clubs in an approximation of Tiger Woods, obviously trying to impress other golfers with their swish techniques and knowledge of the sport. Occasionally, a jogger with a small dog on a leash would run past me. I don’t know about you but there’s just a certain something about walking through the park like this that makes you almost feel like you’re in a film. I walked past the blue water of the lake and a few more people sitting on benches, watching the ducks swimming round on the water. I made it past Christ’s College and turned down Worcester Street, edging around the front of a big red double-decker bus as I did so. Past one of the historic Arts Centre buildings, which is now also an Ernest Rutherford museum. A little cafe just down from it has a blackboard outside, spelling out the day’s specials and inviting caffeine addicts inside for their daily fix. Wonderful stuff.
Eventually, I arrived at the Christchurch Art Gallery; a postmodern masterpiece of architecture and home to many weird and wonderful exhibits. Alrighty then, I thought, heading up the steps and through the large glass sliding doors. Time for some high culture and art vibes.
And guess what? I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I spent a good hour or so wandering around there, starting with the first floor. The first room I went into had an exhibition entitled: SYDOW: Tomorrow Never Knows, and featured a variety of pieces by visual artist Carl Sydow. A few of them were framed pictures on the wall made with pieces of coloured papers cut and stuck together to form geometrical shapes. I took a closer look at another picture (a drawing he’d done with the theme of triangles and squares), done with ink pen and there were so many perfectly straight lines that I thought it must have taken the poor guy HOURS to do this. So many hours spent drawing lines when he could have been watching reruns of his favourite 1960’s TV show, or seeing how long it would take to make a triple-decker chocolate mud cake with iced roses around the side and a drizzle of ganache on the top. Still, I think, walking out of the room and towards the muffled sounds of an audio reel playing in the next room, I have to admit, Sydow made a pretty solid effort.
I spend some time watching a film reel showing a man reciting a waiata in the company of ducks and hens, then take a look round the other rooms. I make friends with a gigantic silver gnome and admire a seal with serious balancing skills. One of my favourite exhibitions is Jealous Saboteurs by Francis Upritchard, which displays these small but neat sculptures of all sorts of weird but cool-looking people. I like the look of a colourful jockey riding an imaginary horse, and there’s this other one of a guy crouched over, dressed from head to toe in tartan. Not many can pull such a look off, but this dude can. Also, just secretly, I wish I had a scarf like that.
After I finish wandering around all the different areas of the gallery, I find myself – wait for it – in the gallery bookshop. No surprises there, for now I am in my happy place. Everything is wonderful. My gaze is drawn to a small, square book with gold type on the front: Read This If You Want To Be Instagram Famous. Nice one. I flick through it for about five minutes, absorbing all sorts of useful information, before I pop it back on the shelf. If only I had a spare thirty dollars, this book would probably be going home with me.
I then decide to treat myself to lunch, and wander down to The Boulevard, just round the corner from the gallery. I’ve been here once before and they do a delicious home-made blueberry slice. Ordering a toasted chicken and bacon bun, iced chocolate and a piece of the slice, I grab a number and head to a table outside. The sun’s really come out now, so I put my sunglasses on, tuck in to the food and congratulate myself as a single girl on spending the day out and about town. Hats off to yours truly!
Finally, it’s time to head back home. My trusty brown leather boots are starting to hurt my feet from walking round so much, so I bid farewell to the waiter and start my walk back through the streets and through the park. The thick layer of autumn leaves on the ground crunch and rustle as my feet shuffle through them. Finding a bench near the lakeside where more ducks have congregated and are loudly discussing the weather in their big, quacky duck voices, I sit for a few moments, listening to Imogen Heap and thinking about how happy I am to be alive.
All in all, it was a pretty great day. Next time, I might hit up the Botanic Gardens and the Christchurch Museum. And if you happen to be a) by yourself, b) looking for an adventure or some excitement in your life, c) in need of some ‘high culture’ and a coffee or d) ALL OF THE ABOVE, then put your boots on, grab your keenest sense of adventure and go exploring. And don’t forget to treat yo’ self along the way, because you are an intrepid voyager and you deserve it.