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Overdue for my autumn fix I headed to our Christchurch Botanic Gardens last week.  I had left it a tad late in the season but found some great colours.  The maples were at their peak and there were some spectacular autumn oaks.  The new visitor centre is progressing and I was pleased to see one side of the “Keep Out” fence is being used for an exhibition commemorating the Botanic Gardens’ 150th Anniversary.  It takes the form of a fictional Garden’s curator revisiting the Gardens with his granddaughter.  Worth a look.

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I keep thinking this is the choice time of year to hop on a Welcome Aboard Caterpillar Gardens’ Tour.  Expect colours to be good for another week.  If taking an afternoon tour, the light on the Cork Oak is excellent.  I could imagine the knobbly bark, soft to touch, really making cork.  No good to me, though, my favourite bottles have screw tops these days.

Next day rain descended over Christchurch along with a sharp temperature drop.  But I was able to photograph the transitional so-called Cardboard Cathedral for the first time.  I admit to being a big fan.  It does look remarkably like the famous Arctic Cathedral in Tromso, Norway.  I cycled beneath it in 2008 oblivious of the possibility my heart’s aorta tube was about to start dissecting.  Luckily I got home to New Zealand and in good hands before it all happened.

Almost five years on, I am in good health from a cardiac point of view, maybe I have my own special link to our transitional Cathedral?

The idea is that of a Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban.  The cardboard tubes, 600mm in diameter x 20m long, used for cladding apparently cannot become soggy.  The building will be safe, meeting 100% of the new building earthquake code.  A day after my visit the first pieces of coloured glass window were being installed.  Another six weeks and it will all be up and running.

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Back to a Welcome Aboard theme, Friday saw me up at the Port Hills Gondola where I had coffee (two cups!) and an excellent red wine steak pie.  School holidays attracted tons of kids so it was pleasingly lively.  I was surprised to see so many people braving the tussock hills close to the top station.  Weather-wise, the day was not great.  Nevertheless the light changing over South Brighton and Pegasus Bay was intriguing.  Views over Lyttelton Harbour were also good as the hills played hide-and-seek with scudding clouds.

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