There is a great sinking feeling when you realise that you have flown 12000 miles and brought the wrong sandals. Christchurch had left my Northern Hemisphere winter body with blistered feet. So the final day of the New Year holiday was spent driving to the metropolis of Ashburton to remedy matters.
We wondered over the train track that runs through the middle of the town and down the high street, most of it closed for the holiday. We made for Farmers’ department store, standing stolidly on the corner. Like most places here, it looked closed in spite of the fact that it was actually open. The Kiwis do not seem to have the knack of catching passing trade. Their view is very direct. If you want something you will go and get it. The hard sell starts when you get inside.
We had some very specific shopping needs. Pyrex lidded dishes for the microwave do not seem to exist in this part of the world. Hubby has been looking since he got here. So we opted for a bone china lidded dish with 50% off.
From Farmers we went to The Warehouse. Here we purchased a pair of kitchen scissors, a sieve, a sun hat and a pair of uncomely mottled brown loafer shoes with memory foam for me. And a single Impatiens plant. Hubby was impatient with the Impatiens. But I told him I needed something to nurture (apart from him).
Finally we visited New World for food. Still the same red handled trolleys that scratch across the floor and get stuck. Oh for the Tesco glide. We examined the piles of apples and lettuces, peered at the fridges full of large chunks of cow and smaller chunks of chicken in various forms, and pondered over muesli. I made a point of getting apples, milk, honey and ice cream because these are invariably delicious in New Zealand.
We made for the tills, ready for the inevitable cheery “How are you today?” Which, when uttered by a Kiwi checkout person always sounds as though they really are interested in the answer. Unlike the somewhat potluck approach of the UK supermarket cashiers, which depend entirely upon whether they are having a good day or a bad day, and how near the end of their shift they are. If we could only bottle the Kiwi positivity, what millionaires we would be! But I would miss the surly cynicism and complicated humour of my fellow Brits. We are not so easily fooled by sunlight and scenery, are we?