Christmas is coming

Christmastime in the Southern
Hemisphere is a little strange if you’re not used to it. It hasn’t been exactly
hot in Wellington recently (too much wind for that), but it’s certainly warmer
than back in the UK, by all accounts. You also notice that the days are much
longer, so if you want to see Christmas lights you have to wait till quite late
at night.


Three features of Christmas are
parties, concerts and trees.  We were
invited to two Christmas parties this year. 
The bad news was that they were on the same day.  The good news was that one was in the
afternoon, the other in the evening.  So
we had a great day last Friday, with lots of food, drink and good company. 


Pride of place in our flat is the
tall tree we bought for $20 (£8); it was decorated with baubles from the
2-dollar shop by Claire when she and Charlie were with us. Although we’ll be in
Oz over the Christmas period, it’s helped to brighten up the flat during


The ‘New Zealand Christmas tree’
is the pohutokawa. This flowers in December, with masses of bright red
filaments, and appears on almost every Kiwi Christmas card. They’re coming out
now in Wellington, filling the streets around Parliament with a medley of red
flowers and green leaves.  


We were wandering along the
waterfront last week, when we discovered a Christmas concert being staged in
Waitangi Park. Hundreds of people in summer gear were sitting on the grass
listening to bands play seasonal music, often with an unusual uptempo beat.
Some were dressed as Santas and reindeers, and there were people on stage
dancing in sheep costumes (only in New Zealand). Santa came over in a
helicopter, and it was altogether a somewhat surreal experience.


Last Sunday we went to a more
traditional carol concert, organised by the Salvation Army and held in the Town
Hall, an impressive building which was filled to capacity. There was a band and
some singers, but it was largely DIY carol singing, to which we mimed
furiously. In our lunch-hour one day we visited Old St Paul’s, the original
wooden cathedral of Wellington, which is near our offices. It is a beautiful
place, and was well decorated with Christmas trees and lights, creating a
wonderful atmosphere.


The final Christmas tree to
mention is the high-tech electronic one in Frank Kitts Park, which has a
conical array of lights flashing different colours in eccentric patterns. We
waited till it was dark one night and went to see it. Under the tree are loads
of bean bags, and people lie on them and look up at the lights. Not something
to be done when it’s ‘deep and crisp and even’ – but it doesn’t snow in
Wellington at Christmas!


On Christmas Day, at 6.00 am, we
fly to Adelaide for a tour of southern Oz. The next blog will bring you up to
speed with that. Merry Christmas and a good 2010 to all our readers (if any).

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