When I got into work on Monday morning, the first four people I spoke to all opened with something along the lines of "so... is the car still working?"
As it happens, yes. Jerks. I didn't mention my latest disturbing discovery; disc one of Now 34 in the stereo.
The hire car went back this weekend. It wasn’t used at all for the last couple of days, and was just sat in front of the house as a reassuring fall back option... now it’s gone, and I must put all my faith in the mechanical fortitude of DeathCar2000.
Faith not being in any great supply, the weekend was spent exploring things not too far away from home.
First stop was Willowbank wildlife reserve to gawp at kiwis, monkeys, goats and some kind of giant pig that was strangely reminiscent of a Bantha.
The next day I went bimbling around Hagley Park (just to the west of the city centre) where I discovered “Icefest” - some kind of week-long outdoor Antarctic thingummy. It sounds much more exciting than it actually was. There was an ice rink, a bouncy castle full of kids and someone dressed up as what I assume was supposed to be an abominable snowman of some sort; but mostly they looked like an emaciated Hoth Wampa.
I got some food, read about Shackleton’s failed 1914 expedition and moved along to the botanic gardens, which were all very pretty.
Somewhere in the middle of it all was Cunningham House, a huge glass-roofed building seemingly full of trees and things. It’s been cordoned off due to earthquake damage. I can imagine it all being a bit reminiscent of the Bioshock gardens level in there; all overgrown foliage, crumbling stonework and a general air of creepiness...
And after that I went around the centre of town to rubber-neck at some of the earthquake damage.
Mostly it's a bit of a ghost town... until you hit the edge of the redzone, where you will find the re:start mall - a shopping centre made out of shipping containers, defiantly painted in bright colours. Swish.
All of which was terribly interesting, but the real reason for travelling halfway around the world is to experience sinister foreign confectionary.
Last week I tried a Pixie bar, which was a delicious slab of caramel coated in dark chocolate.
This week's sinister foreign chocolate bar was a Pinky - possibly the only chocolate bar less manly sounding than a Pixie.
It is pink marshmallow with a strip of caramel down the middle, all covered in milk chocolate, and seems to be an item of confectionary designed specifically to rot teeth and make kids all sticky and 'orrible. It's not the worst thing I've ever put in my mouth, but I'm in no hurry to repeat the experience.