There were some firsts for our young family, and sadly some lasts as well.
My husband had travelled overseas many times as a child – he was in boarding school in England while his father was working in the middle east. I had travelled overseas once for a youth conference while at university. But our children, 4 and 6, had never been outside Australia. So, an opportunity to accompany my husband when he attended a work conference in Christchurch looked like a good idea. This was our first overseas trip as a family, and the first time we had accompanied my husband on one of his overseas trips.
We were living in Adelaide at the time, so the first apart of the trip was travel to Melbourne. It might be that we drove to Melbourne – it was a long time ago. More of why I think that later.
Both children had flown before, so the flight to Christchurch was not their first flight. The flight from Melbourne to Christchurch though was the first overseas, long flight for them.
The accommodation for conference attendees was university residents – a vague memory was that the food was also available at the university cafeteria. Most of our previous holidays were either to family or gliding fields, so in a sense this was a first for the children.
While my husband attended various conference sessions, the children and I were free to do our own wandering around Christchurch. In a way, this was really a first for me – wandering around a new city without other adult company. My memories at this stage a bit unclear. I do remember walking along the Avon River, and noticing how clean and clear it was. We did go on a short bus tour with some other young families who had accompanied someone attending the conference. There was a visit to the Christchurch Cathedral, sadly now destroyed by earthquake – this could be considered a last.
There was one day during the conference that was free – with a couple of tour options available. We elected to take a train trip to Arthur’s Pass. This was where we had another first for our children. Having spent much of their short lives in Adelaide, they had never had an opportunity to see snow. Unfortunately, there was not any real snow around during our visit, but there was one small area in the shadow of a small building where the snow had not melted. Another first for Matthew and Jemma – an opportunity to play in snow.
The reason that I believe we had driven to Melbourne from Adelaide was that we stopped in to visit my parents on our return. Here we met my brother’s young son for the first time – he was about 4 or 5 months old.
This was also the last time we saw my father as he passed away in November of that year.
So, a trip of firsts and lasts for us.
Joy Shirley, July 2017