Monthly Archives: January 2011

Eating out in Christchurch 01.

Pepperoni, Stanmore Road.

Last night, in an atypical burst of spontaneity, we decided to eat out for a change. We selected the Pepperoni, a little Italian restaurant in Stanmore Road just north of the river. It is less than a kilometre away and once upon a time we might have ventured there on foot, but not now. We drove and were there in five minutes.

The décor, for an Italian restaurant, was refreshingly simple. No Italian flags. No posters of the Colosseum. No bits of Vespa motor-scooters. If anything, the place reminded me of coffee bars in the 1960s, the fabric draped along the ceiling giving a tent-like effect that was quite popular in those days.

The tables and chairs were all different. By that, I mean that each group of table and chairs was a set, and different from all the others, which added to the rather home-made atmosphere that, again, re-enforced the feel of the 60s. Every table had a wine bottle with a candle, and just to complete the picture, the windows had narrow Venetian blinds. I felt quite nostalgic.

The menu was comprehensive, with a list of seventeen or eighteen pizzas as well as a range of pastas. I selected a Margherita – my favourite – while Ruth ordered Gnocchi [which the waitress pronounced ‘nocki’] and a side salad. I had a glass of Peroni beer to quench the thirst, with a glass of very adequate house red with the pizza, while Ruth had a house white.

Despite that the place was doing a brisk business, our meals were served quickly and efficiently, and were of excellent quality. The service was excellent; fast, friendly and professional [if lacking a little in the niceties of Italian pronunciation], the food very good, and the ambiance cosy and appealing. All this for $63.00. We shall be back.

Kaikoura on a summer’s day.

Kaikoura on a sunny summer’s day would have to be one of the most pleasant places anywhere. Having spent last night there, I can vouch for that. We drove down from Christchurch in the morning, stopping for an ice-cream at Cheviot on the way, a very easy three hour jaunt. The roads were clear, the skies were clear, the air was clear and the scenery, as always, spectacular.

Kaikoura town was its usual laid-back self, despite good numbers of tourists. These came in all shapes, sizes and colours of the rainbow, but the great majority were younger, sun-bronzed people [including quite a number who had been many years ago and clearly thought that they still were] who strode about with a jolly air, or leaned back on the porches and verandahs of cafés, surveying the passing parade through stylish sunglasses.

We visited the seal colony at the end of the peninsula, but there were far more tourists than seals. Returning to the Esplanade we set up house in the Clearwater Motel, our unit opening out onto the road on the other side of which was the sea; magnificent. The facilities were clean and adequate, and the unit spacious, which was the important thing as the four of us take up quite a bit of room.

That evening Ruth and I dined in the garden of the New Commercial Hotel, which was just around the corner from out unit, and the steak and chips were both beautifully cooked and of generous proportions. Louise and Garvin sat with us for a while then went their way into town where they had their dinner much later at the Adelphi. Ruth and I retired to the unit.

The next day we were up early after a very hot night, and the view out over the ocean was truly beautiful, still, calm seas covered by a light mist that rapidly fled under the warmth of the morning sun. We took Louise and Garvin down to the Whale Watch depot then had a very pleasant breakfast in the little courtyard of the Why Not Café, where we have breakfasted several times before and the quality of the bacon and eggs is excellent. A little later we collected Louise and Garvin after they had returned from their trip where they not only saw a whale but also met a school of dolphins. We drove back to Christchurch having had a very pleasant and relaxing excursion.

Yes, there have been a couple of very unpleasant incidents in which people have been attacked and beaten, and one where a young woman was raped. These are terrible things, and I would never minimise their importance, but such things happen everywhere, sad to say; in Kaikoura, in Christchurch, in Brisbane, Bali, Bath and Beirut. All anyone can do is exercise due caution, do not be too trusting of anyone, and stay away from dark corners.

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