January 26th 2015 - Kites and Contorsionists
New Brighton is not the most salubrious area of Chrustchurch. It used to be popular because it was one of the few places where the shops opened on a weekend, but time has passed it by a little, and it suffered greatly in the earthquakes. It should be popular. There is a long sandy beach, a golf course nearby and a pier that stretches out into the South Pacific. Yet somehow the place has become run down. After the earthquake the shopping centre is a little gap-toothed and there does not seem to be the great rush to rebuild here that posesses the rest of the city.
It was a pleasant change, therefore, to visit the Kite Festival that took over New Brighton beach on sunday.
As always with this kind of event parking was difficult. However, the kites were so numerous that when we made our way out onto the sand we were already on the fringes of the flying display, and the brisk sea breeze was holding aloft a good selection of large and impressive kites. Pegasus, Winnie the Pooh, assorted whales, fish, and even a few octopusses adorned the sky.
The huge kites were the main attraction, but all around them smaller kites flew, some performing stunts, some fluttering like birds and others reaching higher and higher into the sky so that they flew above the town itself.
There was food, of course. It's summer here and everything from ice cream to kebabs could be had for a price close to the beach. The New Brighton Matket was happening at the same time, and there was a spillover from the international buskers festival that happens in Christchurch this time every year. Just behind the beach, next to the library an Aussie contortionist called Al was working through his act.
This consisted of passing his body, from head to foot, through a de-stringed squash racket. Half way through that he passed his body and the squash racket through a de-stringed tennis racket, and then a toilet seat - all this accompanied by a well rehearsed and opportunistic patter. The grand finale was standing at the top of a pole with spinning blades above his head, juggling with knives. The patter was amusing and the feats impressive - a good show well rewarded by a sizeable crowd.