It was SUCH a grey morning, and is now a grey day. The sort we lived with for six winters in London, I’ll never forget them. Grey that is impenetrable and lowers the sky so you feel you could touch it. I learnt in London not to let this spoil my day. So with various options put forward to the boys, they picked to scooter to the Farmers’ Market, choose a favourite lollipop, walk through the native bush, and home again past the playground. I hoped the market would bring a little colour to our day and the scoot a hit of endorphins for my screen obsessed sons.
Through the park, over the stream and wind through a few quiet streets and we emerge into the grounds of Riccarton House which is home to the Christchurch Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings. It’s also one of the original farms of the early settlers, the Scottish Deans brothers, who built their original cottage here in 1843 using wood from the surrounding bush. Their original cottage is still here, it’s now the oldest building on the Canterbury Plains. The Deans brothers kept their little cottage, and built the Victorian and Edwardian mansion (it survived the earthquakes, though still undergoing repairs) Riccarton House in 1856 with subsequent significant additions.
The farmers market has started with a mere handful of stalls, which was a great disappointment when we first visited as we’d been used to the thriving Borough Market in London. But over the years it’s grown to a bustling hive of producers with their wares. There are strict rules surrounding who can have a stall and where their produce can come from. Personally I’d love to see more stalls with food you can eat as you browse, and a few more seats would be good too as the riverbank can get a little damp…
At markets my preference is to slowly browse the different stalls and taste as I go. The boys however (no longer restrained to prams) prefer to head straight for the lolly stall, taste one, choose one and head away to eat. I managed withstand the grumbling to buy eggs and apples from my favourite stalls, but couldn’t stand it much after that. I love that the eggs are free range, the apples are organic, both are local and both are cheaper than the supermarket! We also adore the pastry perfections that come from Bellbird Foods, and the Pain au Chocolat is our favourite – pronounced correctly of course not with a kiwi twang.
We’ve been walking round the loop track in Riccarton Bush since the boys were little as it’s a totally different environment for them, in the middle of our city. In 2004 it was fenced to keep out predators and now has a thriving native bird population. The boys take their binoculars to keep an eye out for them. There’s a caged door entry which intrigues the boys, and then they follow the little path round.
We headed home to stop for a play in the playground and a ride on the leaf sculpture in the park. It’s called ‘Serenade’ which is appropriate as the leaves look as if they’re dancing, with a bit of effort you can push it round. After all that we hadn’t even noticed that it was a very grey day.