Oliver is…

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man

…grateful to Geraldine for two reasons

One: for saving my life (The world: ‘Grateful?!’).
Two: for giving me the chance to see the world’s biggest jumper.

Those are probably in the wrong order. Firstly, here’s a picture of the world’s biggest jumper. (In my mind, ‘jumper’, ‘jersey’ and ‘pullover’ all refer to the same item of clothing. If I misuse any of these terms, I apologise now).

The biggest jumper in the world

Some people have told me I’m stupid for basing my travel plans around going to places with the same names as my friends. Those people have never missed a natural disaster that has killed more than 100 people by just three hours, because they got on a bus to go to a place with the same name as one of their friends. Or seen the world’s biggest pullover.

It’s been approved by the Guinness World Record people, so you can rest assured that this isn’t just some eccentric claim by some people who have knitted a big (the chest measures 5′ wide and 7’3″ tall) jersey. I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Certainly nothing like it in that scale.

Did Geraldine really save my life? I would’ve left Christchurch on the 22nd anyway, because Donald and Laura were departing then, and it was nice to meet up with them having actually planned to. If I wasn’t going to Geraldine, I probably would’ve gone to Dunedin so I could see why one of my ex-coworkers used it as his password. I’ve since checked and buses to Dunedin leave Christchurch on Tuesdays at 7.45am, 8am, 2pm and 3pm. As I was staying slightly out of town I probably would’ve gone for one of the later ones, especially as the 2pm bus for next Tuesday is slightly cheaper than the others. The Christchurch earthquake hit at around 12.50pm. If I was getting a bus at 2pm, what would I have been doing at that time? Probably having lunch nearby. Or watching some guys play giant chess. Or maybe both. And if I was doing that when the quake hit, when the cathedral tower fell down by the chess board?

Amsterdam, always 12 hours and 80 seconds behind

Instead I was roughly 140km away wondering why my sturdy looking hostel was shaking. One of the owners was checking some guests in and I heard him say ‘Earthquake! Get under the doorframe!’ It’s one of the most surreal things I’ve ever heard said. Gathered under the doorway, we looked anxiously at each other wondering what we’d let ourselves in for. The owners gave us a quick chat, guessing it was quite big but not sounding overly worried because they experienced them quite regularly.

After that I walked into town, wandered around a lacklustre museum before seeing the greatest jumper in the world, a mosaic of the Bayeux Tapestry that had taken more than 20 years to create (which included what the missing ending would probably look like – the creator is also working on a middle section that ‘completes’ the story… a reason to go back in a few years?), some amazing puzzles and a quaint little cinema. The jumper, the mosaic and the puzzles were all created by the same man. Guinness have yet to officially recognise him as the greatest man in the world, but I can’t imagine that accolade is far off.

The cinema, with the greatest set of rules I’ve ever seen, looked amazing. Sadly it was only open on certain days of the week and although it was due to show a nice sounding French film on the Wednesday, it closed out of respect for the fallen Christchurchians.

Geraldine loves films

Instead I walked through the forest, as recommended by pretty much guide to bother to include Geraldine, having given up on weather turning nice. On the way back I saw a cow with a moustache. Something that would make anything in the world worthwhile. I should probably have put ‘three reasons’ in the title.

Cow with an ace moustache

As well as the boutique cinema, the town is also full of cute little shops selling all sorts of local made goods, from cheese to award-winning vodka via chocolate and nougat. For you to realise that the following picture is incredible, you probably need to be told that Geraldine is in the state/province/county of Canterbury.

Canterbrie? Canterbury? I love cheese jokes.

Thank you, Geraldine.

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