Weekly photo [76]

Friday was American Thanksgiving, an occasion ignored by everyone in New Zealand except the company I work for. We celebrated with an amazing roast dinner followed by beer and bottle rockets in the park. A prize was given to the bottle rocket capable of transporting a hacky sack the furthest distance using only water and air as propulsion. There were some great entries and Paul ended up winning with an impressive score of 140 metres. My own entry - a man wearing a pink fluro suit (based on this) - experienced some complications during the launch procedure and managed only 20 metres. There's a video I made here.

"Thanks John"

Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla spent the last month or so touring Asia as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The tour included visits to a number of former colonies, the royal equivalent of popping into your old house to see how the new tenants are settling in. They concluded the tour with a week in New Zealand, moving down the country and finishing up in lovely Christchurch. As luck would have it, their visit coincided with Show Day (a public holiday in Canterbury, the region of New Zealand I live in) which meant I was free to chase them around. The following sequence of photos, some taken by me and others by my accomplice Cristian, document our hunt.

We arrived at the corner of Montreal and Victoria streets 30 minutes before the royals were due to make an appearance. A small herd of old people and journalists had beaten us to the good seats.

It wouldn't be Christchurch if something wasn't blatantly broken.

Mayor Bob Parker arrived and started making aggressive hand gestures. I don't think he recognised me from the library opening.

After a longer-than-expected wait, the motorcade finally arrived and spilled royals all over the tarmac, much to the delight of the expectant crowd.

The prince was due to plant a time capsule inside the clock tower, which was originally built to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of his great-great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria.

Among the articles to be included in the capsule was a copy of the letter of condolence sent by the Queen to the people of Christchurch on the first anniversary of the February 2011 earthquake.

More threatening gestures from Mayor Bob.

"What is that man doing, darling?"

Mayor Bob and Prince Charles exchange a private joke about breasts.

When the capsule business was over, the couple made their way towards the crowd to mingle and kiss babies.

This is surely the closest I will ever get to a (future) monarch.

Hi Camilla.

I'm not sure what everyone seems to have against this woman. Up close she was very charming and made a nice comment about the woman standing next to me's brooch.

Proof that I was actually this close to the Duchess of Cornwall and not just using some fancy pants telephoto lens. God I need a haircut.

Camilla drifted off and the prime minister appeared out of nowhere to take her place. He was heading straight towards us. A new wave of excitement surged through me and I instructed Cristian to get a photo.

Just as Cristian was about to take the photo, John stood directly beside me and said "Smile!". Cristian fumbled under the pressure but eventually took the photo. I shook the prime minister's hand and said "thanks John". He replied "anytime buddy" and walked off.

Cristian got jealous and asked me to take a similar photo of him posing with the PM but against all the odds, a wizard got in the way.

Someone wasn't happy about all the attention the royals were receiving.

Before long, the baby kissing quota had been met and the royals were bundled back into their vehicles for their next appointment.

Instead of following the royal motorcade across the city, Cristian and I headed to the Canterbury A&P Show. The Show is basically a massive, three-day version of the Suffolk show, showcasing New Zealand's agricultural backbone. We arrived in time for the Shetland pony racing.

Soon it was time to present the award for "Supreme Animal in Show". The ten or so finalists from each category were lined up, a Noah's Ark situation that would surely have ended in bloodshed if the humans hadn't been there to peacekeep.

The two cows (best dairy cow, best beef cow) dwarfed their rivals.

Guess who showed up to present the award?

And the prize goes to...

...the massive cow!

Well done cow.

You're a good cow, aren't you?

There there, cow.

A quick check was made to confirm the prince had larger ears than the winner, and the ceremony was over.

And so concluded a surreal and wonderful day.

Weekly photo [75]

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales interacts with New Zealand's best dairy cow. Context to follow...

Guy Fawkes

Thousands blanketed New Brighton beach to witness the pier explode in glorious bursts of sound and light. Some rockets didn't fly properly and fell into the ocean causing confusion and distress to local marine ecosystems.

Weekly photo [74]

Nothing like a big fire.

Weekly photo [73]

Surfing is quite popular in Christchurch during the summer. I'm going to buy a board when I next get paid. More on that later.