We thought we’d get in early on the ice rink. School holidays were a week off, the weather forecast was for rain, the rink ought to be fairly quiet – or so we thought. We had forgotten something important – Wellingtonians have energy, passion and drive. They are not generally people who miss an opportunity. Give them an ice rink for a month and they’ll use it – come rain, shine, work and play.
A couple of school groups arrived; ditching the books and fitness on the playground for an icy workout. Office workers strolled past, enroute for a morning latte or a walk on the waterfront to their next meeting, eyeing up the ice with a hungry look that said, ‘I’ll leave my suit on the hanger at lunch & put on some blades.’
Open from 10am to 10pm, every day this month, the scene under the sails at Queen’s Wharf is one of laughter, thrills and a few wipe outs. The twinkling blue fairy lights add a touch of winter wonderland bling. The bright orange rental skates cannot be missed.
I helped my two oldest daughters into their skates, whilst holding my wriggling toddler in my arms – who really wanted to touch and taste the ice.
I was grateful that my girls had done lots of roller blading and had good balance, as there was no way I’d be any use helping them with my youngest to hold back. As they made their way on to the ice I watched with confidence, visually willing them to skate well and not crash within the first five minutes. It wasn’t them I was too worried about – but the large volume of other bodies, precariously and clumsily slipping and sliding, with arms and legs unpredictably flying.
They did great at first. I watched with pride, whilst amusing my youngest, Alice, on the side of the rink and trying to take photos without stray arms and legs blocking my shots.
My oldest, Charlotte, was the first to fall. Inevitable. Thud, straight on the tail-bone. I heard her go down and instantly felt her pain in sympathy – memories of over crowded roller disco parties in the eighties came back to me.
She bit her lip, willing the tears to stay put. She clung to the side of the rink, regaining her composure.
Sophie came over to offer support and soon they were skating off together, holding hands this time, in sisterly solidarity.
They wore nervous and excited smiles on their faces. Their eyes darted in rapid movements, trying to keep an awareness of the chaos of bodies skating around them – many out of control.
Thud! Another accident. This time a lad came from no where, arms waving madly as he tried to stop himself from losing balance. One of his arms came crashing down on Charlotte’s head, with the force of an hand wielding an axe. No matter how much fun the ice promised, it was no game with so many unpredictable variables. She ditched her skates and joined a friend in the nearby Museum of City and Sea.
Sophie kept skating, loving it and not so bothered about the erratic movement of limbs around her. She loved it. She would have skated all morning, but Alice was ready for some unrestricted movement so it wasn’t long before we joined Charlotte.
Sophie said wistfully, ‘I wish we could have an ice rink in our back garden’.
I think many Wellingtonians would agree. Maybe one day x
And finally, a sign of the times… (along with the ‘No drinking’, ‘No eating’, ‘No smoking’):