Sunday, 18 August 2013

Last post

18 August 2013

Well, we’re home again.

The boys had a birthday party to go to, and our plane left at 12.15pm, so we all went our separate ways at the same time; Mary kindly giving us a lift to the airport. We had a great time with them (did I say that Marcus is a good cook), and they were very generous in letting us stay with them. The boys were great and it was wonderful to finally meet with them at an age where we could all interact meaningfully.

And would you believe that today was the first cold day we’ve experienced in Christchurch? In fact it’s colder here in Thames at the moment.

We had lunch at Wishbone. I had a fruit salad, and, because I thought it would taste nicer as a lunch rather than a breakfast, a Passion Yoyo (Melting Moment like the one we had for breakfast last Sunday) and a lemon juice. Afterwards we still had a little time to kill so we looked in the Antarctic Centre shop and I bought a South Pole patch. It’s the first souvenir I’ve bought all trip. Everything had the Cathedral on it, and the Cathedral doesn’t look like that anymore.

The plane flight was mainly smooth and we think the pilot may have been the daughter of another Rangitoto bach holder. We know she works for Air New Zealand, and I think I heard the name Christine mentioned as being the pilot. Of course it could have been another.
Farewell Spit. "Goodbye, South Island"

"Hello, North Island"... And it turned out to be the southern bit of the western lump of the island which is Taranaki

It's a mythical mountain!

If this blog had been my New Plymouth one we would have had fantastic views of Mount Egmont/Taranaki from the city.

New Plymouth to the right

We started decending into Auckland about five minutes after I took those shots. I wish I could have photographed that.

We found our bags on the conveyor belt okay. Why is it that everyone crams around the beginning on the conveyor belt, ready to barge their way through and pounce on their bag when it emerges, when it would be probably just as quick and definitely easier to reach your bag by heading to the end of the queue?

Human beings are odd creatures.

Then we caught the Air Bus Express (or whatever they call it) to town. It was $16 each, which means that we saved a $1.00 by getting the taxi to the airport a week ago.

Which reminds me. On the way to the Christchurch Airport, Mary asked us what the highlight was. Aside from catching up with them, we couldn’t think of anything. It only took a week and we’d forgotten about the train trip. There may not have been snow, but it was definitely a highlight.

As we drove down Dominion Road I was struck by how odd it looked to see shops of a certain vintage without fencing barricading them off, and open for business… And, D.C. added, selling food. After only one week, all that destruction and resurrection has become the norm.

We had hoped that the bus would drop us off at the Skytower, because we often see it there while we’re waiting for the Thames bus. But instead we had to get out in Queen Street and drag our bags up the hill...

Hills? What are those? Everything’s flat in Christchurch (which was half their problem.)

I’ve just been over to Wikipedia to check my facts and discovered that icebergs were calved from the Tasman Glacier because of the earthquake.

And as another aside, when we got home this evening, I went next door to get D.C.’s keys (remember the Hillary saga?) and Raewyn told me that she’d felt the Wellington earthquake from the other day. She’d heard it and came inside to see the lights swaying.

And we missed it.

We had dinner at Denny’s at 3.00pm. The food’s okay, but we mainly go there because it’s handy to the bus terminal. I did manage to cash in some of my points and got it cheaper than it would have normally been (by $8.80!). The man who accepted payment asked if I also had a Gold Card like D.C.’s . “Uh, no. I’m not as old as her and I’m not a veteran.”

The bus left just after 5.00pm (We like to get there really early so we can claim the front seat.) and it was a good trip back to Thames. And then we had to walk a mile home. We’ve only been gone a week and we’re expecting to see wholesales changes to the town.


We stopped off at Park and Spend... Sorry, the Pak ‘n Save supermarket on the way to get some bread and yoghurt for breakfast. I also got some propolis lozenges to battle my cold, which kicked in today. How come they have plenty of stuff for sore throats, but nothing for drippy noses?

Oh, well. I’ll keep sniffing.

So that’s our holiday. It’s all over. :-(

Thoughts on Christchurch

It’s constantly noisy, which is understandable when you consider all the building going on. There’s either a never ending drone, or banging as piles are driven into the ground for foundations, and clanging as things hit other things. It must be something like what Thames used to be like during the gold rush days. Only you’d get two days of peace and quiet instead of just Sundays.

And there’s not a lot of traffic or people in the central city. We were struck by the contrast when we got to Auckland this afternoon.

Bealey Ave, where we stayed in the Abbey Motel (#2), is full of accommodation places and medical establishments, but not much on the way of eating places. Our theory is that as you cross these very busy roads (four lanes going each way) and you get bowled by the traffic, you can get immediate medical help.

I think the pedestrian crossing lights are still on the same phasing that they were before the quakes, or at least before the road works. So that some change from green to red before you’re halfway across, while others are still green when you’re almost at the next set of lights.

Anything else to say?

The people of Christchurch are still (at least those we spoke to – which I guess were the ones with jobs and some certainty) very positive, and helpful, and willing to share their experiences. Did I tell you about the museum worker who told us about her daughter and grandchildren? They’d decided to stop off at the local supermarket and the museum lady’s daughter did what she never does, put her daughter (Sophie!) into the trolley, because Sophie was tired. When the quake hit they were pelted by falling fruit (which hurt), but if Sophie hadn’t been in the trolley, she probably would have been running ahead and anything could have happened.

So many “what if” and “only if” stories. Like the bus driver who never had sick leave and been too ill to work February 22nd. If she’d been driving she would have been in control of the bus that was flattened by masonry. I think only one person got out of that bus, and it wasn’t the driver.

That’s a mixed blessing story.

We can only hope that the people of Christchurch can get through this, survive, and grow.

And thinking about it there are two things that I must do:

1) Cut my fingernails. They are WAY too long for typing. I won't be able to do any work tomorrow. (Work. What a lovely thought.)

2) Hope that my ear is fully unblocked by tomorrow. The flight gummed it up and I'll need it operational for work. It's my telephone ear!

Photos for yesterday

The painting! (Aren't we artistic!?)

The Victoria Clock Tower. Stopped at 12:51... On February 22nd 2011.

Check out the finial

Former Cranmer Bridge Club (being turned into a photography studio)

Former Teachers' Training College. We think(!) that it was a restaurant back in 1987. A very posh restaurant. So posh that when we wandered in (looking for food again) they hid us away in the corner. D.C. saw the grand piano and thought it was a coffin.

A bright bit of colour.

An artwork outside the Art Gallery. Check out the places.
Remember how the gallery was used as the base for the Civil Defence during the emergency? It's now closed because it's unsafe.

Artwork outside the Christchurch City Council. Does this mean they're a slimey lot or just very flexible?

Worcester Chambers, built initally for Digby's Commercial College - a secretarial school.

He's been re-potted.

Check out the cracks!

I think the left was a former City Council building too. The right, Rydges, may well be the only hotel left standing from before the quake, once everything settles down. They think that the reason why it stood up so well is because of its curved shape. However some of the supporting beams beneath had gone and it was being supported by giant jacks.

Remember the statue of Robert Falcon Scott lying forlornly in the museum? This is where he should be.

They're reinstating the tram tracks! (And the guy in the middle was good enough to pose for me. I thanked him with a thumbs up.)

Kate Sheppard National Memorial. It's in the shadow of that propped up building by Rydges - and Rydges itself, so this is as close as we could get.

Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings. The ones that started out as wood before being made out of earthquake-prone stone. I think Carl said it was a World Heritage Site.


You wouldn't thing that to the right of this scene is the Town Hall, with its upheaved (is that a word?) steps.

Victoria Square was used initially by Maori and then Pakeha (white New Zealanders for those overseas) as a trading and market area. This carving tells the Maori story.

Historic and pretty willow. (A bird had dirtied the plaque and I read it as "Weeping Widow".)

How'd you like to abseil from the top floor of that!? Forsythe Barr building.

Scaffolding stairs. The only way into the Forsythe Barr building now.

What remains of the Edmonds (of baking powder fame) Band Rotunda. The rest has been deconstructed until they decide what to do with it.

Site of the tragic PGC (Pyne Gould Corporation) collapse.

Felix (8) and Lukas (6) playing with the carpark

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Something different

17 August 2013

Today we had planned to go to Willowbank, a kind of zoo, but unfortunately the weather decided not to cooperate. So we spent the morning working together to make a big painting of a volcano (my contribution – along with a Thunderbird One), a forest (D.C.’s) and the sun and a moa/bracyosaurus (Mary’s), palm trees (Felix’s), and the rest was enhanced by Lukas’ artwork. So now we have all contributed to a fabulous mural.

This afternoon, after Lukas bought some more coins for his collection off Trade Me, we had hoped to go to the movies and see a film about a year in Antarctica. But by the time we reached the Riccarton Mall the film was booked out. So we decided to enjoy a hot chocolate each. Yum!

Marcus and the boys headed off (the boys have a cold and were probably happier at home), while Mary, D.C. and I went to Bunnings Shirley. Mary wanted to buy Lukas a box to house his coin collection, and, although we sell to them, I’ve never actually been in a Bunnings before. I showed off our wheelbarrows and the Natural Paving display – which wasn’t actually that well placed as there’s a galvanised bar above it, so it’s difficult to step on the pebbles and see how well the Natural Paving works.

I bought three LED lights. One for my Civil Defence kit and one for each of the boys.

After that we returned to Rangiora and went to their Warehouse. It seems that when we’re on holiday we can’t visit a town without visiting the Warehouse. But at least we didn’t go into a Warehouse in Christchurch; this one was in Rangiora.

We came back and I typed up this blog while the others read or did a bit of learning, and then we had one of Marcus’ delicious dinners. After tea we played a little bit of ball, with a blow up Mitre 10 beach ball, and then enjoyed hearing a goodnight story.

The we chatted for a bit, watched a couple of segments of “Goldfinger” (I just can’t get into James Bond) and then went to bed.

But the big score of the day is that both D.C. and I were permitted to pat Dangerous Claw on the head. But Pixie would take one look at us and run.

And I managed to finish my Windows game.

But I didn't take any photos, except of the painting.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Meeting old friends and making new ones

16 August 2013

One thing I forgot to say yesterday was that when we were on the bus from the Tannery we had the front seat. A lady got in, looked at us, smiled, and said: “Mother and daughter?”

We laughed and said: “Yes.”

“Ah. I thought so. You were either that or friends.”

“We’re both.”

This morning we had to pack all our gear. I think I’ve asked this before. “How come it’s so difficult to fit everything into your bag for going home, when it’s the same stuff, or maybe even less, than you had leaving?” I ended up putting one of D.C.’s jumpers (which she hasn’t needed) into my case so that she could close hers. I had to extend my case to do so!

When we left the room we asked the operator if we could leave our cases and the big parcel there. They were quite happy for us to do that, so we were able to go around Christchurch unencumbered.

We decided to follow a brochure we’d got that showed historic buildings of Christchurch. It’s quite interesting in itself in that it has notes like: “Under repair” and “Damaged in earthquake.” So we’d find a historic building or location, photograph it, and then photograph the appropriate page in the book as a reference. You can do that with digital cameras.

A good many of the places we saw we’d already seen, but hadn’t known their history. Some were of a style we see at home – the workers’ houses are like Thames miners’ huts – but others were unique to Christchurch – like the last remaining provincial buildings in the country. These particular examples show how the town of Christchurch grew and prospered. At first they were built out of wood, then later buildings were made out of stone. It was the stone buildings that received the most damage in the quakes. “Wood is good.”

We were looking at the old bridge club that used to be the ** when the man who was working inside invited us in. They’re converting it into a photography studio and hope to have it completed in a year. They are keeping the essence, while making it functional. And D.C. discovered that the water isn’t turn on yet.

We went to the museum because we knew there were toilets there. There aren’t many in central Christchurch now. The only public ones we found were in and behind the museum and in the Re:Start Mall.

I took 445 photos today, and I will upload a selection later, but just now I’m only going to upload three.

The first you may, as we did, think are the remains of some building that was irretrievably wrecked in one of the quakes, but you’d be wrong. If anything, these are the result of an even greater tragedy than one wrought by Mother Nature just doing her thing. This is the result of men who perceived themselves to be battling an evil that could only be stopped by drastic action. An action that spiralled out of control and resulted in thousands of deaths all around the world. None of those deaths can be called just.

These beams are from the World Trade Center. The sculpture is A Tribute to Firefighters and is located in the Firefighters’ Reserve next to the Central Fire Station. The five steel girders weigh 5.5 tons and were originally part of the 102nd floor of the World Trade Center Tower Two. They were gifted by the City of New York to the City of Christchurch “for use in a public art work to honour all firefighters worldwide.” The sculpture was unveiled to mark the beginning of the 2002 Seventh World Firefighter’s Games in Christchurch.

My second photo is of the few memorials at the CTV site today. Ours was still there, and had been joined by a small bouquet on our brochure’s left (in the photo).

We found the PGC site today too. For some reason the CTV site had been pointed out to us, but not the PGC. All that is there is a grassed area and planters similar to those at the CTV site, plus the sign saying that the Council was working on what was going to be the most appropriate memorial to those who died in the building on February 22nd 2011.

After our walk we went back to the motel and I got a txt from Mary to say that she would be there in half an hour. I tried to send her a text in reply telling her where we were and that we were in no hurry, when she rang and I was able to give her the details without going through each letter of the alphabet. (Hey, I’m an emailer, not a txter!)

It was good to see her and we loaded our gear in the car, but didn’t get the chance to say thank you to the motel management. We must remember to send them an email.

It was a good trip out to Rangiora and the scenery is definitely different to Christchurch – more intact.

The boys, Felix and Lukas, were keen to rip into the box and probably got as much enjoyment making the bubblewrap to make it all pop as they did out of the carpark… but I think the carpark will give enjoyment for longer. The cats took one look at us and gave us a wide berth. Marcus cooked a very tasty meal.

Lukas showed us his impressive coin collection and we got to experience the sight and sound of Felix’s bubblewrap dance. And we all had a good chat.

It was an enjoyable evening.