Saturday, July 27, 2013

A walk along the foreshore track...

After all the recent rain we've had a spell of crisp, sunny, winter days. Yesterday I went for a walk around the foreshore track, somewhat altered by two large slips - evidence of the constant movement of land in this part of the world. When I go walking I always take a small pack. It leaves home empty but always returns with treasure. The foraging instinct is strong and very satisfying!

Yesterday's treasure included silver beet for the chooks. This grows prolifically along the waterfront. I don't know whether it results in pre-salted eggs, but the chooks love it.

Then there was the rock - from the several rockfalls around the track. Amazing how heavy rock is. I can only carry one small chunk at a time. So the edging I am developing is very slow in the making.  Nevertheless it feels good to take something that is surplus to requirements (and free) and put it to use.

Ever since I moved to Governors Bay I've picked up old pieces of china in the tidal zones. After heavy rains, the areas where creeks wash into the sea are particularly productive. I love the hint of pattern, the tantalising glimpses of past lives. It's like finding precious little jewels. Most exciting is spotting a plain sliver of china and turning it over to find - occasionally - a glorious design.  Yesterday's discoveries...

There was more. I'm not sure what this little container would have been used for. It was full of mud and I've yet to clean it out properly. But so satisfying!!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

At Birdling's Flat...

I haven't been walking much lately. This morning I took off, not quite knowing where I would end up but hoping I would have a wander. I drove around the head of the harbour, over Gebbies Pass and ended up at Birdling's Flat - somewhere all Christchurch people go occasionally but probably not often.    Sky and sea were blue and the waves, which can crash dramatically on the steep, stony beach, were relatively subdued. Nevertheless it still felt remote and other-worldly, a little bit like the Chatham Islands. I watched this horse and rider silhouetted against the sky...

A good workout for the horse I decided as I trudged along a stony ridge towards the Lake Forsyth (Te Roto o Wairewa) outlet, the loneliness of the spot accentuated by a single figure.

I knew that work was being done on opening the lake to the sea (at the request of the local iwi I think and in the hope of reversing the damage done by farming runoff) but not that this work had been completed. It can't have been easy to bulldoze a channel through the constantly shifting, pebbly beach. 

There were a few hardy fisherfolk...

...and a shag who came in to dry his wings and preen.

A bank of cloud rolled in from the south and suddenly it was very cold. I returned thankfully to the car with a pocketful of stones and a nice driftwood dragon.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A golden day...

Our beautiful high country. Elaine and I drove up to Arthurs Pass on what must have been one of the most perfect days in a spectacular Autumn. We stopped at Cass where Claire and I once enjoyed a memorable Christmas lunch in the tiny railway station.  We arrived in Arthurs Pass just in time to watch a goods train entering the Otira Tunnel. We talked to the cheeky keas intent on stripping the rubber from parked vehicles at the viaduct lookout - and we 'looked out' over the engineering triumph of the viaduct itself. I have always loved Arthurs Pass because it never pretends to be anything other than what it is - a little mountain village strung out along the railway line. It is an unpretentious, unpretty cluster of dwellings and railway-related industry dwarfed by bush-clad, snow-topped mountains. It feels safe and snug - ignoring of course what might happen should the alpine fault rupture!!

Elaine at Cass
At Cass, heading for the hills...
Train about to enter Otira tunnel
Lookout duty
Now for a rubber fix...
Just checking...
Mt White Bridge
And again...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

City art...

Yesterday I retraced my last post's inner city circuit with friend Elaine. This time it was a Saturday and there were more people about, more voices, more movement. In a CBD that has been populated mosty by demolition workers for over two years, this was such a great thing. 

C1 was buzzing, inside and out. New Regent Street, though not yet fully occupied, was busy with locals and tourists. Only in the Square were voices respectfully hushed as people looked at the Cathedral from behind the barricades.

This time around what struck me most was the wonderful art, everywhere. Nothing new - art works, installations have been a feature of the post-quake landscape almost from the very start. But here is a selection of new art works, with my two favourites first.

Made by Mel, Reuben and Sasha from Governors Bay. Love the hair!!
By Rata. I just love the elegant movement in this one
The Government Life building 'reflected'. By Mike Hewson
Reflection in the sky walk . Mike Hewson again
Not a new work this, but I couldn't resist the recent addition...
And the oversized sofa in Gloucester St being used as it should be - for fun!

Friday, April 19, 2013

A tale of two cities...

My cousin Fleur and I have just spent several days in Nelson making contact with our Harris relatives and learning more about our great and great, great grandparents. A very productive, happy time.

Something I hadn't anticipated was the sheer delight in walking the streets of the inner city - Nelson looking particularly attractive with its autumn-tinted trees, hanging baskets, historic buildings, cafes spilling onto the footpaths and enticing shops. I realised (despite my sojourn last year in Holland and the UK) just how much I have missed hanging out in the Christchurch CBD - always my favourite go-to place for retail therapy since teenage years.

Yesterday I took a long-promised walk on the 'wild-side', around the ever-diminishing inner-city cordon. The walk took me up Manchester St, along Gloucester, back round Oxford Tce and down Tuam, to complete the square. What did I see and feel? Did anything surprise or shock me? 

My reaction remains one of disbelief. It still seems unreal. This puzzles me - when the evidence of the destruction wrought by quakes and subsequent demolition is so tangible. It feels too big to contemplate, too impossible to have happened in our city. Mostly I remain relatively detached and rather numb. I wonder if others feel this way...

I took photos - even although photo-taking in regard to the quakes has always felt like a subversive activity. Images of the damaged city abound but there is a need to 'personalise' the experience by selecting one's own points of reference. 

Here are some pictures that resonate...

Manchester Street

A favourite eating place for Claire and me - still standing
Inside the rose window, Holy Trinity Church
Perhaps the only view that shocked me. The Theatre Royal, facade propped up, dome protected and in-between - nothing.
Great example of the fantastic installations that have popped up around the city. Absent Theatre Royal in background.
When all around is destroyed....
My favourite. Outside a cordon checkpoint at the entrance to the Square.
Images of the cathedral have become cliched - so I focused on the (still intact) roof.
Always the little reminders of hope and support.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Working from home...

The past few weeks as I have sat on the sofa working, I have been able to look out the living room window, past the frame of pendulous lavender wisteria, to two Kakabeaks (Kōwhai ngutukākā) that cover a trellis. The Kakabeak is not a long-lived plant and these two are past their used-by date, yet they have produced these glorious, jewel-like flowers that have glowed in all weathers.

Meanwhile, back at the sofa, I disappear for two minutes and my work space (with cushions for my back and feet) is immediately colonised... 

Monday, October 8, 2012

A grand old Lady...

For many years now I have seen Tug Lyttelton in the harbour, often belching grey/black, acrid smoke as it fired up for a harbour cruise. Recently, when I read that the Lyttelton was doing a trip on the harbour as part of Icefest (celebrating New Zealand's Antarctic connection). I thought right, seize the moment Jane. So I reserved places for myself and Claire and yesterday we met in Lyttelton on a glorious, sunny afternoon, along with 120-odd other locals, including lots of children.

Tug Lyttelton dockside and firing up

Here is a little bit about the tug from her website

The tug Lyttelton and her engines were built in Scotland in 1907 by Ferguson brothers Ltd. of Port Glasgow, and was sailed out to Lyttelton through the Suez canal which had been open for almost forty years.  The machinery has been very little altered throughout the ship's long period of service with the Lyttelton Harbour Board and gives the visitor a glimpse back in time to the heyday of British steam engineering.  On a visit to the engine room and stokehold you can very easily imagine the ship steaming out across the Indian ocean in 1907 lit only by oil lamps, with every spare space loaded with coal for the long voyage.

I can say, wholeheartedly, that she is, indeed, a great lady. The interior detailing of the Lyttelton is just stunning, all lovely wood and gleaming brass...

The wheelhouse
Brass steps below

What's more, all the hard work of maintenance and operation is done by dedicated volunteers, most of them by no means young! Claire and I talked to several of the men, who clearly take huge pride in the tug. I was particularly taken by a Scottish gent with a somewhat rakish air - a real charmer!

The easterly blasted up the harbour and it was bitterly cold but utterly exhilarating.

Me, exhilarated!
Others were out enjoying the excellent sailing weather...

And, at the end of the trip, cold but happy...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

'Bird of the year'...

When I feel a little unsettled or disgruntled about not being in Europe, it's things like Forest and Bird's Bird of the Year campaign that remind me what a wonderful and special place New Zealand is. 

I like it that that the whole country is encouraged to cast a vote here

And what I like even more are the fun personal 'campaigns', often sponsored by well-known figures/firms, supporting 'their' bird.  You can see some of this activity here

A few photos from the current campaign...

I know I am going to agonise over my choice because I will feel bad for all the birds I don't vote for!

Hopefully it's awareness-raising activities like this that will prevent the extinction of yet more precious native birds in Aotearoa.