Tuesday, October 19, 2010



Gethsemane Gardens, Sumner, Christchurch

A few days ago I wrote about some of my favourite places in New Zealand, Margie had written about her favourite places so I thought it would be a good idea to do the same for N.Z. I managed to find enough photos to write about three of my favourite North Island places.

The Open Chapel at Gethsemane Gardens

Since then Margie and Bruce have been killed in a senseless accident while walking at Pismo Beach, California. I was shocked but what surprised me was how much I'd come to love Margie and her family through her Blogs. During the last few days as I've processed my grief I've realised that I'm a pretty poor and erratic Blogger and I could do with learning a lot from Margie's example. She left me a gift. The knowledge that this Blogging Community is real. I'm not just writing for fun and finally clicking a key to send my work into a vague blue somewhere, nowhere. I'm writing in the hope someone will read and enjoy my stories and my photos. I am now learning to respect my readers. They deserve better han what I've been offering.

Overlooking Christchurch out to the Canterbury Plains from the Port Hills.

John was born in Christchurch, where his grandparents had brought up the New Zealand branch of this English family. They had four sons and one daughter, all of whom found careers and married in Christchurch although there were a few changes after the Second World War. After serving in the NZ Engineers for the duration, John's Dad built up a small business refitting leisure boats. He was a talented craftsman builder, and something of a perfectionist. After a few years the harbour began to silt up and the Sumner bar became too dangerous to continue in that place. Instead of re-locating John's Dad moved his wife and two sons to New Plymouth in the North Island, where he joined one of the cities premier building firms. John and I met while I was working at the New Plymouth Hospital.

On the Port Hills looking East away from the City over the southern end of Lyttleton Harbour

John dreamed of a career at sea so to that end he did an engineering apprenticeship with a company that did a lot of shipwork. When we met he had recently arrived back in NZ after twelve months on an oil tanker mostly in the Middle East. My first trip to the South Island was around 1962 when John was a junior ship's engineer on the Hinemoa, one of the Inter Island Ferries. We sailed across Cook Straight and down the East coast to Lyttleton through the night. I can't remember how we got from the Port to the City but maybe we caught the train because we visited John's grandparents and some other relatives. It all seems a long time ago.

Canterbury Car Club Vintage Rally 2010

My second trip to Christchurch was a year or so later. We travelled to the South Island for our Honeymoon in April 1963. Our little car, a '52 Ford Prefect, was loaded on the ferry in a cargo sling designed for cars. A lot different today when we drive right onto the cardeck and park before going to the upper passenger decks. I was sea sick so not in great shape when we got our car and immediately set off for our destination, Queenstown.

After two weeks we returned to Christchurch and stayed with John's cousin. We drove around the city visiting John's relatives and finding the various houses John had lived in and other significant landmarks, like schools he attended. I don't think I really appreciated the city then. It was more of a time for acquainting me with John's childhood.

We try to drive over to Akaroa if we are in Christchurch for a week or more. In March we visited the
Giant's House the home of artist Josie Martin. Josie continues to designed and build an amazing and whimsical sculpture garden.

John and I settled in the Waikato region of the North Island. My parents farmed near Matamata and this town became our centre as we brought up our four children, boy, girl, and two more boys. Our children grew up and began to make their own lives. I think our eldest must have been about 22 years old when he decided to tour the South Island on his motor bike. One thing lead to another and he bought a piece of land, originally about 25 acres, 45 minutes SE of the city. Our youngest son followed him a few years later when he got work on a dairy farm milking 1000 cows to the west of Christchurch. He is now married and lives in the city.

We've had many trips to Christchurch and the South Island during the last fifteen plus years. I don't seem to have any photos of the city or it's wonderful parks. Next time we are there I will be taking photos with a different purpose in mind. I might need it one day in a post.'

The piano is a work of art

There have been more than 2000 aftershocks since the big earthquake on September 4th. This morning about 11.30 another shake sent objects flying, loss of electric power and liquefaction of the sandy soils. This one was closer to where my eldest son lives but he'd have been on the road driving his concrete truck. It was rather nerve wracking for some of the workers, especially these two removing the cross from the Cathedral.

This week people who have the most seriously damaged houses will be told what their options are for the future. It can't be easy. Many will be trying to survive in rented accommodation and those who live from payday to payday which is pretty much most of us, will be struggling especially if they have lost their jobs as well. I know we have good systems in place but whatever the Government provision is there will be many people in difficult situations.

We are looking forward to Labour Weekend, a three day weekend. Our youngest son and his wife are flying into Auckland from Christchurch where our middle son will pick them up. It will be wonderful to see them.

I've finished editing so hope I got all the kinks out.

1 comment:

Wild Blue Yonder said...

I love the photos! Margie would have been proud, I know it.