Sunday, November 27, 2011

How Christchurch people spend a sunny, Sunday afternoon

This afternoon as a family we did the temporarily opened, public walk from Cashel Mall to Cathedral Square. We queued in an orderly line for two to three minutes and then we were past the official clicking off a counter and standing in Colombo Street looking up at Lucy's old school building on the corner of Cashel Street and Colombo. The walkway was lined with fences and busy with people. The crowd was quite chatty and all sorts of ages were there. Christmas Decorations were hanging from the lamp posts.
We walked past buildings that looked so familiar and then there would be a gap of nothing. As we approached the square, the crowd became quiet, I think we were all unsure how we would react.
We walked between the old familiar buildings of the ANZ and BNZ. Many of the glass verandah panes on the BNZ building were smashed and lying in tiny fragments on the ground. The whole building will be coming down in a few weeks.
Entering Colombo St
BNZ building still to be demolished
Then we were into the Square. The paving stones look so normal and the trees and the seats - exactly as they were the many times I had sat on them. But the Cathedral was so smashed. The old Regent Theatre building was completely gone. In the opposite corner I could see just the old wrought iron entrance way to the Warner's hotel - that was all that remained of it now -  behind the cenotaph. The cenotaph looked totally normal, apart from the unmown grass around it.

It was hard to get my head around what happened here, while I was in the suburbs. Lucy was okay about being back in the Square though she had moments of sadness but I think we all did. I ran my finger down the fence to make it feel real, that we were really here and this was what the Square looked like now.
Once in the Square the crowd was quite talkative and it was nice being back there with so many people. There were a couple of older people in wheelchairs, it was almost like the Square of last year on a Sunday.
During the week I saw a headline that read something like - "Familiar sounds return to the city centre". The cathedral bells jumped into my head but then I knew, it wasn't them, they were not coming back for a long time.
That is the thing-  it is so hard to relate the reality of the new Christchurch, with what is still in my head as Christchurch. It is difficult to believe my city has left me rather than me leaving it behind. 

Entering the Square and the
 familiar old Post Office Building
People in the Square - looks almost normal

A post no longer straight 
A view I have never seen 
before as  Chancery Lane
buildings used to be there

City Founding Father - absent
Cenotaph - looking as it 
always did

A Verandah has fallen to be held up a
light, I wondered how many injuries that
light saved
The city was suffering pre Feb 22
Closing down sale

A Summer Sale almost a year on

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sober reading

I know I haven't posted for a bit - life is quite busy :) I have a post compiled in my head - just need to get it down on the computer. Today though, I saw a message that I thought was exciting - they are opening up a public walkway to the Cathedral Square from Colombo Street in Cashel Mall. This is the route Lucy walked out of her school so I am quite keen to do this and see the cathedral and reenter the heart of our city.
I clicked onto the link for more details and was greeted with this as part of the information about the walk.
This is from CERA's website.

"It is your decision to enter the area. Read this first.
  1. This space is still dangerous.
  2. If there is an earthquake or other event you may be seriously injured or may not survive.
  3. This is CERA space, not public space. There are conditions you must meet:
  • maximum 300 visitors at any one time
  • stay within the fences
  • maximum visit duration 50 minutes - the walkway is cleared on the hour
  • leave when asked
  • no pets (guide dogs permitted)
  • carry personal ID on your body, not in a bag
  • wear sturdy shoes
  • carry a charged cellphone or tell someone where you are going.
If there is an earthquake or other significant event:
Drop. Cover. Hold
Always follow the instructions of security personnel.
An emergency evacuation will be signalled by the constant sound of horns or sirens."

Wow! I know it is also for legal reasons but that is pretty sobering reading. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What do I teach our son?

This week is a really busy week. After picking up Tristan from preschool today, I needed to get our weekly bread from the Coupland's bakery close to Tristan's preschool and I had forgotten a couple of items from the grocery shop, earlier in the week, so I thought we could nip into the supermarket at the same place.
The little problem was this was the supermarket Tristan and I were in, when both the June quakes hit. We have not been back to that supermarket since that day. I have been to this shopping centre a number of times since that day in June - just never to the supermarket. But I had decided that it was silly to make today even more busy. Today was to be the day to just "get over it".
As we drove into the carpark, I kept my own apprehension inside and casually told Tristan we were getting some bread and going to the supermarket to get a couple of things.
"No!" He was quite adamant. "I don't like this supermarket." He asked me to drive to our usual supermarket. I asked him why he didn't want to go to this one. He kept saying no and then he started crying and mentioned the quakes. The tears were running down his face and he was demanding we go to another supermarket.
I asked him if he was happy to go and get the bread from the bakery - we do this almost every week. He said yes he was quite happy about that. I told him, we would decide about the supermarket once we had the bread.
As we walked to the bakery, I thought about what I should do.
I was not keen to go to the supermarket either and it was heartbreaking seeing his face so sad and hearing the fear in his voice. It felt like the easy choice was to drive away. There are enough supermarkets to never have to visit this one again.
But I do want him to learn, that even if something feels scary we can still do it. I don't want him to be bound by anxiety.
After getting the bread he wanted to leave. But I picked him up and we chatted about it. I explained that I too was a little afraid. We talked about how even in both June quakes we were safe and nothing fell on us. We talked about how we only had to buy two things. We decided that if we could do this and face our fear and do it like normal shoppers, we could both have a wee reward.
I carried him for the first bit, but he walked into the supermarket by himself and he said. "We were here weren't we Mummy and everything shook about." I agreed. We found the things we needed, paid and left.
I hope I did the right thing and we have some soap and shampoo that are trophies of our continued return to a normal life.

5 Favourite Sights Seen

  • 1996 Watching tropical lightning turn night to day, outside a little wooden church in a small village in Sabah.
  • 2004 Flying down the Rainbow Valley at 8000ft in a cessna on a clear blue day.
  • 2003 Seeing and hearing Michael Schmacher rolling out of the pit garage in his Ferrari in Hungary.
  • 2009 Chancing upon 100 or more dolphins just off the Kaikoura Coast swimming around, jumping out of the water, doing somersaults and generally having fun.
  • 2006 Finding a pool at the bottom of a waterfall in the bush at Kaikoura that was full of playing baby seals.