Fearsome Flashes

Rollickin’ Gelato in New Regent Street currently has an arrangement of fairy lights in their window.

The accompanying posters advertise a mid-winter Xmas light show every 90 minutes in the evenings.  This sounds like a lovely idea, and I was glad to see that  an addition to the poster near the entrance to the street advised the show may not be suitable for those with photosensitive conditions.  Many people are unaware that flashing lights can be extremely distressing to those with such conditions.  I had a friend who sometimes found it difficult to drive at night because of this.  If a cyclist with flashing lights rode by she would have to pull over and close her eyes until they had gone out of sight.  Shows or films with flashing lights also caused her distress.  This condition is not well known, and those staging public light shows need to be aware of it.

Those flashing lights that look so pretty
have an effect that can be shitty.

Plump Pukeko

Bird murals always attract me and today I saw a new one.

This is on an alleyway by the Sweet Soul Patisserie in the Guthrey Centre near Ballantynes.  I wondered whether this pukeko might be plump because it’s pregnant, or because it’s been sampling the patisserie’s goods?

Mr Explorer Douglas claimed this bird can fly, walk, dive, and swim, but can do none of these even tolerably well.

Pukeko usually live in groups with three to seven breeding cocks and two breeding hens who lay their eggs in one communal nest.  Their small communities are rife with incest, but they thrive despite inbreeding.

This pukeko upon the wall
has no community at all.

Life in the Loop

Sunrise over the Avon Loop

I live on land which witnessed many changes over the years.  My home is on Barbadoes Street, beside the Otakaro/Avon River.

Once this area was the site of a kainga, home of Tautahi, the chief for whom Otautahi/Christchurch is named.  The river was called Otakaro after the children who played by it while their elders gathered kai/food.

When Pakeha came to Otautahi they brought their goods by boat up the river and could get no further than the place which is now marked by The Bricks cairn, beside the Barbadoes Street Bridge.  This is the point where the tidal waters meet fresh river water.  When the new Anglican settlement was marked out this loop of the river was originally planned to be the Botanic Gardens with space set aside for the city’s first cemetery.  It was later decided that soil on the west side of the city would be better for the Botanic Gardens, and the Loop area was sub-divided to become homes for working people.  Small cottages were built, some, like ours, from kit sets imported from Australia in the late 1870s.

A century later the Avon Loop had become a centre for alternative even radical thinking and living.  PIKO wholefoods was created as a co-operative by a group of Avon Loop residents, including Rod Donald who later became Co-Leader of the Green Party, with the aim of providing an outlet for organically grown produce.  Aiming to put people before profit they are committed to bulk buying and simple self-packaging to keep prices down.  I’d read about the Loop and the community here before we moved to Christchurch and was please to find a house in the area,  but the co-operative ideals had faded in the ‘80s.  Some of the older residents made it clear that they thought the area had improved since the hippies moved out.  I felt it was more politic not to admit my disappointment.

The earthquakes of 2010-2011 had a profound effect on the Avon Loop.  The land spread laterally and two-thirds of the homes were eventually red-zoned and demolished, even though some of them had suffered only minimal damage.  Our own home had cosmetic damage only and we continued to live here, although inner city living had profoundly changed, and it was years before amenities slowly crept back.  The City Council’s aim is to have 20,000 residents within the four Avenues, but so far there are barely 6,000, whereas there were 8,000 before the earthquakes.  Some residents, including me, work to support community activities, but it’s hard when new units are often bought as investments, and tenants can be transient.  Doubtless there are many more changes to come.

This land will see more changes too
as different things come into view




Swings in Rauora Park are a fun addition to the East Frame, and it’s good to see them being well used.

Swings at Rauora Park

I remember as a young child enjoying the swings at the playground in the Botanic Gardens.  One day I started talking to the girl on the swing next to me and somehow discovered that we shared the same birth day.  I ran excitedly to tell my mother that I’d found a twin!

My birthday on 2 January is the fifth rarest day to have your birthday in New Zealand, and I’ve not met any ‘twins’ since, although I do remember one time when there was a meeting of six Values Party people early in the New Year.  We started with our usual catch-up round, and I said I’d had a birthday since we last met.  One after another, the others said “so did I”.  It turned out we all had birthdays within the same couple of weeks, and were all born under the same star sign.  I wonder if my swinging ‘twin’ grew up to be a Values activist too?

With whom do you share your birth day?
Unlikely to be me, I’d say.



Mouldy Mandarins

Satsuma mandarins are one of my favourite fruits.  Sweet, juicy, easy to peel, with few pips, they are the ideal snack, especially now I’m avoiding biscuits and cake.

Usually I buy them at New World Supermarket, but a few weeks ago they were in short supply and I had to go to Countdown to stock up.  I generally buy about 20 to last me through the week, and at breakfast time this morning I was disappointed to find that two I had bought just six days ago had rotted making them unsuitable to eat.

Mouldy Mandarins (bottom)

Apples I bought at the same time are still lovely and fresh, and I was annoyed the mandarins had not lasted.

Aunty Google tells me satsuma mandarins will stay fresh for one week at room temperature in a fruit bowl.  Mandarins are native to China, and have been cultivated for thousands of years. They were once reserved exclusively for the privileged classes, or Mandarins, which may be where their name comes from.  Along with pomelos and citrons, they’re one of the three original species of citrus, from which all other citrus fruits are derived.  Satsumas are believed to have originated in Japan about 300 years ago, as a mutation of the Citrus reticulata mandarin.  Do you enjoy mandarins, and do you find some don’t keep well?

Some mandarins have gone to mould
although they were not very old.

I was introduced to a lovely new walk along the Styx River Catchment Restoration Project.  This project was led by Christine Heremaia, a landscape architect with the Christchurch City Council, who died in 2014.   There is a seat and plaque honouring her memory and legacy near the beginning of the walk.

Ruth near the beginning of the track (photo taken by Christine)

The walk starts from 303 Radcliffe Road, next door to Zealandia Horticulture Ltd, who had a spectacular fire burning while we were there.  They’d chosen a good day for this with no wind.  There are interesting old farm buildings in the area, among eight hectares of native forest and riparian restoration.  This is where the Puharakekenui/Styx River meets the Kaputone Stream and the Radcliffe Road Drain Diversion.  Planting and monitoring is done under the auspices of the Styx Living Laboratory Trust.   Bird life is prolific, and we saw several juvenile black swans.  The gravel paths make for easy walking and would be suitable for all levels of fitness.

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The Maori name for the Styx River is Puharakekenui, which means heaps of large flax.  Definitely an area worth visiting.

For fresh air and a rural fix
just try this path along the Styx



Midwinter Musing

de-clutter the roses
rambled over fences and posts
dashing Dublin Bay
modest Cecile Brunner
exuberant Utersen
all past their summer best
secateurs snip
remove dead wood
cut above an outside bud
leave all tidy and bare

keep cosy inside
clean out cupboards
feast on stored foods
sleep through dark nights
dream possibilities

Await renewal