Archive for the ‘Christchurch – Central’ Category

Broken parking meter

This parking meter in Worcester Boulevard has obviously been vandalised.  When I walked past just before 10am this morning there were several dollar coins on the footpath and in the metal box.  I was surprised no-one had picked them up and I guess it goes to show how little foot traffic there is in that area.

I met a friend for morning tea (no need for social distancing now!) at Miro.  The ambience and outlook there is lovely, but we were disappointed no cabinet food was offered.  I had chips, but these were not as good as the ones I had at Ballantynes three weeks ago, and I ate less than half of them.

North Frame Pedestrian Bridge

On the way home I passed the new North Frame Pedestrian Bridge currently under construction.  Unfortunately the art bridge which was originally intended got cancelled, and the replacement will be pedestrian in more than one sense.  It will be completed in early 2021.  Personally I can’t see any need to have an extra bridge between Colombo and Manchester Streets.  What do you think?

The meter has been pulled apart.
The bridge can hardly be called art.

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Waiting for the Book Group

A Victorian woman is sitting on my verandah this week.  She’s part of the Porch Placemaking project.  This is a worldwide initiative to bring people together at a safe distance during the pandemic.  The idea is to activate your front porch (or balcony or driveway) between 30 May and 5 June, and it’s a follow-on from the Teddies in Windows project.

I heard about it from Gap Filler, and immediately thought it was something I’d like to be involved in.  It seemed appropriate to have an effigy of a woman who looked as though she came from the 19th century to match our 19th century cottage.  I had a set of clothes that I used to wear to ride in a vintage car in the Santa Parade, which I knew would be suitable.  The outfit was originally made by one of our volunteer staff for the celebration of Christchurch’s Sesquicentennial in 2000 (thank you June!).  The chair Victoria is sitting in is an old one that had been banished to the shed.

I needed a reason why she would be there, and at first thought she might have shopping bags and be waiting for a tram.  Then a friend suggested she might be reading a book, and I decided the caption might be Waiting for the Book Group.  I’ve written this on the footpath outside.

A way in which community
though distant can have unity

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I found another mural by Ruby Jones, in Cathedral Square outside Turanga.  This one definitely appeals.  It reads Never underestimate the power of getting lost in someone else’s words.

A book can change your perspective
and show another way to live.

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Today’s expedition had an air of normalcy to it.  We went first to South City, hoping to get an overdue haircut at our usual cheap walk-in cutting place.  The number of people waiting outside prompted us to leave this for another day – maybe even another week.  I’m lucky that my hair was cut just before rāhui and I’ve discovered that going eight weeks without a trim is manageable, but I hope I won’t have to go much longer.

The Warehouse insisted we use hand sanitiser, as did Ballantynes.  I totally understand the need for this, but hate the feeling of dryness it leaves on my hands.  At Ballantynes we purchased a couple of items that have been on our wanted list for a while which was satisfying, and we then chose to have morning tea in their Kin Café.  Of course this now means having to sign in for contact tracing, and they are practising the three S’s – Seating, Separation, and Single server.  Food that would previously have been in the cabinet is now on a printed menu.  While the club sandwiches were tempting, I decided to indulge in a plate of fries, something I haven’t eaten for at least a couple of months.  With table numbers reduced and all the extra restrictions, it would seem churlish to order only coffee, but some people will of course.  Ballantynes fries are a little upmarket, served with Marlborough sea salt and a spicy sauce, good value for $8.  Stephen, who’d had only a banana for breakfast chose bacon and eggs.  Interestingly our two drinks were delivered by two different serving people, but the second one didn’t talk to us, so perhaps she doesn’t count?

Brunch at Ballantynes

We returned home feeling we’d had a normal morning out, and I recorded where we’d been in my Covid Outing Diary, which I’ve been diligently keeping since Jacinda asked us to on 20 April.  Today there’s a new app for this, but it’s not available on my not-so-smartphone, and apparently doesn’t meet the legal criteria anyway.

At just after 3pm, I’ve been watching children walking home from school – just like any normal day.

Today our shopping expedition
included chips for my nutrition

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I’ve been to Tūranga (the central library) which re-opened last Thursday.  When I walked past on Friday there was a small queue, but yesterday, just after 10am, no-one was waiting outside.

Once you enter (via Gloucester Street only) you need to fill in a slip with your name and phone or email, then take it to a screened desk in the foyer where a librarian enters your details on a computer.  A sign stresses the privacy procedures.

Tūranga foyer

Before I left home I’d checked my library For Later list and noted eight books that were supposed to be available at Tūranga, but could find only three of these.  Librarians on both the 3rd and 4th floors were extremely helpful, but unable to locate the missing volumes.  It was suggested that one may have had a hold cancelled and be showing as available while the next hold was being processed.  Obviously some of the system is still recovering from the time in rahui.  I was quite happy to get just three books, which are now self-isolating beside my bed.

I noticed some librarians were stricter than others about keeping two metres’ distance.  It’s not easy when you’re showing a customer places a book may be lurking.  The Discovery Wall has been switched off, but images from it were showing on other screens.  As you leave the library you need to be signed out, which helps them to restrict the total number inside to 100.  Foundation Café is open, but not currently accessible through the library.

Our Book Fridge is also available again.  I have some books to deposit there, and plan to wear gloves to do this.

Book Fridge re-stocked

Books are available once more
but keeping safe can be a chore

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My home at 400 Manchester Street, taken in 1983

The kitchen in my childhood home was very much the centre of the house, always full of activity.  There was a coal range to keep it warm in winter, and an outside door opening to the south if it became too hot.  The oven of the coal range was used for the daily baking of scones or for the annual preservation of garden crops.  There was a gas stove, and a separate hob with four more burners.  I recall one Guy Fawkes night loud bangs summoned mother and me to the kitchen where we found Bruce igniting the last of the tom thumbs over this hob.

There was a refrigerator and sink bench in the main room and a walk-in pantry with a safe.  The centre of all this was a large round kauri table which could seat 8-10 quite comfortably and had been bought second hand for ten shillings.  In the early hours of the morning bread would be delivered through the unlocked kitchen door and placed on this table.  Milk likewise was brought to the door as were all our groceries, ordered from Mr Jones who kept the store at the corner of Colombo Street and Bealey Avenue.  Occasionally some small extra item was needed, and I might be sent to get it from the shop at the corner of Sherborne and Purchas Streets.  This place was a favourite of mine because the woman there kept a budgie which could talk so well that it sometimes featured on the local 3ZB radio station.

On top of the fridge there was a radio which was usually tuned to 3ZB during the day.  We would always listen to the Sunday midday requests and I remember that Bruce delighted in the Goon Show.  Later I had a crystal set in my room on which I could listen to the Sunday morning children’s requests, serials such as Day of the Triffids, or the Thursday night Lever Hit Parade.

Family and staff all ate together in the kitchen, but the patients had their meals on trays in their rooms.  The last chore at night was to set the trays ready for breakfast along the bench and to soak the oats for the next morning’s porridge.  I don’t remember much about the food, possibly because my mother’s cooking was less than memorable, but I do remember the scones which were served daily for morning tea.  When I was at Primary School my teeth were regularly treated by students at the Dental Training School in Manchester St (McLean’s Mansion), and this suffering was much alleviated by the knowledge that when it was over I could pop in to enjoy morning scones at home before returning to class.

Many of the rooms had fireplaces, which were used, along with kerosene-burning Valor Heaters and the occasional electric bar heater.  I don’t remember being cold, but I wonder now whether some of the patients might have been, in those massive rooms, with only carpet squares and thin drapes.  In winter we all had hot water bottles at night, and later there were electric blankets for the family.  I suspect not for the patients, some of whom were incontinent.

The formal entrance to the house was through the front door, set in a porch on the southern side.  There was a bell to ring along with a brass letter slot.  I occasionally enjoyed the task of polishing this and the substantial brass plaque on the front of the house which grandly announced “Gardner’s Convalescent Home.  For male patients.  Visiting hours 2-4 p.m. daily.”

Upstairs was the attic, a place of mystery.  There was a wide well-built staircase which led up to an unfinished space with beams and rafters.  Perhaps it had originally been intended to build rooms there but they’d never been completed.  It was possible to stand up only in the centre area as the roof sloped down at the sides.  Near the landing there was one electric light bulb and a makeshift floor where boxes, suitcases, and all manner of paraphernalia were stored, but further out you had to be careful to walk only on the beams as the plaster between was not substantial.  I remember one time an electrician who was working up there fell through the plaster ceiling of our bedroom, although memory suggests he was not injured, having landed on a bed.

I was discouraged from going up to the attic on my own, because of an early tumble down the stairs, the darkness, and the danger, and I was too timid to explore more than a few times.  I wonder now what interesting items I might have found had I been bolder.

As a child our garden seemed immense, and I believe it must have been about half an acre (there are several units built on the property now).  The area in front of the house held the usual flower beds with roses, daffodils, etc.  Along the inside of the front fence (which faced west) were bushes behind which I could hide. The south side of the house was taken up by a concrete path, with a climbing “Cecile Brunner” rose and in spring, lilies of the valley.

The Virginia Creeper which covered the west end of the verandah turned a beautiful red in autumn.  A driveway ran along the north side, past a chestnut tree, and at the end of the house veered right to avoid the huge apricot tree and end at the open garage behind Bruce’s sleep-out.  Further back lay more garden with vegetables, gooseberry and currant bushes and more fruit trees.  We were always well supplied with fruit, especially apricots.  One summer when Bruce was down at Taieri learning to fly (his Compulsory Military Training) Mother filled a wooden crate with apricots and freighted them down to him.  While he appreciated the gesture, it was hardly necessary as at the time he was enjoying seven course dinners in the Air Force Officers’ mess.

At the rear of the garden was a hen house.  I was very fond of the hens, three of whom were named Nancy, Matilda, and Minehaha (I think Bruce may have been reading Longfellow when she was named).  At the rear wall of the house was a concrete bunker for coal or coke, and a bed where mint and parsley grew.

In the back garden there were many spots where I could hide away with a book, a doll, or a kitten.  The best of these was a platform up in the apricot tree with a swing hanging below.

Bruce’s sleep-out contained all his ham radio gear, along with books and scientific equipment.  When he required a radio mast, he introduced a ten foot pole of willow which promptly sprouted and provided a leafy adornment to his entrance.

So many memories of this place
the back yard was a magic space






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My parents and me on the lawn at 400 Manchester Street, c. 1953

The large house at 400 Manchester St in which I spent my first ten years had originally been rented by my grandmother Ethel who let out rooms.  At the time of her death in 1945 Phyllis, George and Bruce were also living there.  They took over the lease and then sublet when they moved to the North Island for several years.  When they returned with me as a very young baby their sub-tenants refused to yield possession (possibly quite within their rights if they had a fixed term lease), and for some months our family lived in the small sleep-out that was later to become Bruce’s bedroom.  Presumably they shared the bathroom and kitchen facilities.  I can only hope that my mother Phyllis found these arrangements an improvement on conditions in Pukekohe.

Bruce enrolled at Christchurch Boys’ High School, but the family remained poor.  Bruce told me he never accepted invitations to social functions because the only pair of shoes he possessed were his school ones.

Looking back, the house seems more like an institution than a home.  During my infancy it was run as an accommodation house, and advertised as

For comfortable accommodation
Private Home : Handy to city
–Children welcome—
Dinner, Bed, & Breakfast 13/6
Bed & Breakfast 10/6

I wonder who provided the meals as my mother was a notoriously bad cook.  By the time I was three or four the house had become a “Convalescent Home for Male Patients” and there were always a dozen old or infirm men living there.

The house was a wooden bungalow, built around 1920, owned by someone in England and administered by the Public Trust.  A large unlined attic filled the roof space, and the ground floor rooms all opened onto a wide L-shaped hall.  All the rooms (except the kitchen and bathroom) were numbered.  The sitting room, formal and hardly ever used, was Room One. This room faced west, but always seemed dark – perhaps the blinds were left partly pulled, or bushes outside obscured the sun.  I remember little china models of Japanese buildings on an occasional table.  There was a desk where stationery was kept – all custom printed (my father always ordered good stationery for any of his business enterprises).  One time when I’d been naughty, Mother shut me in this room.  Seeking revenge I took scissors and cut a tiny corner off every one of the elegantly printed envelopes, then climbed out the window.  She never mentioned the mutilated envelopes, but must have noticed.

We also had a piano and a radiogram with lots of old 78’s.  I loved to play and dance to the one of Doris Day singing “The Black Hills of Dakota”

There may have been armchairs in this room but I don’t remember them.  In fact I don’t remember seeing anyone actually sitting there, except perhaps Mother at her desk.  Looking back I guess in fact my mother never had time to just sit.  Any sitting was done at the kitchen table, or in chairs beside the patients’ beds, or on the verandah.

Room Two was enormous.  There was a bay window, which also faced west, but this time the light streamed in.  Six patients lived in this room, each with a hospital-style iron bed and a wooden locker.  The furniture throughout the house was painted in a pale shade known as lettuce green.  I had the impression that this was the correct colour for hospital furniture.  There were easy chairs and a window seat in this room which also served as a patients’ lounge.  I spent many hours sitting with the old men, chatting or playing simple games such as snap or draughts.

The long north-facing verandah opened off Room Two and had a couple of couches as well as easy chairs.  When one of these couches finally deteriorated beyond use, we broke it up and burned it on a bonfire in the back yard.  As we pulled it apart we found many coins and other objects which over the years had slid out of patients’ pockets and down between the back and seat.

Room Three held another two or three patients, but Room Four was tiny and held only one.  At some stage during my pre-school years I was allotted this room for myself, the only time until I was thirteen that I didn’t share a bedroom with my mother.  However, my occupancy was short-lived and certainly from the time my father died my mother and I always slept in the same room.

Room Five which was a generous size despite being under the stairs was for some time occupied by my father’s mother who was confined to a wheelchair.  The only time I remember my father chastising me was when as a three or four-year-old I poked out my tongue at my grandmother.  Later the room belonged to whichever live-in housekeeper we had at the time.  Room six, at the north-east corner was the one mother and I shared, with plenty of room for two large iron beds, wardrobe, chests of drawers and space to play.  The iron bedsteads were high – as a small girl it was an effort for me to clamber up, but the iron railings at the end doubled usefully as monkey bars and I frequently hung upside down by my knees.

On the south side of the house were the wash-house, bathroom, kitchen, and the old dining room which had now become Room Seven and held two or three patients.  All the rooms had a high stud, but for some reason the back door was not as high as the others and my father, who was six foot six, had to stoop as he went through.

The wash-house, which was actually outside the back door held the usual old-fashioned tubs and copper, but in the mid-fifties finances were sufficiently good for us to acquire a Bendix washing machine.  This was a front-loading device with spin drier which was concreted into the wash-house floor.  What a difference it must have made to my mother when she no longer had to put everything through the wringer before pegging it out on the washing lines which straddled the backyard, supported by old-fashioned clothes props.  The wash-house was also home to many families of kittens over the years.

The bathroom was primitive, with one bath and a hand basin serving a household of at least sixteen.  There was a zip hot water heater, and in those days a weekly bath was considered ample.  My mother and the current housekeeper somehow managed to lift each patient (and some were stoutly built) in and out of the deep old bath.  The single lavatory, off the bathroom, also had a door to the outside, very necessary when nature called while the bathroom was occupied.  For the less mobile patients there were commodes, and barely adequate screens to provide a modicum of privacy.

It was just simply home to me
this house where dwelt my family


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We celebrated the move to Alert Level Two by going out for breakfast.  One of our favourite local cafés is Table at Monks by the Margaret Mahy Playground.  Once we were up and dressed I phoned to check if they were open for in-house breakfasts, and was told yes.  It was exciting to know we could finally have a meal away from home.  We often went to cafés and restaurants during Cathryn’s first weeks here, but hadn’t eaten out since we were in Greymouth almost eight weeks ago.

When we arrived at 8am we were invited to sit at a table.  I asked if we could take their Press, which was okay, but I did wonder how they will clean it before someone else wants it.  The waiter asked if we had a cellphone, and I said no – that’s easier than explaining that my not-so-smartphone can’t download the app. for registration.  Instead we filled out a form that asked for name, address, phone number, email, date, and time.  This is more comprehensive than my experience in shops which usually just ask for name and phone number.

We relished our breakfasts (mushrooms and egg on polenta for me), the first meal Stephen’s had that he hasn’t cooked himself.

Mushrooms and egg on polenta

I didn’t feel I could ask the waiter to use my camera, so attempted a selfie – not my forté.

Breakfasting at Monks

We were at the café for about an hour and during that time no-one else came to dine in, although there were three takeaway coffee customers.  It may take a while for people to venture out, and I guess not many would go out for breakfast early on a misty Thursday morning anyway, especially as this will be the first day back at work for some.

It really was a special treat
to go to a café to eat

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Some brave soul was having a Garage Sale in  Salisbury Street today.  They’d placed a number of items on a table with a sign saying donations, and a box to take these.

Garage sale on Salisbury

I wondered whether perhaps they were watching from inside ready to swoop if anyone left some money.  There was nothing I fancied, and I would have been reluctant to touch anything anyway, but I admired their enterprise.  Was it someone having a clean-out, do you suppose, or someone desperate for money?

I have a surplus of walnuts from last year, and intend to put them at the front gate, in Countdown bags labelled Free to good home, but thought I’d wait until we get to Level Two, when people might be more inclined to pick them up.

This garage sale was the first opportunity I’ve seen during the rāhui to buy something recycled directly.  It’s always possible to browse on TradeMe, but then you need to have an idea of what you’re looking for, and I much prefer being able to see an assortment that just might hold a hidden treasure.

I wonder whether Level Two
will mean op-shopping may ensue

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This bunch of bananas graces the wall at 323 Barbadoes Street, which was a takeaways shop prior to the earthquakes.  Some one must have used a stencil as each banana is the same.

I’ve never liked bananas.  My childhood memories include being served banana custard for dessert, and that might be enough to put anyone off.  For many years I’ve had an aversion to the colour yellow, possibly because it’s the colour of bananas (I do make an exception for sunflowers).  Occasionally I’ve been offered banana cake, and felt it would be rude to refuse, but I’ve never enjoyed it.  I’m aware that bananas are sometimes the base of the smoothies I enjoy, but always well disguised with other fruit.

Stephen does like bananas, which are a source of fibre, potassium, and vitamin C, and he will often have one for breakfast.  When doing this week’s online shopping I inadvertently managed to order 100 grams instead of one kilo, so our delivery included just one lone banana.

In India bananas are called the Fruit of the Wise Men, because legend said that wise men meditated under the shady green leaves of the banana plant.  No mention of there being any opportunity for women to meditate in the shade!  The phrase to go bananas means to become crazy or angry – could be another reason to avoid the fruit.  Apparently this saying originated in the late 1960s when rumors spread across U.S. university campuses that roasted banana peels had psychedelic properties, and that ingesting them could lead to hallucinations similar to ones brought on by LSD or magic mushrooms.

Do you like bananas?  Have you ever seen a straight one?

This is one fruit I’d never choose
and I eschew its yellow hues


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