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Posts Tagged ‘Ruth Gardner’

Floral Friday

This bulb is Portuguese Squill, and it’s one of the very few flowers that have been in our cottage garden longer than we have. Its botanical name is Scilla Peruviana, and although that sounds as though it should come from South America it actually originates in the western Mediterranean. It likes sandy soil, so no wonder it thrives in our area, and reappears every spring. I’ve never seen it anyone else’s garden, have you?


A strange plant is Portuguese Squill
with no connection to Brazil

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Today’s walk started at Mona Vale, and Christine and I agreed to meet at the car park there. Since I last visited a new and larger car park has been opened with a gateway through to the garden.

Entrance to Mona Vale

The flower beds are looking magnificent, all carefully tended by staff from the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

Mona Vale flowerbed

Along the path towards Fendalton Road is a memorial to Alastair MacLeod.

Alastair MacLeod Memorial

It is an Armillary Sphere where the shadow of the central staff is supposed to indicate the time. Not today, because the weather was cloudy.

Further along we crossed Waimairi Stream where one householder has a rowboat moored.

Boat on Waimairi Stream

We walked up Royds Street to Straven Road, then along Weka and Tui Streets, past Christchurch Boys’ High School and many impressive houses, into the grounds of the magnificently restored Riccarton House (former home of the Deans family).

Riccarton House

On the riverbank we were delighted to meet two families of Paradise ducklings, the first with eight stripey babies.

Paradise ducklings

At the Kahu Road exit we saw a large oak tree which was planted by Jane Deans in 1897 to mark the site of the first house on the Canterbury Plains built by William and John Deans in 1843.

Jane Deans’ Oak

Matai Street West led us past the Britten Stables, currently for sale, across the railway line, and back to the Mona Vale car park. This easy walk took us and hour and a half, and we could have spent longer if we’d explored Riccarton Bush, the only podocarp forest remaining in Christchurch – perhaps another time.

Exquisite gardens on the way
enhanced our city walk today

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I love the Phryne Fisher books, which have been made into a television series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Phryne is a delightful detective, self-assured, and with a healthy disregard for convention. The stories are set in 1920s Victoria with wonderful descriptions of clothing and social locations.

This volume has seventeen exquisitely written short stories featuring Phryne, together with an explanation of how her character evolved and how she got her name. She was intended to be like James Bond with better clothes and fewer gadgets. If you’ve enjoyed the other books you’ll love this, and if you haven’t met Phryne before this volume is an ideal introduction.

I recommend these Fisher tales
where Phryne’s logic never fails

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A letter from my doctor advised it was time for my annual blood tests. Stephen usually has a monthly test, but missed last month because of lockdown, and last week when he went to our usual clinic at Forte Health he found it closed because of Level Two. We decided we would both go to the Barrington Clinic and we needed to go early because my tests require fasting.

When we arrived at 7.45am there were eight people waiting outside at carefully marked social distances. I wondered what happens to people who can’t stand for a long time.

Barrington blood test clinic

Half an hour later when I was finally admitted there were eleven in the queue behind. I was given a numbered tag and asked to sit in a room where three others were also waiting. There was a water dispenser, but no cups. The woman who took my four vials of blood told me they were short-staffed, the pressure had been relentless, and it was expected to continue for weeks. I was pleased we’d got our tests before anything happens to change life again.

Afterwards we were keen to break our fast, but Barrington Mall was not yet fully open. Luckily we found the Majestic Tea Bar who serve cooked breakfasts. This is a larger place than the one in the BNZ/Five Lanes centre, with a number of tables in the corridor outside.

Majestic Tea Bar @ Barrington Mall

After this we headed for home and my usual Monday morning cleaning routine.

It’s challenging to get blood test
You need to queue up with the rest

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The site of St Luke’s Church on the corner of Manchester and Kilmore Streets has been a significant part of my life, although I don’t remember ever attending a service there.

My earliest memory, aged three, is of going to Play Centre in St Luke’s Hall. Later experience as a Play Centre mother leads me to believe that one of my parents must have accompanied me, but I have no memory of this. What I do remember is being served slices of apples and oranges at morning tea time.

St Luke’s corner is where my father suffered a fatal accident when I was just five. I recall seeing the motorbike he’d been riding lying on the road beside the church.

In the late 1980s PLEBS (Plains Exchange and Barter System) used to hold a monthly market in the Church Hall which we often attended. In the 1990s I was part of a group facilitated by Virginia Westbury where we discussed Goddess traditions. Virginia has a particular interest in labyrinths and she created one on canvas that was displayed at St Luke’s one Sunday afternoon each month. I frequently enjoyed this meditative journey. Sadly the canvas labyrinth was lost in the earthquake.

After the 2011 earthquakes St Luke’s Church was de-consecrated and demolished. Now the bell tower is the only part of the building that remains.

St Luke’s Bell Tower

A plaque on the seat at the bus stop outside the church site memorialises the women who have worked, lived, and died on the streets of Christchurch, and is particularly appropriate as this is an area frequented by street workers.

Memorial plaque for street workers

After the earthquakes a group of students constructed a brick labyrinth in the church grounds that is still there today.

St Luke’s Labyrinth

The building at the right of this photo is St Luke’s vicarage which was in use for over 125 years.

When the poignant 185 White Chairs earthquake memorial needed to be moved to make way for the new stadium it was fitting that it should come to the St Luke’s site.

185 White Chairs

The other significant aspect of this site is that it is believed to be the burial place of Tautahi, for whom our city is named Ōtautahi.

A while ago I heard there was a plan to build a community centre and Diocesan offices on this site, but I’ve heard nothing further. Do you have memories of this corner of Christchurch?

This site has seen so many things
let’s see just what the future brings

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Floral Friday

Our cherry tree is in full bloom today and seems to have benefitted from the arborist’s attention.

We’ll be hoping for a bumper harvest, and hoping that we’ll be able to cover plenty of fruit. The rest we’ll leave for those foraging birds who can reach higher than we can.

Cherry blossoms symbolise spring and the fleeting nature of life because they last only a short time. After about two weeks the blossoms start to fall.

The cherry blossom looks just great
for cherries we will have to wait

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Zoom is wonderful as a way of catching up with family and friends in distant places. However, I personally find it difficult to use as a medium for learning. Last year I was enrolled in a Te Reo class, but when lockdown struck and classes moved online I found it hard to manage, and dropped out.

I later enrolled in a Zoom seminar, but I found it difficult to understand the tutor for whom English was a second language and left before the end. Even with people I know well I find an hour of a Zoom group is all I can take before my concentration goes, and I wonder how on earth do school students manage? I guess they are younger and more adaptable, and possibly more accustomed to concentrating on screens.

I recently took part in a workshop where the tutor and students were all masked, and found it hard to hear what was being said. Earlier this week I was at a meeting with ten socially distanced people, and very relieved when all but one removed their masks. I appreciate that in Level Two masks are required in any public venue, but that just makes me more inclined to avoid public venues. I’m relieved to know that masks are not mandatory in schools because it seems to me they would hinder students’ ability to learn. Let’s hope that Covid vaccinations can soon be made available for children under 12. How are you coping with learning in this Covid environment?

I’m relieved that the W.E.A. is making mask use optional during classes under Level Two, and the same applies to a another course I’ve enrolled in. Perhaps there’s hope for my lifelong learning after all.

I do not like to wear a mask
when I’m absorbing some new task

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On the first page I read about a woman wearing bright silver trainers. I also wear bright silver trainers, thought I’m going to enjoy this novel, and I did. I’d previously appreciated Meet Me at the Museum by the same author. This one is the story of two women taking a third woman’s narrowboat on an essential journey along English canals, and the relationships that develop between them and others. It’s also a voyage of self-discovery as the three women are all facing major life changes.

I liked the author’s careful choice of words, e.g. one boat was the sort of grey that is the faded remains of other more purposeful colours. Reading the story is like going on a restful cruise, with interesting snippets of information about canal boat history and travel. This is a charming novel of kindness, comfort, and friendship.

While slowly drifting on the way
they learn to take life day by day

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This was a workshop offered free by the Arts Centre. The tutor was Nathan Joe, currently an Artist in Residence there. There were just ten students, all socially distanced, in the School of Art in Hereford Street.

School of Art

The room we were in was formerly the Hurst Seagar Room, which some years ago was the venue for my fiftieth birthday party.

With Nathan wearing a mask I found it difficult to hear him, especially as he speaks quickly. I started to wonder whether I would last for the whole two hours, and at the break I mentioned the difficulty I was having and found I was not the only one. Under Arts Centre Level Two protocols all staff and students are expected to wear masks, but there are exemptions for performers, and after checking with the whole group it was agreed that, as a performer, Nathan could remove his mask, and this made hearing much easier. I would hesitate to enrol for any other workshop under Level Two if the tutor was going to be masked. A friend who’s a teacher told me a sobering story from the U.S. about a teacher who removed her mask so she could better interact with students. Apparently all the students in the first three rows contracted Covid from her.

We were led through several exercises, the first a little like doing Morning Pages, others that tapped into our memory banks and encouraged us to use the five senses in our writing. We were introduced to Jose Rivera’s 36 Assumptions about playwriting, which give some useful tips.

This workshop was a good way to stimulate creative writing.

A good workshop with Nathan Joe
especially once his mask could go

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My garden has many annual flowers. They’re inclined to self-seed (volunteer) and I’m happy to let them do this wherever they want. There are often alyssums and others growing in the gutter outside, but this is the first time I can remember seeing an aquilegia/granny bonnet there.

Council workers swept the gutter earlier this week, but they didn’t remove any growth as they sometimes do. There’s a volunteer hollyhock close by this granny bonnet and I’ll be interested to see if that survives long enough to flower.

She settles into any cranny
persistent, never-daunted Granny

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