Monday, February 21, 2011

Looping the Heathcote

When I was a child, slide projectors were the iPads of the day.  Friends of my parents would host evenings with cheese fondue, "medium" white wine, and three or four slide carousels of their family holidays.

The oohing and aahing subsided in direct correlation to the host's increasing enthusiasm as slides were paused for full effect.

I am a little bit conscious that this is precisely what I am doing here, sharing my photos from the day's walk around the Heathcote River loop.  Only, I haven't gone to any trouble whatsoever - no little hors d'oeuvres to help you through, or a lovely tipple of your choice.

So please feel free to indulge while I get a little bit carried with my snaps and the accompanying commentary.

If I go out my gate, turn left and walk a few hundred metres, then turn right, I arrive at my local florist.  Before the recession hit, I would visit weekly and choose flowers for the house: two or three vases worth of seasonal, cut flowers.  Now it's a special occasion kind of thing.  I do miss that.

Here, I am standing on Colombo St looking down Fisher Ave with its glorious Plane Trees.  The florist is on the corner of Colombo and Fisher, just to the left, out of view.

A little further down Colombo Street (about 100 metres) is the lovely art school and artist supply shop, 'Passion for Painting'.  Owned and run by two women, who live at the back with their two bichon-frise, the school runs small group and private art classes for children and adults.  Our eldest daughter is desperate to go but must wait another three months until she is seven; the recommended minimum age.

One house down from the art school, across a side road and over a small bridge, is South Public Library, nestled among the Dutch Elms.  It's a magnificent eco-building that has won numerous awards for being clever with grey water, climate control and such.  It's also very high tech (which I guess is now averagely spec'd given it was built several years ago).   The library has a great little cafe, and you can eat and drink anywhere in the library.  This is fantastic because there are so many lovely chairs and sofas to curl up with stacks of magazines and books.  A rill runs right around the west and north faces, and part of the east.  It's very calming.

The river runs along the left of the library (as you look at it) and curves around behind, meandering south.

I followed the river along the north face and looked back on the library's east face. The children's library is through the large doors.  The rocket is for when you, or they, have had ENOUGH.

The boy-child and I headed south, behind the library until Malcolm Ave.  Once you've crossed Malcolm Ave the riverbank becomes known as the Donkey Trail, after a former circus donkey called Jenny.  She was taken in by a local family in 1962 after she became too tame (bored) with her circus act. She was a gift to the family's nine year-old son, Ray.  Each morning, they would walk Jenny down to the river to graze along the bank while Ray and his brother were at Thorrington School, which borders the river.  The children would ply her with carrots and apples.  Ray would then ride her home via Remuera Ave and Colombo St, back to his house in Malcolm Ave.  She died a happy old girl at 18 years.

Apparently, Ray still lives in Malcolm Ave.

To save you endless river shots: I have crossed back across Colombo St and followed the Heathcote River along Ashgrove Tce to the Barrington St bridge, where I double-backed along the other side to the 'Narnia' bridge, upon which I'm standing here.  So called by my friends and I because of the distinctive lamp-post at the foot of the bridge on the forest side.

I followed the river along the forest trail, which is to the right of the river looking at it from Narnia bridge.  Our girls believe Pooh Bear lives in this particular tree.

The forest trail ends at Swan Lake (seriously).  The lake and surrounding gardens used to be part of a private residence, which has since been bought by a Thai family and developed into the Lotus Spa, and Lotus Spa Tea House and Restaurant. Kindly, they allow the public to wander the grounds.

Loving the swans - they have lived here for decades, despite the ownership change.

Continuing along the riverbank, you can see the Colombo St bridge in the background.  To the left, across the road, is 'Passion for Painting'.  The library is directly across the bridge.  And to the left on this side of the bridge, is the Malthouse.  We have looped.

The Malthouse is home to Canterbury Children's Theatre, which stages two to three productions per year.  It's a cushion theatre, so you bring your plumpest feather and down to last the hour.  It can get rather hot.  Note the small windows.

Fortunately, the building was earth-quake strengthened in the twelve months preceding September's  7.1 magnitude earthquake last year.  Christchurch's stone and brick heritage buildings did not fare well during the quake, and I'm sure the Malthouse would have been damaged beyond repair had it not been for loads of steel rivets and bracing (rivet above right, downpipe to the left).

The Malthouse is also home to 'Malthouse Costumes' - theatre costumes for hire.  It can be quite fun watching sheepish work-attired people return outlandish outfits, and wondering just what sort of party they enjoyed at the weekend.  (Sad, I know.)

And then it's home, to the charmingly dishevelled Lucy, a Schnauzer/Fox Terrier cross.  Actually, she came with the boy-child and I on the walk, but I asked her to pose behind the side gate for the welcoming effect.

She was, as ever, very obliging.


Gisela Purcell said...

Michelle - this is such a beautiful, picturesque view of the Christchurch we knew on what was clearly a glorious, peaceful and "normal" summer's day. So much changed the day after this posting, making your photos and description all the more poignant. And they serve as a big reminder to be grateful for all the "normal" days of our lives. xxx

Michelle Trusttum said...

Gisela - so lovely to hear from you, and thanks so much for your insightful comment. You're so right. I have that song 'What a difference a day makes' looping in my head.

I'm pleased to say everything featured on my walk has survived well, with the very sad exception of Passion for Painting. I am hoping it can be saved from the big yellow digger, but the complete lack of activity around the site doesn't bode well. The Danger: Do Not Enter tape is looking weathered and untouched.

What I didn't show was Beckenham Village itself: one side (the new side) of Colombo St is standing, the other, older side is flattened: most of which happened after September.

I wish I had some useful, practical skills to help put things back together! x