Instead, I drive as close as I dare to the cordon's perimeter. It's one thing to see images of the fallen CBD on the screen or in print, but I feel the need to experience the loss to begin to reconcile the new normal. Of course, I haven't a show. Less than three kilometres from our house there's an army watch - nine uniformed guys ensuring no-one breaches the cordon at the Colombo/Brougham intersection.
At another intersection, an army tank is parked across the road flanked by more army and police uniforms. Temporary fencing is everywhere, as are sand-bagged neon orange signs: Danger; Keep Out; Road Closed.
Scenes that are repeated over and over, creating a new walled city within city. It doesn't feel like New Zealand, much less our provincial, parochial little city.
I turn back to Beckenham - our patch of Christchurch. One side of the village is a dust-bowl after several old brick buildings were razed following the September earthquake. Two more have succumbed to the February quake. Opposite, the new shopping centre is relatively unscathed - liquefaction in the car park and some damaged stock. The 1930s Spanish-styled Baptist church next door, lies in a heap. I almost took a photo of it for my 'Looping the Heathcote' post, but turned left instead of right at my front gate. The next day, it was obliterated.
I call into one of the local cafes and perch at a reading table with the latest magazines. Nothing like a bit of escapism. Asprey's Notting Hill bag catches my eye, pretty in berry ostrich and crocodile trim.
I check the price for no good reason other than it's listed. 7,900 pounds (can't find the symbol). As lovely as it is, the idea of a NZ$15,000 handbag seems especially grotesque right now.
Getting the girls back to school has been a huge relief - for everyone. Don't be deceived by the feigned indifference and contorted face; they have had a great day.
It's been 21 long days at home. Littlest Miss T only started school 31 January 2011 following six weeks of summer holiday. She's excited by the prospect of this three weeks on, three weeks off thing. (In another three weeks, it's end of term.) Term 2 will herald the harsh reality.
Little Miss T is enjoying spelling homework. Enough said.
The school's library and hall are off limits but otherwise, it has come through relatively well. (Nine schools in Christchurch will have to be demolished and rebuilt; closed for up to two years.) Unfortunately the Monarch butterflies, snails and various assorted insects in jars - gems of newsworthiness - did not.