I don't leave port very often, but this week I had an appointment in the city. It seems that every time I go in there is something new to see as the rebuild continues eight years after the last big earthquake struck. But there are also a few old things hanging around, like the tram, derelict buildings (including Christchurch Cathedral. I have no idea how they are going to fix that but they plan to) and these steps. There must be a story behind these steps.
I love libraries. They are the original community-sharing resource, but even if you never borrow anything, they are great spaces to be in. The new library in the middle of Christchurch, Tūranga, is incredible. It is a beautifully designed space, with lots of different areas depending on what you want to do in the library. There are quieter areas as well as areas for kids to play around in or for people to collaborate in.
There are a couple of cafes, a computer lab and a room for making music. As well as books, magazines, newspapers, DVDs and CDs there are also games, puzzles and interactive displays. And there are incredible views over a city that is changing before our eyes.
The earthquake has also meant a rebuild of many suburban libraries like the one in Lincoln.
Some libraries weren’t destroyed in the earthquake. One of my favourites, New Brighton library, is one of them.
Unfortunately, the ugly Lyttelton library is another.
We now have a bike rack for Gertie, so headed over to North Beach, Brighton to do the Avon Trail, which follows the River Avon through the Red Zone and into the city.
We still don’t know what is happening to the Red Zone. It has been 8 years since the earthquakes and the only sign of the demolished houses now is the exotic shrubs and the disappearing driveways.
It took us about an hour and a quarter to cycle into the city. We were going to get the bus back out, but we enjoyed the ride so much we cycled back along the river instead.
I've lived in many places in the world that have a garden moniker. I went to university in the Garden of England (Kent). I spent a year and a half living in New Jersey, the garden state. Now I'm living in Lyttelton, which is a part of the city of Christchurch, which calls itself a garden city. Part of the reason for this is the wonderful Hagley Park in the centre of town. It has paths that are flanked by trees which look wonderful at this time of year.
What would be great is if Christchurch would plant more trees in avenues of roads. Trees do an amazing job of soaking up pollution and controlling temperatures. When I lived in Melbourne in Australia I was in a suburb that had lots of plane trees. The temperature in Elwood was about 5° cooler than the neighbouring suburb suburb of St Kilda, due to those trees. Trees are amazing.
I’m a fair weather surfer, but the forecast was for a sunny, 28 degree day yesterday, so I headed out with my bodyboard to South Brighton. As soon as I got through the tunnel, the gorgeous weather was replaced by a chilly sea mist, but I was kitted up and continued on. No one else was in the water (surprise!), so I steeled myself, but it wasn’t bad. And I caught some nice little waves. And I felt better for it, as I always do when I throw myself into the sea and muck around.
The boyf, Billie and I headed out to Lincoln last Friday and really quite enjoyed it. It is missing the sea, but has a little river and it doesn't have any hills, but it seems popular with cyclists. And what a library.
The laboratory was the closest you'll get to an English pub in Lincoln. Good food and dog friendly. Read more on the boyf's blog.
If I didn't live in Lyttelton, I’d probably choose New Brighton (though I would be worried long-term about the threat of sea level rise and tsunamis). New Brighton has a fabulous long sandy beach and a cool modern pier that stretches out into the Pacific. The council had to do a lot of work to repair it after the earthquake and it is due to open to the public again tomorrow.
New Brighton also has one of the new electric car charging points that are springing up around Christchurch.
But the thing I like best about new Brighton is the library. You can sit and work in a chair that looks out over the ocean and there is a cafe below whenever you need a break from that.