Friday, 30 March 2012

Earthquake aftermath ~ Sumner and Shag Rock in March 2012

For anyone at all familiar with the eastern hill suburbs of Christchurch the association with Shag Rock, Sumner beach and the cliffs that form their backdrop is inseparable.  The road to Sumner crosses the Causeway, then snakes around the bottom of the hills, and just before it reaches Sumner village it passes right next to the cliffs which face the beach and Shag Rock.

Sumner has long been a popular beach-side destination, so Shag Rock has been a vivid Christchurch landmark since its earliest years.  However, successive earthquakes have taken their toll and this famous rock has lost a lot of its height and now looks very different, so different in fact that it is now referred to as Shag Pile!

Here are some photos I took at the end of March.  As one comes around the bend from Moncks Bay it now looks like this:

Here it is from along Sumner beach looking towards Redcliffs.  That's Balmoral Hill in the background:

From close up it looks very like a heap of tumbled masonry:

That stretch of beach is overlooked by the cliffs at the back of Peacock's Gallop.  

I admired the painted canvases that cover a number of the shipping containers which guard road users from rockfall.  I would like to know the names of the artists so that I could credit them with their remarkable work.  Unfortunately road access to pedestrians along there is a no-no.

The protective barrier of double-height containers now extends right around the corner at the Sumner end of the cliff face which means that the road has had to be diverted out into the car park traditionally occupied by the ice cream vendor:

This has made that section of roadway narrow:

It's decidedly hazardous to cyclists as indicated by this sign: "Extreme care cyclists merging". 

At present there is no footpath at all as there is no room for one.  The disruption of roadways around the quake-torn city has led to some odd and hopefully unique signs.  The one below which is addressed to pedestrians reads: "Not suitable for pedestrians - please use beach", which is not going to be much good to many people, especially not mothers with pushchairs - or at high tide, or in bad weather, etc, etc!  Fortunately the bus service is good. 

The entrance to Sumner is flanked by a plethora of signs:

A rather quieter and much older sign welcoming visitors to Sumner reflects earlier and more orderly times:

A modestly sized monument nearby informs passers-by that Sumner has been in existence for a long time, since 1891 in fact:

The impressive garden of aloes and yuccas next to it continues to grow unperturbed:

Along in the shopping centre more gaps have opened up, notably the site of the old community centre next the library.  In its place a small park has suddenly sprung up, although why the tape surrounding it states 'Danger Keep Out' is puzzling - probably it was the only suitable tape available!

Although a lot of rock has come down or been de-stabilized, there is a lot that hasn't.  Some of what remains is surprising.  At the back of Heberden Avenue, the scene of some massive fallen rocks, others have remained rock solid.  Hmm, that turn of phrase doesn't really work any more!

Here is a closer view:  The local pigeon population loves it:

The Herculean human task of restoring order and infra-structure progresses gradually.  Nature, on the other hand, exerts itself much as it has always done, sending up hopeful shoots and extending growing tips from every available nook and cranny. 

I should think that these tiny plants, which are happily established in a broken area of footpath, will be safe for a while yet.  I think they're beautiful.

I'll write about the effect of the earthquakes on the Estuary separately.

My other articles about the earthquakes can be found via the page linked to below:

Thursday, 29 March 2012

'Alice in Videoland' stands strong amidst the ruins ~ High Street, not so good...

The building which houses 'Alice in Videoland' is a triumph of engineering: built in the wake of the devastating Napier earthquake of 1931 it was designed with earthquake resilience in mind to the extent that it has been described as having been 'over-engineered'.  That it could withstand violent seismic events was proved in the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 in which it suffered no structural damage at all, whereas most of the surrounding commercial buildings have been either declared unsafe or completely demolished. 

That building stands on the corner of Tuam and High Streets.  This view of is from Saint Asaph Street, the view across the block made possible by the demolition of most other buildings.  From where I stood to take that photograph the backs of the ruined High Street shops were sadly visible:

You can see just how empty that block is from this photograph taken from near the corner of St Asaph and Manchester Streets:

The only other building which remains standing in that block is the infamous Buddle Findlay building which has never been occupied. This image was taken from Manchester Street:

This view of Alice's is from the corner of Manchester and Tuam Streets.  Now that the cordon has been lifted from that part of Tuam Street it has been able to reopen - which has been a happy event for fans of their specialist video collection!

 I went in to have a look:

 I admired the classy returns slot very much indeed!

Inside Alice's I could see that it was well stocked and well-to-do, and the atmosphere was up-beat.  Oh, very nice!  As a former librarian I am intensely aware of how other people's libraries look, feel and function, and this looked like one of the best.  I'm assured by users that it is!  I particularly liked their attitude in requesting that videos borrowed before the quakes be returned - and would incur no penalty.  That's a realistic and sensible stance as most people do return things if able to.  

News items about Alice's:
Back at the intersection of Tuam and Manchester Streets tiers of shipping containers protect passing traffic from the possible collapse of a building façade.  The ageing sign on the building just to the right carries the message:
"Protect your investment, Paint your property regularly and save now.  Polson's decorators and signwriters".  
Nice one, Polson's, if only it were that simple!  But perhaps it was then.  The sign has lasted so well; my guess is that it has outlived the company itself.  

Turning on my heel, perhaps 120 degrees, I looked back at the Tuam Street end of High Street.  The sloping reinforcement structure indicates the intention to save the building, but this is not a certainty:  other buildings which have been similarly braced have since suffered further damage, so only time will tell what is decided about this one:

The view below of High Street from the intersection of St Asaph and Madras Streets.  It did not look as if anything much had been done there so I was not surprised to see  graffiti expressing anger at lack of action.  The buildings at the left are the ones I photographed from behind in the second photo above.

In the next image if you looking along the façade the frontage of 'Cardmakers' can just be seen - how sad!  However, on checking their site just now I'm delighted to see that they are still operating - from their lounge at home!  'Cardmakers' has been a great little shop and wonderful to deal with over the years!

Other buildings in the area are at various stages of soundness or decline:  Real Groovy Records looks fine.  I don't know whether it is or not:

A lot of effort it being made to fix up this one in St Asaph Street:

Here it is from the other side:

These big three storey brick buildings just back from Manchester Street (on the western side between St Asaph and Tuam) are almost certainly doomed:

Outside the Polytechnic things seem much as usual.  My guess is that locals either like or loath this structure.  I really like it!  It stands next to the intersection of St Asaph and Madras Streets:

And just opposite this building looks just fine: 

This is what Christchurch people are living with day by day: the constant and decidedly jarring juxtaposition of good, bad and condemned structures, road diversions and places not being where they were any more.  Our memories of the places in which we've lived worked and played are losing their physical anchors, many of them already gone forever.  
So I'm glad that Alice's is back, and happy to see it so vibrant.  
Way to go, Alice's!

My other earthquake articles can be found via the link below:

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Litterbugs are low-life ~

This evening I opened a window to the unexpected sound of breaking glass.  My first thought was that the neighbours must have dropped something out the back.  My second thought was: better check that they're (a) at home, and (b) okay.  I phoned them up.  They were watching rugby and nothing was amiss there.  Third thought: I Did Hear Breaking Glass - better look outside on the street.  It was already dark.  Pulling on my dressing gown I scooped up the torch and headed outside.  I shone the torch along the street.  And there it was: the smashed remains of a beer bottle, every edge jagged, and scattered precisely where a car-proud young neighbour usually parks his car.  He's out right now, which is just as well.

This sort of thing really gets me going.  The only way to beat it is to get rid of the troublesome remains immediately.  In I came for the straw broom and out I went to do battle.  I didn't care that I was out there in my dressing gown - someone might pull over at any moment and it would be curtains for their tyres.  Rewi came out too, to hold the torch and make sure I was okay.  It only took five or ten minutes and it was all cleared up.  We both felt better for having taken charge, and also from having helped to keep our street safe.  A sense of belonging comes from that.  

I find littering incomprehensible, and often pick up rubbish when I'm out - it's so ugly and unnecessary!  

It's a comfort to know that many other people feel the same way: 

When I read the article linked to below and readers comments it really warmed my heart and made me laugh.  What do you do when people chuck rubbish right where you are?  Read on:
The next story of two Rotorua men is inspiring: they've made an impressive commitment to picking up rubbish on roadsides around the Rotorua lakes, so it's hats off to them from me!  The item was aired on TV One on 24th April 2009 in the Good Sorts news slot.  The journalist was Hayden Jones.
Yes, picking up litter and getting rid of it is good, but every time I do so I wish I had the opportunity to pack it into the unmade beds of those who dropped it.  Grrr.....