The Kiwi hails from Christchurch, a city which during the past few years has been through the mill and back. A catastrophic earthquake struck on a Wednesday lunchtime in February 2011 registering a magnitude of 6.3 on the Richter Scale and with the already weakened buildings from the ‘quake in 2010 it proved to be too much for this resilient capital of the South Island. 185 people died and over 6,000 were injured.
We visited Christchurch a few months after the quake and were completely gobsmacked at the devastation. To put it bluntly, most of the city centre was no longer there or if it was, it was no longer viable. Driving and walking around the streets which once were lined with offices, shops, restaurants and hotels, The Kiwi couldn’t find his bearings. One crumbling icon remained, the Cathedral rose out of the rubble, defiant in its composure but obviously completely beyond repair.
People we spoke to said it would take a generation to rebuild and given that we’re now middle aged, we won’t be around to see the city fully reborn. But in the meantime we were astounded to see the progress that has been made during our visit last week.
Rising out of the rubble were countless new buildings and many, many more still being constructed. They are of all shapes and sizes, of differing angles and glittering glass facades, truely it was a modernist architects dream. But there was one thing these new structures shared in common and that was a huge amount of bracing. Ingenious and enormous steel tubes criss-crossed the elevations which were engineered to work like vast shock absorbers should something similar happen again. No building was taller than 4 stories which, when all are completed will make a refreshing change of street scene from the sky-obliterating, heaven-scrapers of other cities.
A week spent in Christchurch visiting family and friends always flashes by in an instant and we found ourselves on a tight schedule to get round everyone. The Kiwi was ever the doting Grandpa and grandson took a while trying to work out how Grandpa came out the FaceTime screen and into real life. A very jolly lunch was had at Christchurch’s iconic department store, Ballantyne’s with four generations tucking into delicious fare followed by a moderate amount of retail therapy in the kitchen department.
The Golden Girls had been deposited at our nearest kennels in Ararat, an hour away from us. They went bananas when we picked them up but didn’t seem to mind a jolly good bath when we got them home.
Winter here is setting in and is nothing like the freezing Suffolk temperatures I’m used to. My Aussie colleagues moan like hell about the cold, I tell them they don’t know what they’re missing! Nevertheless I have been feeling a little on the chilly side on my dawn dog walks and I now have to wear similar outdoor garb to what I did in the UK so I feel right at home!
Lambing has nearly been and gone. There seems to be a glut of twins this year and mostly things out in the paddock have gone well. On one of our evening rounds this week we came across a cast ewe (lying on her back with her legs in the air) unable to right herself. Her lamb bleated frantically beside us as the Kiwi manhandled the ewe to her feet. She promptly started to pee, and pee and pee, the poor thing must have been bursting and we thought she might make a tributary of the Murray River! Soon all was well and mother and son were happily reunited.
We moved on to another paddock where we came across a pair of what looked like two day old twins that clearly had been abandoned. He looked at her and she looked at him with the same thoughts running through our minds. “Can we leave them behind? Will our consciousness’s allow us to? How long will they survive on their own?” The answers were unsurprisingly a big fat three “No’s”. I scooped them up and put them in the dog box on the back of the ute. We didn’t have any of the lamb accoutrements required for such a venture so Dr Shepherd Google came to the rescue with a recipe for lamb milk which consisted of cows milk, an egg and a teaspoon of sugar. The next problem was how to get the milk from the mixing jug into the lambs. I had a brainwave! Lurking in my kitchen junk drawer was a neglected box of plastic piping bags. I pricked a hole in the end and bingo! It worked! The starving lambs slurped it all down in a matter of moments. We then grabbed one of our many cardboard boxes and put some hay in the bottom and there they spent the night.
Having now purchased some lamb milk powder and teats which fit onto beer bottles “Liz and Phil” are thriving. Phil gets the Carlton Mid bottle and Liz gets the more refined Peroni!
We have set up a small paddock for them next to the washing line and we put them to bed in a small enclosure in the shed. They love all the dogs and at first they thought Margot was their mum and tried to suckle from her! Margot was not amused! Although I did have a bit of a laugh yesterday when one of my colleagues at work pulled some hay out of my hair!