Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Road tripping, and markets on this weekend

Things have been pretty busy here of late. I went to Nelson last weekend, to catch up with family, do some Rose in Thorns reconnaissance work, and have a break from the aftershocks. I promise I didn't run away from the aftershocks, this trip had been planned before the earthquake. I did become paranoid that the Alpine Fault was going to go right about the time I was driving over the Lewis Pass. Fortunately that didn't happen – it snowed instead! It has just started on the way up on Friday, and when I came back on Sunday, there was still lots of snow all around the side of the road, and even on the trees, so I kept stopping to take photos.

This weekend I have Rolleston Market on Sunday, and I will also have a stall at the Ashburton Boulevard day on Monday. I even bought myself a gazebo, so I don't get wet if it rains! So I'm very busy getting organised this week.

Rolleston Market – 26th September
Rolleston Community Market will be in the carpark of the Rolleston Community Centre this Sunday, or it will move indoors if the weather is inclement. Here you will find a great selection of handmade goods, including candles, clothing, children's toys and jewellery, as well fresh produce. There is something for everyone, including hot food and a bouncy castle. For directions, click here

Ashburton Boulevard Day 2010 – 27th September
Ashburton's renowned annual market day extravaganza, featuring over 140 stalls, live entertainment, children's activities and a delicious range of food. It runs from 9am - 4pm, and is held on Ashburton's East Street.

As usual, you can bring along your old candles to recycle, and I will give you a 10% discount on your purchase. It would be lovely to see you if you can come along to either event!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Christchurch – still standing

Yesterday we went for a walk in the city, to see how much it had changed. There has been lots of talk about the heritage buildings that will be destroyed, so I went to see how some of the more significant ones had fared. I'd had an enquiry on Twitter from Sarah as to the state of Our City, where A Craft Affair and the Night Market are held. I had very briefly seen a shot of it on the news, and it seemed to have only suffered minor damage. I'd had hoped that as it was a council owned building, it would have had earthquake strengthening work done to it already.
There was some tape around it to protect people from falling bricks, but I was very pleased to see that it had a green sticker, and had only suffered minor damage, with some fallen bricks and tiles. As I walked around the city centre I was heartened to see that a lot of heritage buildings did appear to have survived with minimal damage. Although it is sad to see the buildings that will have to be demolished go, we still have a large number of old character buildings remaining. Here are some pictures to celebrate some of my favourite buildings which appear to have survived without major damage.
The old Public Trust office has recently been refurbished, so I imagine some earthquake strengthening work may have been done at the time.
I've always loved how this wooden building has defied the progress all around it, and managed to remain there all this time. It appears even an earthquake can't faze it, as Shand's Emporium was open for business as usual.
The Hanafin's store and money exchange were open, so I think it's safe to assume this iconic building will remain. Interestingly, the Westpac tower in the background appears to have sustained some damage. Not being an engineer, I don't know if it's significant or not.
Events like this often bring out the best in people. From the students mobilising on facebook to help with the cleanup, to businesses helping out competitors whose premises have been destroyed. I have been very impressed with the reponse to this, especially the tireless effort that has been put in by all the services that are there to help out by checking the safety of buildings, and restoring essential services right through to people contacting elderly people living along to make sure they are ok. There have been messages of support from all over New Zealand, and all around the world. A big thanks to all those that have helped out, and offered their support. It makes me proud to be a kiwi, and live in such a great city. We may have been badly shaken, but we haven't been beaten.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A story from the Murchison Earthquake, 1929

(click here for info on this picture)

When I was younger I remember asking my Grandmother what it was like in the Murchison earthquake (7.8, in 1929). She was 18 at the time, and was sitting outside on a log when it hit. I'd wondered what it must be like to be in an earthquake like that, and now I have a pretty good idea. Here are some excerpts from her memoirs. I can totally understand how she was feeling now. She lived in the Maruia Valley, which was very remote at the time.

"It was certainly a never to be forgotten experience when the big 'quake shattered our peaceful valley and left us feeling very insecure and unsettled, especially Ruth and me.

"It took months for the shakes to subside and for years I was nervous of those uncanny shakes, and still am.

(click here for info on this picture)

"Almost a week afterwards the Matakitaki refugees started coming out of their valley on their way to Christchurch where they had been invited, to help them recover from the shock. The weather was very bad at that time; cold winds with thunder storms and floods. Our river was up but not high in flood, so Dad ferried the refugees across with the horses and wagon while someone else took them on to Reefton to catch the train to Christchurch. While waiting their turn to cross the river, they came into our home out of the rain and cold. We were very busy pouring cups of hot tea and providing a bite to eat. Some of them told us that there was another big quake predicted which did not help quieten our fears at all; this being the reason why they wanted to get away as quickly as possible (and I don't blame them). Some weeks later the refugees returned home, the Christchurch people had given them a wonderful time.

"We did have some quite severe aftershocks after that but the big one didn't eventuate much to my relief."

When I spoke to Dad the other day, he said that they really thought it was the end of the world. It's good that we now know why earthquakes happen, but it doesn't make them any less scary!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My eventful year of 2010 continues with a jolt

As you probably know, Christchurch was shaken by a very large earthquake early on Saturday morning. It has definitely changed life as we know it in this city.

I awoke to the house shaking rather violently in a tremor that seemed to last for ages. A quick glance at my alarm clock indicated it was 4:38am. During this time the TV fell off the set of drawers it was sitting on, and hit the heater on its way down. I was convinced it was ruined. When the shaking stopped I asked Josh to get up and turn the light on so we could survey the damage. It didn't work and he said the power has gone off. I looked back at my alarm clock which was now completely blank. This emphasised the seriousness of the situation quite quickly for me – everything is scarier when it's dark.

Josh went downstairs to survey the damage, using his cellphone as a torch. A few minutes later I felt brave enough to get out of bed and take a look at the damage myself. I was concerned for my computer, so looked in the study to see that it was still perfectly fine. The bookcase had fallen over spilling all it's contents onto the floor, and blocking access to the room. The fishtank in the lounge had sloshed about quite a lot and lost a bit of water. It hadn't fallen over though, and the fish are fine. I went back upstairs to plug in the old-fashioned phone I have kept hold of for times like these. Of course I had unplugged it a while back to help trouble shoot some internet issues. So there I was in the corner in the dark using the light from my cellphone to find the phone and plug it back in again.

By this point I was shaking like a leaf, as the tremors just kept coming. I began to worry about how bad it was elsewhere, as I imagined the main faultline in the Southern Alps had gone, and the quake was even worse somewhere else. I was also quite sure there would have been some fatalities. Josh had interent access on his phone, and found some information that the quake was centred only 30km from Christchurch, which made me feel a bit better.

I grew up in the Nelson region which is near a lot of earthquake prone areas. My grandmother had been through the Murchison earthquake in 1929, and my parents and grandparents the Inangahua quake of 1968. So I had never considered Christchurch a particularly high risk earthquake area. It turns out the scientists hadn't either!

We went back to bed, but I got very little sleep. It was very good to see daylight appearing a few hours later. We got up at about 8am, and I went to the garage to listen to the radio in the car to try and find out what was happening. When I found a station reporting on it, it was clear how serious it had been. I texted my family in Nelson to ask if they had felt it, and let them know we were ok. It had woken up my brother whose room is on a second storey. We then went for a walk around the neighbourhood, to discover a lot of broken and cracked chimneys, as well as lots of bricks that had crumbled off the side of older buildings.

When we got back the power was back on, so we just sat in the lounge glued to the TV while the scale of the disaster was revealed. It was a very surreal experience to have actually experienced the event, and be in the middle of it all. Normally the news happens somewhere else. It still doesn't seem quite real now. We went for another walk to see how much damage there was and took some photos this time.

Later on I plugged in the TV to discover it still worked after it had fallen on to the floor. I tidied up the study, and moved the bookcase to the other side of the room. At least if it falls over again while I am in there, it shouldn't hit me or block my access to the door. The TV will live on the floor for the next couple of weeks. Then it will live a bit further away from the edge of the drawers.

The aftershocks since the earthquake have been very unsettling. I was beginning to relax yesterday, as they seemed to have dimished in severity and intensity. That was until just after I had fallen asleep, only to be woken by a stronger aftershock, and subsequently several more over the course of the night.

I feel very thankful that there were no fatalities, that our house appears to be undamaged, and we didn't suffer much damage to our belongings either. Some people are not so lucky, and will never be able to go back to their homes.

Fortunately none of my candles or candle-making equipment have been damaged, so it won't cause too much disruption to the business side of things. So if you want to stock up your emergency kit with locally sourced, handmade candles, you still can! I was really surprised to discover hardly anything had moved in the garage. I have some large heavy duty shelves with blocks of wax etc on them, and everything is still on the shelves.

I don't think 2010 is a year I'm ever going to forget, it has been full of unexpected surprises. I'm just hoping that any further surprises are nice ones!