December 28, 2011

Everything banana....

Taken at The George Hotel

The final dessert with the meringues...

I see this is my 700th post..... a fitting number for an outstanding evening.

Pescatore Resturant - fine dining. Making banana meringue in liquid nitrogen

Taken at The George Hotel

We had the 10 ( although I lost count and thanks to some extra chef wizardry I think we landed up with 12) course Evolution dinner at Pescatore Restaurant at The George Hotel  tonight. You can see the menu on the first ink - but the reading does not prepare you for the myriad of beautiful ways they present the food. Months of Masterchef watching has made me familiar with the foams, gels, pearls, whips, infusions but it was wonderful to see some of the amazing ways they can combine foods to delight the senses and palate. It was amazing.

My son has been working there all year since his previous work was destroyed in the February earthquake.  He is planning on travelling in 2012 and has given in his notice at work, so tonight we took the chance to eat there before he left; he was our waiter.
What a meal.
And he made us meringues at the table by cooking them in liquid nitrogen. It finishes with the throwing of the remaining nitrogen on the floor and creating a mystical dry ice feel. 

Thank you for a wonderful evening. 
The final cherry.... he paid the bill!

December 26, 2011

Great Christmas

We had a wonderful Xmas ... Early breakfast at my son's house, skyping with Mark and Jaz, the afternoon at my parents, joined by the children as they finished work and so on. A day of great presents and food with just a mild shake really early in the morning, and another just after midnight; none of us checked Richter Scales, or faultlines all day. If they happened, we didn't notice them - but enjoyed a great day catching up with the family.  I hope that even the people who had fresh liquefaction were able to get out for the day to drier areas. It sounds like many people were able to pitch in and help with the shovelling.  Again we sit on the fringes of the wet area - and are grateful beyond words to be safe and unaffected again.
The Boxing Day sales are in full swing, but we have had a few good aftershocks already this morning so the malls might be a scary place to be right now.
Poppy had a lovely Xmas - lots of new people to meet as she came to Carols by Candlelight in Hagley Park on Xmas Eve and had a busy Xmas Day.

Some further footage on the quakes can be seen here - narrated by Mike McRoberts who is originally from Christchurch .

There was an interesting picture on the Daily Mail site today - the one that proclaimed 1 in 10 people will leave Canterbury.  I wish them all well because ultimately you have to do what feels right for your lifestyle, and so many have been hit particularly hard by the impact of the quakes. Looking at the fault lines on this picture below, I hope they are heading north.... imagine heading anywhere along the Alpine Fault line as it snakes it's way up the country.  Meanwile, we look forward to meeting the 30,000 workers needed for the rebuild, from other parts of New Zealand, or other countries. I have already met some that have moved here because of their needed skills, bringing families with them. When we were living in Whangarei, during the Marsden Point Refinery Expansion, the injection of so many fresh views and cultures was a breath of fresh air for the area. Recently, I was pleased to find I have a number of students starting in February who are coming from overseas to study here; so don't believe everything you read. I guess the media always make it sound worse.

I cant put Xmas photos on here... our day involved a lot of toys and balloons and colourful wigs and my life would be in jeopardy if I publish the pictures.... my wig was long silver ringlets and I am not publishing that either !!!
Hope you all had a wonderful Xmas too.

December 24, 2011

Christmas images

Thank you to Chch Eq photos on facebook for these images of Xmas in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Merry Xmas everyone xx

Christmas Eve in Shaky Wonderland of Christchurch

Thank you for the lovely comments - we have been lucky the internet has stayed up and we can still text.  Oh and we have power and water - all things to be grateful for today.

An unsettled night - we were tired enough to sleep intermittently, but the house was moving too often for it to be restful.     I have been checking the Canterbury Quake page and took some snapshots... 66 in the last 24 hours....

The next one shows details of the last individual quakes -  doesn't show yesterday's ones as there have been too many since then, but the whole city was woken to a good 5.1 at 6.37 am ... which I see was actually over in the Port Hills Fault line....the rest have come from the Pegasus Bay Fault line out to sea.  It is a known fault line, so I guess it is not unexpected that it has gone off.

The next picture shows the earthquake swarms that follow each major quake -  colour coded for Sept, Feb, June and Dec as it spreads across the region.  We are basically in the area Burwood shown on this map.

The dogs know the drill... thanks Mark for this pic and an update on the quakes at NZRaw

Last week photos were published by Ross Becker showing aerial shots of our area...

I can see our house on the bottom left area of the screen. We are on the outer rim of the old offshoot loop of river that is created from all the stormwater drains, then feeds back into the Avon River that you can see running out to sea. Ours is one of the original farmhouses for the area, and appears to be on higher sand dunes.  All the inner area is red zoned and will be totally demolished. The area has been another victim of liquefaction after yesterday and many people will be desperate to get out once the insurance hassles are sorted. Sadly, paying rent somewhere else, while still responsible for a mortgage there, is not an option for many, while sorting out the fine print on their government buyouts, which is often well below the purchase price of the house or what a new place will cost.  While we all struggle with the fear and reaction to the shaking, the emotional toll on these people is beyond comprehension.

Same place - looking the other way - this time we are just above the blue lake area to the top right of the photo.

Meanwhile, it is Xmas but our priorities for today have changed a bit.  We are both tired and I have rearranged the plans. Our carefully ordered Xmas presents will not arrive now as the mail centre is closed and all the flights have been delayed. Our local malls are shut.  Those that are open across town are already teeming with people brave, or desperate, enough to re enter the concrete monstrosities for Xmas presents or survival supplies. It won't be us...  but we will try and find a vege place open and get some fresh produce, and of course cream for the pav tomorrow. Thanks to the new tow ball on my car we borrowed my parents trailer, and had planned to get rid of all the mounds of branches in the garden today - but this might become an after Boxing Day activity instead.  More importantly, we are meeting up for drinks with friends who are back over from Sydney for Xmas ( great timing huh), and then maybe try the carol service in Hagley Park tonight... Tomorrow an early Xmas breakfast across town with my son, Skype with the soon to be returning here Auckland family ( and message for them, Rangiora is still ok ....)  and then the afternoon and dinner with all my children at my parents.  These simple pleasures are really all that matters. People, friendship, sharing time together at Xmas.

Thanks to whoever wrote this for spreading a smile :)

Sirens ring; are you listening?
In the lane liquefaction's glistening
A terrible sight
But we are alright
Living in a shaky wonderland

Wishing you all a safe and happy day.

December 23, 2011

Large Aftershocks Rock Canterbury |

Lost track of the quakes today but there were 24 today at one point. Rolling regularly.
House was messy but no major losses.... Small mercy. Power back, fans on to dry carpets, again.
Had a family celebration for Mum's birthday on the west side of the city before heading home to clean up after the 6.0. Good to see all of us there and safe.
There is a video of the 6.0 quake on this page... Worth watching to hear it!!
All I can really say is I am tired. We all are. Resilience is draining!
Grateful for no deaths, but sad for the other eastern suburbs who are flooded yet again. Spare thoughts for them tonight.

Large earthquake hits Christchurch - national |

Some strong shocks today.... 5.8 offshore and a few good ones to follow.
All ok no problem here, no obvious damage at home, but a few places will be damaged.
Have come across the city to celebrate my Mum's birthday ... Clogged traffic!
Nice to get the family altogether safely though.

December 22, 2011

ABC from EQ City - QuakeStories


Dear Whoever, I write this in May, 2011. Some people here in Christchurch are talking about things “getting back to normal” after the earthquakes. But I think we are adapting to a new kind of normality. A lot of things have become normal here that never used to be. Read this and see what you think.

A is for
Aftershocks. It is normal to feel aftershocks, in other words new earthquakes smaller than the big ones. There are thousands of these, according to the guys who measure their size (the “size-mologists”). Dozens of them are easily felt. An aftershock is certainly an earthquake. The earth moves! And a respectable earthquake doesn’t come alone.

B is for
Bricks. It is normal to see piles of broken bricks and other rubble at or near people’s gates. It is not uncommon to see a huge pile spread across a whole section where a shop used to be.

B is also for
Barriers and Boulders and Bricks and Buildings and Bumps and Buttresses (see appendix)

C is for
Chimneys. It is normal to see no chimneys on houses. Often you see the gap where the chimney used to be. Sometimes you see an oblong of plastic on the roof, or a pile of bricks on the ground, or a vertical strip of wall made of plywood. Sometimes one sees a brick thing projecting more than 10cm above a roof, and says: “Look, that house has a chimney!”

C is also for
Chemical Toilets, Churches, CBD and Cracks

D is for
Dust. It is normal to see dust. On dry windy days it blows about. On other days we mightn’t see it, but it’s still present in smaller quantities. We still breathe it in, it still collects on our windows, on our cars, even on the bookshelves which we have yet to restock with dusty books. It gets in our eyes.

You can read more by clicking on

Been thinking about a Thankful Thursday post.... And as we lead up to Xmas I do feel grateful to be on holiday, to be walking better after my knee surgery last Friday, that I have finished shopping, and making plans for a great family weekend. Tonight is Summer Solstice, the weather is lovely, the Xmas tree lights are going, inside and out, and the garden tidying is going well.

I know that we are lucky; that there are many families in Christchurch who are facing sadness, upheaval, uncertainty and loss. It makes for frustration and despair.

We all know it will be many years before the rebuild is finished but gradually people are developing things to do; music, arts, comedy, shopping. We are learning to live in the new normal. There are many things to adapt to.... Sometimes it takes reading a list like this to realise again how much.

Posted via email from Four Paws and Whiskers

December 11, 2011

The Twelve Days of Christmas...

I had a lovely evening at the CBS Arena watching the Elves and the children celebrate Xmas music with the orchestra. Scott was busy working on stage so I took a friend along. It was the first time I have sung carols this year and it was delightful, particularly fter our day of looking at the ruins of the city.

The stage was gorgeous - only got a photo before the performance...

The children thoroughly enjoyed Craig Smith performing Wonkey Donkey. We got a copy of this for Phoebe - in fact, the toy, the book and the cd, so great to see him perform it with the orchestra and the children up dancing to it. If you don't know it, you can see the song here ..

One of the sing-alongs perfectly captured the Christchurch experience and we all enjoyed it... 

A great night - that restored some of the festive spirit to our lives.

UC app helps see CBD as it used to be | CEISMIC

Just wish we had this yesterday!
Will still try it around town...

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Kia Kaha Christchurch: Cathedral Square

This excellent blog post, written by Elizabeth from captures anything I could say about doing the Cathedral Walkway yesterday.
Our biggest and saddest problem was trying to remember what we used to be able to see.
Another issue is that many of the high rises still in the square are going to be deconstructed so we saw yesterday's walk as a way to sit quietly and see them from this context for the last time.
I am no stranger to the devastation. I drive to work around the cordoned red zone. My office looks over the Catholic Basilica and my classroom over the Grand Chancellor. They have been demolishing the Christchurch School of Music next to the Basilica all week - the digger greedily pulling down the bricks. A true demolition compared to the careful deconstruction of many other places.
The square, a place filled with memories, felt empty and eerie, despite the people milling around in our little caged areas. This is the last weekend we can go, so I am glad I made the effort despite hobbling in with my crutch, ID on my body not my bag, as instructed. The 360 angle, the fine detail you miss in the photos, and the more immediate reality of it all is I guess, another step in the healing process.
Mainly I am just numb; I see it but I don't believe it. I just want to wake up.
We grabbed Souvlaki in the container mall and listened to children mechanically playing Fur Elise on keyboards, people ranting about how Jesus is real and pondered how people had died in that area in February.
Do go and read more from Elizabeth - she captures Christchurch well.

December 8, 2011

No Fracking Canterbury

If you haven't already heard about it, wherever you live, then you need to read this.
If it is happening in your area, you need to sit up and take notice even faster.
Canterbury's turn is now.

Posted via email from Four Paws and Whiskers

December 4, 2011

The Beauty of Pollination

Thank you to another Fiona, posting on facebook all the way from France, for making me aware of this :)

We are home from a great night at the Speedway after a glorious and very hot day. Hope the 5.7 quake near Picton and Wellington tonight has not done too much damage. My daughter has been home for a week from an amazing three weeks at Outward Bound in Picton . I flew back from a day in Wellington as she travelled home on the train, so we have both been up in that quake zone recently. I used to really enjoy my visits there but now I worry more about the buildings and being trapped.... although to date all my experiences of being trapped in Wellington have involved fog!

"Wellington is prone to earthquakes because it rests on the point where two tectonic plates meet. Kilometres beneath Wellington the light, thick Australian plate rides over the heavier, but thinner Pacific plate. These plate movements have resulted in three major fault-lines running either through or very close to Wellington City - the Ohariu Fault, the Wairarapa Fault, and the Wellington Fault. It is when one of these faults shifts suddenly that earthquakes occur. The number of earthquakes which occur in Wellington has led to our city becoming one of the world's leading centres for the study and research of earthquake activity and for the development of seismic strengthening techniques in buildings."

I am off to research bat breeding... I had not realised until I saw this video that they carried there young around and suckled them. Learn something new every day.

and ACC approved my surgery - all go in two weeks :)

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