Local Heart, Global Soul

September 25, 2012

From That First Raspberry Bun Until Now… Sydenham Bakery.

Filed under: LIFE,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Specialty — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When I first started my first  job in the centre  of Christchurch. I was still living at home and would walk the length of Colombo Street to and from work.  I  therefore passed the Sydenham Bakery twice a day and would look fondly in the shop window as I went past.

My Grandparents, and sometimes my parents, used to stop there every so often to buy soft white,  raspberry buns, apricot pies, Boston buns or slices but only as a really special treat, so for me…  a typical sweet toothed kid, treats that happened not nearly often enough!

I worked all week in town, walking every day past the bakery and at the end of my first working week  the “pay lady” did the rounds and handed out a very small,rectangular brown envelopes to all the staff.

Inside mine were the bank notes of  my first pay, a few coins at the bottom to complete the balance and a crisply folded  pay-sheet that detailed what I’d earned Gross, Taxes paid and the Net balance. The figure on the bottom line wasn’t particularly much but there was more cash in that tiny envelope than I’d ever held before in my life.

I was so proud of my first pay-packet,  dreamed of saving for world travels and walked in the direction of home as if on air. I walked over the Colombo Street over-bridge,  the railway tracks were  busy with trains, freight wagons and carriages and Christchurch’s main  (err…only) Railway station with the tall clock tower was a short distance away.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There were the favourite shops that I would pass in Sydenham on my walk south… the  second hand furniture shops, the photographer’s,  the printing place,  Church, Post office and park with Nazareth House in the distance and on this occasion I knew I would be making a special stop on the way home from work.

I entered the Sydenham Bakery and after a short deliberation bought a raspberry iced bun.  It was my first purchase my my first weekly pay and I was as delighted with my new financial independence as I was with my iced bun.

It’s the sort of day you remember all of your life, and every time I walked past Sydenham Bakery I would look in the window and remember that day and that feeling with a smile.

Since my wages were low and my travel dreams were large I forwent the bus and walked to and from work every day except  the very worst of winter days,  saving my bus fare and watching my travel fund grow. Every now and again I would go inside the bakery and try something new… eventually the apricot pies caught my attention and became as firm a favourite as the raspberry buns.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Years later, when my planned three month trip to the Netherlands to renew my Dutch passport unexpectedly became a more than twenty year residence, my visits to Sydenham Bakery were confined to infrequent visits back to Christchurch, but I was still in the habit of leaving their premises with a purchase of raspberry buns and apricot pies in my hand.

Then the earthquakes came and kept coming… I was as stunned and shocked as all New Zealanders, both at home and abroad. In September 2010 I was relieved that there was no loss of life, In February 2011 I grieved along with the nation as two people I knew perished amongst the 182 fatalities.

Also gone were many of my favourite haunts, and uncertainty reigned about businesses damaged and if they would stay and rebuild or move on to other places.

I contacted Sydenham Bakery via  an internet noticeboard and expressed my hope that they were all ok and wondered if  they intended repairing their damaged premisses:  telling of my fond memories and first pay-packet purchase. To my surprise Celia from Sydenham Bakery contacted me with an invite to visit her next time I was in New Zealand. We’ve been in email contact during the intervening months and set up this appointment.

So here I stand outside the Bakery… so many memories and emotions of past years and recent events, so many of the familiar surrounding buildings have been demolished.  Time to go inside…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)


  1. Oh, Kiwi, what a sweet memory — and so wonderfully told!

    Comment by Luddy's Lens — September 25, 2012 @ 4:23 pm | Reply

    • Thank you Luddy,
      Like everyone we have strong associations with places for many reasons… yes it’s a bakery and I’m just a customer with no affiliation to it other than I used to be a regular over the years, but memories are precious and sometimes explaining the links mean that hopefully the deeper level of why I love to write about these places comes across 🙂
      …and maybe my kids will finally understand why I drag them here instead of some other bakery closer to where we are staying. Mind you there were NO complaints when they saw the selection LOL!

      Comment by kiwidutch — September 26, 2012 @ 8:38 am | Reply

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