Local Heart, Global Soul

August 12, 2018

History Being Built All Around The Bridge…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Visiting Christchurch, New Zealand’s city center in the first days of 2018, Himself and I stopped by the Colombo street, bridge.

Not the large overhead bridge that takes traffic across the railway tracks and through the areas of Sydenham and Beckenham to Cashmere on the Port Hills, but the small more historic bridge that crosses the Avon river at Cambridge Terrace.

Located a few blocks north of the Square, and directly next to the Town Hall, this bridge was on one of my walking routes to and from work when I lived in my first flat with two other girls about half a kilometer north of here.

Here on the banks of the Avon I would sometimes come for a lazy weekend picnic lunch with a book under the shade of the trees.

Home cooking was both a habit and a financial necessity but sometimes after my regular trips to the large Public library nearby I bought potato filled sausages and chips as a treat from the snack bar in the little pedestrian alleyway that connected the Library on Gloucester Street to Cathedral Square.

If the weather was warm I’d head two either of two favourite spots.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The first was Victoria Square, one block further from the Library, and just over the road from here and the second was the bank of the river.

Victoria Square usually won in the evenings because the fountain used to change colours and was beautiful to sit by on a bench with my hot dinner.

The river bank usually won if I wanted some summer weekend peace and quiet.

A tight budget meant my hobbies were simple by necessity and sitting reading or watching the world go by cost nothing and were equally enjoyable.

There were mobile phones back then but they were the size of bricks, cost a ton and no one I knew owned one.

We didn’t even dream, and it was never an issue.

It’s strange to look at those river banks now, there are construction materials everywhere, in all directions I see the city razed and slowly being rebuilt.

I take my camera and do a slow three hundred and sixty degree series of photographs …apologies I didn’t get them in complete chronological order.

I’m also trying to remember the name of the restaurant on the banks that used to serve meals unlike any other restaurant at the time, it was a family place you could line up and order various meals (roast chicken, beef or pork with roast veggies, kid friendly food) and then there were booths where you would sit after you got your meals.

It used to be here very close to this bridge if I remember correctly, but I last went there as a kid so don’t remember precisely where. So many changes will be taking place around here in the next years… this bridge may be historical but one day we will look back on this moment in time, when history was being built …or rather, rebuilt all around here.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 17, 2012

The Discovery of a Black Bicycle and a White Apron Makes my Heart Sing…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sometimes you see something out of the blue when you least expect it, and it makes your heart sing.

I had one such moment when I looked around the new Cashel Street Container Mall and saw a familiar name: Johnsons.

When I left home for the very first time, I moved into an old wooden villa (a ‘flat” that I shared with two other girls, “flatmates”) on Salisbury Street, just around the corner of Colombo Street.

Whilst flatting  there I worked in two places in town and would walk to work and back every day.

My walks naturally took me down this section of Colombo and past a variety of old established shops here, but prized amongst them was one that was especially special.

This was Johnsons the Grocer, and it consisted of they type of grocery that you could have imagined has been commonplace in the 1940’s.

Indeed, since it was actually founded in 1949, was probably just done in the style of the times and never changed.

There was an old fashioned black bicycle with a basket on the front, out the front of the shop whenever they were open and I remember cool tiles underfoot, high ceilings and a dimly-lit shop seemingly bursting at the seams with treasures.

The biggest feature of the shop was that there were essentially no isles, the shop was long and narrow and the walls were floor to ceiling shelves, long continuous ones, in wood. Stacked tightly to utilise every available millimetre were the goods for sale, exotic jars and packets of delectables from all around the world.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s entirely possible that the very first seeds of becoming a future “foodie” were planted and nurtured by my discovery and patronage of this very shop.

I adored going in and looking up at the wall of goodies on display, the serving counter was also thin and long, but piled with various items pertaining to the season and I would marvel at the long thin ladder that enabled the Johnson brother’s to reach anything above arms length (i.e. most of the stock).

The brothers wore long white old fashioned aprons, always listed each price rapidly on paper that came from a long roll and totted everything up at the end in their heads and at a speed that would put most people today and even some with calculators to shame.

Service was amazing, always with a beaming smile and no question as to the identification or use of an item of something was ever received negatively.

I often went in looking for a “special something” for a birthday present, or special occasion and each time I would come away with a new discovery, exotic cookies or sweets (candy) that you couldn’t buy anywhere else at the time and all of it real quality.

Sometimes when I had cash to spare and fancied a treat for myself, I would drop in for some black ball lollies… these were small round black and white striped hard candies, with a mint flavour that seems to last forever.

When I heard the news that earthquakes had extracted large scale damage to Christchurch, my first thoughts went naturally enough to the safety of friends and family, but once I knew that they were all safe and well, there were two shops that I especially hoped were ok… Johnsons was one of them.

It was with relief that I heard that the brothers were ok, but with sadness that their shop was beyond repair and was due for swift demolition.

That’s it then”, I thought…  after all, these guys are no longer spring chickens, so surely this business has met the end of the road.

Imagine then my delight when I saw offset from Cashel street, a shipping container shop with a black bicycle in the front window and the name “Johnsons” above the door !

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Not only were they back in business but one of the Johnson brothers was behind the till in his familiar white apron!

Naturally I couldn’t leave without buying something, and I quickly spied some pickles and chutneys that would be perfect to give to friends and family who have invited us to dinners in the next days and Lo and behold, my favourite black ball sweets were there too, so they went into my basket too.

I was served by a very busy Mr Johnson, and once the swift jotting down of numbers began, on an all familiar roll of white paper, I knew that they really were back to business as usual.

I told him I had been a former regular in the old shop before I moved to Europe to live and asked if they would ever rebuild in Colombo Street again… he smiled, “Probably not” he said, they had just settled in here and business was booming as people were delighted to see him and showing their support in their patronage.

You know, I think he’s right, Who would want to go back to a shop in a quiet more niche part of town when you have just established yourself in a spot with maximum foot traffic and people are flocking through your doors?

I would have loved to have taken photos inside the shop, but it was quite literally so packed full of customers that it wasn’t possible.

I know that loosing a shop, all that history and the mess of it all must have been beyond stressful, but kudos to Mr Johnson for starting again at all at his age… and he sincerely and absolutely deserves a spot in the new and popular Cashel Street Mall where new generations of Christchurch people can discover the gem he, and his shop really are.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is one time when I can be forever grateful to Google Street View for access to old images. These ones for me are really personal, and I didn’t realise just how much until I put the little street view figure onto the right place on the map and burst into tears when the familiar image of the shop as I had known it came into view. So many fond memories here, and a chance to say a little goodbye to a place and part of town I knew  and loved well.

Here, I will take you on a little tour of the past… First, if you stood on the corner of Peterborough Street and Colombo (looking south)  then this is the city block you would have seen.  Johnson’s is the last white bit of the block on the right, almost dead centre.

(photograph © Thank You Google Street View)

Just as we head towards Johnson’s I’m reminded of another favourite piece of architecture,now also sadly lost.

(photograph © Thank You Google Street View)

and then Johnson’s shop itself:

(photograph © Thank You Google Street View)

(photograph © Thank You Google Street View)

A small aside… you know when you have strange associations of sounds with certain specific places? Well Johnson’s has  one of those for me too. It’s nothing directly related to the shop itself but to the immediate location.  The old Johnson’s was almost on the corner of Colombo and Kilmore Street’s, and just three buildings away on Kilmore, was the Caledonian Hall. The Scottish Pipe bands would often practice there so I frequently walked this block of buildings with the background notes of soulful  bagpipes in my ears. Haunting.  Now sadly, The Caledonian Hall  is also gone.

(photograph © Thank You Google Street View)

Newer buildings were also not spared… nothing is left of the grey building that once stood opposite the XYZ Restaurant… (corner of Peterborough Street and Colombo Streets, on the left hand side if you are looking south)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

and now the same view  from the same spot today if you stand on the corner of Peterborough Street and Colombo (looking south)  …this is the city block you see post quakes…  Johnson’s would have been in the empty space to the right of the vehicle in the centre.

Little of the block on either side is left…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Where the XYZ Restaurant once stood there is now a blank space … on the wall of the building next to it someone was painted a mural Banksy-style of a man comforting a woman… a poignant reminder that more people loved these spaces and the history that went with them too. I didn’t have a closer shot so zoomed in on this photo as best I could.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 9, 2012

Hanafins, Man’s and Bringing down a Bank (or Maybe Even Two)…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In a continuation of yesterday’s post, I’m talking you on  the walking tour of the centre of Christchurch New Zealand that I made just before Christmas 2011.

A tiny section of the central city area has been fenced off and opened to the public on a controlled and tempory basis so that people can see what’s been going on here since the cordon was imposed immediately after the February 22nd earthquake here.

I’m standing on the intersection of Hereford and Colombo Streets, where they intersect with the top end of the High Street Mall.

Looking at the buildings opposite the ill fated Camera House building my attention is  immediately drawn to the gaping absence of the amazingly beautiful building that formerally housed Hanafin’s Camera shop.

I have to profess that I only stepped inside Hanafins a few times because they were the “opposition” of Camera House where I was already a frequent customer.

I did love the building however and it was a well known iconic piece of the city centre landscape.

I looked up their website and whilst I knew that this had been a long estanblished business, I was surprised to learn that the Hanafins family business has been running for some eighty years,  and was pleased to see that they are still operating in Christchurch in three of the cities various suburb malls.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The cordon and limited positions that the gates afford, mean that I can only get a glimpse of what’s currently left on this part of High Street: as with the Cashel Street part of the Mall, it was a pedestrian only area so the Google Street View vehicle never went down it and I have no photos from there either.

One place I did used to frequent on occasion when I worked in town was Man’s Bakery, on the Hereford side of Hanafins… their pastries were well worth the detour if I had the time and enough funds.

I’m a little surprised to learn that two of the modern looking banks, on the other side of this intersection (The ANZ and BNZ) have also been casualties of the quake, I’m not sure if the ANZ sustained significant damage or if it’s just closed because it’s in the drop-zone of the BNZ on the oppsite side of the street.

Even if it’s ok, naturally no customers can reach it now that it’s within the cordon of the central Red Zone and demolition is going on all around it.

It appears that the tall grey-blue boxy BNZ is to be demolished. I never loved the building at all, but it was a well known landmark in spite of it’s ugliness.

I hope that they will rebuild something a little more asthtically pleasing in it’s place.

One thing is for sure, this intersection will look very different in the future and now is the time to get used to the idea and say my goodbyes to the past.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A look down the High Street pedestrian Mall area…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

…In the distance a Hotel is being demolished…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Standing on Colombo Street, looking down Hereford Street (towards Latimer Square)…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Man’s Bakery…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

What it looked like … BEFORE…

(photograph © with Thanks to Google Street View)

Hanafins, the red-brown building at bottom left, and Camera House,  light brown building, on the other side of the intersection (also on the left)… BNZ bank  is the grey-blue tall building on the right and opposite it, the ANZ  bank building (black and white)…

(photograph © with Thanks to Google Street View)

(photograph © with Thanks to Google Street View)

(photograph © with Thanks to Google Street View)

The ANZ Bank…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The BNZ  Bank…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Blog at WordPress.com.