Local Heart, Global Soul

September 18, 2019

A Very Contained Bridge!

Visiting the Maasvlakte area of the Port of Rotterdam, we came accross a unique solution to a problem. A pipeline needed to cross the road but digging a tunnel underneath would be expensive, likewise for building a permanent structure above. I suppose someone looked around the Port and thought: “What could we use?” and found themselved staring a stacks and stacks of shipping containers. So shipping containers were stacked to make this bridge. It’s certainly solid enough and does the job. Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, the Green way to build a fairly “instant” bridge!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 3, 2012

Lean On Me When You’re Not Strong And I’ll Be Your Friend, I’ll Help You Carry On…

 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Roman Catholic Basilica in Christchurch New Zealand may well be damaged but extraordinary measures are being taken to ensure that the building doesn’t deteriorate further whilst options are being deliberated and even more importantly, whilst they wait for the aftershocks to ease off.

Once again the humble shipping container is being employed to shore up shaken structures, and on both the eastern and eastern sides of the transept shipping containers are stacked high to help the Cathedral withstand the many aftershocks that have continued to rock the city in the last two years.

The space where the Cathedral walls and the shipping containers  could make contact has been filled with hay bales, a very low tech but highly efficient buffer material that has the flexibility to cushion and absorb energy from the aftershocks as the building deals with the motion of the earth.

The massive cracks in the transept walls are a reminder of just how extensive the damage is and what a lot of work is going to be needed  to restore this building… with ongoing aftershocks further damaging the already weakened structure it’s uncertain if restoration is even possible.

In the meantime it probably largely due to the shipping containers and hay bales that the Cathedral hasn’t collapsed already.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Maybe if the Cathedral can be repaired, the first song played should be dedicated to the humble shipping container, and the tune should be the Bill Wither’s song:   “Lean on Me…” as the words are poignantly appropriate…

“Lean On Me”

Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain, we all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on

Please, swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won’t let show

You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on

You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

If there is a load
You have to bear that you can’t carry
I’m right up the road, I’ll share your load
If you just call me

Call me (If you need a friend)
Call me (Call me uh-huh)
Call me (When you need a friend)
Call me (If you ever need a friend)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (If you need a friend)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/billwithers/leanonme.html

(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 16, 2012

Woolston Brass, Always Music to My Ears…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The nice thing about retrospective writing is that we now get to have a little bit of Christmas all over again!

People often ask me what have been the hardest adjustments to make coming to live in The Netherlands.

The density of living and lack of space have definiately been one of the hardest things to get used to, and the multitude of cultural differences, but one thing is just small (doesn’t actually annoy me)  just catches me unawares over and over again (and really shouldn’t by now) … and that is the fact that Chistmas is a cold weather seasonal celebration and not a warm one.

I grew up having a down-under Christmas that represents everything Summer, so have instant memories of fresh strawberries, new potatoes, salad in the garden and sitting podding fresh picked peas to go with Christmas lunch or dinner.

…Of BBQ meals and end of year “do’s” held on someone’s back lawn, sunnies and sunscreen on the tables next to people’s glasses, and “bring-a-plate” get togethers talking place on warm balmy nights, and enjoying  afternoon music outdoors in Parks or  on warm evenings  in the Cathedral with Woolston Brass.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Nothing says “Summer”and “Christmas”and “Christchurch” to me more than seeing Woolston Brass Band in action in their various summer concerts, so I was delighted to see them setting up in the Cashel Street Mall and starting to play Christmas carols.

I always knew that this band has been around for ‘decades” but found out from their website that the Woolston Brass has actually been going strong since 1891, and a quick scroll through the central panel on their home page tells you that this is a group of people who have always been totally committed and active in their local community.

How they have managed to keep going during the upheaval that the earthquakes have presented, is nothing short of amazing, but they have been providing musical cheer and support all year as well as winning compititions locally and nationally.

I can’t boast a single jot of muscial talent whatsoever, but I can say that all through my years of living in Christchurch I’ve been one of the crowd who has thorougherly enjoyed all the music that the Woolston Brass has played to me and today is no exception.

I sat happily listening to the Carols until Himself and the kids dragged me away because they said they were starving hungry and wanted to find something to eat.

Thank-you Woolston Brass for keeping up my spirits, enlivening my days and sending me on my way with a smile on my face when-ever I have heard you play…  long may your musical traditions continue.

http://www.woolstonbrass.org/index.html

4sAovIk3eRs

February 15, 2012

Your Ship Comes In, but You Never Dreamed it Would Look Like This…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

As you know, I’m taking you on a retro tour of our trip to New Zealand.

“Retro” in this case means retroactive in a very recent sense of the word though, since we were in New Zealand during December 2011-Janurary 2012.

In the last week you’ve seen some rather sad and bare photos of the city centre… they are signs of the times and ones  you can’t deny since the devistation of multipule shallow earthquakes that hit at almost point-blank range has taken it’s physical toll on the city.

That said, they are only part of the bigger picture since there are also resilient people who have resolutely promised that they are here for the long haul and will rebuild, and they were making plans and taking steps almost even before the dust had settled from downed buildings.

The section of Cashel Street that made up the City (pedestrian) Mall had been particularly hard hit, since many of the buildings were of the old established variety, some dating from around 1900.

Since the Feburary earthquake may actaully have been a series of three or four quakes in rapid succession, it’s not surprising that there were fatalities here… it seems that some people inside shops paniced at the start of the quake and when there were a few calm(er) seconds they rushed outside believing that they would be safer in the street outside.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Horrifically the other shocks in the sequence hit nano-seconds later , and they lost their lives stepping out as  falling front wall masonary plummeted onto the footpaths in front of the shops.

If they city wanted to rebuild in this spot they would need to allay the serious safety fears that most people now had about this area.

The City Council set up a “share an idea” website and the ideas poured in by the thousands.

People wanted to feel safe in the city centre, they didn’t want heavy masonry fronts, or buildings of tilt-slab construction.

They wanted a wider “clear zone” pedestrian area in front of shops where they knew  they would be safe and they wanted more of a Eureopean cafe-culture feel to the city centre than had been there before.

Christchurch citizens no longer felt safe in buildings over four stories, “low-rise” is “in’ and “high rise” is severely out of fashion.

Naturally not every business is ready to rebuild yet, the aftershocks continue, many of the plans and insurance and reconstruction issues are long term ones, but nor did they want the entire central city to be red-zoned and under heavy cordon for too long either.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Since there was substantial damage in the Cashel Street City Mall between Colombo and Oxford streets, demolition started there with a vengance after the February quakes and by the end of the year they unveilled a radical solution to the problem of needing something tempory until things get sorted out long term and yet tough enough to stand up to ongoing quakes and addressing people’s fears about returning to the central city.

What would provide a solution to all of this?

Answer: Shipping Containers.

So… this is how Kiwidutch ends up taking you on a tour of the world’s first (converted) Shipping Container Mall.

It’s supposed to be tempory but who knows?  Everyone we spoke to loves it, many would love to see it become permanent.

People are flocking to see it,  it’s a low-rise solution that was quick-ish to put in place and the shipping containers are a tough as they come, so people feel safe.

Five days after we were here, the city rocked and rolled to the double whammy 5.8 and 6.0 magnitude quakes in amongst a cluster of some 36 other quakes on December 23rd and this area held up brilliantly.  The humble shipping container has never looked so good…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

…The Bank!…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Not a container, but the Ballantynes Department store that’s another Christchurch institution (corner  Cashel and Colombo sts)  and back in business…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Bridge of Remembrance stood up well… (there are cracks though the lions buttocks though… and nooo I don’t mean “that” crack)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s rather strange though, to be parking your car (behind wooden fences on right) where rows of shops once stood…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 26, 2011

Everything Neatly Contained!

Filed under: Places and Sights,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Decades ago, cargo was stored in the holds of ships,  packed in crates, barrels and loaded mostly by hand using cranes, pulley’s and nets.

Space on board was not ergonomically used and loading and unloading took manpower and time.

Then came the Container… steel boxes of uniform size what had ships specifically designed to carry them.

Containers got bigger, and the ships to carry them got bigger still. Times changed and today container shipping is an international mega-industry.

Rotterdam’s Container Port works around the clock, year round.

The massive cranes are manned, with crane operators up high in cabins on the cranes.

If you look carefully in the last video clip, you will see that the operators cabins can travel the length of the boom, so that they can be both in visual range of the ship at the dock at one end and the container “trucks” at the other.

The ships are not tied up at the dock at all, instead there are several tugs alongside, keeping steady pressure on the side of the ship, and keeping it push up against the dockside the entire time that loading or unloading is taking place.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The reasons for this are twofold: speed and money, ships queue to book a “slot” at the quay, and they pay hundreds of thousands of Euros per hour for their slot. (If I remember correctly I think a figure of Euro 35.000,- per hour was mentioned).

It’s so incredibly expensive that they don’t waste time tying up the ship, they just keep it pushed up against the quay and start unloading or loading immediately.

The “truck” transporters that the crane drivers set to containers onto are driver-less, guided by network of computer electronics and a special grid to follow laid out beneath the tarmac.

The cranes that take and stack the containers are also completely automated and everything is carefully ordered to that the correct containers are stacked not only in the correct place but also in the right order.

There are special sensors in the automated trucks so that if if something goes awry and they hit something, or something hits them, the whole network comes to an emergency stop.

We watch from behind a large fence (I poke the camera lens though the mesh to get the photographs)  and the whole “dance of the machines” is quite mesmerizing.

Later see a truck that hauls containers from one area to another area with a multiple trailer “road train” style, as used in  Australian haulage, except that here it’s only use for within the Container Port.

Once again the camera can not do the scene justice… the line of containers stretches further into the distance than the lens can focus, as do the gigantic cranes on the quay.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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