I have to deal with the latter first as it’s been bugging us for a while. Manchester, we know as a city in England not far from Liverpool, but it means something entirely different here. We started to notice it watching the TV commercials on Boxing Day, just as the January sales started. The ‘Farmers’ shop, which is a department store chain similar to Debenhams, BHS and Marks & Spencer, were putting on adverts with 30% off women’s wear, children’s wear, men’s wear and, Manchester!
|Ying and Yang! (Tigger and Ustinov on the patio)|
At first I thought I’d mis-heard, but no, there it was in big letters on the screen with a very excited male voice shouting ‘30% off Manchester’ (most adverts here seem to feature excited people shouting very quickly and in a high voice about what they are selling!) I pondered this for a while and, after seeing it four or five times I asked Jackie if she knew what Manchester was. No she had no idea and the adverts gave us no clue.
I decided the only way was to visit a Farmers shop and ask someone, so a few days ago when we were in Ashburton, walking through the quite sizeable town we saw a Farmer’s shop. Now’s my chance. In I went, found an assistant, took her through the advert and told her how I’m puzzled about what Manchester is. Looking at me rather strangely, as though she couldn’t imagine why I wouldn’t know, she relaxed, smiled and said………’its sheets, duvets, pillows etc’. I was very pleased I’d found out and thanked her for putting my mind at rest, but the unanswered question is: ‘why is it called Manchester?’ I don’t know the answer to this but I’d love to find out. If anyone knows I would be eternally grateful if you would let me know.
|A very tired, fluffy Tiffany|
Anyway, we’ve had a couple of days out on the Banks Peninsular, which is a group of extinct volcano’s jutting out into the sea by Christchurch. The craters have been eroded away and have opened up into the sea to form lots of deep inlets of turquoise blue sea surrounded by jagged coastline, backed by steep, rugged hills. Roads wind their way over and down into little coves, only one is a main road, which leads to the French influenced Akaroa village nestled into a little bay in one of the inlets, but there are lots of other smaller roads, some with tarmac, others just gravel, with lots of sharp bends, very steep hills and, just when you don’t expect it, a view to die for!
We didn’t go to Akaroa as we’ve booked to stay there for two nights with Pauline, Jackie’s mum, when she comes over to visit us for a month on 3rd February. This picture is therefore mainly for Pauline, just to whet her appetite. Akaroa is on the far bank, in a little bay, just above the very end of the long, thin island that juts out into the inlet, so this is where we’ll be for the 3rd and 4th February. Things to do: swimming with dolphins, seal watching, cruises, kayaking, walking, oh and drinking lots of red wine (New Zealand wine of course)!
Instead of going to Akaroa we headed off to Pigeon Bay to go climbing. There’s a crag there called Holmes Bay that has 29 trad climbs from grade 10 to 24. It’s a long drive over a gravel road, wondering where on earth it’s going, but only about 15 minutes walk to the crag. We thought it would be busy as its only about an hour from Christchurch, particularly as the huge Port Hills climbing area with over 800 climbs (the Stannage of New Zealand) has been closed to climbing since the earthquake, but there was no-one else there. Even more surprising was that it was very overgrown, moss and lichen all over the climbs and undergrowth at the bottom, making it difficult to get to each climb.
|At the crag|
We can only assume that trad climbing is not popular in NZ, as there’s an awful lot of bolted climbing, maybe it’s not worth their while buying the (expensive) trad gear. Fortunately we had bought our own, so set to! The rock is described as ‘columnar trachybasalt’, which seemed pretty similar to gritstone (not our favourite), but by and large had good gear placements, requiring use of our rack of wires and cams. We did a grade 14 and 15+ which equates to about VS 4b to 4c English grade and bold enough for us. B is being kind – he did really well, and I didn’t! Seconding was fine, but I started the lead on the first climb and backed off, the second one we both looked at and backed off, and the third I wouldn’t have even attempted (it’s the mention of handjams in the book that put me off!).
|View down to Pigeon Bay from the crag|
|Jackie pointing out the crag from Pigeon Bay|
Two great climbs in a great location on a beautiful summer’s day! We finished off by going into Pigeon Bay looking for an ice cream, but no, the lack of people in NZ means everything is isolated, no shops, no pubs, just a campsite. Ah well, we’ll just have to settle for these views:
|View from the jetty in Pigeon Bay|
|A small boy uses a rope swing over the water!|
Today we went to another part of Banks Peninsular and visited Lyttelton and Sumner. These are on the north of the peninsular by the Port Hills and Christchurch and we didn’t realise the damage they suffered in the earthquake. They are beautiful places and although a lot of things remain there are lots of gaps. We wanted to visit the Timeball Station in Lyttelton, which is the NZ equivalent of Greenwich in London. The Rough Guide says ‘built in 1876 in Gothic style, it is clearly visible from all over the town and for 50 years mariner’s recalibrated their on-board chronometers on the descent of a large ball down the pole on its roof’, just as it does at Greenwich. We have seen Greenwich, so it would be good to see this, but alas no, it’s gone! The place where it stood is now open ground, very sad!
We couldn’t drive from Lyttelton to Sumner as the road is still closed from rockfall, so we had to go through the tunnel under the Port Hills (undamaged from the earthquake) to the outskirts of Christchurch and along the coast road to Sumner. It is still a lovely place with a great surfing beach, lots of café’s and great views of the surrounding Port Hills, but shockingly, the cliff edge (maybe 200 feet high) partially fell away in the earthquake, taking a number of houses with it and leaving others perched precariously on the edge.
|View from the beach at Sumner|
The cliff face is still full of very loose rocks and the feeling is they could give way at any moment. To protect property and people below, row upon row of containers have been placed, two high in an attempt to catch any falling rocks. These are seen all round Sumner and, recently artists have been commissioned to paint them to stop it looking like a container yard! It was very sad to see what obviously were (and to an extent still are) beautiful places scarred like this.
|A house perched half over the cliff. The other half is at the bottom!|
|The surfing beach at Sumner|
|A surfer finally stands up (briefly!)|
|Looking down to the estuary, New Brighton and Southshore|
We didn’t venture the other side of the estuary to New Brighton and Southshore as it’s a long way through Christchurch and, we understand these formerly picturesque places have been devastated. Built on low, marshy ground, we’re told the ground ‘liquified’ in the earthquake causing many properties to simply sink! Whether they will ever recover I don’t know, but you can see from this picture (albeit showing a layer of smog on a still day) how picturesque the area is and why people built there in the first place. Up until the first earthquake in September 2010, earthquakes were pretty much unheard of in this area, so why not build there? You can't really blame the planners.