Christchurch Resurgent [5].

Sunday 6th November 2011.

Friday was a typical Canterbury spring day, warm and sunny at first then half an hour later a bitterly cold southerly would sweep icy rain across the City, leaving folk wondering if winter had suddenly returned. This after weather forecasts had predicted clear skies and 16-18°C all day. When I grow up, I am going to become a meteorologist, that being the only job that I can think of where you can get it wrong every time and they still do not sack you!

The Arts Centre Clocktower - a long way to go yet.

I had a walk beyond the Mall this time, looking at a rather wider field than just the newly opened-up part of town, and the news is good and bad. The Botanical Gardens are at their floribundent finest right now, as you would expect. The Caterpillar, the little green buggy with all the seats that chugs tourists and visitors around the gardens is running, every hour on the hour. The chap who drives it and gives a commentary is as cheerful and engaging as his little machine is green. Little groups of tourists drifted past the front of the museum, which is also open and fully operational, and into and out of the gardens. Most seem to want to take photographs of the Great Hall of the Arts Centre, with its fallen gable-ends, and bracing, and its turret sitting carefully placed on the ground, or the ruinous Clocktower.

The Arts Centre market was two stalls in their new position on the north side of the Worcester Boulevard, and its Heart of the City Market rival was half a dozen stalls outside the YMCA in Hereford Street. By the time I reached the latter icy rain was driving even those plucky few back into their vans. I walked back down the road, past the sad expanse that used to be the elegant St Elmo’s Courts, now a gravel parking area, to the City Mall.

The problem is that, attractive as the Mall is now on a warm and sunny day, in the cold and the wet

The Artisans' Market opposite Old Boys' High - the determined few.

it is truly miserable. Once upon a time there were verandahs, as well as places like the Shades and Guthrey Arcades, and the Cathedral, where people could shelter. Now there are only the occasional overhanging upper containers, and the insides of pop-up shops. Walking around them and watching the little rivulets running streaming down the fronts and the sides, one cannot but reflect on the basic engineering fact that roofs have slopes and eaves for a purpose other than simple decoration.

Luckily the rain did not last for long, perhaps half an hour at most. Then the clouds blew away, brilliant sunshine flooded down, and smiling crowds began to reappear. Soon Cashel Village was bustling once more, people walking, people dawdling, people standing around, people sitting. Trucks and commercial vehicles huffling and snuffling up and down did not appear to disturb the shoppers, who good-naturedly made way for them without breaking stride. Little gaggles of slack-jawed labourers sat together on benches, ogling the passing women, giggling and nudging each other, flicking their cigarette butts into the flowers in the planter boxes, but nobody seemed to mind them, or even notice them particularly. Everyone seemed cheerful.

There was something invigoratingly symbolic in the day; the forces of nature drove people away, and when they abated people returned, busy, smiling, positive, determined to get on with the never-ending business of getting on. No matter how hard it rains, the sun will come out eventually.

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