Monday, 16 June 2014

Revelations and discoveries

While we have been staying in Blenheim, we've also been planning things and trying to make sure we have done things we want to do, and been to places we want to go to before we leave for that other hemisphere.

We've been to Mapua and briefly to Nelson. All going well we want to revisit Nelson again this week. We have become a little more familiar with Blenheim and Picton, and have had a couple of days in Christchurch.

Last time we visited Christchurch was six months after the February 2011 earthquake. The city and it's people were still in shock and the inner city was completely closed, shut down and no access for anyone. Organised demolition hadn't even started and aftershocks were a normal part of life. It was sad. It seemed empty and soul-less. We felt a little ghoulish taking photos of the damage, while trying to recall how it had looked before.

Things are changing though, albeit too slowly for some. We were heartened to see a new vibrancy emerging in the inner city. The Re:START mall, the transitional (cardboard) cathedral, art installations of different kinds and people. People enjoying their city again and embracing the changes, while still honouring and respecting the event that has changed them all.

On our way home, since it want as stormy and wet as our trip south we stopped to photograph the seals near Kaikoura. There were more than I have ever seen on other trips. We also walked up the stream which is a playground for seal pups. They were gorgeous, so close to us and so unafraid (until a train went over the bridge). we could have stayed for hours if it hadn't been so cold.

Then today we went exploring and found the cob cottage lived in by our ancestors. It is on a private farm, on a road which only has public access in weekends. I'm not sure which of the ancestors actually lived in it though. I am sure my great great grandfathers brother and his wife lived there and raised a large family but I'm unsure whether the generation before also lived there. They lived somewhere there though after moving from Nelson with their young family in the late 1840's or early 1850's. My great great great grandfather was drowned in the nearby river in 1860. One of their sons also drowned nearby. Perhaps there were other cottages and this one is the only surviving one. But their name (Bartlett) lives on in the creek which runs through the valley to join the Wairau River, and the name of the road.

They must have been a tough lot of people, determined and stoic. So different to us with our gadgets and sometimes first world problems. I'm proud of them and what they achieved. I hope they look down on us and are proud of what they see too.

Funny that soon we will be making the journey back to the country they all left. But we will travel in just over a day the distance which they travelled in three months by sail.

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