Cruising around Christchurch by bicycle, I paused at the so-called Anglican transitional cathedral. It’s looking great with most of the coloured glass windows installed. I believe it will be completed within a few weeks. Not for the first time I felt regrets at becoming a lapsed Anglican. The idea for utilising cardboard tubes in the construction is that of Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. Pity he is not involved more in the Christchurch rebuild. We would then definitely have a city to attract the world.
Next stop was recently reopened New Regent Street with is wonderful Spanish Mission-style facades. It’s looking resplendent with new paint and all the shop-front tiles in place. It will be especially satisfying to hear the tram bells tinkling in the street once more. In the meantime the street is providing an excellent viewing spot for the BNZ building demolition. It is a Jurassic-like experience watching tall machines grip the building and tear it apart with giant claws. Modern-day dinosaurs perhaps? It was great to see many families, some on bicycles, enjoying the excellent late-autumn weather. Let’s hope the idea of continuing the heritage street to the river gathers momentum once the building has gone. Around the corner in Gloucester Street, the old Theatre Royal façade, awaiting restoration, is being supported by a wall of shipping containers. Just imagine, how would post-quake Christchurch have got by without shipping containers – and road cones?
I was also on my way to visit a loyal cycling friend, Graeme Milner, in hospital. At 83, he’s a true cycling legend and so fit and fast on his treadle machines. In 2006 we rode over Arthur’s Pass to Greymouth together. The story is in my book Pedal power, great bicycle journeys. This week he will have surgery for a blocked heart artery. The operation was agreed to owing to his excellent fitness. He has no shortage of visitors. His many cycling friends could not believe he had heart woes so they had to go and see for themselves. We can wish him well and look forward to Graeme setting out on another phase of life on his bike.