Saturday, January 8, 2011

Travel Journal: 8th January

Saturday 8th January: Our Lady on Saturday (formerly, in the Octave of the Epiphany)

My bed was so comfortable... why not sleep a little longer?  I compromised by reading the morning Office in bed, finishing a little before eight.  To-day again dawned astoundingly clear and bright, with nary a cloud in the sky, and such a sight of the perpetual snowfields on the high peaks (which feed the glaciers) seeming so near in the morning light.

Breakfast done, time to catch the bus for Greymouth.  I had a pleasant conversation en route with some Canadians, who agreed with me about the dodgy "bushman's" centre that we were forced to stop at for elevenses: it was pretty poor, even crass.

Thankfully, our next stop, Hokitika, proved a beautiful neat little town, and I was glad to make a visit at St Mary's Church, a handsome edifice consecrated Deiparæ Virgini Mariæ; best of all, the sanctuary had not be mucked with, the high altar and sedilia and (parts) of the altar rails still in situ, so it would be a work of a few minutes to move out the forward altar and such temporary bric a brac.

We caught the train at Greymouth for the trip over the Southern Alps to Christchurch.  I must say, while pretty, it wasn't as scenic as the bus trip from Queenstown to Franz Josef, nor the bus trip to Milford Sound that I took back in 2009; then again, in winter, with the Alps in snow, it would then be very fine.

Walking around Christchurch at first one is all but unaware that a great earthquake struck the city back in September: but gradually the number of fenced-off buildings, and the odd bit of fallen masonry, even of a few properties in process of demolition, begins to bring home to one the destruction caused.  It is as if one were visiting genteel relations fallen on hard times: at first, all would appear painfully normal, but gradually one's attention would be drawn to the signs of straitened circumstances, forced economies and disrepair.  I hasten to add, I hope that Christchurch is not too dazed by the swingeing blow it received, and the city seems bustling and prosperous despite it all.

Four months after the Earthquake in Christchurch

Not a church, but a unique example of parliamentary Gothic: 
the meeting-place of the former Provincial Council of Canterbury – 
badly damaged by the Earthquake

To-morrow, off to Mass for the feast of the Holy Family at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.

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