While my sons did basketball training at Pioneer Stadium, I'd sometimes walked besides Heathcote River along Ashgrove Terrace. As I wanted to walk the opposite bank, Cashmere Road side, I parked at a bend in Heathcote River by Cashmere Road Bridge. From the end of Ashgrove Terrace, I walked below silver birches and looked at ducks in turbid waters. By Ashgrove Reserve entrance on a rock a bronze plaque stated:
IF YOU'D HAVE A MIND AT PEACE
A HEART THAT CANNOT HARDEN
GO FIND A DOOR THAT OPENS WIDE
UPON A LOVELY GARDEN
PURCHASED BY PUBLIC SUBSCRIPTION
FOR THE CITIZENS OF CHRISTCHURCH
I circled through Ashgrove Reserve on stone and gravel paths past black, lifeless ponds amongst grey stones beneath native trees. I crossed Smarts Bridge 1933 on Fernihurst Street, and joined a wide tarred track on Cashmere Road riverside. Beneath exotic trees I passed a footbridge over Heathcote River and several hustlers soliciting trade. By a car, a red and white board stated:
DIRECT FROM THE FARM
2009. Raspberry Seller beside Heathcote River, Christchurch. Cashmere Road & Princess Margaret Hospital behind
By a trailer, blue lettering on a board stated:
3KG = $6
On the roadside a lady held up a similar sign while traffic whooshed-whooshed-whooshed by Princess Margaret Hospital. By a SUV, a blue and white signboard stated:
FRANCE & ITALY
Beside the Heathcote, shady trees were mainly exotics: oaks; birches; flowering cherries; lindens; redwoods; sycamore maples - Acer pseudoplatanas; London planes; deodar cedars; ashes - Fraxinus excelsior; swamp cypresses - Taxodium; willows, walnuts; red beeches; and more...
By the time I'd passed Princess Margaret Hospital and crossed Fairview Street Bridge 1931, I stopped examining trees and enjoyed dawdling. As it was a hot Sunday afternoon, picnickers enjoyed shady wooden tables, and Heathcote River Track was busy with walkers; joggers; kids on bikes; adults on bikes; a man on a wheelchair; an old lady on an electric wheelchair. The whoosh-whoosh-whoosh of passing cars on Cashmere Road annoyed me, so I switched off my hearing-aid and dawdled in silence.
2009. White Wooden Footbridge across Heathcote River. Cashmere Road behind
2009. Zeroes on Cashmere Road, beside Heathcote River, seen from Ashgrove Terrace, Christchurch
I crossed a white wooden footbridge to Ashgrove Terrace again, and below an alder I snapped Zeroes cafe across Cashmere Road. Patrons seated at tables watched more patrons walk across Cashmere Road and enter Zeroes. I recrossed the footbridge and dawdled the tarred track again. I passed CASHMERE PLAYGROUND for kids, seen on the same roadside as Zeroes.
2009. Yellow Wooden Footbridge across Heathcote River to Ashgrove Terrace, Christchurch
2009. Footpath beside Heathcote River, near Barrington Bridge, Christchurch
I liked crocosmias and flax seen on Ashgrove Terrace bank. I saw only a few native beeches and a sophora amongst many exotic trees on Cashmere Road side. I passed a yellow wooden bridge, then by Barrington Bridge 1935 native plantings increased, like cabbage trees, flax and toetoe (similar to exotic pampas grass). On busy Barrington Bridge, I waited for a gap in passing cars to snap a round, white sign with a stylized pic of Barrington Bridge over Heathcote River and a black eel in the river. The sign stated:
2009. Barrington Bridge over Heathcote River. Cashmere Road left, Ashgrove Terrace right
2009. Concrete Footbridge over Heathcote River in Ernle Clark Reserve, Christchurch
Beyond Barrington Bridge, Heathcote River Track became gravel. I passed an overgrown electricity sub-station; passed a grassy bank below Cashmere Road which veered right, while Heathcote River flowed left. Willows, poplars, alders and a mature "English wood" increased beside the river.
I passed riverside houses and a gum tree leaning over Heathcote River. By a concrete footbridge, I watched two old ladies and two shirtless men throw bread to ducks in the water. In the "English wood," ERNLE CLARK RESERVE info board stated:
"Charles Clark arrived at Lyttelton in 1856 on the Egmont...
Ernle Clark (1906-1964) was a grandson. In 1936 he flew solo from England to New Zealand, the second person ever to do so. The last hop, across the Tasman Sea, took 12 hours 50 minutes. After landing briefly at Blenheim, in his Percival Gull, he then flew to Wigram, receiving a tumultuous welcome from an estimated crowd of 20 000 people.
During World War 11, as a pilot in the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit in the RAF, he saw service in France before the German occupation. There followed service as Chief Test Pilot, in Ferry Command, reaching the rank of Squadron Leader..."
2009. Ernle Clark Reserve Information Board, Christchurch
In Ernle Clark Reserve below the old "English wood," were pc plantings of native understory. Ernle Clark Reserve opened wide into a grassy glade where three blokes wandered across to a wooden picnic table in the far corner, and lit up. I wondered what they were smoking?
2009. "English Wood" Tree Preservation Notice in Ernle Clark Reserve, Christchurch
2009. Entrance to Ernle Clark Reserve from Ernlea Terrace. Ashgrove Terrace seen beside Heathcote River
At the end of Ernle Clark Reserve a laminated plastic sign, tied to a tree, warned that behind the fence mature trees would be chopped down to make way for a new housing development beside the Heathcote River.
At another riverbend, Ernle Clark Reserve became Ernlea Terrace (different spelling) which intersected Colombo Street by South City Library where we sometimes borrowed books. On Colombo Street / Ernlea Terrace corner a chestnut grew above a rock amongst ivy. On the rock a bronze plaque stated:
ON THE OCCASION OF THE DISBANDMENT
OF THE HEATHCOTE COUNTY COUNCIL
THIS TREE WAS PLANTED ON
31 OCTOBER 1989
BY THE CHAIRMAN CR. O.T. ALPERS
TO COMMEMORATE THOSE
WHO SERVED THE COUNCIL FROM
2009. Colombo Street / Ernlea Terrace Intersection with Port Hills backdrop, Christchurch
I'd dawdled for nearly two hours from Cashmere Road Bridge near Ashgrove Terrace to Colombo Street Bridge near South City Library. I didn't cross Heathcote River on the rickety wooden footbridge alongside Colombo Street Bridge, as Ashgrove Terrace looked hot in the afternoon sun with no shade below few trees.
2009. Heathcote River & Colombo Street Bridge. Ashgrove Terrace left
In half an hour I walked upriver to my car, the way I'd came. On the gravel path I followed wet pawprints and spray from an unseen weaving dog. The three blokes emerged from the glade and followed me. On the tarred track again, I walked barefoot and zig-zagged onto cool grass when tar became too hot.
At 10 o'clock that sultry night on our way to pick up Luke from his girlfriend's home on Bengal Drive, Leah and I drove along Ashgrove Terrace. We were amazed to see a girl in the moonlight jogging through trees beside Heathcote River. "Peace is tangible here," said Leah.
"Fear is tangible in SA," said I.
Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.