In Christchurch suburbia, as I wanted to walk five terraces round Beckenham bend, I parked my car on Heathcote River bank near South Christchurch Library. Along Hunter Tce, I stopped at a concrete footbridge over Heathcote River and looked at a yellow sign across the river:
I watched two grey seagulls scoffing KFC litter-scraps, then crossed Hunter Tce to look at a black-painted, prone rifleman on a white wall, which advertised in black:
SB RIFLE CLUB
2009. Malcolm Avenue Bridge over Heathcote River, Beckenham, Christchurch
I passed CASHMERE CLUB garden then followed a dirt path downriver on a grassy bank. I crossed busy Malcolm Ave bridge, and found a friendly black and white cat seated on a wooden bench beside the bridge.
The cat schmoozed while I read Jenny the donkey info board beside Heathcote River. Jenny, ex circus donkey, had grazed Heathcote River bank and entertained Thorrington School kids before dying in 1970. Info board:
"Jenny didn't like horse floats so at Christmas time when our family went to South Brighton for 6 weeks holiday, I had to walk her there..."
2009. Jenny the Donkey Info Board, Heathcote River below Malcolm Ave Bridge, Beckenham, Christchurch
2009. Boat Ramp, Heathcote River below Thorrington School, Beckenham, Christchurch
Below Thorrington School I walked the tarsealed donkey track and stopped to look at a small boat-ramp by Heathcote River, decorated with luridly painted poles. Beside Heathcote River I watched ducks swimming and passed a lichen covered concrete sign:
DANGER 11 000 VOLT M.E.D. CABLE
2009. Heathcote river between Waimea Tce & Sloan Tce, Beckenham, Christchurch
2009. Heathcote River between Waimea Tce & Centaurus Rd, Beckenham, Christchurch
I passed another concrete footbridge by Sloan Tce, and through willows, alders and birches I glimpsed Bowenvale Valley, Port Hills. I walked round the bend on Centaurus Rd and followed steep Heathcote River bank, planted thickly with birches, dodoneas, pittosporums, cabbage trees, flax and toe-toe grass, to stop wayward motorists having a dip.
2009. Heathcote River & Iron Bridge between Waimea Tce & Centaurus Rd, Beckenham, Christchurch
2009. Iron Bridge over Heathcote River, opposite Bowenvale Ave, Beckenham, Christchurch
Opposite Bowenvale Ave I crossed an iron road bridge, and saw two lovers lying smooching on Heathcote River grassy bank. Centaurus Rd footpath followed Heathcote River, so I was glad to fork left along a dirt path avoiding traffic noise.
2009. Heathcote River beside Centaurus Rd, Farnlea Reserve & Eastern Tce, Beckenham, Christchurch
In Farnlea Reserve, behind Centaurus Rd shopping centre I walked a gravel path and found a patio with steps coming down from the shops. Beside the steps, on two wooden posts, two bronze plaques sang praises to Christchurch soroptimists:
Developed by Soroptimists of Christchurch
in cooperation with the
Christchurch City Council and the Community
To celebrate 50 years of
Soroptimist International in Christchurch
Received International recognition for
Exceptional Service in Area of Environment...
Creation of a nature reserve with permanent
art works, community project, coordinated
by CHRISTCHURCH Soroptimists"
2009. Soroptimists' Eel Patio beside Heathcote River, opposite Eastern Tce, Beckenham, Christchurch
Rocks were embedded in the patio with bronze eels swimming towards rocks.
On Farnlea Reserve gravel track, I greeted an elderly couple pruning shrubs beside Heathcote River at the bottom of their garden. I walked along Palatine Tce beside Heathcote River. On the opposite lower bank I saw Eastern Tce.
I passed a third concrete footbridge opposite a kids' playground, where four adult cyclists stood chatting by their bikes. I turned and coolpixed Sugarloaf in the Port Hills, while the cyclists, including two on a tandem, rode off.
I saw BECKENHAM PARK on the opposite Heathcote River bank, and passed a metal footbridge by Buxton Tce while two neighbours chatted in a driveway. As it was late afternoon and chilly, Pacific winds blew. I crossed busy Tennyson St road bridge.
I returned upriver to my car via Eastern Tce and Waimea Tce. Along the way I coolpixed ducks and autumn trees in Beckenham Park. At the public toilet by Beckenham School, a denim-clad bloke stuffed plastic bags full of clothes into a car boot - swiped from a charity clothing-bin outside Beckenham School.
Easter Sunday, 5.15 pm, the bloke and his driver weren't searching for Easter eggs. Beckenham obviously didn't have cops walking a beat.
2009. Centaurus Rd pipes spewing Bowenvale Valley soil erosion into Heathcote River, Beckenham, Christchurch
On Eastern Tce I passed ash trees and big tree stumps. Below Centaurus Rd, I saw two huge concrete pipes, one spewing turbid, clayey muck into Heathcote River, soil erosion from Bowenvale Valley, Port Hills.
A learner-driver passed me along Waimea Tce. I'd seen him lurching along several times during my two hour walk round Beckenham bend.
Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.