Halswell Domain

Halswell Domain
View from the Model Engineers' site in the Halswell Domain

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cycling: a good way to get around

I started biking round Halswell when I was a kid - around about the age of 9, from what I remember.  It was nothing unusual at the time - it was just what we all did.   Unlike most, however,  I’m still cycling now a few decades later.  Why? Mainly because it’s fun,  but it is also convenient, quick, cheap, friendly and safe.  

I bike all around the City and out to Lincoln regularly to get to work meetings, shop, run errands, visit various libraries or meet people for coffee.  And heaven forbid - at weekends I've been known to do it for recreation but that's a bit less common!

 "You're taking your life in your hands" someone said to me the other day and many people say to me that they won't cycle because it is too dangerous.  It's not as bad as most people think.  It is much more common to die or be severely injured driving a car or a motorbike than it is riding a bike - so much so that bike deaths are still considered newsworthy - so we hear about them.

Looking back over the many decades that I've used roads around Christchurch - and I've biked 1000s of kilometres each year -  I've had one accident (in 2010, someone turned his vehicle, right, into my path as I travelled straight ahead at the traffic lights by the Halswell Library, because he didn't see me) and I was driving my car at the time.  Despite travelling at well below the speed limit, the car never recovered, and I was out of action for about three weeks while my ribs healed enough for me to get back on the bike

Not that I haven't had near misses on the bike, but I've also learned where to look for trouble,  and how to avoid it.  It is possible, as with driving, to be a very defensive cyclist and to cycle in ways that minimise risk.

In rush hour, cycling is incredibly safe, fast and fun.  I love passing all the cars in the tail backs from Dunbars road onwards.  The only things moving at any pace are cyclists.
On top of all the obvious things, are the statistics on the effects of inactivity on health and death rates. We never consider that too much time sitting down in front of the computer or watching TV might be dangerous - but it is!In fact it turns out that the overall health benefits of cycling are far greater than the overall health costs (in terms of cyclist injuries etc)
"Those who exercise regularly are at signi´Čücantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, all types of cancer, high blood pressure and obesity,” says Dr Lynn Cherkas" in this article. 
As a cyclist, the research indicates that I have less chance of catching colds and 'flu and when I do I"ll recover quicker than people who do not exercise as much.  Kids who get exercise on their way to school do better at school and adults who exercise before work do better too.
A study of 200 people carried out by the University of Bristol found that employees who exercised before work or at lunchtime improved their time and workload management, and it boosted their motivation and their ability to deal with stress. 
And on top of all this cycling is a great for mental health! As this article points out, cycling not only makes you smarter - it also increases a lot of the chemistry in your brain that makes you feel peaceful and calm.

On top of that, I save money. There is the obvious, of course.  I fill my car up with about 35 litres of petrol every 6-8 weeks rather than every week or two weeks.  My car running costs are not high.  I don't have as many sick days as I would if I didn't bike (and because I work for myself and as a volunteer, that is significant).  I don't have as many doctors bills, I don't pay gym fees.

I even save YOU money! How?  Well, There's lower health bills, and this is pretty significant!  Check out this publication for a very comprehensive outline.
I do about 10,000 times less damage to the roads on the bike than in the car, (and I still pay the same rates and taxes as you for that roading). In Portland, Oregon, they found that investing a few million dollars in cycle paths caused about 10% of car drivers to get onto their bikes.  The savings to the city in road maintenance alone more than paid for the cycle paths.

I also subsidise your parking - particularly around Halswell where parking is "free".  Car parking is, of course, NEVER free! It's just that out here you don't pay the cost of it directly (and even in town you don't pay the full cost of it).  Car parking takes up a lot of real estate and we share the cost through rates, or in our shopping bills.

So, get out there guys - consider the benefits and think about the possibilities.  Even getting out there and walking more can be of major benefit to you personally.  Both cycling and walking are friendlier than driving a car -  after all, it's much easier to smile and say hello! :-)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Halswell Craft Group

This month I decided to visit the Halswell Craft Group.  They meet in the Scout den in the Domain on Wednesdays 10-12am during the school terms (and not during school holidays).

I was surprised at the number of cars parked outside, and walked in to find 21 women sitting around tables working away on a wide range of crafts.   I first chatted with Marion and Trudy who run the group and they told me that this was a small group compared to what they normally get - perhaps because of the bad weather.  They also introduced me to some of the women there, and to the activities that were going on in the room.
The room was humming with conversation and I moved around and chatted to many people.  Crystal made my day by telling me that she found out about the craft group through the Halswell Community Website and had been coming to the group since she retired.  She told me that her first projects were photo albums that she 'scrapbooked' for her family.  "The earthquakes taught me that for family memorabilia it is well work having copies in different places.  That way, if one gets lost, there are others around.

Carola had been helping another woman learn about beadwork - how to translate the instructions and the basic techniques to produce some great looking stars - perhaps Christmas decorations.  i could see possibilities for making some great earrings.  Next to her was a woman who showed me some fantastic cards while another was stitching some applique Christmas decorations.  Over at another table were three women painting and drawing, and at another was someone working away on some incredibly fine embroidery and someone next to her stitching a picture for a cushion cover.  A number of people there are also experienced quilters although no-one was working on quilts at the session.  Quite a number of people were knitting and there was one women wandering around and knitting whilst talking to people at various tables (I was very impressed, and had pictures in my head of Aran knitters known for their capacity to knit while walking, tending sheep and  range of other tasks!).

The craft group offers the women who go a great place to talk about the issues going on for them.  For some it was a useful outlet for managing the ongoing problems emerging from the earthquakes.  As Marion pointed out, as she dished out soup (served up as an end of term treat), it is quite easy to come along and not actually do any craft work because there are so many people to talk with.  Mind you, looking around, this is a great place to come to learn some new crafts or to work on crafts you've been working on for years and there's a huge depth of knowledge here to tap into!  

Find out more here

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How can we promote, grow and sustain our Halswell businesses in these times of social, environmental and economic change?

The  Halswell Residents' Association and the Halswell Community Project invite all businesses in Halswell to a meeting at Craythorne's Public House, 5.30 pm on Monday 19th August.  This is an opportunity to meet local businesspeople, network and think about the idea of forming a Halswell business association to strengthen and grow business in the area.  

Population in the area is set to double over the next decade.  In that event, Halswell be a suburb similar in size to what the City of Gisborne is now increase.  This brings in new businesses and increases demand for business.  On top of that, more people are now working from home, having lost their premises in the earthquakes.   

There are many small businesses in the area that it’s difficult to find out about.  As a result, Halswell people often go outside Halswell for their goods and services when they might be available here.   Likewise, it is surprising what we don’t have available here, given that the population of the suburb was about 14,000 back in 2006 and it has been growing ever since.

All this means there are great opportunities to promote Halswell business to Halswell residents and even to other Halswell businesses.  The business page on the Halswell Community Website and the Halswell E-Newsletter provide a starting point for doing this.  However, businesses in other places have found that having a local business association helps them to reap greater benefits by working together. 

A business association would create a strong central platform for dealing with issues facing businesses in the area and help to advocate for good local facilities (e.g. public toilets open 24/7).  Such an organisation might also allow businesses to access cheaper business supplies, for example, by buying in bulk. 

So to any and all businesses out there – sole traders, retailers, people working from home, tradespeople and other service providers, come along, buy a drink and do some networking, whilst having a bite to eat (food will be provided free).   

5.30pm Drinks and nibbles (Buy your own drinks, food provided)
6.00pm Speakers begin.  
  • Anthony Barker, chairperson of the Sydenham Quarter will speak about the Quarter’s experiences with growing businesses and regenerating Sydenham by working collaboratively.   
  • Lorraine Rouse from the Canterbury Employers Chamber of commerce will also speak about the services they provide and a collaborative business development initiative she was involved with.   
6.35pm:   Discussion of the issues and opportunities of doing business in Halswell and whether there would be benefit in forming a Halswell business association.

Cost: Attendance is free, thanks to Craythornes and Christchurch City Council for their generosity in supporting this

Please RSVP for catering purposes to Halswell.Newsletter@gmail.com or phone Chrys on 338-0313 by Thursday 15th August. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Winter Wildlife

A week or so on from winter solstice, I am sure I am not alone in welcoming the prospect of longer days. The sun over this past week has been fantastic, and is slowly drying up the lakes left by the heavy rainfall a few weeks ago. A quick look at the rainfall in Christchurch to date shows that we are up almost 100mm on the average for this time of year.

The large amount of water lying about means that the horse paddocks have been visited by a series of water birds. White-faced herons pick their graceful way across the ponds, while spurwing plovers, pukeko, and paradise and mallard ducks have also put in an appearance. Watching a group of pukeko chase each other around in the snow a few weeks ago was a novelty, and quite funny as they skidded and splashed.

A common skink (photographed in summer).
Photo credit: L. Hawke
I went to replace my electric fence clips last week and found a very cold lizard curled up inside one of them. Reptiles such as this do not generate their own internal body heat, relying on the environment to provide them with warmth. They are extremely sluggish when cold, making them easy pickings for hedgehogs and birds. This particular lizard (a common skink) eventually had to be shaken out of the fence clip, as it was unwilling (or, more likely, too cold) to leave voluntarily. It crawled away to take refuge under the replaced car battery, and I imagine that it is still there, holding out for warmer days.