Halswell Domain

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Cutting Transport Costs


Cutting Transport Costs

Many of us are noticing the steadily rising prices at the petrol pumps and the effect that is having on our weekly expenses. Add to that the cost of parking and other car running costs and it is quite a burden.  It seems like a good time to think about the many other ways we can get around the city.

1)       Take a bus.  The government has made public transport half price for the next few weeks.  If you have a Metrocard, those fares get even cheaper. Halswell is served by four different bus services, including an excellent service to the central City and one to the airport (which can save you bucketloads of money in parking costs)

You can find out more about what buses go where and when by dropping into the bus station in town, or one of our local libraries to pick up bus timetables and maps of where they go.  Alternatively, go online and check out www.metroinfo.co.nz where you can try out the Journey Planner to find out how best to get where you want to go.   There is also a useful app that you can put on your phone that can give you real time information such as when the bus is coming for any stop in the city.

2)   Get on a bike.  A growing number of cycleways around Christchurch are turning biking round the city into a pleasant, safe experience that is good for both body and soul. 

Bikes are easy to park and can be a surprisingly quick convenient way to get around town.  They also give you very good exercise.  A 10km trip takes around half an hour – the minimum amount of daily physical activity.   Bicycles can also be put on buses for use at each end of your trip.

With cycling, it is best to avoid busy roads where you take your car.  Halswell is served by two major cycleways – the Quarrymans Trail which starts at Te Hāpua and takes you into the city, and the Little River Rail Link which you can get onto from the Wigram side of the overbridges on Aidanfield Drive and Dunbars Road. To find good cycle routes, talk to someone who already cycles and ask them about the good routes. You can also pick up a free cycle map from local libraries which shows you where cycle facilities are around the city, or go to www.CCC.govt.nz, search for Christchurch Cycle Map and you can download it, free. 

3)   Buy an electric bike.  E-bikes are relatively expensive bicycles, but they can save heaps of money in car expenses and may even mean you can manage without that extra car.  They can pay themselves off very quickly; the cost of the power for running them works out at about 0.1 to 0.2 cents per kilometre. E-bikes leave you drier in the rain, cooler in the heat, faster in a head wind and they significantly extend the distance you can bike. They are also excellent for mental wellbeing and often get you where you want to go faster even than a car, particularly if you are travelling at rush hour.  

4) Walk.   For shorter trips, walking is a wonderful way to go. It is also a good way to check out the local area and to get some exercise as well as getting somewhere.  Halswell is blessed by some great walking with lots of greenspaces.  Most of us can easily walk 2-3 km in half an hour. Walking to the bus stop and then walking on to work can be a good option for those who need to go further afield.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Keeping Fit: The Importance of Keeping Strong


Many of us think that getting exercise is about getting out for a run, a bike ride or a walk – that is we think about aerobic activity.  However, strength training is also really important according to an article in New Scientist in April 2020. 

Our muscle strength peaks in our 30s and from then on, it slowly declines – at about the rate of 5% per decade. That decline gets much faster around the age of 70.   For some, it declines so much that people struggle to get out of chairs or climb stairs as they age.  This doesn’t have to be and it turns out that strength training it important for all age groups. 

Having stronger muscles can protect you from diseases including type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease.  It also looks like it can improve memory and prevent cognitive decline.  Strength training is also good for those who suffer from osteoarthritis.

Strength training doesn’t have to be done in a gym and it is not about bulking up and you don’t need a lot of time to benefit. One study of a large number of people indicted that lifting weights for around and hour a week, reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke by up to 70 percent.  Another study of 100,000 women found that those who did at least an hour of strength training per week significantly lowered their risk of type 2 diabetes and of osteoporosis. 

So, what does this mean for what you should do?  The guidelines say exercise all your muscle groups – legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms - until they are tired at least twice a week. You don’t need to exercise the whole lot at once, but it is ok if you do. Just make sure you don’t push yourself hard until you have got used to the exercise. 

Going to a class can be a good way to get help with what to do and how best to do it. 

Some of this might be something you can build into your day, so for some, walking to the supermarket and carrying shopping bags could be part of that.  Some jobs in the garden or cleaning the house might also provide an opportunity to work your muscles so you can feel them get tired.  Riding a bike in a way that makes your legs tired can also be a good option and will be good aerobic exercise too. 

The Secret Life of Trees

 The Secret Life of Trees

Over the last few decades, scientists have learned that trees and plants in a forest and even plants growing near each other communicate, and often help each other out.  While competition does happen, it is very clear that collaboration also happens.

Different tree species will exchange water, food and other nutrients with the help of mycorrhizal fungi – fungi which penetrate the roots of many different plants and form a mutually beneficial partnership with those plants.  The fungi help the plants take up nutrients that they need, and the plants supply the fungi with sugars. It turns out that the fungi also help the plants to communicate by transporting excess food, nutrients and other chemicals between them. 

tree cartoon

The direction of the exchange depends on the season and on the age of the trees and their place in the forest. 

It turns out that older trees send significant amounts to their children growing around them, and can pass on messages about how to survive drought or attack by insects or even unfriendly fungi.  It also seems that they can distinguish which plants the different messages go to. 

So next time you are in a forest, or even a group of trees think about the communications that will be going on under your feet. 

If you want to find out more, google wood wide web and find many talks, videos and articles about this online.  You could also get Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard out of the library.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

If you have mosquitoes at your place ...


The hotter part of the summer is coming and with it are likely to be more mosquitoes.  Since it is no fun to sleep with all the windows shut in hot weather, we thought we’d have a look at how to avoid these rather annoying and itchy insects! 

Photo Tony Willis - iNaturalist
Mosquitoes breed in water, so if they are coming in your window, it is likely that there is some water lying around somewhere nearby. It doesn’t have to be much – a small puddle in an old tyre or under a pot plant is all they need!  Getting rid of these little bits of water round your house can make a big difference to whether you have mosquitoes or not.

These are simple things to do in your backyard to get rid of mosquito habitat:

·         Checks gutters and drains are clear of leaves and other debris regularly - this stops water from pooling.

·         Make sure rain water collecting tanks are covered and sealed.

·         Empty paddling pools regularly and keep free of dead leaves.

·         Empty and clean pot plant drip trays and fill with sand (sand stores the water for the plants but is not suitable for mosquitoes).

·         Empty and clean pet drinking water vessels regularly.

·         Fish ponds - try to find fish species that love mosquito larvae.

·         Old tyres - mosquitoes love tyres! Make sure they have a drain hole in them or get rid of them completely.

·         Make sure you remove any rubbish such as old cans, tins, jars, bottles or any other items including plastic bags that can hold water.

·         Under the trees - try to provide a heavy mulch to prevent water from pooling, weed mat compresses the soil and often results in pooling under the weed mat that those clever mosquitoes can still get at.