Heavenly Again

We visited the University of Canterbury Staff Club and University Gardens this afternoon. The Staff Club, Ilam Homestead, was damaged in our recent earthquakes but, happily,  it is now  repaired and in use again. We have lost so many  heritage buildings in our city that it is heavenly to see this one, once more complete and seemingly unchanged, in its beautiful garden setting.

Fine and upstanding

Fine and upstanding

The gardens are at their finest in late October, when the rhododendrons and azaleas are in full bloom. But, today, we were scouting for daffodils…and found a few…

and also wanting to see the Staff Club, free of the containers and scaffolding that have supported it during months of repairs.

Revived and unencumbered

Revived and unencumbered

And, besides, it was our 31st wedding anniversary and our 35th year of friendship, and, being in these lovely University surroundings, was a reminder of another special and cherished time and place; Oxford University.

That is where we met. When we had free time we strolled in the beautiful University Parks which were walking distance from our base at Queen Elizabeth House. http://www.parks.ox.ac.uk/gallery/index.htm

The University Parks are young by Oxford standards. Interestingly, their development began at much the same time as that of Ilam Homestead, that is, in the early 1850s.  The University of Canterbury bought Ilam Homestead in 1950 after it had been owned for many years by Edgar Stead. It was Edgar Stead who established the beautiful, surrounding gardens and filled them with his world famous rhododendron and  azalea collection.

World famous rhododendrons and azaleas

World famous rhododendrons and azaleas

Stead was also a renowned ornithologist  http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/4s41/stead-edgar-fraser  When the University of Canterbury bought the Homestead, it agreed to maintain the Gardens in perpetuity, and its commitment to that agreement means joy and delight for thousands of visitors and passing students each year. And, of course, it is a delight to birds, too, Today, I am sure I heard and saw several of our large, native wood pigeons (kereru). I was hoping to also see ducklings, but I was disappointed in that regard.

Now, as every connoisseur of Oxford knows, a good University must have intrigue and mystery as well as perfect scenery and splendid buildings. Remember Lewis here and Inspector Morse, here ? Our small University, and our University Staff Club (Ilam Homestead) do not disappoint.

For Ilam Homestead was, in one of its lifetimes, home to the Rector of the University, or Canterbury College as it was once known. In 1954 the Rector was Dr Hulme, and his daughter was young Juliet.  At the age of 15,  Juliet was best friends with young Pauline , and, together, they conspired and carried out the murder of Pauline’s mother at a place in Christchurch called Victoria Park. Their reasons were…complicated, perhaps, incomprehensible ; their trial, sensational or should that be scandalous?  Whatever, it was or wasn’t, the infamous Parker-Hulme case became a film, in 1994, called ‘Heavenly Creatures’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heavenly_Creatures much of which was filmed at the Homestead and in the gardens. And, from that film and that place and  those times, 1954 and 1994,  we now have some  rich, new traditions and stories; for those events became building blocks and landmarks for Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Kate Winslet and Melanie  Lynskey and Anne Perry;  most particularly Anne Perry, Anne Perry the writer

And, thus are our lives (and marriages/partnerships), like buildings and fine gardens,  constructed, and deconstructed and restructured, and, occasionally, in the process, that which is heavenly appears and sits with us for a time.

A few more photos:

That which is constructed and restructured and gives us foundations and rooms and cornerstones and secret spaces for our memories;

That which is heavenly, if but briefly.

For more history http://www.staffclub.canterbury.ac.nz/history.shtml

http://www.ilamhomestead.co.nz/heavenly-creatures.htm

© silkannthreades

Advertisements

45 thoughts on “Heavenly Again

  1. Pingback: Do you know what I know? | silkannthreades

  2. ordinarygood

    I am very out of kilter with the blogosphere at the moment.
    Wow Oxford University! Congratulations on your anniversary. This Canterbury venue is simply majestic.
    I keep reading about and finding earthquake effects here – shops shut still and container cranes jiggled about like children’s toys. Our relationships can be sorely tested when crises strike so even more congratulations for enduring together.
    BTW did you know that the soft bud of magnolia flowers are called Perule or perula…..I learnt that today and think that you had posted on the softness of those stunning buds that remind me of pussy willows in some ways.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh, I am so pleased to learn about perules. I didn’t know what to call them but they are so perfectly soft that I felt sure they must have a lovely name; and now you tell them that they do. The last time I was inside the Ilam Homestead was for a University reunion dinner, quite some years ago. Strangely, only yesterday, I met with one of the Old Girls from that reunion. We hadn’t seen each other for years, so it was great to talk again of the reunion and the Ilam Homestead. Our Hall of Residence was demolished long before any of the earthquakes; thank goodness. It would have crumpled in a second. Thank you for your congratulations. Endurance is sometimes the key word 🙂

      Reply
      1. ordinarygood

        Someone described a large opened out perule as looking like a soft bird. It all fits so well with the delicacy of the flowers once open.

        I think I meant “enduring” more in a steadfast sense but having clocked up 39 years endurance is indeed sometimes the key word
        😉

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I would agree with the soft bird image. Are your magnolia blooms low enough for you to touch the perules? Endearing endurance! Sadly, many relationships, as you say, have snapped and broken altogether because of the after effects of the earthquakes.

        2. ordinarygood

          Yes I can touch the perules. The tree here is probably as old as the house so 40+ years. It is gnarly in places and covered in lichen. It is not a very large type of magnolia but may have been stunted due to the site and the prevailing wind.

        3. Gallivanta Post author

          Ah, good. I find it strange that until this year I didn’t even think of touching the perule. I assumed it would be prickly and nasty. How wrong I was.

        4. Gallivanta Post author

          They are interesting. I need to check my tree more closely. I don’t think I have seen anything like that on it. Those seed pods, (not the seeds) look almost edible.

        5. Gallivanta Post author

          I think our awareness often is elsewhere. Using the camera more has increased my awareness and I think you have written something similar on your blog about the link between camera and awareness.

        6. ordinarygood

          Yes the camera has certainly increased my awareness. I have also done some learning around mindfulness and what I bring my awareness to. Cameras become a natural part of those learnings and feed them.

        7. Gallivanta Post author

          Mindfulness is something I need to be more mindful about, especially when I am out driving. I do try. I think it is an excellent idea.

  3. Just Add Attitude

    Wishing you both a very Happy Anniversary. Lovely post, I like the idea of that which is heavenly appearing and sitting with us for a while as we wend our way through the contours of this live. 😉

    Reply
  4. Mrs. P

    I am so happy for you that you have found so many treasures to fill your life with…and wonderful memories, too!

    Reply
  5. YellowCable

    Happy anniversary! How wonderful that you went back to the place you met your husband for the celebration. The place must bring so many memory back to you. That is so sweet.

    Reply
  6. Sheryl

    Happy Anniversary! I really like how you celebrated your anniversary by going back to where you met. Thanks for sharing the great pictures and story.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Sheryl, for your good wishes. These local university gardens were as close to the real place we met as we could get. One day it would be lovely to go back to Oxford and Oxford University and reconnect with that wonderful environment.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thanks for your good wishes. The girls were found guilty and imprisoned. I don’t think there was ever any doubt that they committed the crime. The film about it is rather good if you ever have time to watch it.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. I was trying to get some lovely close up photos of the early rhododendrons; inspired by your photo. Most of them didn’t come out well at all!

      Reply
  7. cindy knoke

    What a truly fascinating post! Congratulations on your two anniversaries, one of friendship and the other marriage! How smart is it to marry your best friend??
    This post gives us even more information on your interesting and wonderful life!
    Happy anniversary and may you celebrate many, many, more!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, thank you. When you visit…….;)…..make sure you are here in October so I can show you the beautiful University Gardens. They are heavenly.

      Reply
  8. Virginia Duran

    First of all, congratulations on your wedding anniversary! It is nice to go back to the roots, in this case university. Secondly, I have to say that the pictures are really good, especially “World famous rhododendrons and azaleas” with the building behind, it feels like you are telling your story with the university in the background, like part of a composition.
    Was it not strange to be back in those gardens?

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you :). I am glad you like the World Famous photo. I was very pleased with that one. It is my favourite.It was that photo that made me think about all the mystery and history of that building and the gardens. In some ways it was strange to be in the gardens; strange to understand how many memories and how much history would have gone if the building had not been restored.

      Reply
  9. Forest So Green

    I love this post so much, it was truly a joy to read about a special place and time. love and memories, the beautiful garden, and congratulations on your anniversary 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It does feel good. Some of the main university buildings across the road are still being repaired and demolished and reconstructed. It’s rather messy but eventually it will be right again and maybe even improved. And, happily, the university is good to its garden and trees 🙂

      Reply
  10. Joanne Jamis Cain

    The building is beautiful and so are the daffodils. The murder story is very interesting.
    I love your words here- “And, thus are our lives (and marriages/partnerships), like buildings and fine gardens, constructed, and deconstructed and restructured, and, occasionally, in the process, that which is heavenly appears and sits with us for a time.”
    I have to ponder that one. It’s a beauty…xo Joanne

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you my dear. Apart from anything else, we have been through such profound change because of our earthquakes that it is something quite extraordinary to stand before an old building with history and connections. I want to hug it and bless it for still being there. For a moment, the feeling is heavenly.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s