I had a tiny taste of the Christchurch earthquake last week. Ironically, it happened because I'd tried to do some earthquake-proofing. My kitchen clock was bought for me by my mother at the vast Farmers' store in Auckland, not long before it closed (I've been trying to find out when - I thought it was 1991). So last week, thinking about earthquakes, I decided I'd better stick on a blob of Bluetack to fasten it more securely to the wall. But I must have done it wrong, because that night the clock suddenly leapt off the wall and crashed to the floor. Its glass was broken, but otherwise it's okay, so maybe I can have it fixed. But on the way down it managed to smash my lovely old china salt box. It's not a family treasure, I bought it years ago in a "collectibles" (junk) shop, but I was very fond of it.
These small breakages made me think how sad it must have been for so many people to lose all their loved, familiar things in the earthquake - not on a par with losing your house and job, I know, but still distressing.
I've recently worked out a good remedy for when I'm feeling a bit down, as I was after this happened. I take myself off to Martha's Pantry, in an old brick building on the corner of Cuba Street and Karo Drive. It's beautiful, full of flowers and sunshine and white embroidered cloths, and it's quiet - the fabrics soak up sound so that all you're aware of is a quiet murmur of conversation and the gentle tinkle of teacups and spoons. You get your own teapot, in a knitted cosy - they have a good range of teas, plus the usual (good) coffees - and a selection from their vast collection of pretty cups and saucers. And plates, of course - for something to eat from their range of gorgeously retro cakes. A few times I've had the pleasure of introducing it to friends who've never been there before. They sell things, too - old-fashioned games and toys and lots of pretty flowery stuff. You do see the occasional chap in there, but it's definitely women who love it most - from bright young ones and mothers with kids to, well, mature women of my vintage. Macaroons, butterfly cakes, hot chocolate with the teacup tealight you get late on a winter afternoon... brilliant.