Sunday, August 14

Another face of Christchurch: Dux de Lux

A few days ago I was taken to see the infamous Red Zone in Christchurch -- the central business precinct worst hit by the monstrous earthquake which shook the city in February. Since I've been coming to Christchurch off-and-on for 30 years I was in no rush to see the devastation, but pleased I did. Despite the passage of time and waning international media interest, these scenes are still shocking and a little surreal. But what the images don't convey is the sense of normality and determination that still reigns in this city. "Just you watch," said an elderly gent who collared me in the street. "We'll rebuild Christchurch again -- and she'll be better than before."
There's no better symbol of this spirit than the impromptu wailing wall (pictured above) that has blossomed on the corner of Hereford and Montreal streets. As the heartfelt signs pinned to the fence outside clearly indicate the Dux was a cornerstone of city life -- part brewery, part pub, part restaurant, part live music venue. Funny, irreverent, stoic and wedded to reality (no matter how challenging), the people of Christchurch are all of these things.

Just around the corner people were queuing up to buy freshly baked sour dough bread from Canterbury Cheesemongers and owner Martin Aspinwall, a cheery Yorkshireman, was gracious enough to give me a tour of his fantastic walk-in cheese room. I walked away with a piping hot baguette (Kiwis call them French Sticks) and a generous slice of Shropshire Blue. All I now needed was a decent Pinot Noir and lunch was sorted.  I left the city far more optimistic than I could have imagined -- and full of admiration for the people this big-hearted city. Bring back the Dux!

Yours in beer
Mark Chipperfield

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