In former times the Timeball Station informed the ships in the harbour about the exact hour with a big bang every day. The sound we can now hear nearly every day are the roaring horns of the fire brigade, following the deafening alarm.
The number of alarms is absolutely fascinating but partly explained by the fact that the alarm does not only ring in case of fire but also if the fire brigade is needed in Christchurch for car accidents and other incidents.
Still - many times it is just annoying when you see how often the fire brigade races through the streets of Lyttelton because some idiot is burning rubbish in his courtyard and sets the whole garden alight, or at least, scare his neighbours enough to make them call the fire brigade.
As our house sits on a rock above the main streets we have a great view over the whole action including the depot. So nearly from the sofa we can first watch the race of the firemen to the depot and then the way the trucks take. We have seen many times that the fire brigade help the idiots clean up their rubbish, and wonder who pays for all this needlos action in the land of the arsonists where the forces of the fire brigades should not be stretched to the limit by irresponsible people. But it is part of our daily life. Really a pity.
Update Nov. 2012
We still have a the sirens going off frequently, and every Thursday night at 7pm (probably for calling the guys for the weekly pub crawl ;-) - but in the meantime the fire station has been demolished due to earthquake damage. The engines are parked on an adjoining property.
On a Sunday in summer we have the traditional Lyttelton Summer Street Party. This year (2009) it took place on Sunday, 22 February (10am-6pm).
It is just an occasion to hang out and sample from the food stalls, listen to live music and have a look at arts and craftswork.
London Street (which is the main street of Lyttelton with lots of cafés, banks and the supermarket) always is the centre of action (and closed for cars on this day).
This is Lyttelton's midwinter Christmas. During the Festival of Lights locals will put out strings of fairy lights, and also trees will be decorated with Christmas lights. As darkness sets in early at this time of the year you get a much nicer Christmassy feel than during the real Christmas time. Especially mulled wine is much nicer than in summer ;-)
However, as we are urged to save power to prevent a powercut (due to low levels of the hydro lakes in the South Island) it seems a little weird that we celebrate a second Christmas with additional lights on. But I have observed that late at night most lights are turned off - except the flashing lights in Lyttelton's highest building... How stupid! For which spectators is this?
In 2009 the date for the festival is from Friday, 5 June, until Sunday, 22 June. The big street party day with street market is on Friday, 5 June, 6pm to 10pm in London Street.
The festival starts with a street party, masquerade parade, music and dance, short films, exhibitions, an outdoor street market, arts and crafts and a firework display.
Events follow around the bays for the next nine days. Jazz evenings, world music, live theatre, a masquerade party, a cabaret, dance party at Godley Head etc.
Living on a hill is really great. You have great views - even some you would rather not have, like the one straight into the bedroom of one of our neighbours who does not bother installing curtains or blinds on the window that faces our property. On the contrary. She even lights her bedside lamp day and night, so we cannot miss her messy looks in the morning, and her busy reading at night. At least she does not damage the environment with this strange behaviour, and sure - why should we want to look over the beautiful harbour from our beautiful panorama window if we do not want to be embarrassed by looking straight into her bedroom at the same time.
For environmental reasons I am far more concerned by her still firing her old wood fire with damp wood, and I do not appreciate either that I cannot open a window for airing the room, or put the washing outside when she feels the need to heat her home. As Lyttelton is an old place with a lot of historic cottages with environmentally prehistoric fireplaces, it can happen that in certain wind conditions you walk through streets covered in smoke. And still they wonder why so many people in NZ suffer from asthma.
It is also a pleasure to open the doors and windows after several days of bad weather - just to find out that other people in the neighbourhood have just waited for the sunshine to burn their rubbish in the gardens. And, of course, the wind blows the stink and smoke right into your direction.
Although Lyttelton has amalgamated with Christchurch, it still has some bylaws which allow people to do things people in the city are not allowed to do. One of them is to light fires outside the total fire ban season. They pile garden rubbish for several months, especially cabbage tree leaves that take too long to decompose and therefore are not considered as garden rubbish, and on the first day after the end of the fire ban the hills are covered in smoke.
Having read my post about the New Zealanders' addiction of burning garden rubbish and covering friends and enemies in toxic smoke you can surely imagine that I was very pleased when I read that ECan (Environment Canterbury) introduced a rule requiring people to apply for a fire permit if they still want to burn garden rubbish.
But in the meantime I have found out that this is just a joke which secures a workplace for a city council officer who checks the applications. Everybody who applies for a permit gets one. You only have to say that it is too difficult for you to transport your garden rubbish to the dump because your property is too steep. The only thing you can do to spoil those other people's joy of covering half the town in smoke is to call the city council and ask if this property has a fire permit, and if they do not have any the city council sends them an application form, and then they are free to blow the rubbish into the air and other people's lungs. That is how New Zealand's leading role in saving the planet works.
Walk up Hawkhurst Road (for example, on your walk to Bridle Path), and you will find out about a Lyttelton custom that is extremely popular in this street:
Parking cars on the footpath.
Sometimes the footpath is totally blocked and you have to walk on the road around the cars and vans. The thought behind the bad and illegal parking probably is that the drivers want to make driving easier for others on this steep road, as many people have problems to stop in front of an obstacle on the way uphill and then carry on without the wheels spinning... But nobody thinks of the many pedestrians who walk up and down the hill on the only footpath.
Another motorist nuisance in Lyttelton are motorbikers who circle around endlessly and do not tire before not the last local has heard the power of the motor. Thinking of a very special one... At the end of his tours it can happen that his partner is so annoyed, and he does not accept her being annoyed about his motorbike addiction, and he insults her, and then they cannot agree who should f... whom... ;-)
the first Settlers from Englanf arrived here at Lyttelton, bringing everything with them. Lifestock, buildings material, weathseeds, potetoes and what have you. they realized immidiatly, this hilly place where not for farming and making a living. a Scout was send over the Hills to explore the area..what he found must have made his Heart jumping in his chest......the wide Canterbury, later Christchurch Plains opend up before his eyes. theSettlers set of, over the Bridle Pass....you can walk it these days, quite compfy, but boy..those days it was a backbreaking adventure.straight through the though shrubs and high gras. and even today it takes some doing walking up the Bridle Pass
Lyttelton is its own town and the locals don't like the place being referred to as part of Christchurch. In fact Lyttelton was a thriving place before Christchurch really kicked off so maybe it should be considered the mother of the big town?
in their properties and gardens...and they very cleverly choosen plants who will survive on very little....and they have to here. volcanic soil and not very much nutrition to find in, like the blue Echium candicans...originally fro the Azores Island of Madeira
have a great view over the Harbour...actually a bit room to move too, right in the middle of the living...they are all crazy in Lyttleton...but I love being amongs such 'oddness'.
I missed my chances to buy a house here, ten years ago....now, it's out of my reach :-(((((((