Yesterday, the 26th June 2018, would have to have been one of the most horrible days I have spent in my whole life in the construction industry. Many of you assume that I spend most of my working day wallowing in a nice warm centrally heated office, but how wrong you are.
Both my business partner, Walter Gill, and I usually go to our construction yard most mornings, arriving there just prior to 6.00am. My fellow construction workers all report there each morning to have the usual Health and Safety meeting, and collect all the concreting equipment they need for the day’s work. We decided not to pour the large concrete floor we had planned yesterday, because of the forecast. At that stage, the hail was so heavy on the roof we could hardly hear each other talk. Outside on the concrete there was a wave of hail almost a foot thick in parts, lying up against the containers. We decide to revert to Plan B, that was to prepare another large concrete floor that entailed formwork, and reinforcing steel. Out on site, the conditions were horrendous, reminding me of my former life sailing in the Southern Ocean with the constant wind blasts and hail showers. Thank goodness we have better weather now than we had in those days.
It was gruesome, a gruesome day indeed, but we got the job done. Now, today I am sitting writing this column in the warmth of my office, and outside is one of those magnificent clear cold Auckland days, not a cloud in the sky. The only evidence of yesterday’s storm are the puddles of ice skimmed water lying around the outside of the yard.
Devonport locals will know that for many years now there have been rumours abounding with people investigating the stories of two Boeing biplanes, thought to be buried in the bowels of North Head, still in their packing cases and put there in the early 1900s, A documentary was made for television about this, many years ago, investigating the likelihood of this actually being the case. I firmly believe there is a lot of credibility with regards to these rumours.
I spent my childhood in Devonport, pre-television, pre-iPads and pre any other devices. The only entertainment we had was a large 3-in-1 record player, tape recorder and radio. Our house was full of music, usually music from shows, or jazz. I learned the words of My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, Camelot, South Pacific; all the great Broadway shows brought to New Zealand by way of long playing records. Our backyard was Mt Victoria, our beach was Duders’ Beach and our big adventure playground was North Head, where tunnels were in abundance. The tunnel system now is nowhere near as complex as it was in the late 1950s and '60s. We had the ability to climb down by way of rusty ladders into the bowels of the mountain, where we would explore with kerosene lanterns. I can’t honestly say that I ever saw any evidence of any large wooden boxes that could have held the components of a couple of Boeing biplanes. However, there are so many rumours circulating, and have been for years, that have been ratified by so many reliable people that I believe another look at the situation would be appropriate.
I see a downtown stadium is again being discussed. I have been going on about this for many years and I can’t believe it’s never been started let alone finished by now. It’s a bit like Lake Road, the second harbour crossing, a safe and reliable road to Northland... talk, talk, talk, but it’s still not even on the drawing board as yet. Maybe Shane Jones will get it done for us?
Northcote people are telling me that the Council has spent millions of dollars on a new cycleway to Northcote Wharf, so the citizens of the beautiful Northcote area can bike down to catch the ferry off Northcote Wharf and this will save the congestion on Onewa Road and the Harbour Bridge at peak hours. Now I hear the Northcote Wharf is closed due to Health and Safety reasons and now we have a cycleway to nowhere.
I’ve noticed too, while driving to and from the yard, the office and construction sites, that there are still areas that have not been cleared of tree branches and vegetation that came down in the last storm. Along Bayswater Avenue, by the graveyard, just after the storm there was a collection of vehicles there for several days and many workers in high viz jackets. After several days, I noticed there was a new sign and a few bollards, but the storm detritus of broken tree branches is all still there, several weeks down the track. There’s another collection of dead branches and vegetation that’s been stacked up around the post box in Devonport, just opposite the post office. It’s been there since the last big storm as well. How hard is it to send a chipper around and get all this dead wood mulched up?
The shortest day has been and gone, and winter has us all firmly in its grip but soon, at the rate the months are flying past, we can look forward to slightly lighter mornings and evenings. In the meantime, rug up and keep safe and warm.