Little did we know what lay ahead as New Year 2011 rolled around.
Seeking as ever a colder climate away from our summer heat,
the Red Cardinals flew off to Christchurch, New Zealand, just after New Year...
Christchurch was cool, peaceful, and very pretty.
Hydrangas were in bloom: enormous, fabulous bushes in many shades of pink and blue - simply gorgeous.
We went punting on the Avon - a sweet and shallow waterway winding through the city.
Beautiful weeping willows swept the Avon River banks.
We all wept for Christchurch when about six weeks later,
on the 22nd February, the city was rocked by a devastating earthquake.
The lovely cathedral remains partly destroyed,
and the city centre still closed off, perhaps never to be reopened.
So very sad, and we are so glad we saw it just in time.
Spookily, I took this photo of the window of an antique shop.
They had left things as they were after a previous,
smaller quake, while they were away on hols.
I wonder how they fared in the Big One.
On January 11, we flew on to Queenstown on the shores of stunning Lake Wakatipu.
On arrival we turned on the TV to the shocking news of huge floods back here in Brisbane, expected over the next 24 hours.
And so it came to pass, the worst floods in our history, while we were safely in another country, feeling guilty and powerless because we could not help our hometown in its darkest hour.
Such was New Year 2011
There is a wonderful painting of Lake Wakatipu currently on show at Qld Art Gallery, at the exhibition Eugene von Guerard: Nature Revealed.
Von Guerard painted it in 1877 on a short visit to NZ,
and the painting is here on loan from Auckland Art Gallery.
In news from the Red Cardinal Garden,
the Snake Catcher came yesterday,
and removed the 2-metre python from under a shrub at the back of our garden.
Mother crow had been distressed and agitated all morning.
Peace is now restored, and a very relieved mother bird can enjoy the New Year with her chick.
And from the Red Cardinals,
Wishing you a Very Happy New Year, Dear Readers!!!!