I started this blog after the Christchurch earthquakes because I needed somewhere to vent my anxiety. I am terrified of earthquakes and in the midst of all the aftershocks I felt the need to talk about my fears but I found that people got sick of me doing this. So I started writing them down instead. This helped me considerably.

If anyone would like to see what Christchurch looks like today, watch this:ย Another year of quake coverage

Eventually we left Christchurch and now call Scotland home. Without the constant aftershocks keeping me awake at night my anxiety naturally drifted away. So this blog morphed into other things that I am interested in, like climate change, ethics, travel, urban planning, cycling and whatever else takes my fancy.

70 thoughts on “About”

  1. I understand you totally about moving. We lived in Cashmere overlooking the Port Hills for a couple of years. We moved to Australia well before the destructive earthquakes happened but went for a holiday in April 2011 and saw the CBD. My wife grew up in Christchurch and we were both sadden by what we saw… Look forward to reading your post ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Cashmere is a beautiful part of Christchurch – views of mountains, city and sea. But Christchurch isn’t the same city anymore. There isn’t a city there now. A current affair’s program drove around the CBD just before Christmas last year (almost 2 years after the February 2011 earthquake), took photos and matched them up with the google Earth photos taken before the earthquake. It’s viewable online – http://www.3news.co.nz/Another-year-of-quake-coverage/tabid/367/articleID/281066/Default.aspx

      It’s very sad and shocking.

      I could never live in the south island of New Zealand now, knowing what I know about earthquakes and the imminent threat of the much larger fault, the Alpine fault which runs diagonally through the middle of the south island.

      1. HI Rachel Sorry for the late reply. I miss it for some reason. I totally understand what you are saying. Actually my wife too feels the same way and she grew up there. We still have heaps of relatives there, but some have moved as you have done. Thanks for sending the link. Pretty amazing. We used to go to the Art Gallery and walk around shopping in the CBD very often, but to see it now its pretty shocking..

  2. (As you no doubt know) Auckland generally ranks as one of the top five best cities in the world. It is definitely at the top of my list of cities I’d like to visit!

    1. I do know it, although I’m not sure that I completely agree with that ranking. There’s a lot of traffic and urban sprawl here. But it does have some nice natural beauty with the harbour and its many volcanoes.

  3. thanks rachel for dropping by on my blog and following as well, I’m having so much fun reading some of your blog. Keep ’em coming ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hello Rachel. Thank you so much for the follow. We have friends here who were in Christchurch for a visit and meetings and came home and earthquake hit. Glad you are good – better and feel safer. ? Looking forward to reading more of your posts.
    cate b

    1. Thanks, Cate. I am feeling better and safer, especially at the moment as we’re in the UK and so no longer on the ring of fire. I feel as though I could kiss the ground here.

      1. I get that. We moved to the middle of the USA 4.5 years ago and the tornado sirens terrify me. Thankfully we have had no tornadoes touchdown.

  5. Hi Rachel. Just thought I would drop by to take a look at your blog, found you from Xbox1212. I’m British born and bred and moved to California when I was in my early 20s and raised my three children there for 17 years. I can relate to you moving and uprooting. It must have been awful going through those earthquakes. You’ve reminded me of my fear of them when I lived in California. Never experienced them in the UK so when I did in CA I was petrified. I remember being in one in downtown LA and also the one that hit San Francisco in the early 90s the most. We lived 4 hours away but still felt it very strongly. Can’t even imagine what it would be like to be so close to one as you must have been. Also, just had to say, I adore red squirrels so love your gravatar pic! I’ll be back shortly to read more of your posts but just wanted to drop by for now and say “Hi, lovely to meet you” ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks for your comment Sherri. I enjoyed reading your blog just now. I think your decision to return to the UK was a great one as I am loving being here. It is particularly nice not having to worry about earthquakes, volcanoes and tornadoes. I don’t think I will ever visit California if I can help it or anywhere along the West coast of the US. My experience in Christchurch was enough for me.
      I think red squirrels are quite adorable and am hoping to see some in my travels. There are plenty of grey ones in York, but I’m yet to see a red squirrel.

      1. Thanks for the follow Rachel, I am now following you too, your posts are very informative and interesting. Yes, I’m glad we are back in the UK now. I always tell people here not to complain about it (don’t we Brits love to complain!) as we have so much here to be thankful for. You must feel so much safer!! I see your friend’s comment below about Squirrel Nutkin! I adore Beatrix Potter and he was one of my favourites! Brownsea Island in Dorset boasts being the home of the red squirrel, you take a boat trip out there, but we have never seen one there yet! Growing up in the country, I used to see red squirrels all the time when walking through the woods but sadly not any more. It seems the grey squirrels have taken over. Still, they are about, think we just have to look very carefully. Hopefully you will see some soon ๐Ÿ™‚

      2. I had actually forgotten about Squirrel Nutkin until your comment, Sherri. I might have to get that book for my kids. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a good whinge every now and then. I’m certainly very good at it!

        Britain does have so much to offer and today we went somewhere particularly fabulous. I’ll post photos shortly.

  6. Hi Rachel, I live in Auckland but my husband’s family are in Christchurch and we got married in Rapaki. Do you think you will ever move back? I hear of how so many people moved away after the quakes. It’s sad because Christchurch is a great city.

    1. Hi Bunny Eats Design,

      Christchurch was a terrific city. I loved living there. It is small and walkable but still has all the amenities you get from a big city. It has mountains and sea and the most spectacular views from the Port Hills. There are ski-fields less than 2 hours away as well and hot springs at Hanmer and generally quite lovely countryside on its doorstep.

      However, I will never move back. I am terrified of earthquakes now, having experienced three of the four large shocks and I now know about the Alpine Fault which is only 200km away and expected to rupture in the next 30 years. I don’t want to be there for that.

  7. Hi Rachel, We both live on The Ring of Fire so I understand your fears perfectly and you have a rockin blog. I also have proof you are an outstanding happiness engineer! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Hello Rachel, Thanks for checking out my page – I live with earthquakes too…and they also caused me anxiety. I don’t anticipate moving away anytime soon though, so I’ve had to find tricks to deal with it…glad to virtually meet you! Looking forward to checking out your blog.

  9. Hi Rachel. I liked your post about nappies and the one about the climate march. Here we call nappies diapers. But when my kids were babies I was a devotee of cloth myself. But then I did switch to paper eventually. I am glad you visited my blog. If you read some of my posts you will see I am familiar with earthquakes as well as a California native. Scotland sounds like a big move. I think it is hard to move to a different country. Some of my ancestry is from Scotland. My maternal grandmother was born in Glasgow. But I have never visited. Maybe someday. Good luck with the move and getting settled again in your new home.

    1. Hi Kamila, thanks for stopping by. Sorry for taking so long to reply to your comment! You’ve got a great blog: you’ve been everywhere! I enjoyed the Scotland post ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. A lovely blog here! it’s really dramatic how an earthquake made you start this blog but it’s wonderful how you cultivated your fear into something positive!

  11. Hi Rachel. I came from the ever generous Ladysighs post to try to see photos of your children, who she says are really cute. It’s not that I have a lot of free time on my hands, butโ€ฆ who can explain why we do some of the things we do that are thought driven? I couldn’t find any “photo” area but did find this and read it. I can relate to the earthquake thing, living in So. Calif and was in Northern Calif. during the biggie in Loma Prieta quake in 1989, actually worked it as a mobile Red Cross nurse. Prior to that quakes didn’t bother me, after thatโ€ฆ that’s another story. It was nice to read your post for today on responsible FOS and to learn a little about you here. I love Scotland and hope you’re enjoying its lush countryside and fun-loving people. Nice to meet you. Paulette

    1. Thanks for your comment, Paulette, and sorry for taking so long to reply! I hope never to experience another earthquake again. I’ve felt enough of them to last my lifetime as Christchurch has had more than 10,000 aftershocks and still counting. It must have been tough working as a nurse in the aftermath of an earthquake: so many people needing help and only so much you can do.

      I am loving Scotland. The people are great and very friendly. I also love the countryside. It reminds me of the South Island of New Zealand in many ways. It’s nice not to have to think about earthquakes and I rarely do these days. Lovely to meet you too ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Hello Rachel, we had talked once long back when I began blogging. Came across your blog now. Nice to meet you finally. I can understand the anxiety about earthquakes,we rarely get them here but the last quake(a year back) which was very mild,still makes me imagine and scared sometimes if things are shaking inside house ! All the best in spreading happiness ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Ady. I’m glad to hear you live somewhere relatively quake-free. The ground just isn’t supposed to shake ๐Ÿ™‚

      It looks like you’re enjoying blogging which is great to see. I love your photos too.

      1. I agree,we compare stability of a person to earth !

        Thank you very much.it has been an a journey of learning and discovering so far ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Hi Rachel, just noticed you’d popped over and seen my log and my post on your previous home in Christchurch. Extraordinarily sad visit even though we were catching with old friends there. Thank you fir looking in; hope you do so again and meanwhile I’m following you because your posts look the sort of fascinating mix of everything that appeals to me.

    1. Hi Geoff,
      Sherri told me about your Christchurch post as she knew I’d be interested and I definitely was. It was my home for 6 years and I liked living there. We moved after the earthquakes and because of the them. Scotland is home now and I’m loving it here.

  14. […] RachelSqirrel – Rachel is a young Australian mother living in Scotland. She is a “Happiness Engineer”, a job I would love to have. Her posts areย eclectic, imaginative, insightful and, personal. She hates cars and rides a beautiful bike ๐Ÿ™‚ […]

  15. Hi Rachel,
    I’m an ardent follower of Geoff Le Pard’s and came over for a visit after he mentioned your photography. Have only dipped my toe in your blog so far but am looking forward to further exploration. We live in Greater Sydney and we went to New Zealand for our honeymoon. We flew out of Sydney Airport in the very early hours of September 12, 2001 after watching the plqanes fly into the World Trade Centre and Washington on a day, which been forever etched into the public conscious as “9/11”. Despite spending that first night watching coverage on TV, I still remember the stunning view of Auckland Harbour. We spent a few days staying with family in Christchurch and it was so pretty and compared to0 the horrors taking place overseas, it felt like such a safe haven and yet it was harbouring its own secrets. Geoff put me onto the chair memorial, which was very poignant and I love the ecclectic range of chairs and especially the inclusion of a wheelchair. Some of our family has remained in Christchurch but some have left. So pretty but from my perspective, not worth the risk but once you own real estate, it’s very hard to walk away. Scotland sounds great xx Rowena

    1. Hi Rowena,

      Thanks for stopping by. I can imagine Christchurch would have felt very safe just after 9/11. It has never been a target for terrorists and that’s unlikely to change. I was always a bit uneasy about the earthquake risk even before September 4th 2010. But everyone told me that Christchurch would be fine and it would be Wellington that gets hit. That turned out to be wrong and I wanted to leave after the first big earthquake in 2010 but my husband didn’t want to go. Everyone said we’d had our big one and Christchurch would be safe now. Then there was another big one in February 2011 and this one was worse and people died. That was when we made the decision as a family to go but we didn’t get out of there until July and there as another big one in June. We fortunately missed a fourth big one in December the same year. Even when the whole family agrees to leave it can still be hard when you’re tied to a mortgage and a job which we were. Real estate does make it hard to walk away. But we managed to sell our house fortunately and Ben managed to find a job first in Auckland and now in Scotland and I’m very happy here. I don’t miss Christchurch at all now and don’t think I will ever go back there. They have another big earthquake on the cards at some stage with the alpine fault predicted to rupture at some point over the next 30 years.

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