'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Longdrops and Liquefaction

Do you know what a longdrop is? No, not a bungee jump, although I suspect it might be another Kiwi-ism.

Along with all the other things people in Christchurch have to deal with, the sewer system was very badly affected. The process of liquefaction has caused silty sand to enter a high proportion of the sewers. Estimates put it at months before they are all pumped clean. As a result, many cannot use their loos. But Good Old Kiwi Ingenuity comes to the rescue!*

Here is a website that features the diverse range of garden, er, solutions to this problem. It made me smile. And probably talks more about the everyday life there at the moment than lots of words here could.

Some images of Christchurch the day after the quake, as we negotiated our way out to the airport:

*2 I love the last sentence in this news item. Intentional, do you think?


  1. We have a saying in Sweden... I guess it may be an international one... "Need is the mother of invention"...

  2. Portaloo is also a new word to me. Here we have portapottys or portapotties or whatever is the correct spelling.

    The "wee while" made me laugh. I hope all is back to normal in your fair country before too long.

    Thinking today of the Japanese.

  3. I grew up on a farm that had only an outdoor privy, so I'm not unfamiliar with the concept, but I am greatly impressed with the creative ingenuity of the longdrops around Christchurch, and somewhat amazed that there is an entire website dedicated to photos of them.

    I'm looking at your photos of Christchurch after the quake, and listening to the TV reports of yesterday's earthquake in Japan. Words fail me.

  4. Well, I didn't know it at the time, but I suspect that a 'longdrop' is what we found way out in the countryside on a tourist trail somewhere in the south island when we were touring. It looked promising from the outside, slightly shabby perhaps, but a perfectly serviceable wooden shed.

    Only when I was inside flapping away the two million flies and trying to breathe some oxygen did I realise that this was not what I had come to expect from sanitation. A seat was provided, but basically, it was a case of 'don't look down'. I think it must have been at least a twenty foot drop!

  5. I can't believe that the writer didn't have a wee bit of a laugh at that.

    Chunky, longdrop, whatever we call them it makes us realise just how lucky we are nowadays with our modern sanitation.

  6. Dawn - I think we say 'Necessity is the mother of invention' Same thing!

    Robert - yes, I posted this before I knew about Japan.

    Pat, websites like this keep Christchurch people laughing. Or, I guess, it could all get too much.

    Jay - love your story. Yep, that's a longdrop. Some of these look more like night-time 'short-drops' into a bucket, which would then be taken out to the street convenience. Or, should I say, In-convenience.

    GB. Yes. As Joni Mitchell says, 'you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone...'