Will was in Christchurch this week. He was in a meeting in his office in the CBD when the earthquake struck. They took shelter in a door jamb. Their building (which is less than a hundred metres from the devastated CTV building) is newer and was fine. They were a little stunned, but it was only when they ventured into the street that the full magnitude of what had happened hit them.
Will is the person you want to be with in a crisis. He's cool under pressure. Shortly after the quake he phoned his travel agent and got three different travel options out of Christchurch booked for him and his two Melbourne colleagues.
Still, the airport was closed that day, so they were in Christchurch for the night. He spent a sleepless night in his hotel - a three story building overlooking Hagley Park. The park is where thousands of people sheltered that night because their homes or hotels were destroyed. Will wasn't sure whether he was better off in the park or in his hotel room. The aftershocks kept him awake for most of the night and for several of them he sought shelter under the desk in his room.
He arrived home the next evening exhausted and very rattled. He had photos for the boys of the tanks that were parked outside his hotel. The whole thing was frightening. The cafe where they had lunched the day before was shown on the news covered in fallen masonry. The restaurant they were booked to eat in on the night of the quake was on the Melbourne evening news - totally destroyed. It was all too close for comfort.
So tonight we're going to enjoy the company of old, old friends and some good comfort food. I'm cooking a slow baked shoulder of lamb with a freekah salad and yoghurt dip from Karen Martini's great book (Thank you Jane for recommending Karen Martini in one of your earlier blog posts). I might follow it up with a simple Nigella chocolate pudding with lashings of vanilla ice-cream and cream. Diet be damned.