Sunday, April 01, 2007

Ordinary Sunday

There was nothing remarkable about today: It was just an ordinary autumn Sunday in Auckland. But I thought I might share some of it just to show what that means.

This morning my partner and I went with his sister to look at some nearly-completed houses where the realtor was having an open home. The houses were nice, with all the usual bits and pieces, but what caught my attention was that they all have rainwater tanks to catch and hold water for domestic use. Apparently, this is now a requirement for new developments in North Shore City, where we live.

As the city has grown, so has the rate of subdivision which means large sections (“lot” in American terms) divided into smaller sections, so that houses are built behind existing houses. The name for this is “infill housing”, and it’s increased the demands on water and sewerage. Also, as more land has been paved for driveways and patios or covered with buildings, rain water increasingly has nowhere to go, causing flooding problems in some areas.

The tanks help with many of these problems: By collecting rain water, they divert it from the storm water system. It also reduces the amount of municipal water a house needs, which eases the burden on the water supply (in case you're wondering—as I did—these modern tanks have valves that don't open until there's been a bit of rain to wash the roof clean; if there's too much rain, the excess goes into the storm drain system).

The city has gone further by restricting the number of houses that can be built in a given area of land. The way they do this is, apparently, to restrict the number of toilets per quarter acre to two. Since people demand two toilets nowadays, that effectively means only one house can be built. Larger sections, few houses, fewer people, all add to less impact on water and wastewater infrastructure while not halting growth and development altogether. So far, I haven’t seen a downside, though admittedly I don’t know all the details.

By the time we were done with the open house, it was time for lunch. We went to one of the several local Asian food courts where we were spoiled for choice. While we were there, some friends rang my partner on his mobile to say they were passing through town (they live in the South Island).

We went home, our friends stopped by, we had a coffee or a tea and had a great visit. They left, and we carried on with our afternoon.

And that, in headline form, is what a typical Sunday is like: Real estate open homes, some shopping or some other distraction. Then, grab some lunch somewhere, maybe followed by some leisurely visiting in the afternoon—or maybe a combination of the last two.

I’ve always found Sundays to be the most relaxing day in the New Zealand week, running at a more laid back pace than any other day, including Saturday and even some public holidays.

Like Erasure, I love Saturday, but I think maybe I might love a New Zealand Sunday just a little bit more.

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