Four years ago today, life for the residents of Christchurch and the surrounding area changed forever.
Our city was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake.
It was a bolt out of the blue, nobody expected an earthquake in Christchurch, even though historical sources show a history of quakes in the area.
I have previously written about the February earthquake, but I don't think that I have ever really written about this one. Unlike many of my friends who live in Christchurch, for me "the big one" was the September earthquake.
The main thing that I remember about the quake was the noise.
We were rudely awakened by a deafening crack.
There was silence.
Then the world started shaking violently.
I was 5 months pregnant, but I have never run so fast to my daughter's room. I bounced off the walls on the way- it was like being at sea.
When I reached her cot, she was fast asleep. The shaking stopped and for a brief second I considered leaving her to sleep, she looked so peaceful, but then the shaking started again and I scooped her up in my arms.
Growing up in Scotland, earthquake drills was not high on the list of things that we learnt, but the one thing that I knew was that we should brace ourselves in the doorway.
And there we stayed, in pitch blackness. Waiting for the next of the barage of aftershocks to hit.
It was terrifying.
As one quake ended, the next one would begin. It went on and on.
We didn't have smart phones and didn't have a battery operated radio so we had no way of knowing what had happened.
Our minds raced, wondering where the fault was. Were our friends ok? Were there any casualties? What had happened to our safe little world?
We madly sent out texts to everyone that we could think of and finally my husband's sister in Holland replied telling us that there had been an earthquake just north of Christchurch. We were later to discover that the early location was wrong and that the epicentre was just down the road from where we live.
Rascal was not quite two and it all seemed like a big adventure to her. She smiled and said "bang" each time that an aftershock hit. We did our best to stay upbeat for her. That said, she became very aware of light and dark and was definitely happier when the display of hubby's mobile phone provided some light.
Her terror of earthquakes was to come months later.
For the record, sitting cross-legged with a small child on your knee for hours on end is not good for the hips of a pregnant woman- it almost crippled me for months but with careful exercise and a bit of swimming its amazing what you can do to ease the pain.
And so the worst 7 or 8 months of our lives. We grew to identify the magnitude of earthquakes and to tell whether they were close-by or far away. Nobody went anywhere without a mobile phone and we made sure that we knew where our family members were at all times. After each aftershock, texts would be sent- "did you feel that one?" It was a big one!"
After those 7 or 8 months the quakes became less and less regular for us, even though they carried on for the people of Christchurch. The epicentre of the quakes moved gradually eastward and we realised that many of the quakes that had terrified us in the early days were probably not even felt in Christchurch.
And now our city is a building site. The centre of town is filled with empty spaces and car parks where the unsafe buildings have fallen down or been ripped down. The rebuild has begun and there are exciting signs of art and culture springing up all around the place. It is amazing to see what people can do when they put their minds to it! But it will be a long time before the centre of our city is the flourishing vibrant heart that it once was.