Last batch

(You can see I was running out of ideas at the end, can’t you?)

And that’s the lot! (Although I’m having nightmares of suddenly discovering yet another bag of notebooks lurking somewhere in the study (when the various stationery shops had their “Back to School” sales earlier in the year, they were selling the notebooks for a few cents each as loss leaders, but had limits of 10 per customer. So we all went round the shops, and bought 10 each in each shop, and between us managed to get a huge stash for just a few dollars.))

Added to the ones I decorated earlier in the year, that’s 120 notebooks for the goody bags. I’ll be amazed if we actually get over 100 registrations, so plenty to spare (hey, if you’re lucky you might get two notebooks in your goody bag!).

And again

Today’s batch of pretty sparkles:

Sorry about the poor picture quality again – I was balancing on a stool holding the camera up high enough to get them all in without too much foreshortening, which is not ideal conditions for getting a well-focused or well-lit shot.

I was starting to run short of inspiration (and most of my favourite embellishments) by the middle of the afternoon, which is why there’s so many minor variations on the same ideas.


As we paid for our lunch yesterday, the waitress asked us where we were off to today. Probably a standard question, given that we were at a cafe in Springfield, a town whose only claim to fame (other than the giant pink doughnut) is that it’s on the way to a lot of places. But unlike the rest of her customers, we didn’t give a standard answer. “No idea. We’re exploring.”

Which is another way of saying that lytteltonwitch, rarsberry and I were out bookcrossing, geocaching, geodashing, letterboxing, war memorial hunting, and generally expeditioning again. There was a plan, sort of. And we did have a few destinations in mind, sort of. But as usual, the main part of our plan was “let’s see what looks interesting”.

The first mission of the trip (and the official “excuse”) was a geodash point near Charing Cross (places named after somewhere on the other side of the planet was to become the theme for the day). Geodashing sounds like a great idea (each month a selection of random coordinates are chosen by a computer, and the aim is to get to within 100m of as many of them as possible), but, as we’re rapidly discovering, it fails utterly in NZ, where there’s a pretty fair chance any random location will be half way up a mountain and a very long way from any road. But despite repeated defeat (so far our team has earned a whole 1 point) we still try to get to any that are within a day-trip of Christchurch and look accessible. And the Charing Cross one looked very accessible. Close to Christchurch, and according to Google Maps, near a couple of roads, on the flat – how hard could it be? We really should have looked at the satellite images. Yes, the point was near a couple of roads – about 250m away from each of them at their nearest point. And we could even see exactly where it must lie: in the middle of somebody’s garden. We did briefly contemplate going and knocking on their door, but what exactly would we say? “Hello, would you mind if we came and took a photo of a random spot on your lawn? It’s for the internet.”

So, mission one abandoned, our next objective was the supermarket in Darfield, for plastic bags for releasing books (guess who forgot to pack any? My excuse is I was distracted by figuring out how to put a PayPal button on the registration page for the convention. Dunno why I didn’t think of it sooner, really – it’s a much simpler solution than people having to contact us for account details!). Mission accomplished, and a couple of books released (Chasing Women by Pamela Longfellow and Future History by Jerry Pournelle), we headed for Sheffield, in search of a geocache.

As we approached Sheffield, large advertising signs extolled the merits of the pies to be had there. It was only 11.30, but suddenly we all had a craving for pies for lunch, so we decided to find the geocache then have an early lunch. The geocache was one where you had to get clues from the listed location to find the coordinates of the actual cache. One of the clues was the number of letters in the first name on the west side of the war memorial (Rising Sun by Michael Crichton). And lytteltonwitch’s GPS doesn’t work very well as a compass – it was swinging around all over the place and refusing to say which way west actually was. Eventually we decided to work on the theory that the mountains should be west-ish of us… except that didn’t entirely clarify things, as two sides of the monument could equally have been said to be facing the mountains. And then there was the little matter of what exactly was meant by “first name”. Did they mean first name as in given name? Or was it the first of the names on the list? And if so did they mean the whole name or just the surname? In the end, we decided the answer was definitely 6. Or 8. Or 0 (one of the sides had no names at all). Or maybe 5. Or it could have been 1. It was definitely a number somewhere between 0 and 8, anyway… probably. Lytteltonwitch said it didn’t really matter, because the rest of the clues were enough to get us within a few tens of metres of the coordinates anyway, but I reckon if only we’d had a proper compass we* wouldn’t have spent the next half an hour or so unsuccessfully scrabbling under bushes… or at least we would have known which of the bushes we were actually supposed to be scrabbling under.

(*Ok, this is a complete lie. “We” didn’t actually scrabble under bushes. Lytteltonwitch did, while Rarsberry and I stood back and gave helpful suggestions about where she should scrabble next. My interest in geocaching definitely starts fading as soon as we get to the scrabbling under bushes part of it. Too much spider potential.)

Finally we gave up and headed over to the pie shop, very hungry for our pies by this point. And it was closed! There was a notice on the door giving their Christmas hours, and for some weird reason, despite being open on Boxing Day and on Sunday, they were closed on Saturday. We weren’t the only ones who were disappointed, either – while we sat in the carpark and surveyed the map for our next move, several more cars pulled into the carpark and passengers leapt out with expectant expressions, only to be turned back at the door.

I left a book (Colonies in Space by TA Heppenheimer) in the doorway, and we decided we’d continue on to Springfield and find some lunch there instead. But first, we had a little detour. I vaguely remembered someone mentioning a walk to be done somewhere near Sheffield, that might have involved a waterfall. And the directions possibly involved the intersection of SH73 and some other road. An examination of the map led us to select a road that seemed promising – there were hills, and a river, and surely the combination of the two must mean a waterfall. And at the very worst, it looked like it was a back way to Springfield. So we set off. I’m surprised lytteltonwitch ever lets me navigate, really. Not only do I show an amazing inability to remember vague directions (In my defence, I’d just like to say that there are a lot of towns starting with S in Canterbury, plus quite a few different highways starting with 7, so it may just possibly be that I got them slightly wrong…), but I’m also not so good at remembering that what would be a short distance on one of those nice straight yellow-coloured roads with numbers isn’t quite so short on the windy white-coloured ones with names and no tarseal. Even I started to doubt my navigational ability when the signs started to point to Whitecliffs and Coalgate. But it was all worth it in the end, because suddenly in the middle of nowhere we came across a sign telling us we were on Pig Saddle Road. And what did I have in my bag? A copy of The Pigman’s Legacy by Paul Zindel. So our long and pointless detour did turn out to have a point after all: a perfect themed release! The sign-post even had a nail sticking out of it to hang the book from!

We did eventually make it to Springfield (20-odd km later – this to reach a town that’s only a couple of k down the road from Sheffield), and stopped at a cafe whose sign promised “Yummy food” (well, we had to, didn’t we ;-)). Rarsberry wandered off, and seemed to be taking photos of a paddock. Except when we rounded the building we discovered that in the middle of the paddock was a giant pink doughnut. Apparently it was a gift from the makers of The Simpsons.

The cafe wasn’t very full, but the staff seemed to be in chaos. They were all racing around looking flustered, and the woman who served us seemed utterly confused. She wrote down our order wrong, didn’t know if there was any trim milk for lytteltonwitch’s coffee, and me asking if they had peppermint tea (I don’t do caffeine) totally threw her – she had to go away and rummage through a cupboard for that one. The food, once we got it, did turn out to deserve the description “yummy”, though I can’t say the same for my tea – it had been left to stew for so long while they tried to get their heads around lytteltonwitch’s trim milk request that it was utterly foul by the time I got it. While we ate the staff continued to run back and forth, messing up orders and losing whole tables of customers (there seemed to be no system of numbering orders or tables, so they matched food to customers by wandering around vaguely asking people if this was what they’d ordered).

It was as bad when we came to pay (the first waitress hadn’t let us pay when we ordered, because of the trim milk uncertainty). Our usual arrangement on these trips is that rarsberry and I split the cost of lytteltonwitch’s lunch, seeing as she pays for the petrol. But the woman serving us (who wasn’t the one who’d served us originally) looked so panicked when I started to explain how we wanted to divide up the bill that we ended up just splitting the whole thing in half and working out the difference later. Even that was a bit confusing for her, because she claimed the EFT-POS machine couldn’t do the exact split, so she charged me 10c more than rarsberry. I’m sure it all made sense in her head…

I left Riding the Snake by Stephen J Cannell in the cafe, and The Moment of the Magician by Alan Dean Foster in the phone box opposite, then we headed up the road to have a look at the Rewi Alley memorial (Twilight at the Well of Souls by Jack L Chalker, The Shrouded Planet by Robert Randall, and Animorphs: The Predator by KA Applegate). We followed a sign pointing to the Kowai Pass Reserve, thinking it might be a patch of native bush, but it turned out to just be another domain and campsite (Holiday Hostess by Ivy McKnight). We continued down the road towards Kowai Bush, thinking maybe the actual reserve was there (and lytteltonwitch was quite keen to continue on even further to Staircase so we could release The Thirty-Nine Steps there, until I pointed out there isn’t actually a road there – it’s only accessible by train or a very difficult tramp), but all there was were a couple of houses at the end of the road… and a war memorial that we think doesn’t appear on the offical list! So we took photos (and released books: Angel: Solitary Man by Jeff Mariotte) which lytteltonwitch will send to the site. That’s the second one we’ve found now that they didn’t know about.

Next we decided to search out another geocache, in Glentui. On the way we stopped off to release books at the Waimakariri (Cyber Way by Alan Dean Foster) and Eyre Rivers (Dilly Goes on Holiday by Tony Bradman), and at the museum (The Little House and Zelda’s Cut by Philippa Gregory) and historic jail (Merlin: The King’s Wizard by James Mallory) in Oxford (where the streets are named things like York, Bath, and Cheapside). On a display of walks in the area, lytteltonwitch found one where there was a geocache, so we detoured again to find it.

Actually, it was just nice to walk in the bush for a bit, because it was turning into a stinking hot day, and Oxford, in the shelter of the hills, gets particularly warm. While rars and I were releasing books (A Difficulty with Dwarves by Craig Shaw Gardener and Spirit in the Rainforest by Eric Wilson), lytteltonwitch raced on ahead to find the geocache. We weren’t sure which track she’d taken, but we weren’t too concerned, reasoning that as the track did a loop, we’d have to meet up eventually somewhere along the way. We were almost back at the beginning by the time she found us – she’d taken a side turning, and had ended up behind us, so had been racing along trying to catch up with us, while we were just wandering along enjoying the bush and not worrying about her at all. (Great friends, aren’t we?)

The trees were covered in honeydew, which was being taken full advantage of by bees.

Some wonderfully striped bracket fungi growing on a fallen log.

Lytteltonwitch led us back up the side track to the geocache, so I could leave A Hilda Boswell Little Treasury in it (I’d brought along the tiny book hoping there’d be a cache big enough to hold it), then we got back in the (very hot by this time) car and drove back to Oxford for icecreams. We sat in the shade in front of the town hall to eat them (and released a couple more books: Hawke’s Cove by Susan Wilson and The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (which I found a perfect set of steps for)). Then it was off towards Glentui again.

We stopped briefly at Ashley Gorge, but it was packed with holidaymakers, so we just stopped long enough to release another holiday-themed book for the BCNZ weekend challenge (Pack Up, Pick Up, and Off by William Taylor) and carried on up the valley at Glentui to the start of the Richardson Track. Luckily the cache we wanted wasn’t on that track (3 hours), or the dauntingly named Blowhard Track (4 hours), but on the much gentler 15 minute Waterfall Track. At the lookout point, we released a few books (Animorphs: The Invasion by KA Applegate, An Excess of Enchantments by Craig Shaw Gardener, and 101 Magic Tricks by Guy Frederick), and discovered that once again, the geocache coordinates didn’t actually point to the cache, but only to a clue. And guess what? We needed a compass again! The clue gave a bearing to search on, and how far away the cache was, but the GPS wouldn’t cooperate. Eventually we managed to have a wild guess at north, and I dredged out the navigation skills I learnt for 7th form tech drawing, and guestimated where the cache would be. Next time we are definitely bringing a good old fashioned magnetic compass with us!

Once again, lytteltonwitch set off scrabbling under bushes, while rars and I admired the waterfall. She managed to find the cache this time, and it turned out to be quite a large one, that we could fit a couple of ordinary sized books into (Wyrldmaker by Terry Bisson).

The afternoon was drawing on, so we decided it was time to head back home. As we were now on the wrong side of the Waimakariri, that meant going through Rangiora (where we only got slightly lost while trying to find suitable places to release books – Children’s Children by Maisie Mosco) and Kaiapoi. In Kaiapoi, we dropped in to see lusks, but they were about to have dinner, so it was just a brief visit. Hopefully we’ll meet up with her again when Sherlockfan is down.

We decided we’d get something to eat in Kaiapoi, but then discovered it’s a town sorely lacking in places to eat. A sign saying “Cafe Open” turned out to be a lie, and the curiously-named The Theme Bar (which didn’t seem to have any sort of theme) didn’t look at all appetising.

The mysteriously themeless theme bar.

Eventually we found a fish and chip shop, and sat down by the riverside to eat our chips, accompanied by a large contingent of ducks and seagulls. One of the ducks got the beetroot out of my burger (I’d asked them to leave the beetroot out, and they’d even written “no beet” on the bag, but it still had beetroot in it – grrr!), and ended up with a particularly gory-looking beak with red dripping from it. Kept us entertained, anyway 🙂

Then it was time to release our last few books (The Seventh Princess by Nick Sullivan and Dodie by Finola Akister), and back to Christchurch, and left-over pavlova for pudding at my place.

Another highly successful expedition complete.

‘Tis the night before Christmas

I don’t do physical Christmas cards, so please accept this as a virtual Christmas card to all my Dear Diary, Bookcrossing, and Livejournal friends. Hope you all have a great Christmas (or whatever you choose to celebrate tomorrow), and a fabulous New Year.

And another sort of Christmas tree:

I wandered over to Jellie Park this morning to take a photo of our Christmas tree. After a minor heart attack when I saw a council truck parked next to it (it turned out they were busy removing graffiti from park benches, and didn’t seem concerned about the booktree at all), I discovered it safe and sound, and still well-stocked with books (though quite a few had already gone). It looked really cool, too, especially as you first spot the sparkling of the bags and ribbons through the trees – very mysterious.

Oh Christmas Tree…

So our annual Bookcrossing Christmas party happened on Saturday night, but our traditional Christmas tree didn’t. It was just too wet. Heavy rain for most of the day, and although it had eased off a little by evening, it was still drizzling and very cold, and hanging books from trees wouldn’t have been fun. So instead we just had an evening of Carcassonne (in which rarsberry showed a very impressive learning curve, going from knowing nothing to totally thrashing the rest of us in the space of one game) and Star Wars Monopoly (in which lytteltonwitch reminded us why one should never play Monopoly against a banker), and way too much food (including the infamous mug cakes). So despite not getting to release books, it was a fun night all round.

Sunday was a much-needed day of rest, then yesterday I bit the bullet and finally got my Christmas shopping done. Town was a nightmare, of course, full of people doing last minute shopping (oh yeah, that would be me) and in a panic because they didn’t really know what to get (yep, me again). Actually, I did have an idea of what I was looking for, but, as always seems to be the case, it involved me doing a lot of walking back and forth from one end of town to the other and visiting the same shop twice because I couldn’t make up my mind the first time. It wasn’t helped either by the general incompetence of shop assistants. When I go into a shop selling something I know virtually nothing about, I don’t expect the shop assistants to be experts, but they should at least know more than I do! I actually had to resort to going to Ballantynes for one item, because I’d got so little help at the cheaper shops I’d tried, and at least the staff there do tend to know their stuff.

(The spell check insists that I meant “balancedness” not “Ballantynes” – is that really a word??? Surely “balance” (the noun rather than the verb) does the job adequately?)

I released a couple of books in town during my meanderings, The Listeners by Christopher Pike in a phone box (they’ve taken all the phone books out of our phone boxes too, so it’s not just Wellington. Very annoying of them, because the shelf they hung from made a great place to leave books – now you’ve got to try and balance them on top of the phone instead), and Damanio by RA MacAvoy at South City.

On a whim I decided to stop in at the food court at the Bus Exchange for something to drink before I headed home, and while I was being served, I heard a voice behind me say “You’re a bookcrosser!” It was one of the staff, who’d seen my t-shirt. He explained his wife was a bookcrosser, and she was coming over to NZ to join him in the New Year, so I told him about the local happenings (especially the convention, of course) and gave him a book (Maverick by Ricardo Semler, which was all I had on me), and he said he’d get her to get in touch when she arrives. So it turned out to be a good decision to go in there!

Oh, and in my search for presents for MrPloppy I ended up finding a present for myself instead: the Apartment Life expansion pack for The Sims 2. Yes, I know I said EA weren’t getting any of my money, but it was in the bargain bin (already???) for half price, and at $24, “acquiring” it through other means would probably have cost more, because it would have meant exceeding our bandwidth limit. So my meanness won out over my principles (though I reckon at that price very little profit will get back to EA anyway). Needless to say, despite having a legal copy I still downloaded the no-CD hack as soon as I got home, to allow me to bypass teh evil securom.

So guess what I spent most of today doing?

Lytteltonwitch came round tonight to take MrPloppy out for a drive, so as it was a nice night and her Christmas-themed books were still here from the other night, after dinner we wandered over to Jellie Park and belatedly created our Christmas tree. (I managed to forget my camera of course, but I’ll try and get over there tomorrow and take some photos). The books I contributed were:

December 32nd… And Always by Marie Michael
The Christmas Marriage Rescue by Sarah Morgan
Married Under the Mistletoe by Linda Goodnight
Their Christmas Dream Come True by Kate Hardy
Betting on Santa by Debra Salonen
Red Carpet Christmas by Patricia Rosemoor and Christmas Ransom by Jenna Ryan
The Doctor’s Christmas Proposal by Laura Iding
Baby: Found at Christmas by Laura Iding
The Doctor’s Very Special Christmas by Kate Hardy
The First Christmas by Lynne Bradbury
The Night Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander et al
Simon and the Holy Night by Eve Tharlet
Jesus’ Christmas Party by Nicholas Allan
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Her Christmas Wedding Wish by Judy Christenberry
A Christmas to Remember by Kay Stockham
Snowy the Christmas Snowman by Maureen Spurgeon
The Christmas Elf by Maureen Spurgeon
Teddy’s Christmas Present by Maureen Spurgeon
Santa’s Little Helper by Maureen Spurgeon
A Long December by Donald Harstad
A Midnight Clear by William Wharton
A Puzzle in a Pear Tree by Parnell Hall
Making Big Bucks by William Taylor
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C Moore
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C Moore (another copy)
The Story of Christmas by Paul Fehlner
Red Boots for Christmas by Carol Greene
Holiday Recipes to Warm the Soul
Christmas Nativity Pop-Up
Christmas Holiday by W Somerset Maugham

I still don’t do memes

…but I’m sitting here twiddling my thumbs waiting for an important phone call, and can’t get on with any other work until I get it, and my brain is otherwise fried by the total chaos that has been work for the last couple of weeks (and which just got worse this morning – Friday really can’t come fast enough).


1. Where did you begin 2008?
At home.

2. What was your status by Valentines Day?
Status? Um, alive?

3. Were you in school any time this year?
Not school, but I was at university.

4. Did you have to go to the hospital?
No, but I was at the doctor’s more than I would have liked.

5. Did you have any encounters with the police?
Not in any official capacity.

6. Where did you go on vacation?
LONDON!!!! (Oh, and I may have popped in to Australia, Singapore, Wales, Spain, Canada and America on the way ;-))

7. What did you purchase that was over £100?
The tickets to do the above!

8. Did you know anybody who got married?
Several people, but nobody close enough to invite me to their wedding.

9. Did you know anybody who passed away?
Ming 🙁 But fortunately no humans (or at least, none close to me – only distant acquaintances).

10. Did you move anywhere?

11. What sporting events did you attend?
A baseball game in Texas, which I enjoyed much more than I ever imagined I would.

12. What concerts/shows did you go to?
“Nutcracker” at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff. I’m sure I must have been to more than that this year, but that’s the one that stuck in my mind.

13. Describe your birthday.
Quiet. And had a 9 in it.

14. What is the ONE thing you thought you would not do, but did, in 2008?
Go to the London convention? I definitely never expected that to happen!

15. What have been your favourite moments?
Every single moment of my trip.

16. Any new additions to your family?
No, but in a few months I’ll have a new niece.

17. What was your best month?
Definitely April.

18. Who has been your best drinking buddy?
I don’t really go out drinking, so nobody.

19. Made new friends?
All over the world!

20. Favourite night out?
So many, most of them in April 🙂 But if I absolutely have to pick, having dinner with a bunch of mad Australians and Italians in London on the Saturday night of the convention.

21. Other than home, where did you spend most of your time?
In airports. That’s what it felt like, anyway 🙂
Or at work.

22. Have you lost any friends this year?
Yes. One person who I used to consider my friend let her jealousy get the better of her, and did irreparable damage to that friendship as a result.

23. Change your hairstyle?

24. Have any car or bike accidents?

25. How old did you turn this year?
As I said above, it’s got a 9 in it. Which means next year’s the scary one…

26. Do you have a New Years resolution?
No, because I never keep them.

27. Do anything embarrassing?
I’m sure I have. But nothing bad enough to stick in my mind.

28. Buy anything from eBay?

29. Get married or divorced?

30. Get hit on?
Not in any serious way.

31. Been snowboarding?

32. Did you get sick this year?
Yes, several times.

33. Are you happy to see 2008 go?
Yes and no. Work-wise, I’ll be very happy to see it over – it’s been a stink of a year. Outside of work, it’s been a year of adventures, but there’s been some not so good stuff too. And of course, 2008 being over will mean it’s 2009, and that means CHRISTCHURCH 2009!!!!!! Which is incredibly exciting, but also terrifying!

34. Been naughty or nice?
Mostly nice, I hope.

35. What are you looking forward to most in 2009?
April 🙂

Putting things in perspective

This morning, MrPloppy got a phone call from the daughter of a friend of ours, letting us know he’s in hospital with leukaemia.

Then tonight I went to visit my ESOL student, and she told me that not only was the taxi driver who was murdered recently a friend of theirs (not surprising, really, given how small and close-knit the Afghan community is in Christchurch), but a young Afghani boy at her daughter’s school has just died of brain cancer, less than a month after he was diagnosed. Their whole community is reeling.

Suddenly any troubles I might have seem so very small.

^ ^

A capital weekend

As usual, when life is interesting enough to have plenty to write about, I’m too busy having an interesting life to write about it.

Most of the interesting stuff has been work stuff (some good, some not so good), so not worth writing about, but the weekends have been pretty fun-filled in themselves, starting with a weekend in Wellington:

I had a work thing to attend in Wellington on the Monday and Tuesday, so I arranged my flights to give me the weekend up there as well. So only a few days after last being at the airport, I was back there again. All was different though: the building work that had caused so much chaos the week before was finished, and Air NZ’s new improved self-check-in system was up and running. Having had a trial run on it in Auckland, I knew what to do, so was able to sail through quickly. Others around me were not finding the system so easy, and the staff were rushing from group to group trying to convince confused passengers not to just give up and join the queue for the one check-in desk.

In Wellington, the wind was blowing, as demonstrated by the turbulence the moment we were over Cook Strait. A rough landing (I think I’ve only flown into Wellington once when it wasn’t), then caught the bus into town. I’d splurged and booked a single room at the YHA instead of a dorm, and had planned to go straight to my room and sort out my books before heading to the meetup with the Wellington bookcrossers. But when I went to check in, they told me the hostel had been full the night before, so the cleaners hadn’t finished the rooms yet, and I wouldn’t be able to check in until mid-afternoon.

So instead of having the leisure to fully unpack my bag and select appropriate books for the meetup, I had to just grab whichever books were on top. I really should learn to put the stuff I need immediately on the top…

I had an hour or so to spare, so I locked my bag in their storeroom and set off to do a bit of shopping. For some reason, I always seem to end up doing my summer clothes shopping in Wellington. I suppose it’s because this annual trip coincides with the beginning of the really warm weather, when I realise that last year’s summer wardrobe is beginning to look a bit old and worn out (note that by “wardrobe” I mean “a couple of work outfits that I can interchange the components of to make it look like I own more clothes than I actually do”), and when I always seem to have a shortage of free weekends to go shopping at home.

Anyway, having found the bits and pieces I wanted, and successfully killed a bit of time, I wandered up towards the cafe where I was meeting the others for lunch. As I was walking along the street from one direction, I saw Sherlockfan approaching from the other. As we both waited to cross the street (from diagonally opposite sides), she was joined by another person bearing books, who she subsequently introduced to me as newgirl360. Then inside the cafe we found edwardstreet and grandson waiting. A little later we were joined by discoverylover, and then later again by chicklitfan – Wellington meetups are going from strength to strength.

Anyway. The cafe. How can I describe it? Imagine the most kitschy, chocolate-box, flowery, cutesy place you can think of, then add some. But somehow despite being totally over the top, the design actually worked. The cups and plates were mismatched florals of the sort I last saw in my Granny’s china cabinet, the staff wore full-length frilly aprons, and there were doilies as far as the eye could see, but the overall effect was fabulous. And even if it hadn’t been, the food was great, and there was an OBCZ lurking in the corner, so we would have been happy anyway.

The table was soon piled with books. I only picked up one for myself (The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler), but I also acquired a bag of NZ books from Sherlockfan for the convention. The random books I’d grabbed out of my bag turned out to be The Defector by Mark Chisnell, Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway, Golden Miles by Katherine Susannah Prichard, A Fringe of Leaves by Patrick White, Toyer by Gardener McKay, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons and The Shadow of Wings by June Knox-Mawer.

Of course, the book I’d actually brought up specifically to take to the meetup because I’d promised it to discoverylover, Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult, wasn’t one of the ones I’d managed to grab. So after lunch DL and I walked back down to the YHA, where my room was finally ready, and I found the book for her. Then, with DL not having any other plans for the rest of the day, we picked up some more books and headed out to release them around the city:

Drumfire and Buffalo War by Peter McCurtin
Spy High: The Frankenstein Factory by AJ Butcher (outside the Montessori school – my first themed release for libbybook‘s weekly themed release challenge)
Summer Light by Roxana Robinson
Babyface by Elizabeth Woodcraft
Two for Three Farthings by Mary Jane Staples
The Love That God Forgot by Alexander Cordell
The Iron Wolf by Richard Adams
The Secret Lemonade Drinker by Guy Bellamy (in the drinks cabinet of the supermarket)

We stopped off in a cafe for rest and refreshment, and spent a constructive half hour or so counting labels out into packs of 100 for DL to sell for the BC Exchange fund. Then I asked DL to give me a guided tour of Te Papa. The guided tour didn’t get any further than it’s first stop, though: the fantastic video wall where you can select photos from Te Papa’s huge database and manipulate and animate them on the giant wall screens. The public can upload their own photos through Te Papa’s website, a facility which DL had already made good use of, as searching the database for “bookcrossing” brought up photos from the 2007 BCNZ convention, including Skyring, Ringbear, and DL herself in her quiz hat. Needless to say, the wall was soon covered with flying Ringbears and rotating Skyrings 🙂

After we’d had our fill of playing with the wall, DL charmed one of her colleagues into sneaking us onto one of the flight-simulator style rides. We opted for what was described as the more gentle ride, a submarine voyage to explore an underwater volcano. All I can say is if that was the gentle ride, I really don’t want to do the rough one – I was feeling sea-sick by the time we got out. Interesting film, though.

By this time it was nearly time for Te Papa to close, so we abandoned the tour and set out in search of dinner. After a strange encounter with an ATM on legs,

(just to prove that weird things don’t only happen when lytteltonwitch is around – although note it was an ANZ ATM…) we ended up at Flying Burrito Brothers (their chicken in mole sauce is always sufficient excuse for a visit). Their Wellington restaurant features little alcoves all over the walls, so of course one of them ended up with a book in it: The Stencil Man by Garry Disher.

The next day, after a leisurely breakfast (The World, the Flesh and Myself by Michael Davidson) and a bit of Christmas shopping, I decided to go for a walk along Oriental Parade. I thought I’d walk round the bays until I got tired, then catch a bus home. It was a lovely day for walking, sunny but with a cool breeze off the harbour, but even so I surprised myself by getting all the way round to the flat bit where the airport is (Kilbirnie?). I did vaguely consider carrying on, but I wasn’t sure if the bus route went any further round the bays, so rather than end up in the middle of nowhere with a long walk back to find a bus-stop, I decided it was time to catch a bus back into town (and I had been walking for nearly 2 hours by this time, after all!).

I released a few books as I walked, of course:
Other People’s Children by Joanna Trollope (beside a playground)
Conquered Heart by Lisa Samson
The Healer by Greg Hollingshead
Clash by Night by Doreen Owens Malek
At Weddings and Wakes by Alice McDermott
Toxin by Robin Cook

Oh, and one thing that amused me while I was walking. At one point, I was passed by a large group of motorcyclists, all on Harleys and other big powerful bikes. About half an hour later, further along the road, another group went past going in the opposite direction, but this time all on tiny scooters. I was giggling to myself thinking that maybe they were the same bikers as the earlier group 🙂

Back in town, I visited the Chocolate Cafe – just so I could release Chocolate Lizards by Cole Thompson, of course (though it would have been rude not to order something, seeing as I was there…) Then, after releasing another couple of books (Painted Lady by Richard Masefield and Tales of Burning Love by Louise Erdrich), I found a nice spot down on the waterfront and settled down to read my book for a while.

You know how I said I always go clothes shopping in Wellington? Well the other thing I always seem to do there is get sunburnt. I think it’s because of the sea breeze – I always seem to forget that just because it’s not hot, that doesn’t mean the sun isn’t shining at full power. You don’t get that in Christchurch – when a wind is blowing, it’s normally a hot nor’wester, which definitely doesn’t encourage you to stay out in the sun longer than you should. So it’s easy to forget that other places don’t have the same sun=hot relationship. Luckily this time I realised in time, so I wasn’t too badly burnt, but I was still a bit red and stingy on the arms and face.

After venturing out for a quick dinner (A Tangled Web by Nicholas Blake), I went back to the YHA and spent the rest of the evening in the lounge putting prenumbered labels in all the books in the book exchange shelf:

The People of the Wind by Poul Anderson
Omnivore by Piers Anthony
Like a Bird on the Wing by Ian G MacDonald
Lovligt Byte by Janet Evanovich
Crossfire by Andy McNab
The Cell by Colin Forbes
Hunting Warbirds by Carl Hoffman
Goodbye, Jimmy Choo by Annie Sanders
Silent Witness by Richard North Patterson
Beyond the Burning: Life and Death in the Ghetto by Sterling Tucker
Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold by Jean Fritz
Solo Woman by Gaby Kennard
Licht Ontvlambaar by Julie Cohen
Selvrisiko by Elsebeth Egholm
Máximas De Un Hombre Cualquiera by Gabriel Schultz
Lachen de Jongen by Oliver La Farge
Das Schicksal der Zwerge by Markus Heitz
Grow Up by Keith Allen
Beyond Indigo by Preethi Nair
Operation Long Jump by Leo Kessler
Maigret by Georges Simenon
Hinnalla Millä Hyvänsä by Outi Pakkanen
Caitlin: Love Lost by Francine Pascal
L’Autopompa Fantasma by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö
Navnebroren by Jhumpa Lahiri
Cameron’s Crossing by Philip McCutchan
Waterfront by Richard Woodman
The Lazarus Effect by Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom
Lady with a Spear by Eugenie Clark
Reindeer Boy by Berit Braenne
The Quest for Mars by Lawrence Bergreen
Jennys Gehimnis by Barbara Delinsky
Svart Bok by Orhan Pamuk

Plus I added the last few books I’d brought with me to the bookshelf:
Under Siege by Stephen Coonts
The Queen’s Man by Sharon Penman
Traumfänger by Marlo Morgan
The House That Jack Built by Veronica Hart

A most enjoyable weekend.

Ok, now I remember why I haven’t got round to writing up Wellington before now – I knew it was going to take ages. I think I’m all written out for tonight now, so the adventures of the following two weekends will just have to wait.