Well, we made it. A highly successful convention (at least according to everyone who spoke to me), and we even managed to come in within budget (in fact, we even made a bit of a profit, which will be split evenly between Bookcrossing and the BC Exchange programme).

I’ll attempt to make a full report in due course, but at the moment I’m still in recovery mode – the last of my visitors left yesterday, so the last week has been spent showing her around Christchurch and tidying up odds and ends from the convention (though there’s still a couple of things left to do – notably we’ve been asked to give a presentation (eek!) on bookcrossing at an assembly at Cathedral Grammar next week, when we formally hand over our donation books). Oh, and I’m going to be on TV sometime next week too (she says, casually).

I’ve still got a cold, though it’s finally starting to ease off (yay, just in time to go back to work tomorrow), and I’m still feeling utterly shattered. So I spent today being as lazy as possible (though it was tricky, because I haven’t quite got used to the idea that for the first time in two years I haven’t got any preparation for the convention to do!) trying to recover a bit ready for my return to the real world tomorrow.

Ok, so it wasn’t completely lazy – I did spend most of it finishing off the very overdue embroidery project for my new niece (though I was relaxing on the couch and listening to an audiobook as I did so):

(No, the colours on your monitor aren’t off – the third one is white, while the other two are pale yellow. I couldn’t find another matching towel.)

What, you thought I’d send her something pink and girly? That’s totally not me!

In brief

The convention hasn’t even started yet, and I’m exhausted already. I’m blaming this on the drugs, which are working a bit too well: normally if I had a cold I’d be in bed feeling rotten, and definitely not trying to do too much, but as I’ve got all these wonderful chemicals suppressing most of the symptoms (apart from the lost voice part, which is even worse today), I keep forgetting I’m not well and start trying to run around like a mad thing… at which point my body reminds me it’s busy doing virus-fighting stuff, and doesn’t have energy to spare.

Today has been a day of goody bags and airports. Rarsberry arrived early this morning, followed closely by Lytteltonwitch and Bookworm76, and we soon had the furniture pushed aside and goody bags spread across the lounge floor. With some amazingly efficient teamwork (and a bit of gymnastics – Bookworm76’s balance beam act was particularly spectacular) we very quickly had all the bags filled, well ahead of schedule.

To reward ourselves for all that hard work, we headed over to Trattorie for an early lunch (and were shocked to see their prices have gone up yet again – they’re now nearly double what they were just a few years ago). The bookshelf was looking a bit sad, so we tidied it up and added a few more books.

Lunch over, Rarsberry and Bookworm76 caught a bus back into town, and Lytteltonwitch dropped me and Libertine101 off at my place while she went out to the airport to collect Sherlockfan.

Warning, what follows is incredibly complicated. If you get lost, don’t worry – I’m confused by it, and I was there!

Sherlockfan’s plane was late, which meant a slight rearrangement of our careful planning. Lytteltonwitch and I went out to the airport, with the plan that she’d collect the Nuts and Tinina67 from the 2.05 flight and take them into town, while I waited to meet awaywithfairies off the 2.50 flight and keep her company until lytteltonwitch returned to pick us up, then would drop me at home, pick up libertine101 and sherlockfan, and drop them and awaywithfairies into town, then be back in time to pick up Newk at 4.40.

Of course, such a complex plan was never going to work. The 2.05 plane was delayed, and the 2.50 arrived early, and the confusion in the customs hall meant Tinina67 and Awaywithfairies emerged before the Nuts. So lytteltonwitch decided to take them into town, while I waited to try and find the Nuts (who by this time we were convinced must have slipped past without noticing our ballycumber-laden signs). And of course 5 minutes after they left, the Nuts appeared! So we retired to the cafe (having flown all the way from Ireland they were in serious need of caffeination) and chatted (my poor voice!) for an hour or so until lytteltonwitch returned.

We’d been trying to work out the complexities of how to get 4 people plus luggage into lytteltonwitch’s car for the trip into town, but when we got to my place to pick up Libertine101 and Sherlockfan, Charley the taxi guy had just arrived to drop off the vouchers he’d promised us, so suddenly everything was a lot simpler, as he volunteered to take libertine101 and the Nuts, while lytteltonwitch took sherlockfan back to her place.

And suddenly the house was very quiet! 🙂

So now I’m trying to rest my voice a bit before tonight’s dinner. I’d like to rest the rest of me too, but I’ve got a feeling that if I close my eyes I won’t wake up again for hours.


Typical. The pre-convention excitement kicks off today, and I’ve got a cold. Probably inevitable given how much racing around I’ve been doing lately, but I just wish it could have held off for another week… oh well, I’ve thrown half a pharmacy at it (not my normal behaviour at all, given that I adhere to the aphorism that if you treat a cold it will last 7 days, but untreated it will last a week, so my preferred treatment is rest and maybe a disprin or two. But rest is not an option this week, so I paid a visit to the chemist for every magic potion they could offer), and apart from having totally lost my voice, I seem to be surviving so far.

After a bit of confusion over domestic vs international terminal (apparently Auckland is another country, according to Qantas at least), libertine101 and the trolls arrived this morning. After a quick cup of tea here, lytteltonwitch dropped the trolls off at their motel, and then we went to the printers to drop off the files for the convention booklets and things. Next stop was a supermarket for libertine101 to stock up on food she can actually eat, then a restaurant supply shop for some essential sign holders, and another visit to the school to confirm the AV setup.

All the boring stuff out the way, lytteltonwitch headed out to the airport for her next pickup, and libertine101 and I caught a bus into town. I always enjoy exploring my own city with a visitor – you see so much more through fresh eyes (I never knew how many cats lurked in the Arts Centre windows, for a start!). We visited the cathedral (though passed on climbing the bell tower) and the art gallery, and wandered around the arts centre area for a while. I even released a few books! Nice New Neighbours by Franz Brandenberg on the Bridge of Remembrance, The Little Fat Policeman by Margaret Wise Brown and Edith Thacher Hurd outside the police station, The Gismo from Outer Space by Keo Felker Lazarus by the river, and Mister Wolf and Me by Mary Francis Shura on the girl reading sculpture outside the Dyslexia Society (and it’s already been caught!).

It was getting close to 6 by this time, and starting to get cold, so we headed towards Cafe Bleu for the meetup. When we got there, lytteltonwitch was standing outside, and all was dark and closed up. No, we hadn’t thought to check they would actually be open for the meetup – they’re always open on Tuesday nights, so we just assumed. The Indian place next door was open though, so we plastered Cafe Bleu’s door with post-its directing any stray bookcrossers there. It turned out to be a great choice – the service was a little slow and sometimes utterly confused (at one point our end of the table was feeling unloved, because the waiters delivered water and poppadoms to the other end, but not to us… but then when they brought the rice, they only gave it to our end of the table, so it wasn’t anything personal after all ;-)), but the food when it did arrive was wonderful. And of course the company was excellent – as well as the convention early arrivals we had a couple of local bookcrossers who can’t make it to the convention, and a couple passing through from Blenheim who decided to drop in to the meetup to say hi, so we invited them to join us for dinner – I think there were 14 of us around the table in the end. Lots of bookcrossers, lots of books (Breath by Michael Symmons Roberts and The Girl in a Swing by Richard Adams), lots of chatter (even if I couldn’t raise my voice high enough to be heard beyond my immediate neighbour), and good food – what more could you want?

After dinner we retired to The Bog, where MarcieNZ was playing, but although the music was excellent (and apparently one of the musicians is someone who’s “world famous in NZ”), by this time libertine101 was visibly sagging, and the noise level combined with my whispered voice meant I couldn’t talk to anyone, so we left after just a couple of songs.

Looks like the convention is under way!

Shopping expedition

As planned, we had the first of two big shopping expeditions today:

and we’ve still got another, probably slightly bigger, shop to do on Friday for the fresh stuff. The good news is we’re looking like being well under budget for food (which is a relief, because we’re a bit over budget in a few other areas (ok, so the sheep were a bit of an extravagance), so it should even out nicely).

I’m running out of space in the house to store stuff, but things are suddenly starting to feel like they’re getting under control.

Creeping ever closer

The countdown continues. Lytteltonwitch and I spent a very constructive (though long) day yesterday doing more of the little last minute jobs and making ever more complex lists and spreadsheets. We even managed to get the accounts sorted out (well, reasonably – a full accounting won’t be possible until after the convention is over, but at least we made sure the right money is going into the right accounts).

My hallway is beginning to fill up with boxes ready to be taken to the school on Friday:

(and that’s before I start adding the boxes of books!)

We also collected together all the platters, baskets and bowls we’ll need for Friday night’s supper. Apparently the art of catering is to have elegant well-matched crockery to present the food at its best. Oh well, hopefully everyone’s going to have too much fun to notice…

And just because it’s been a while, a list of recent catches:

I just wanted to say

I’m on holiday!

I have been hanging out for this break for so long!

Of course, it’s not exactly going to be a restful time, what with the convention and all, but who cares, it’s going to be fun 🙂 (and they say a change is as good as a rest…)

My holiday actually started mid-afternoon yesterday. It was graduation day yesterday, so I’d been helping out at the town hall (and actually released a book! I’ve been slack about releasing lately – I think because my mind has been so full of the convention that I keep forgetting the whole point of bookcrossing is to bookcross. But as I was leaving the house yesterday I remembered a book I’d put aside ages ago as a graduation themed release (Farewell Speech by Rachel McAlpine), but due to one thing and another have missed the last few graduations. So I quickly grabbed it and released it at the town hall during the ceremony.) It’s a tradition that if you volunteer to work at graduation then once your bit is done you get the rest of the afternoon off, and I only had to be there for the first part of the ceremony, so by 2.30 I was free.

I rang lytteltonwitch (and didn’t quite manage to make her crash the car), and discovered she was on the way to the school to measure up the chapel, so I walked over there to meet her. There was good news when we got there – the electrician is now coming a day earlier than expected, so might be finished in the hall by Friday after all. We’ll find out when we turn up on Friday morning, I suppose. Either venue will be totally suitable (and they’re right next to each other, so it’s not like a change will confuse anyone), so we’re not too worried where we end up.

The rest of the afternoon and into the evening we spent doing all those little errands we’ve been meaning to get round to doing. Talking to the Thai place about the menu for Saturday night; buying hats for the quiz, balloons and streamers to decorate the hall, and card for the signs; drawing dots on the dice; cutting out hundreds of little cards for the Where in the World is Skyring game; writing a shopping list for Friday; and checking through our budget (amazingly, we’re pretty much on track, and might even break even).

This weekend is looking like an oasis of calm before the chaos of next week. So far, all I’ve got planned is that lytteltonwitch is coming over today with all the prizes and goody bag stuff so we can work out exactly what we’ve got and how to make the best use of it (we’re starting to lean heavily towards the BC-UK’s tombola idea); then tomorrow we’ll go and do some shopping for the non-perishable stuff. Sunday and Monday are free – well, apart from needing to finish off the embroidery project I was working on for Niece#1 (who is already a couple of weeks old, but I still haven’t had time to finish her present), and getting some books registered and labelled so I’ve actually got something to release at the convention, and getting the convention booklet ready for the printer, and maybe making a few more crafty things to go in the prize pool, and cleaning up a bit ready for libertine101 and Wombles arriving…

On Tuesday everything starts in earnest: in between trips to the airport to start picking up arrivals we have to go to the printers to get the booklets and stuff done and go back to the school to talk to their AV guy, and in the evening is a meetup followed by Irish music night at the Bog. Then on Wednesday we’re filling goody bags and picking up more people from the airport, followed by dinner with a “select” few. Thursday is the train trip, followed again by dinner. Then on Friday we’ll be setting up the hall, picking up even more people from the airport, buying the rest of the food, and generally running round like demented chickens until 5, when we’ll retire for an early dinner before the convention proper starts at 7. And then the madness begins…

This is going to be fun! 🙂

More photos

I’d left for work by the time Moem and Rubberchicken departed for their bike tour, but Lytteltonwitch was here to see them off, and grabbed my camera to take a few photos of the departing adventurers (complete with clogs, which are of course essential equipment for any biking holiday):

Photographic Evidence

Lytteltonwitch dropped off my camera, so as promised, here’s Moem and Rubberchicken (playing camera chicken) in the Port Hills on Sunday. (They look almost awake in that photo, don’t they?)

It was tough having to leave for work yesterday morning when there was the prospect of a day with friends to tempt me, but I had too much I needed to get done at work before my days off, so I was a good diligent employee and didn’t throw a sickie (though I might have spent the odd minute during the day checking the forums and LJ for news of our various visitors :-))

When I got home Moem and Rubberchicken were busy in the kitchen preparing us a meal of Dutch pancakes, filled with all sorts of things like apples, bananas, sultanas, cheese, and bacon (well, sort of – apparently we have the wrong sort of bacon in NZ, so the bacon pancakes didn’t turn out exactly according to plan. MrPloppy tried one of the failed attempts, and said it still tasted good anyway). Very tasty, and I definitely approve of visitors who cook me dinner!

While they were cooking, lytteltonwitch (who’d invited herself for dinner as soon as she heard the words “pancakes” ;-)) and I did a little art project in preparation for the “Where in the World is Skyring” game, which after dinner we all sat around and glued together. Another task ticked off the list (which seems to keep growing, not getting shorter – surely that can’t be right?).

It turned into quite a late night, talking and laughing (so I’m really glad I’ve got a meeting today that means I don’t need to go into work until a bit later in the morning). The best kind of time spent with friends.

Today they hit the road on their big biking adventure. As of last night they weren’t sure which direction they were going to go – there’s heavy rain forecast for the West Coast (surprise, surprise), which had been their initial idea, so I think they might head south instead, and do the Coast on the way back.

Our driveway full of bikes, ready for their big trip.

Update to the update

Ok, there was going to be a photo here, but I think my camera must still be in lytteltonwitch’s car – there was a bit of musical chairs going on.

Anyway, despite the lack of photographic evidence, Moem and Rubberchicken made it safely to Christchurch. We picked them up at the airport, and after a brief stop at my place to revive them with tea and showers we decided the best way to keep them awake would be to take them up to the top of the Port Hills and show them some views.

First stop was at the Sign of the Takahe, where we admired the view and pointed out important landmarks, which I’m sure in their fatigued state they promptly forgot. Their body clocks were telling them they’d missed a meal-time somewhere along the way, so we went into the cafe for a snack, and spent a very pleasant hour or so chatting and listening to the live music, until the seats seemed to be getting a little *too* comfortable for our travellers, so we woke them up and got them back on the road.

Looking down into Lyttelton harbour from the top of the hill, the harbour looked amazing – the water was incredibly still, striped with the ripples of passing boats. And the tide was incredibly low – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much of the beach exposed at Diamond Harbour. It made an already impressive view even more spectacular.

After we’d sufficiently scared them on the narrow roads 🙂 and frozen them in the cold wind, we headed home via the supermarket to pick up some bits and pieces for a quick dinner (I managed to solve the eternal how do you keep both vegetarians and non-vegetarians happy question with tacos with assorted fillings).

I thought for a while we were going to have to prop them up at the table to eat, but they managed to stay conscious just long enough to make it through dinner, after which we quickly sorted out their beds (they’re sleeping in the lounge, so we couldn’t put the beds until after we’d eaten) and left them to a well-deserved rest. I suspect they were both asleep the second their heads hit the pillows.

So, our first convention guests are here, I reckon that must mean the 2009 World Bookcrosing Convention has officially started!!! (Just a pity I’ve got another week at work before I get to enjoy it…)

Waiting (im)patiently

It’s 10.30 am. I should be at the airport welcoming Moem and Rubberchicken to New Zealand. They should be getting off the plane about now.

But obviously, I’m not (unless of course Christchurch airport has drastically improved their internet availability since last time I was there). That’s because I got a message last night from discoverylover, who’d just had a message from Phoenix-Flight, who’d just got a message from Rubberchicken (yeah, I was getting a bit confused by this stage too!) to say they had made it safely as far as Hong Kong, but their outward flight had been be delayed, which meant they’d probably miss their connection at Auckland. So we relayed back the message that Moem should call me once they’d landed at Auckland and knew what flight they’d be put on to Christchurch. (Oh yeah, and then I passed on the message to lytteltonwitch, just to make the chain even longer…)

So I’m sitting here with my phone on the desk beside me, just in case. Of course, I’ve got no idea how long they were delayed in Hong Kong, so it could be hours yet. Actually, I wonder if Auckland airport has an on-line arrivals board… [a bit of googling later] …yep, it does. Of course, I don’t actually know which airline they’re flying with, but there’s one flight from Hong Kong showing a rescheduling that’s now expected in at 12.45 pm. So it’ll probably be closer to 2 by the time they’re through customs and everything. So I probably don’t need to sit by the phone.

They are going to be SO tired by the time they finally get here!

Update, 11.45 am: They’ve made it to Auckland (so I’m obviously spectacularly bad at reading arrivals information), and are on the 12 noon flight to Christchurch (which doesn’t get in until 1.20, so I assume it must stop in Wellington or Rotorua, otherwise it’s a *very* slow plane!)