I’ve had a busy few days (and am now paying for it with a nasty head-cold). On Thursday lytteltonwitch and I went to see Dramasoc‘s production of The Tempest, starring ORNOT as Prospero (he was very good, as usual (though I think he had a cold), and for a change most of the rest of the cast were good enough not to look bad compared to him, so it was a very enjoyable production – the best I’ve seen from Dramasoc in a long time). We went out for dinner beforehand (at La Porchetta again – it’s cheap, quick, and not far from the University), and I actually remembered to bring along The Cat Who Brought Down the House, which I’d promised to lytteltonwitch. Back home afterwards, and did some frantic packing, because the next night lytteltonwitch and awhina would be picking me up straight after work for our Dunedin expedition.

As it turned out, traffic was so bad (rugby game on, apparently) that it was after 6 on Friday evening when they eventually got to my place, but we quickly piled my bags (one small bag of clothes, one very large bag of books, of course!) into the car and we set off on the road south. A quick stop at Ashburton for some food (well, McDonalds – I suppose that’s technically food), and to release a book (Far From Heaven by Greg Matthews), then back on the road again, making pretty quick time until we got to Palmerston, where we were slowed down by thick fog that lasted until the top of the Kilmog, so that it was well past 11 when we finally reached boreal‘s house. We dropped off lyttletonwitch and awhina’s bags (and awhina, who decided to head straight to bed), and headed into town with boreal and Mr boreal for the real purpose of the visit: the Regent 24-Hour Booksale. We stopped first at the Next Stop Backpackers’, where TopKat was waiting for me – I picked up a key, dropped off my bags, and then it was across the street (ok, across a couple of streets, but it wasn’t very far, anyway) to the Regent and the sale.

For those who haven’t heard of this fabulous annual event, it’s a booksale run by the Regent Theatre (a lovely old theatre in the heart of Dunedin), with proceeds going towards the upkeep of the theatre. All the books are donated, and most are sold for 50c each (there’s a few tables of “special” books which are a bit more expensive), and apparently many of the books sold each year are donated back to the sale the following year – most people seem to treat the 50c as a year’s rental on the book rather than a purchase price. The sale starts at noon on the Friday, and runs for 24 hours right through the night, finishing at noon on Saturday. It’s a huge event, with live music all night, and an amazing atmosphere. We got there just before midnight, and it was incredibly crowded, with more people still streaming in the doors. Great fun! I only found myself about a dozen books I wanted on that first visit, but knew we’d be back the next morning for another look, so wasn’t too disheartened (and no worries about all the best books being gone, because they keep topping up the tables all night – every time the books start to thin out somewhere, one of the volunteers comes out of the storeroom with another carton of books to replenish the stock (and is immediately surrounded by a crowd of eager bookbuyers, rummaging through the books in the carton before they even make it onto the tables!)). And of course, the place was full of Bookcrossers – we bumped into rarsberry and VivaRichie, and boreal spotted kiwijan in the crowd and introduced us. Eventually, sometime after 1 am we were starting to flag, so we arranged to meet the next day and Lytteltonwitch headed back to boreal’s place with her and her husband, and I went back to the backpackers’.

Saturday morning, and TopKat and I headed off for some breakfast (I released Larksleve by Patricia Wendorf and Rogue Warrior: Green Team by Richard Marcinko in the cafe where we ate), and then hit the booksale. This time I searched for books in earnest, and came away with a very large bag-full (for $20!!!). Most are intended for Bookcrossing, but there were a few more that are destined for my TBR pile. Once we’d had our fill of the sale, we headed back to the backpackers and dropped off our purchases. We’d arranged to meet the others at noon, so I suggested a walk (read “release expedition” 😉 ), and we strolled around the Octagon area, releasing a few books as we went (These Lovers Fled Away by Howard Spring, Fat Man on a Bicycle by Tom Vernon, This is Harry Flynn by John Jost, and Bad Monday by Annette Roome), and visited a few shops to look for craft materials for TopKat. When we got back to the Octagon, lytteltonwitch was waiting for us, and told us awhina was not far off (she’d gone to buy some wool in a nearby shop). We compared booksale purchases (as in number of books bought, not actual titles), and watched the last-minute shoppers trying to get into the Regent before they closed the doors. As we waited, a car pulled up covered in MoreFM logos (a local radio station). We were joking that we should give them a book and get some free publicity for Bookcrossing, so I pulled out a book from my bag and handed it to lytteltonwitch (I wasn’t brave enough to go over myself!). She went and talked to the radio guy (who turned out to be the promotions manager), and he accepted the book (Network by Liz Allen – it just happened to be the last unreleased book I had with me, but a reasonably appropriate choice as it turns out, because it’s about a TV station!), so we’re hoping Bookcrossing gets a mention on the station sometime.

Once awhina reappeared we headed back to lytteltonwitch’s car (where I’d left most of the big bag of books I’d brought down with me), and drove out to Northeast Valley, where we were meeting the Dunedin Bookcrossers for lunch. It was quite a good turnout – as well as the four of us and boreal, there was rarsberry, kiwijan, and octopusgrrl, plus two new members, MicheK and Thorsman. It was great to meet all these people who we already felt we knew so well from the forums and yahoo groups, and of course a lot of books were being passed around. It was TopKat’s first meeting, and she seemed impressed both by how many books were piled on the table, and by how quickly they disappeared off it again as people saw things they wanted and secreted them away (at Christchurch and Dunedin meetings at least, the ettiquette has been firmly established that if it’s on the table, it’s fair game – so if you want to lay claim to a book, you quickly put it in your bag or under your chair before someone else grabs it!). I contributed:
The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl
It Takes Two by Devra Newberg
er Speregen

Nightwork by Joseph Hansen
The Alienist by Caleb Carr
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Cliff Notes for The Scarlet Letter
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Outermost House by Henry Beston
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Brady by Jean Fritz
The Secret by RL Stine
My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
100 People Who Changed America by Russell Freedman
Six Plays by Lillian Hellman
Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Biggles Goes to School by Capt. WE Johns
Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes
Duncton Wood by William Horwood
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
Cats are Smarter Than Men, Too by Beverley Guhl
Savage Girl by Alex Shakar
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Life and Times at the Rovers Return by Daran Little
If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I Doing in the Pits? by Erma Bombeck
We Only Kill Each Other by Dean Jennings
Shortland Street: Carmen’s Story by Janice Marriott
The Wind and the Monkey by Robert G Barrett
and (with remarkable restraint – my TBR pile is becoming unmanagable) only picked up one: In Custody by Anita Desai.

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I can’t be bothered captioning the photos individually, but clockwise round the table are: Thorsman (the only male, so easy to identify), MicheK, awhina, rarsberry, boreal (managed to avoid the camera, so only her elbow appears in a photo), TopKat, me (also managed to avoid the camera), octopusgrrl, kiwijan, and lytteltonwitch.

After lunch we went back to boreal’s house for a cup of tea, and met her cat Sampson (and were introduced to the lovely children’s book his name comes from – The Church Mice on the Moon by Graham Oakley), then TopKat, lytteltonwitch, and I wandered down to the Botanic Gardens, where lytteltonwitch wanted to search for a Geocache. We never did find the cache (although we climed a *lot* of hills looking for it!), but I released a few more books while we were searching: Dream Date by Sinclair Smith, Passing Glory by Reay Tannahill, Baby and All by Candace Camp, Victoria Pade, and Myrna Mackenzie, and K is for Killer by Sue Grafton. Then it was back to boreal’s (who lives at the top of a *very* steep hill, which we seemed to have walked up far too many times that day already – I was beginning to remember why I like living in Christchurch!), where we picked up awhina and headed into town for dinner (boreal and Mr boreal had invited us to stay and eat with them, but we thought we’d imposed enough already). We had a mini-banquet at a Chinese restaurant near our backpackers’, then spent the rest of the evening in the lounge at the backpackers’ sticking pre-numbered labels (which boreal had printed for me – told you we were imposing on her a lot this weekend!) into as many of the books in their bookshelf as we could.

Just for completeness, here’s the list of books we labelled:
A Many-Splendoured Thing by Han Suyin
Coup D’Etat by John Harvey
Triad by Richard Rohmer
FBI Undercover by Larry Wansley and Carlton Stowers
Secret Lives by Diane Chamberlain
The Traitor by Lavr Divomlikoff
Where You Belong by Barbara Taylor Bradford
Songs for Alex by Tessa Duder
Mitla Pass by Leon Uris
Global Warming: The Greenpeace Report ed. by Jeremy Leggett
Great Cases of Scotland Yard Volume 2 (a Readers’ Digest collection)
Wish List by Fern Michaels
The Sweetheart Deal by Robert Rosenblum
American Hero by Larry Beinhart
Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Chodrelos de Laclos
The House of a Thousand Lanterns by Victoria Holt
The Impersonators by Jessica Anderson
Every Brilliant Eye by Loren D Estleman
The Triumph of Katie Byrne by Barbara Taylor Bradford
Star by Danielle Steel
The Outsiders by SE Hinton
The Destroyer: The Colour of Fear by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir
Monsoon by Wilbur Smith
Roses After Rain by Deirdre Purcell

By the time we’d labelled all those (and recorded the ISBNs, titles, authors, etc, so I could enter the details when I got home (the price you pay for using pre-numbered labels – technically you can just use the labels, and leave it to whoever finds the book to enter the title etc, but general consensus on the site is that tends to put finders off, because it’s too much work)) it was getting late, s
o lytteltonwitch and awhina headed back to boreal’s, and TopKat and I had some “quality time” sitting by the fire and chatting.

Next morning, and all too soon, it was time to head home. TopKat and I just had time to dash out for breakfast before Lytteltonwitch and awhina turned up to pick me up. We’d planned on a slow trip home, but it was even slower than expected (as these things always are). First of all we went back to boreal’s on the way out of town, supposedly just a quick stop to say goodbye, but of course stayed for a cup of tea. And then we decided to take a detour via Seacliff and Karitane for lyttletonwitch to look for another geocache, but the fog was so thick we missed the right turn-off, and ended up missing Seacliff altogether (so it was a long (and slow because of the fog) detour for no reason), but eventually we got back on the main highway. Next stop was Waikouaiti, where boreal’s sister has a shop with an OCZ (I exchanged Closed Circle by Robert Goddard for Miss Garnet’s Angel by Sally Vickers). Of course, we couldn’t just visit the OCZ without saying hi, and having a look around the shop (she designs and sells the most amazing clothes – totally outside my price range, unfortunately!) Then it was on to Palmerston, for lunch (and to release a book: The Black Fedora by Guy N Smith). Another stop in Waimate, to visit otakuu (who’d heard we were going to Dunedin for the weekend, so emailed rarsberry and asked her to tell us to drop in on our way home). She lives way out in the country, so finding her place was a bit of an expedition (I released In Her Own Terms by Judith Grossman when we stopped to phone her for more directions), but we eventually got there, and had yet another cup of tea. Living in the country, she hardly ever gets to meet other Bookcrossers, so we spent quite a while there admiring her library (and of course being offered our pick of her AVAIL books), plus of course we had to get her to make a journal entry on the cheat book (which is back in my hands, in preparation for its trip to Brisbane), so it was getting late in the afternoon by the time we left. None of us felt like having to cook ourselves dinner when we got home, so another stop was planned for dinner in Ashburton (at McDonalds again – it was easier than trying to find anywhere else), where I released the last of the books I’d brought with me: Sliver by Ira Levin. Finally got to Christchurch just before 8 – and then I just had to make journal entries and release notes for all the many books that had passed through my hands over the course of the weekend… (I actually ended up doing most of them last night – I was too tired when I got home).

So, that was our wee adventure. Exhausting, but great fun, and we’re definitely planning on doing it again next year!!!

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