The little meetup that grew

Yesterday’s little pre-booksale meetup actually ended up turning into a whole series of meetups. MrPloppy and I had arranged to meet lytteltonwitch and alkaline-kiwi (a visiting bookcrosser from Greymouth) at Starbucks for lunch (not our usual choice of dining establishment, but it’s in the Square, so easy to find for someone from out of town) before going on to the Theatre Royal booksale. We’d posted details of the meetup on the BCNZ Yahoo group, just in case anyone else wanted to join us to meet alkaline-kiwi, so we weren’t surprised to see non-fiction arrive.

We *were* surprised, however, when otakuu walked in! We’d had no idea she was in Christchurch, but she’d seen the notice on Yahoo and decided that as she was passing through she’d drop by and say hi. Unfortunately she couldn’t stay long because she had her family in tow, but after a quick consultation we decided to meet up again today for an early lunch before alkaline-kiwi has to leave for home, and when otakuu will have a bit more time.

After lunch and a bit of book swapping (I gave Volcanic Airs by Elizabeth Pewsey to lytteltonwitch for a themed release, and picked up A Tangled Web by LM Montgomery) and releasing a few books around Starbucks (Vita Brevis: A Letter to St Augustine by Jostein Gaarder), we said goodbye to non-fiction, who was off for a haircut, and set off for the booksale (pausing along the way to release a few more books (Harnessing Peacocks by Mary Wesley, Bianca by Robert Elegant, The Infiltrator by Eileen MacDonald, and The Eight by Kathryn Neville) and to drop into the post office so I could finally post The Unadulterated Cat by Terry Pratchett to dittybopper).

The Theatre Royal booksale is nowhere near as good as Dunedin’s Regent sale, having nowhere near as many books and none of the great atmosphere. But we (well, lyttletonwitch and I, anyway) were on a mission: to search out books for themed releases for the celebration in a couple of weeks of the 150th anniversary of Christchurch becoming a city. Apparently Christchurch was the first town in NZ to be declared a city, when a bishop was appointed in 1856, so there’s a big celebration planned in the Square to mark the anniversary. So we were on the hunt for books about Christchurch, books by Christchurch authors, anything with “city”, “cathedral”, “square”, “anniversary” etc in the title, or anything about colonial times in general. We did pretty well – I think I found about 30 suitable books, and lytteltonwitch a similar number, so we should be able to cover the Square with books on the morning of the celebrations.

After a couple of hours among the dusty books in the sale, we decided to find a somewhere for a coffee. But it was half past three, in that dead hour on a Saturday when the cafes that are open for lunch are all closing, and the bars aren’t open yet for the evening. We were laden down with books so didn’t want to walk too far to find somewhere, so after searching the most likely areas around the theatre we decided to head for Riccarton instead, where the cafes stay open longer. We all piled into lytteltonwitch’s car (which has been renamed “The Bookcrossing Taxi” after all the ferrying around of bookcrossers it’s been doing lately), and as MrPloppy was starting to flag and just wanted to get home, I suggested that we could drop him home and then see if Trattorie (which is just around the corner from our place) was open, so we could show alkaline-kiwi the OCZ.

Unfortunately, when we got to Trattorie, it was just closing, but we just had time to check out the shelves. I haven’t been in there for a while, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that they’re still being well maintained (I think mainly thanks to KiwiKat) and were well stocked with books. I grabbed a few interesting-looking ones from the shelf (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier, and Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez), so I must remember to go back sometime soon and contribute a few books in return.

As we were leaving Trattorie, I got a text message from TheLetterB, saying that she was just on her way to the booksale, and asking if we were still there. I replied that we had already left and were on the hunt for coffee, so she said she’d join us, and we arranged to meet in Riccarton. Our timing wasn’t brilliant, so we’d all finished our drinks by the time she arrived, but we did manage to catch up with her at last and sat for a while chatting.

Finally, after what felt like a full day of meetups, we dropped alkaline-kiwi back in town and lytteltonwitch came back to our place for dinner and to compare booksale purchases. A very long day, and another meetup to go to this morning! Oh well, I’m sure I can squeeze in my Spanish homework sometime tonight…

Currently reading: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

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