Seahorses, family, and disappearing lighthouses

As promised (and whether you like it or not), photos of the framed artworks:

I’d intended for the rest of this week to be just as constructive as Wednesday (being in an “oh no I’ve only got a few days left of my holiday and I haven’t achieved anything” panic), but those plans were pretty much thrown away by a text on Thursday from my brother saying they were on their way south (from Blenheim, where they’ve just moved to, my brother having finally been successful in his quest for a transfer back to the South Island), and were going to be staying the night in a motel in Christchurch, but could they come round and visit us for a while. Of course I immediately invited them to stay with us instead of in a motel… which meant the afternoon was spent tidying up and generally preparing for visitors (yes, I know we did a big clean only a couple of days ago, but we’ve got three cats, who between them produce a lot of hair)… and then sitting around waiting, because we didn’t know exactly when they’d be arriving – he’d said they might have a few stops along the way, so they could have turned up any time between mid-afternoon and midnight.

Actually, they turned up at teatime, bearing pizzas and a christmas present, a really nice recipe book. After they’d had their pizza, we gave the kids their presents (k-nex kits), and the rest of the evening was spent playing with those (nephew#2, assisted by me and MrPloppy, having a race with nephew#1, assisted by his parents, to see who could build a model from their kit first (ok, so maybe it was actually me and my brother doing the real competing :-)), playing Lego Star Wars on the Playstation, and occasionally trying to fit some adult conversation around the kids.

Nephew#1, although he only started school in May, is incredibly advance in his reading, and has already graduated to chapter books. His latest reading obsession is the Captain Underpants books, and he’d got a new one that morning. Before bed, he read us a couple of chapters, and was reading it very confidently, even though it was a totally new book he hadn’t read before. Of course, there were a few words he stumbled over or had to ask about, but he was obviously understanding what he was reading (me being an ex-teacher of course subtly tested his understanding, just to check he wasn’t just sounding out the words without putting meaning to them, which is what some new readers do, but he answered all my questions about the story easily). He’s obviously got the FutureCat intelligence gene 🙂

In the morning the kids were back on the Playstation as soon as they woke up, and soon had us adults hooked into “helping” them with the hard bits (actually, I think they were doing better than us!), so a few hours were whiled away doing that. Then it was time for them to get back on the road, but first we took the kids over to Jelly Park to play in the playground for a while and get rid of some excess energy before the long car trip down to Oamaru. I think it was us that used up the most energy, though, because by the time they left I was utterly shattered (of course, it didn’t help that I’d had a very disturbed sleep because we’d let the cats sleep in our room, because they were a bit edgy because of all the strangers in the house, and Ming had spent most of the night either sitting on my pillow purring loudly in my ear until I woke up, or walking back and forth across my legs), so I spent most of the rest of yesterday curled up with a book doing as little as possible.

We finally made it to Timaru today! In the end it was just me and lytteltonwitch (I think awhina is in Invercargill), but we had a fun day, bookcrossing and geocaching our way there and back.

First stop was of course at Rakaia to release a book at the fish (The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner), then (because for the first time ever we were passing through Ashburton at a time it was open) we decided to stop at the Ashford Craft Village, where we drooled over the fabulous wool, looms, spinning wheels and other treasures in the factory shop, and the amazing artwork and crafts in the galleries (I released The Private Life of Mona Lisa by Pierre La Mure in one of the galleries) – I was seriously tempted by a gorgeous painting of a cat, but it was many hundred dollars more than my budget would allow right now 🙁

In Timaru, the Caroline Bay Festival was on, complete with dodgy fairground rides and sideshows. We avoided those (although I did release Necrochip by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles beside one of the food carts selling chips – I couldn’t resist the themed release :-)), but did spend an enjoyable hour or so getting lost in the maze (and finally resorting to “the scientific method” (putting a hand on one wall – it really does work) to finding our way out). I gave one book (Edged Weapons by William Goldman) to the guy in the ticket kiosk, and left another (The Age of the Pussyfoot by Frederik Pohl) inside the maze (where it was very quickly picked up – we heard it being caught, because our path through the maze had led us to the other side of that wall, and we heard someone on the other side saying “Look! A free book!”, then later we saw them walking around the maze carrying it).

There was a talent quest being held in the sound shell, but after watching two acts (an ok country and western singer and a seriously mediocre ventriloquist), we decided we’d extracted all the entertainment the festival had to offer and headed off to find some geocaches. The clues to one indicated that it would be near a lighthouse, and sure enough, we could see the top of a lighthouse beyond some houses on the cliffs nearby. So we walked up the road to the top of the cliffs, but couldn’t see the lighthouse anywhere. We did eventually find it (by following the GPS, oddly enough :-)), but it was totally impossible to see from the road we were on (probably something to do with the stadium they’d built in front of it). Lytteltonwitch found her geocache, anyway, and I released another book (The Scarlet Bikini by Glynn Croudace).

We had a wander down the main street, but most of the interesting-looking shops were shut, so, after a stop at a juice bar (the nice sunny day had turned into a horribly hot and muggy day), and a visit to St Johns to see if The-Organist was there (he wasn’t, but I released a book in a park across the road so he’d know we’d been there: Surfeit of Lampreys by Ngaio Marsh), we headed out to the port to try for one last geocache.

The witch doing her boulder impersonation. Or possibly she’s looking for a geocache 🙂

By then it was getting late, so we headed back to Christchurch, with just a couple of stops along the way, for a drink in Ashburton (and to release Crown Court by James Follett in a phone box), and to grab some KFC for dinner in Hornby.

I think tomorrow I’ll be having a very quiet day…

Currently reading: Eldest by Christopher Paolini, and The Diary of a Nobody by George & Weedon Grossmith (because I neede
d a break from lugging around Eldest, which is a HUGE book and seriously heavy!), and Sleep Demons: An Insomniac’s Memoir by Bill Hayes (a bookring book that arrived the other day and which I couldn’t resist starting to read), and listening to: The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. What do you mean, too many books on the go at once?

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  1. Oh, that seahorse paperweight is neat! So is your cat, but I’ve already made its acquaintance 🙂

    Nephew 1 is seriously bright! He’ll go through books at the same rate you do!

  2. How are you going on Eldest? I got to the end (finally) last night, and had to re-read the chapter entitled Eldest again to figure out why the book was called that! The fact that I was mispronouncing it probably didn’t help!!!!

    My Ballycumber now has a metal ring through its head (hehe, its a punk ballycumber!!) and its attached to my school bag, where it looks stunning!!

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