I like Timaru!

The-Organist had told there was going to be a charity booksale in Timaru yesterday, so of course lytteltonwitch and I had to have a wee expedition down there 🙂

We were a bit late getting away from Christchurch, after taking a detour to drop MrPloppy and a repaired computer off at a customer’s house, but we actually made pretty fast progress (for us, anyway!), only making one stop along the way, to release some books at Rakaia. There was a surprise waiting for us there, because when I walked over to the fish to release Tuna by Kenneth Cook (Lytteltonwitch released Lightly Poached – we thought they made a great combination of themed releases! :-)), I saw something lying under the fish, exactly where I’d planned to release my book, and as I got closer, I realised it was a book! At first I thought lytteltonwitch must have beaten me there, but she was still in the car writing down the BCID of her book. I checked the book’s front pages, and saw one of rarsberry‘s bookplates – she had mentioned that she and VivaRichie were coming up to Christchurch for a wedding this weekend, so they must have stopped at the fish too – in fact, we may well have passed them on the road somewhere between Christchurch and Rakaia. The book was How to Develop a Super Power Memory by Harry Lorayne – not one I’ll probably read, but I caught it anyway, just to surprise rarsberry with a journal entry on it.

We’d arranged to meet The-Organist, Le-Livre, and Mini-Organist for lunch, but because we were running late got to the designated cafe just as they were leaving. They said they’d stay and have a coffee with us, but the cafe was getting really busy and it didn’t look like we’d get served for ages, so we went across the road to the Speights Alehouse instead for drinks (and a really tasty meal for lytteltonwitch and I). I’d had a distinct shortage of worth-taking-to-a-meetup books when I’d been packing books to take down with me, so the only book I had to offer them was Spin by Tim Geary, but they took it anyway – meetups in Timaru are rare, so I think they just enjoyed the novelty of a face-to-face controlled release.

After lunch (and leaving The Silver Spoon by John Galsworthy in the restaurant), lytteltonwitch and I headed to the booksale, where The-Organist said we’d find a table with 6 books for $1 – a tempting prospect for any bookcrosser. But when we got there, we discovered the sale had entered its final get-rid-of-everything stage, and we were told that we could now fill a box for $2.50. Needless to say, we took full advantage of this offer, and could soon be seen frantically scouring the tables for treasures and rapidly filling our boxes. Very soon we’d managed to fill 5 large banana boxes between us, causing much mirth among the volunteers as they watched us dragging them over to the door to pay and discussed how we would get them to the car. Luckily they took pity on us and told lytteltonwitch she could bring the car up the drive so it was right by the door, and everyone (including a bemused bystander who just wanted to buy a book, but was shanghaied by one of the volunteers) pitched in to help us carry the boxes out. One of the volunteers must have been in his 70s, but still insisted that the box I was about to pick up was much too heavy for me and that he should take it instead! We compromised on that one by splitting the books between two boxes and taking one each.

I reckon that sale was definitely the best deal on books I’ve ever had. I haven’t actually counted how many I bought, but I’d guess there’s probably around a hundred in each of my three boxes, and I paid the grand total of $7.50 for them. So that means they cost me about 2.5 cents each! I was buying with bookcrossing in mind, so only a handful are ones I want to read myself, but the bookcrossing ones will give me months of entertainment planning themed releases, so definitely a bargain.

After all that heavy lifting and rummaging among dusty books, we felt in need of refreshment again, so went down to the row of cafes and bars overlooking Caroline Bay. We found a cafe that was relatively quiet and collapsed into comfy chairs, very reluctant to move again. But eventually it was time to get back on the road, so (leaving To the Ends of the Earth by Elizabeth Lowell on the table) we set off north.

I still had a couple of books I wanted to release (yes, I know there were boxes of them in the boot, but I mean books that were actually registered and labelled!), so we stopped in Temuka, where lytteltonwitch knew of a little park with a bridge suitable for releasing River of Death by Alistair MacLean and a park bench near a pond for Frogs at the Bottom of the Well by Ken Edgar.

The next stop was just outside Ashburton, where lytteltonwitch wanted to look for a geocache. She knew it was at an old cemetery, and the GPS seemed to be directing us off the highway down a side road. There was a turn-off from the side road that wasn’t signposted, but didn’t have a gate, so we weren’t sure whether it was a public road or a driveway. But the GPS was clearly pointing straight down it, so we took a chance and went that way. A car was coming towards us, and the driver gestured us to stop. He asked if we were lost, and when we said we were looking for the cemetery, told us we were on private land, and gave us directions back to the cemetery, the entrance to which turned out to be off the highway after all. We apolgised for trespassing, and were going to turn round, but there was another car coming behind the first, so lytteltonwitch stopped to wait for it to pass, because there were crops growing close to the edge of the road she didn’t want to drive over, so she’d have to do a three-point turn. The second car slowed, and when it reached us the driver looked at us very suspiciously, and asked “Why did you come down here?” quite aggressively. He didn’t look convinced by our explanation (especially when lytteltonwitch tried to explain geocaching to him), and once he was past us drove very slowly until he’d made sure that we’d turned and were heading back to the road. We guessed they must have had some thefts or vandalism on the farm recently or something, because country people in NZ aren’t normally that paranoid about trespassers.

Anyway, we didn’t get arrested, and we found the entrance to the cemetery eventually (it was very well hidden, no wonder we hadn’t spotted it from the road). While lytteltonwitch looked for the cache, I amused myself investigating the gravestones and wondering about some of the questions they raised – like why were the graves all pointing north instead of east as normal? What happened in the family where a son died at the age of 20, then his sister at the age of 19, 5 years later? Why had the grave of an infant that died in 1885 had a new headstone erected, obviously just recently? Unusually for a tiny country cemetery (there were only a dozen graves), it was still in use, with the most recent headstone dated 2001.

Back in Christchurch we picked up some KFC (where we met the “bit on the side” that will be familiar to readers of the witch’s LJ, and I released The Red Fox by Anthony Hyde) to take back to my place for tea, th
en regaled MrPloppy with tales of our adventures while he picked through the boxes of books for the ones I’d bought for him. Then began the long slog of actually registering all those books… guess what I’ll be spending a lot of today doing too?


Currently reading: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and Chronicle of the Unsung by Martin Edmond (which I’m struggling to finish, because it’s so tedious, so it keeps getting put aside in favour of more interesting books)
Currently listening to: The Red Room by Nicci French

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