A capital weekend

As usual, when life is interesting enough to have plenty to write about, I’m too busy having an interesting life to write about it.

Most of the interesting stuff has been work stuff (some good, some not so good), so not worth writing about, but the weekends have been pretty fun-filled in themselves, starting with a weekend in Wellington:


I had a work thing to attend in Wellington on the Monday and Tuesday, so I arranged my flights to give me the weekend up there as well. So only a few days after last being at the airport, I was back there again. All was different though: the building work that had caused so much chaos the week before was finished, and Air NZ’s new improved self-check-in system was up and running. Having had a trial run on it in Auckland, I knew what to do, so was able to sail through quickly. Others around me were not finding the system so easy, and the staff were rushing from group to group trying to convince confused passengers not to just give up and join the queue for the one check-in desk.

In Wellington, the wind was blowing, as demonstrated by the turbulence the moment we were over Cook Strait. A rough landing (I think I’ve only flown into Wellington once when it wasn’t), then caught the bus into town. I’d splurged and booked a single room at the YHA instead of a dorm, and had planned to go straight to my room and sort out my books before heading to the meetup with the Wellington bookcrossers. But when I went to check in, they told me the hostel had been full the night before, so the cleaners hadn’t finished the rooms yet, and I wouldn’t be able to check in until mid-afternoon.

So instead of having the leisure to fully unpack my bag and select appropriate books for the meetup, I had to just grab whichever books were on top. I really should learn to put the stuff I need immediately on the top…

I had an hour or so to spare, so I locked my bag in their storeroom and set off to do a bit of shopping. For some reason, I always seem to end up doing my summer clothes shopping in Wellington. I suppose it’s because this annual trip coincides with the beginning of the really warm weather, when I realise that last year’s summer wardrobe is beginning to look a bit old and worn out (note that by “wardrobe” I mean “a couple of work outfits that I can interchange the components of to make it look like I own more clothes than I actually do”), and when I always seem to have a shortage of free weekends to go shopping at home.

Anyway, having found the bits and pieces I wanted, and successfully killed a bit of time, I wandered up towards the cafe where I was meeting the others for lunch. As I was walking along the street from one direction, I saw Sherlockfan approaching from the other. As we both waited to cross the street (from diagonally opposite sides), she was joined by another person bearing books, who she subsequently introduced to me as newgirl360. Then inside the cafe we found edwardstreet and grandson waiting. A little later we were joined by discoverylover, and then later again by chicklitfan – Wellington meetups are going from strength to strength.

Anyway. The cafe. How can I describe it? Imagine the most kitschy, chocolate-box, flowery, cutesy place you can think of, then add some. But somehow despite being totally over the top, the design actually worked. The cups and plates were mismatched florals of the sort I last saw in my Granny’s china cabinet, the staff wore full-length frilly aprons, and there were doilies as far as the eye could see, but the overall effect was fabulous. And even if it hadn’t been, the food was great, and there was an OBCZ lurking in the corner, so we would have been happy anyway.

The table was soon piled with books. I only picked up one for myself (The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler), but I also acquired a bag of NZ books from Sherlockfan for the convention. The random books I’d grabbed out of my bag turned out to be The Defector by Mark Chisnell, Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway, Golden Miles by Katherine Susannah Prichard, A Fringe of Leaves by Patrick White, Toyer by Gardener McKay, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons and The Shadow of Wings by June Knox-Mawer.

Of course, the book I’d actually brought up specifically to take to the meetup because I’d promised it to discoverylover, Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult, wasn’t one of the ones I’d managed to grab. So after lunch DL and I walked back down to the YHA, where my room was finally ready, and I found the book for her. Then, with DL not having any other plans for the rest of the day, we picked up some more books and headed out to release them around the city:

Drumfire and Buffalo War by Peter McCurtin
Spy High: The Frankenstein Factory by AJ Butcher (outside the Montessori school – my first themed release for libbybook‘s weekly themed release challenge)
Summer Light by Roxana Robinson
Babyface by Elizabeth Woodcraft
Two for Three Farthings by Mary Jane Staples
The Love That God Forgot by Alexander Cordell
The Iron Wolf by Richard Adams
The Secret Lemonade Drinker by Guy Bellamy (in the drinks cabinet of the supermarket)

We stopped off in a cafe for rest and refreshment, and spent a constructive half hour or so counting labels out into packs of 100 for DL to sell for the BC Exchange fund. Then I asked DL to give me a guided tour of Te Papa. The guided tour didn’t get any further than it’s first stop, though: the fantastic video wall where you can select photos from Te Papa’s huge database and manipulate and animate them on the giant wall screens. The public can upload their own photos through Te Papa’s website, a facility which DL had already made good use of, as searching the database for “bookcrossing” brought up photos from the 2007 BCNZ convention, including Skyring, Ringbear, and DL herself in her quiz hat. Needless to say, the wall was soon covered with flying Ringbears and rotating Skyrings 🙂

After we’d had our fill of playing with the wall, DL charmed one of her colleagues into sneaking us onto one of the flight-simulator style rides. We opted for what was described as the more gentle ride, a submarine voyage to explore
an underwater volcano. All I can say is if that was the gentle ride, I really don’t want to do the rough one – I was feeling sea-sick by the time we got out. Interesting film, though.

By this time it was nearly time for Te Papa to close, so we abandoned the tour and set out in search of dinner. After a strange encounter with an ATM on legs,

(just to prove that weird things don’t only happen when lytteltonwitch is around – although note it was an ANZ ATM…) we ended up at Flying Burrito Brothers (their chicken in mole sauce is always sufficient excuse for a visit). Their Wellington restaurant features little alcoves all over the walls, so of course one of them ended up with a book in it: The Stencil Man by Garry Disher.

The next day, after a leisurely breakfast (The World, the Flesh and Myself by Michael Davidson) and a bit of Christmas shopping, I decided to go for a walk along Oriental Parade. I thought I’d walk round the bays until I got tired, then catch a bus home. It was a lovely day for walking, sunny but with a cool breeze off the harbour, but even so I surprised myself by getting all the way round to the flat bit where the airport is (Kilbirnie?). I did vaguely consider carrying on, but I wasn’t sure if the bus route went any further round the bays, so rather than end up in the middle of nowhere with a long walk back to find a bus-stop, I decided it was time to catch a bus back into town (and I had been walking for nearly 2 hours by this time, after all!).

I released a few books as I walked, of course:
Other People’s Children by Joanna Trollope (beside a playground)
Conquered Heart by Lisa Samson
The Healer by Greg Hollingshead
Clash by Night by Doreen Owens Malek
At Weddings and Wakes by Alice McDermott
Toxin by Robin Cook

Oh, and one thing that amused me while I was walking. At one point, I was passed by a large group of motorcyclists, all on Harleys and other big powerful bikes. About half an hour later, further along the road, another group went past going in the opposite direction, but this time all on tiny scooters. I was giggling to myself thinking that maybe they were the same bikers as the earlier group 🙂

Back in town, I visited the Chocolate Cafe – just so I could release Chocolate Lizards by Cole Thompson, of course (though it would have been rude not to order something, seeing as I was there…) Then, after releasing another couple of books (Painted Lady by Richard Masefield and Tales of Burning Love by Louise Erdrich), I found a nice spot down on the waterfront and settled down to read my book for a while.

You know how I said I always go clothes shopping in Wellington? Well the other thing I always seem to do there is get sunburnt. I think it’s because of the sea breeze – I always seem to forget that just because it’s not hot, that doesn’t mean the sun isn’t shining at full power. You don’t get that in Christchurch – when a wind is blowing, it’s normally a hot nor’wester, which definitely doesn’t encourage you to stay out in the sun longer than you should. So it’s easy to forget that other places don’t have the same sun=hot relationship. Luckily this time I realised in time, so I wasn’t too badly burnt, but I was still a bit red and stingy on the arms and face.

After venturing out for a quick dinner (A Tangled Web by Nicholas Blake), I went back to the YHA and spent the rest of the evening in the lounge putting prenumbered labels in all the books in the book exchange shelf:

The People of the Wind by Poul Anderson
Omnivore by Piers Anthony
Like a Bird on the Wing by Ian G MacDonald
Lovligt Byte by Janet Evanovich
Crossfire by Andy McNab
The Cell by Colin Forbes
Hunting Warbirds by Carl Hoffman
Goodbye, Jimmy Choo by Annie Sanders
Silent Witness by Richard North Patterson
Beyond the Burning: Life and Death in the Ghetto by Sterling Tucker
Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold by Jean Fritz
Solo Woman by Gaby Kennard
Licht Ontvlambaar by Julie Cohen
Selvrisiko by Elsebeth Egholm
Máximas De Un Hombre Cualquiera by Gabriel Schultz
Lachen de Jongen by Oliver La Farge
Das Schicksal der Zwerge by Markus Heitz
Grow Up by Keith Allen
Beyond Indigo by Preethi Nair
Operation Long Jump by Leo Kessler
Maigret by Georges Simenon
Hinnalla Millä Hyvänsä by Outi Pakkanen
Caitlin: Love Lost by Francine Pascal
L’Autopompa Fantasma by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö
Navnebroren by Jhumpa Lahiri
Cameron’s Crossing by Philip McCutchan
Waterfront by Richard Woodman
The Lazarus Effect by Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom
Lady with a Spear by Eugenie Clark
Reindeer Boy by Berit Braenne
The Quest for Mars by Lawrence Bergreen
Jennys Gehimnis by Barbara Delinsky
Svart Bok by Orhan Pamuk

Plus I added the last few books I’d brought with me to the bookshelf:
Under Siege by Stephen Coonts
The Queen’s Man by Sharon Penman
Traumfänger by Marlo Morgan
The House That Jack Built by Veronica Hart

A most enjoyable weekend.


Ok, now I remember why I haven’t got round to writing up Wellington before now – I knew it was going to take ages. I think I’m all written out for tonight now, so the adventures of the following two weekends will just have to wait.

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