A weekend in Wellington

I had to be in Wellington for work on Monday and Tuesday, so I decided to take advantage of the free flights and go up a couple of days early so I could have a weekend’s holiday. When I mentioned this plan to Sherlockfan, asking her if she’d be interested in meeting up sometime over the weekend, she immediately invited me to stay at her place instead of at the backpackers’. Which was a much nicer plan!

So, bright and early on Saturday morning I headed to the airport, and not much later, with only a slightly bumpy landing (the wind was behind us, which is one of the least scary ways to land at Wellington airport), I was in the North Island. We’d arrived a bit early because of the tailwind, so there was no sign of Sherlockfan or MrFan, who’d promised to pick me up at the airport. I went down to the baggage claim, and had just picked up my bag when I saw them come in and head upstairs to the arrival lounge. Do you know how hard it is to chase someone up an escalator while carrying a bag full of books? :-)

Once we’d managed to find each other, they drove me into town via the scenic route around the bays. I’d only been to Wellington a couple of times before, so it was wonderful to get to see a bit more of it, and even more wonderful to have Sherlockfan giving directions to MrFan to stop at every bus shelter and phone box along the way so that I could release books! Some of the stops were in lovely scenic spots, so I got some great release photos.

Robocop by Ed Naha
Go Ask Alice by anon.
Cast a Cold Eye by Alan Ryan
Gravity by Tess Gerritsen
Goodbye, I Love You by Carol Lynn Pearson
The Last Innocent Man by Philip Margolin
Hunters of the Dusk by Darren Shan

After a quick stop in town so I could buy my new MP3 player (I’d been searching on-line for a particular model that was being discontinued, and discovered there was one in the Dick Smith in Manners Street – unfortunately it turned out their website was out of date and they didn’t have one left after all, but they did have something similar with the particular features I wanted (although, of course, slightly more expensive…)), we dropped off my bag at the Fans’ house and headed off again, this time round the other side of Wellington, through Happy Valley (where someone has covered the roadside with strange sculptures made of boulders and scrap metal) to Owhiro Bay (from where you can see the South Island – so, as I’ve seen the North Island from Farewell Spit, I can now say I’ve seen each island while standing on the other). We had lunch there in a very nice cafe called The Bach (it looked a bit like a bach, too, with mismatched furniture (our table was made out of an old door!) and generally looking like it had been built out of whatever materials were lying around), where I released The Purple Quest by Frank Slaughter. As we were leaving, I looked back at the table where I’d left it, and one of the people who’d sat down as soon as we’d vacated it had picked up the book and by the look of it was already deep into reading it! No journal entry yet, but I’m hopeful.

After lunch the Fans dropped me off at Te Papa, so I could have a wander round it on my own (last time I was there I was with MrPloppy, which was fun, but when you’re in a museum with someone else you always make compromises about what you want to stop and look at more closely, so it was nice to look at my own pace this time). I knew I wouldn’t have time to do it justice, so I just wandered randomly through the museum with no particular plan, stopping to look at whatever caught my eye. It meant I missed huge areas completely, but I saw loads of interesting things, and really enjoyed the few hours I spent there. And of course, I released a book – Lord Edgeware Dies by Agatha Christie, which I left in a secluded corner of the rooftop sculpture court.

That evening, we went out to Lower Hutt (? I think – despite the Fans doing their best to tell me everywhere we went, I lost track a few times) to discoverylover‘s 21st party. I hadn’t been organised enough to get her a real present, so I took her a book (of course!) that I thought she might like: Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs. I had met Discoverylover before, last time I was in Wellington, but I obviously didn’t make much of an impression – first of all she called me rarsberry, then she thought I was from Dunedin, and finally she told her assorted family and friends that this was the first time we’d met! :-)

The weather on Saturday had been wonderful, but on Sunday I woke to hear rain and wind outside. Sherlockfan and I headed out into the wild weather anyway, first to the Botanic Gardens (I wanted to visit the Carter Observatory to release Observatory by Emily Grayson) and then to the Museum of City and Sea on the waterfront, where Sherlockfan showed me an amazing display that used a combination of real objects and hologram projections to tell Maori legends local to the area. Another display that amused us had a mechanical rat running along the beams of a recreated warehouse, watched by a tail-twitching cat. The only trouble was, once the rat had run along the beam, it would return to its starting place, running backwards! They have clever rats in Wellington :-)

I signed the visitors’ book (and released The Legend Makers by Catherine Lanigan next to it – it’s since been caught, so far my only catch of the weekend), and then we headed to Mac’s Brewery, where we were to meet the other Wellington bookcrossers for lunch. Discoverylover was obviously sleeping off the party, but edwardstreet (who *did* remember me!) and jennannej came along, and we had a great meetup, swapping books (Big Fish by Daniel Wallace, The Cat Who Came to Breakfast by Lilian Jackson Braun, Earth-Race by Tom Keene, African Child by Camara Laye, Skeleton in the Clock by Carter Dickson) and discussing plans for the upcoming convention.

Our piles of books attracted the attention of some people at the next table, so we invited them to take some books and explained bookcrossing to them. They took a few, including one of mine (Super Man by Robert Heller), and were suitably enthusiastic about the idea, but I’m not sure how much of that enthusiasm was attributable to the amount they’d been drinking :-) One of them (who was from Auckland) promised to send a box of books down to Sherlockfan for the convention, so it will be interesting to see if he follows through…

I tried leaving Venus in India by Charles Deveraux behind on our table when we left the brewery, but one of the bar staff spotted it and ran after us to tell us we’d forgotten our book. Of course, I told him I didn’t want it any more and he could keep it. He didn’t look very keen, but put the book behind the bar, so maybe another staff member will take an interest in it someday.

The weather had cleared a little by now (although it was still incredibly windy), so Sherlockfan and I wandered along the waterfront a bit so I could release a few more books (Government by B Traven and Internal Affairs by Jill Tweedie – two titles particularly appropriate for release in Wellington, I thought :-) – and The Quiller Memorandum by Adam Hall).

That evening we headed out of town again (to Upper Hutt this time I think?) to DaughterFan’s house for dinner. I’d “met” DaughterFan when Sherlockfan was ill in France and DaughterFan was keeping her bookcrossing friends updated with her progress via LiveJournal, so it was great to get to meet her in person. The rest of the Fan family were lovely too, and we had a fabulous meal of slow-roasted lamb shanks – seriously tasty!

Back at Sherlockfan’s house, I added a few books to the convention box (Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise by David Feldman, Subspace Explorers by EE Doc Smith, The Body Artist by Don De Lillo, The Cat Who Said Cheese by Lilian Jackson Braun)… and took a couple out (Small Change by J Belinda Yandell and The Christmas Train by David Baldacci), and finally remembered I had a book in my bag for her from lytteltonwitch, Paper Nautilus by Nicholas Jose. Then it was time to pack up ready for the morning, when I’d be leaving the friendly hospitality of the Fans behind for the anonymity of a hotel room and two full days of meetings :-(

In the morning, Sherlockfan had a doctor’s appointment, so MrFan dropped her at the hospital (where she realised she hadn’t brought a book for while she was in the waiting room, so I gave her The Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry, which I’d just finished reading), then dropped me off at my hotel, and my holiday was officially over. The rest is silence work.

One thought on “A weekend in Wellington

  1. That was a busy little "break"!

    I really like Wellington. I went there several times as a child (my family lived there before I was born), then didn’t go again for about 15 years, but in the last few years we’ve gone there once or twice a year.

    Too many "years" in the previous sentence :-)

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