Dame Ngaio Marsh – New Zealand’s Queen of Crime

One of the worlds queens of crime, Dame Ngaio Marsh  was born in Christchurch, New Zealand and a while ago I wondered if her house had survived the quake: I’d assumed ‘yes’ given it’s wooden and is in a relatively unscathed part of my old city.

The “Ngaio Marsh house” suffered only minor damage during the  2010 /2011 quakes that rocked the city.  Sited on the lower Cashmere Hills meant the damage to the area was less than other places the city and Canterbury – a chimney had been demolished and the sewerage pipe was broken but repairs have been made to both.

Their website said “The house was well shaken, creating a considerable mess with small items and books widely distributed over the floor. However, nothing of special significance was lost apart from a few pieces from Ngaio’s glass collection.”

So, the house remains basically as it was and is still open to visitors – as are most things in Christchurch.  See what Wiki says about our beloved Christchurch treasure –  Dame Ngaio Marsh

I took these photos during my last visit to the house in May 2010 – my first visit was for a fairly wild party in the early ’80s – not long after her death!

Just some of her books .. how many have you read?

E-books have killed paper books – yeah right!

E-books have killed paper books ‘they’ say. I say ‘yeah right’.  And, something new has happened to show we avid readers  are right – it will be a long time, if ever, that paper will not be used in books.  So, what is it?

The Dutch started it, the Spanish, the French, and the British soon followed . . . and now it’s in New Zealand.

I could start a what is it?  ‘Bigger than a bread-box? Smaller than a box of tissues?”  but these are not the worlds that would help you solve the puzzle.

Try words like paper books, hardback, e-books, Kindles or Kobo, slips easily into your pocket, weighs less that 145 grams, and you would be nearer to the subject.

Then, add words like save trees, extremely thin paper, read from top to bottom,  flip-up, and there you have it: something very new in books.

So what is this puzzle that’s not a puzzle anymore?

It’s the “flipback” book, which seems it originated in Holland, (2009)  and which you hold vertically and flip the pages up as you read. No more turning the pages ‘over’ just flip it UP. The other revolutionary (or is it evolutionary) idea is the spine is made so that the book can lie open for reading without requiring a hand to hold it open (no broken spines either) great for reading  on the go especially in transport, while holding on so you don’t fall.

Flipbacks, published by Hodder & Stoughton, were launched in  New Zealand by Hachette NZ, (July 2011)  I’m sure as I write, these are spreading around the world,  an ideal gift for a traveller. Perfect for planes, waiting in queues for boarding, ticket buying and all those other places we have learnt to grab valuable reading moments.

So when others are talking about the demise of the paper book – here is a new hard-cover book, completely original, and a useful adjunct to my reading pile – offering me just another way of reading.

So, if you are thinking of buying me a book for my travels – I’d be happy with any other 100 titles already out ( 11 so far in NZ, more out in Sept and November)

See what our own Bookman says on Beattie’s book blog

travels with a passionate nomad …

Naked in Budapest: travels with passionate nomad, (AKA Heather Hapeta) will be broadcast from Monday, 16 May – Tuesday, 24 May, 2011 at 10.45 a.m. on Radio New Zealand National.

It has been adapted into 7 episodes and is read by the author.

It will be available to hear online at www.radionz.co.nz – as an MP3 file – and you can buy a hard copy at www.kiwitravelwriter.com.

travel quotes I love

Travel quotes I love from Henry David Thoreau (American Essayist, Poet and Philosopher, 1817-1862

  • Maheshwar, India

It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see …”

  • Takahe ... one of New Zealand flightless birds

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”

  • Building a Buddha image

 “You must live in the present, launch yourself
on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”

 Henry David Thoreau
quotes (American Essayist, Poet and Philosopher, 1817-1862)

Katherine Mansfield: guided walk Wellington

Love the writing of Katherine Mansfield, if so take this guided walk to trace her steps here in Wellington, New Zealand during New Zealand book month 2011.

This walk will take about 90 mins and will be guided by NZSA (NZ Society of Authors) member Kevin Boon – a man who has written about Katharine’s life in Wellington.

Visiting Katherine Mansfield's Birthplace is part of the tour

DATE: Sunday 20th 2011 at 1030

COST: $20.00

Bookings required: for more details  contact k.boon@clear.net.nz

The coolest capital in the 2nd best country to visit in 2011

What happens you move to another city, know very few people, feel down after a bout of giardia (an unwanted souvenir from India) and are sick of the still unopened cartons in the office-cum-spare-room.

Just one of the features on the waterfront

Well, if you have just moved to the ‘coolest little capital in the world’ according to Lonely Planet in the country  that’s second on CNN’s list of  the world top destinations for 2011, you put the blues away and go for a walk – after all, ‘you can’t beat Wellington on a good day’, and it’s a good day today.

It takes only minutes to walk down Cuba St (and Mall) to arrive at the Civic Centre and there, in the sunshine, a message awaits me from Lauris Edmonds, one of this cities favourite adopted daughters.

It seems appropriate as I once had a poem published –  A Message to Lauris and now, standing on the over-bridge, leading to the waterfront, I read her words as selected for a plaque on the Wellington Writers Walk

“It’s true you can’t live here by chance, you have to do and be, not simply watch or even describe. This is the city of action, the world headquarters of the verb – ” . From ‘Scenes from a  small city’ 1994

There’s my answer – be active: after all I’m a travel writer so must travel around this city and write. Already I have a list of Wellington places and events to write about (starting with Zealandia and the Carter Observatory so there is some of the action I need to do: thanks Lauris, I’m ready to become an active Wellingtonian – 1st January 2011

More funny english signs: Japan to Germany

More funny signs of the times as sent to me by email – its Queens Birthday weekend in New Zealand .. . a good time to look at in English that’s NOT written in the ‘Queen’s English’!

Hotel, Japan:
You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.

In the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from a Russian orthodox monastery:
You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and soviet
composers, artists and writers are buried daily except Thursday.

A sign posted in Germany’s Black Forest:
It is strictly forbidden on our black forest camping site that people of
different sex, for instance, men and women, live together in one tent
unless they are married with each other for this purpose.

Hotel, Zürich:
Because of the impropriety of entertaining guests of the opposite sex in
the bedroom, it is suggested that the lobby be used for this purpose.

Advertisement for donkey rides, Thailand: Would you like to ride on your own ass?  ( PS this one would  only be funny to  speakers of  American English .. other English speakers use this spelling for the donkey type animal  and the rear end of a person is their arse!)

More Funny English Signs

As sent to me in emails – wonderful, but sometimes confusing, English! Post any funny signs you have seen in the comments.

  • In a city restaurant:
    Open seven days a week and weekends.
  • In a cemetery:
    Persons are prohibited from picking flowers from any but their own
  • Tokyo hotel’s rules and regulations:
    Guests are requested not to smoke or do other disgusting behaviours in
  • On the menu of a Swiss restaurant:
    Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.
  • In a Tokyo bar:
    Special cocktails for the ladies with nuts.
  • Hotel, Yugoslavia:
    The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid.
  • Dry cleaners, Bangkok:
    Drop your trousers here for the best results.
Thailand encourages us to be conservationists
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