Suffering withdrawal? How about a neighbourhood library!

I’ve heard quite a few people talking about how desperate they are for the libraries to open,  that they are hanging out for a book to read, perhaps as a distraction in these trying times and I may just have found a solution!

Instead of relying on the community libraries in the next week or two when they may be shut, how about forming a neighbourhood library? Talk to your neighbour and others in your street and see what they have on their shelves and in their DVD and CD collections, and let them check out your collection and do some swapping! It will give you new titles, something to do, and keep you reading and listening and watching. It may start you on a new author, a new genre, a new recording artist or movie director.

Then when the libraries open again, you can search for more titles by that author, or other movies that director filmed and you’ve opened your horizons in the face of adversity. Not to mention getting to know your neighbour.

Maybe just keep a list somewhere of who borrowed what and when so it can all find it’s way back to it’s original home when your favourite library is open and those wonderful library staff are back to help you find what you need!

People of conviction: Discover your Australian past

Image from our collectionAccording to one of the library’s newest family history resources, there were three Finnerty men that arrived in New South Wales as convicts between 1788 and 1842.  As a relative of this Irish clan I am not upset about this finding. They probably just did not doff their hat at an appropriate time to a landed gent and I am all for that!

If you are interested in your own past, Find My Past AU offers access to a collection of historical records covering Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.

This fantastic resource is  available at all our libraries. Come in and have a play and explore our many family history resources!

International Mother Language Day

PhotoMonday 21 February is International Mother Language Day. In New Zealand, this is a day to celebrate the multitude of languages spoken here. At the Library we can also celebrate having such a wide variety of resources for people wanting to read in their own language as well as wanting to learn a new one.

We have a World Languages collection that includes Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Persian, Russian, Spanish and Afrikaans and all of our libraries contain Māori language collections.

Learning a new language no longer involves sitting in a classroom and rote learning.  The abundance of CDs and coursebooks means that you can now learn in the comfort of your own home – or in your own car! We have self-learning material for a huge variety of languages and don’t forget Overdrive, our free digital media platform which allows library customers to download audiobooks, including learning a language.

Our CINCH database of Community Information in Christchurch has 164 links to Ethnic groups , promoting their own language and the chance to meet other people with similar cultural backgrounds.  Combine this with our Library Press Displaywhich gives same-day access to more than 1700 newspapers from around the world, then  International Mother Language day and every other day should be full of opportunities at your Library.

On being Bridezilla

CoverHere I am, middle aged, married before with adult children. Not the usual candidate for the ‘Bridezilla Syndrome’ so often talked about. But it seemed as soon as I was engaged at Christmas, I became obsessed, and the library has become my source of all things wedding and bridal, but it has also given me pause for thought. Why, I asked myself, are the vast majority of these books aimed at brides, talking directly at the bride, with mention of the groom limited to how he should just answer yes when asked a question and not have his stag night the night before ‘her’ big day.

Few have anything in them about second time around weddings either and dresses are white, offering variations such as cream, ivory or, if you really wish to push the boat out – blush pink!

So with what I have learnt, and all the pages I have turned, in mind, I have a short list of the books I’ve found to be helpful, insightful or practical. But I’ve also thrown in ones that are downright over the top, but with pretty pictures.

To start, look to the past for inspiration. The Wedding by Paul Atterbury and Hilary Kay (both of Antiques Roadshow fame) have collected a fascinating selection of wedding photos from the reign of Queen Victoria on,  some touching and some just plain odd! Wedding Inspirations by Beverley Jollands has romantic prose and vows you can use if that’s your bent.Cover

In the pretty pictures to give you some ideas (but you probably won’t be able to afford them) category, top of the list would have to be anything involving Colin Cowie. He appears to be a famous American party planner and his books are stunning.

Colin Cowie’s Extraordinary Weddings and Wedding Chic: 1001 Ideas for Every Moment of Your Celebration are great to browse, as is Simple and Stylish Weddings. Another good browser is Contemporary Wedding Photos by Julie Oswin and Steve Walton.

The book I have found the most helpful in a purely practical sense is a New Zealand one. The Big Day by Kerril Cooper and Denise Irvine is a sourcebook put together by two celebrants giving legal, practical and step by step information for a New Zealand wedding.Cover

Other books that are helpful are Ex-Etiquette for Weddings : The Blended Families Guide to Tying the Knot.  This is a great one for helping to navigate the minefields of new families, adult children and new step families and not stepping on toes while having a great wedding and future.

But my all time favourite would have to be Anti-Bride Etiquette Guide : The Rules and How to Bend Them. It sets out all the traditions, rules and ‘proper ways’ to do things, then tells you to just do it your way, ignore the protests from families, friends and nay-sayers and put fun, happiness and joy first – excellent!

And just to remember that two people are getting married, not just the bride, read The Complete Guide for the Anxious Groom, or give it to your husband-to-be. It set out his roles, expectations and although it does lean a little on the “It’s her day, just say yes” theory, it’s still worth a browse.

Crafty clogs: delightful decoupage

coverIts been a fabulous time of arty-farty inspiration for me. It all started when I visited the Lyttelton Farmer’s market one Saturday and stumbled across the most gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous furniture – old wooden farm chairs and chests covered in exquisite decoupage using funky bright fabrics and layers of laquer.

Well of course, that led to hours of daydreaming about turning grotty old paint-splattered chairs into works of art. Hours of poring and drooling over decoupage books and magazines and another item added to the “list of things I must attempt before I pop my clogs”.

What utterly fabulous arty-farty things have you stumbled across that have inspired you?

Whale watching in the Botanic Gardens

whaleThere is a whale in the Botanic Gardens!

I saw it at the weekend. It had attracted quite a crowd of people who were admiring it and wondering how it got there and how long it would stay.

The ducks and eels were not disturbed by it and a crèche of penguins were keeping it company.

The whale and penguins are part of the Festival of Flowers. This year’s theme is ‘burst of water’. The topiary animals are quite happy to have their photo taken, unlike the ducks that swam off at top speed.

The Festival of Flowers is on in various locations throughout the city until Sunday 6 March.

Too old to risk buying unripe bananas

If, like me, you are sick of hearing that sixty is the new fifty and fifty is the new forty,  then fear not – for I come bearing glad tidings: ninety-nine is not the new anything. It’s just very old and very precious.

And I should know, I’ve just spent a lot of time with some real oldies at my mum’s 99th birthday. It got me thinking about old age and writing. And there is no shortage of  candidates – from Mary Wesley who started writing when she was 70 to David Lodge who still writes well into his eighties and in his latest novel Deaf Sentence has a very endearing elderly main character in professor Desmond Bates.

There are also plenty of older authors writing about old age, like Norah Ephron who goes for the jugular in I Feel Bad About My Neck and her latest brain teaser – I Remember Nothing.  But it is hard to top Diana Athill, who at 90 wrote her expose on growing old – Somewhere Towards the End, in which she talks of (amongst other things) a declining interest in sex. Say no more!

Inspired by all this bounty, I offered to fetch my mother some new reads from her local library. She smelt me coming a mile off and lifted her large print saga quite defensively. On its cover was a winsome lass dressed in plaid in the arms of a bearded laird – set against a background of soft lavender hills, with a little croft and its lazily smoking chimney. “Don’t get me any of that newfangled stuff” she said. “I’m already old and it’s not that interesting!”

I was quite taken aback. If old people aren’t reading the books that I was recommending, this begs the question – who is?

That’s when I told the group of oldies that I would blog on this. It proved to be more difficult than you’d think to explain blogging to the hard of hearing and technologically naive.  But this is it Ma, a blog – and I wrote it just for you!

By the way, the headline is a quote from a character in a Stanley Middleton novel.

The Queen of Crime – and theatre – Dame Ngaio Marsh

Ngaio Marsh, centre, directing Hamlet in 1958
Today is the anniversary of the death of crime writer and theatre legend Dame Ngaio Marsh. She died in 1982.


Read more about her life, find books she wrote, or just marvel at some of the photos in our collection.

The beautiful game – in our own backyard

CoverThe annual Global Football Festival is a Christchurch celebration of the worldwide appeal of the beautiful game. This weekend and next, teams from different cultures living in Christchurch  will battle it out over three days of keen competition.

I’ve been to this event a couple of times over the years, and there’s always a relaxed, festive  atmosphere. Think a mini World Cup, but without the mind-numbingly loud vuvuzelas. The food stalls are pretty good too.

This year the eighth tournament will be played at a new venue, Linfield Park on Kearneys Road.

Celebrating our scenery, Port Levy – Image of the Week

Steamer at Port Levy

Do you have any information about this Steamer at Port Levy, circa 1921?

Please contact us if you’d like to share it. We also accept donations.

Want to see more? Browse our collection online.