Arrowtown book buyer Miranda Spary continues her regular
column about her recommendations for a good read and life as
she sees it ...
In Turkey, history slaps you in the face whichever way you
Yesterday I paddleboarded across the bay to look in some of
the ancient tombs carved into the cliffs and this morning we
walked another leg of the Lycian Way, following the trail
that goat herds and armies trudged over for more than 3000
There is a lot less history at home - the Turks say that we
are New Zealand and new means not much history.
It does not mean that our history is any less important
though, and it is a huge relief to hear that our wonderful
Lakes District Museum is in the black again.
It is a very important drawcard for Wakatipu, having New
Zealand's most visited rural museum and we are fortunate to
have David Clarke and his team bringing such great
exhibitions to the region.
The museum shop has all sorts of book treasures and I am
looking forward to coming home and seeing what new goodies
are in stock.
This part of New Zealand breeds all sorts of adventurers and
tale-tellers and whether you want to learn about the Scottish
settlers gushing about the warm climate and abundance of food
and firewood in the Otago they first arrived in, or read
long-time local yarn-spinner Alan Hamilton's books on
Wakatipu shearers, hunters and miners, this is the place to
With less than a week to go before I leave the good ship
Miranda, I am trying to achieve all the goals I set myself
when I first arrived.
Mmmm - becoming fluent in Turkish, losing 5kg, swimming or
paddleboarding for at least an hour a day and tidying up my
photo library - I am nearly certain that seven days is not
enough to achieve all that.
I should have started earlier.
My friend Philly is on board and she is pushing me into a
punishing exercise and eating regime - i.e. more of the first
and less of the latter.
Luckily it is pomegranate season and there are trees dripping
Instead of the figs that the hairdressers and butchers and
cafes gave me free last month, now it's pomegranates.
I have just realised that there are local bananas here as
well - they are smaller and sweeter than the imported ones
and the local distributor calls himself Dolce and Banana,
which is such a great name and intentionally funny.
Some of the unintentionally funny names, especially on menus
are so wonderful.
Red peppers give me endless delight - sometimes they are red
peepers or red papers or staffed peppers or stiffed peepers.
English is so easy if you only want to speak it - as soon as
you start writing it, it gets much trickier.
I am just reading David Crystal's excellent Spell It
Out, which is all about why English is such a contrary
and difficult language to spell in.
Why is the "hypo" in hypodermic and hypocrite spelt the same
but pronounced differently?
Why don't "give" and "dive" rhyme? If you are a language nut,
you will love this book.
If you are not, you will go into uncontrollable bouts of
Is there such a thing?
But if you are keener on a ripping good yarn, there is no-one
better than Ian McEwan.
As in his excellent Atonement, he steps into a young
woman's shoes and tells the story from her perspective. His
latest novel is Sweet Tooth where Serena is recruited
by MI5, thanks to her older lover, to lure an unknown author
into being an unwitting tool for the organisation.
It is a spy story but showing the glamour-free, grotty,
boring side of the business and a love story and full of the
delicious sly and dry wit he is so very famous for.
Serena's father is a bishop, and when she goes home for
Christmas, she notes that although it seemed normal as a
child, "now it seemed exotic to have a father who dabbled
routinely in the supernatural, who went out to work in a
beautiful stone temple late at night ... ".
And his comments about adult marijuana smokers was spot on -
"that inexcusable thing that men who liked cannabis tended to
do, which was to go on about it - some famous stuff from a
special village in Thailand, the terrifying near-bust ... ".
We all know those tedious types! He really is a brilliant
author and this book is one of the finest.
The twist at the end is fantastic.
There has been no rain here since the first week of June, so
the Turkish weather authority, whoever it is, gave us a grand
finale to our last week on the boat.
A massive electrical storm that lasted for hours, followed by
torrential rain, then hail, then strong, strong winds which
kept our crew up all night keeping us off the rocks.
It was spectacular and a bit scary but exhilarating, all the
Now today is boringly glorious again!