Arrowtown book buyer Miranda Spary continues her regular
column about her recommendations for a good read and life as
she sees it
Sorry about no column last Friday and thank you for all the
flattering grumbles about its non-appearance. With any luck,
it will have been printed on Monday, but as I am writing this
new one on Saturday night, I can give no guarantees.
What I can guarantee is that this week (and next and next)
will all be just as busy. It's so delicious enjoying this
Wakatipu summer which is just like summers used to be (except
parents never send their children out all day without
sunscreen, telling them to be back by gin time, any more),
that I almost resent leaving for any reason.
And so it was on Thursday when we flew to Auckland for a very
special day out. Think bisons and Anesh Kapoor, water
fireworks and arches snaking up in the sea, kissing giraffes
and lectures on how to build one (giraffe, that is). All
those things can only happen in the very big garden of a very
wealthy and generous man.
Alan Gibbs' farm is home to works by some of the world's
greatest contemporary sculptors - such a wonderful collection
that the World Sculpture Symposium 2013 was held here just
last week. I'd heard it was fantastic, but I wasn't alone in
running out of memory on my camera as every moment ached to
My darling got a teensy bit closer to a bison than he wanted
when he patted the beast on the head. Obviously in bison
culture that is a most offensive gesture and the bison quite
rightly took great offence. I so wish I'd still had room for
one more photo as he cowered and whimpered in the steely
stalks of Bernar Venet's 27m-high sculpture, waiting for Mr
Angry Bison to stomp back to his wives.
Unlike the grumpy bison, Alan Gibbs is a seriously charming
man, passionate about so many things and big-hearted enough
to want to share his taste and good fortune with everyone.
New Zealand is lucky to have someone like him commissioning
works on this scale and giving us a chance to shine in the
And do be quick to book your tickets for the Festival of
Colour - the box office opened to the public this week and
ticket sales have been huge. I am the delivery girl (delivery
middle-aged woman sounds weird) for the programmes and it's
been the most expensive job I've ever had. I had no idea
there were so many new shops around.
A huge new sewing and craft shop opened in Arrowtown at
Labour Weekend, and I had never even noticed it right in the
main street by the Night`n Day. And there's a super new deli
and a new sushi shop. How didn't I see these before? Worse
still, there's been a secondhand bookshop on the top floor of
O'Connells for the past 16 years - the Black Cat Bookshop -
and I only just saw it last week.
Secondhand bookshops are where you find all your favourite
old books that aren't in the new bookshops any more (although
soon, there mightn't be any bookshops if we aren't careful).
Do go up there and hunt for treasures.
In my delivery job, I also heard that Sam and Dave Gent are
going to be back here - Sam (who used to have the wonderful
101) is opening a new beauty spa in the old council buildings
in Arrowtown's main street. She's such a champion, even
though she did sometimes find me in cafes and with a stern
look tell me I was looking a bit feral and needing a bit of
attention. She was always right, and now I'll have no excuse
for my slovenly ways.
Trying to be beautiful does take me away from my favourite
thing, which is reading, and especially when I'm stuck into
something terrific. I'm so sad to have finished Erik Larson's
In the Garden of Beasts which is the ''hard to believe it's
true'' story of the American ambassador to Berlin as Hitler
came to power.
William Dodd keeps warning everyone of the terrible things
that are starting to happen, but no-one wants to know. They
are all too busy having a marvellously decadent time
cavorting and partying with the Beasts. His naughty daughter
Martha spends a lot of time horizontal with a series of them
and life gets more and more complex. Dodd's a sad sort of man
and not particularly likeable but his story is utterly
And on the subject of great men in power, a very happy
birthday to the old grey mayor, Warren Cooper. For those of
you new to Wakatipu, he was the mayor twice here, as well as
being the minister of tourism, and defence, and all sorts of
other things. A great man for getting things done, and not
worrying too much about the PC side of things. All the very
best for the next 80, Warren!