Monday, March 28, 2011

the not-so-greytown

I have a bit of a thing for place-names and knowing what they mean, breaking them down to their latin and old english roots. I like looking out for the 'wich' or 'wick' in old english names and therefore instantly knowing something about their past, just by their name*. It must be my geographical background. Despite learning heaps of much more complicated facts, figures and concepts, I will still notice and remark settlements being well placed on a river meander or a hill for defence and visibility. (Harking back to the days where a river bend protected you from your arrow-wielding enemies rather than providing a site for panoramic, riverfront apartment blocks.)

It was based on this that, naturally, I was not exactly excited to visit the home of my boyfriend's aunt, Greytown in New Zealand. One must remark that it does sound particularly bleak.

Not so! Greytown, in the Wairapa region that skirts Wellington, like neighbouring Masterton and Castleton was named after its first governor, Sir George Grey rather than any suggestion to a gloomy climate or a stone masonry background. And indeed, grey is the last word to describe this really lovely town. After 6 long, urban months in Melbourne, the little shops and tearooms, situated in the lush mountain valleys of Greytown and its surrounding Wairapa towns was exactly what the doctor ordered.

An hour outside of Wellington and highly recommended.... And a personal recommendation (if I may) - Finishing Touches on the Main Street. Chocked to the brim with treats for home and friends!

*Wich/Wick means market. eg. Greenwich = Green Market, Keswick = Cheese Market)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

this is australia

I had a fantastic little library of picture books as a child. My mother had a real weakness for book illustrations, and I suppose books were more often chosen and bought on their aesthetic qualites than their literary merit.

I still have many of these beautiful books, much loved now, but the pictures just as vivid to me. One of my favourite sets was on a manx cat (without a tail) called Max who travelled the world, including Australia, looking for his tail.

As my boyfriend, and travelling companion, is named Max, inevitably this book, like its protagonist took the long journey from London and sits happily on our bookcase in Melbourne.

There has been a real resurgence of beautiful old and retro books over the last few years, in many different forms, with aesthetic often taking precedence over quality of story or indeed facts. This is very much the case with the now overwhelming popularity of the Miroslav Sasek, 'travel books'. Written between the late 50s and his death in 1980, these books have had renewed admiration with a new reissue every few months. Starting with the iconic New York, Paris, London and San Francisco in 2003-4, we are now seeing the more unusual Greece and Israel titles.

The illustrations are the real star in the books. Readers forgive the frequent asterixes that indicate the many, many factual discrepancies that now exist, enchanted instead by the stunning images. How refreshing, in an age of information-hunger and a constant strive for scientific fact, that such wrong books can be more popular than ever.
For our first Valentines Day together, last year, my boyfriend and I booked a trip to Paris, a first visit for him. My gift to him of the iconic 'This is Paris' book, went down very well, even despite the 'mistakes'.

This year, amidst our fervent saving, I was stuck for a meaningful, yet suitably thrifty gift. You can imagine my elation to discover the reissue of.....

You guessed it:


Predictably, the illlustrations and text are as lovely as ever. I'm not quite sure Max was as pleased to recieve it as I was to give it though. I was very very happy to find it after all.

The only problem now is that I've set up a tradition. Locations for our travels have become limited to those which Sasek has written books on.... Not a bad selection though. New York, San Francisco, Rome.... don't mind if I do!

larking about

After our travels we have awarded ourselves a week back in Melbourne, or home as we like to call it. I am hoping that this time will give us a chance to do a day trip or two out of the city and into Rural Victoria. At the top of my Victoria list is the town of Daylesford.

A destination of choice for many reasons, not least that I would get to visit the lovely Lark. I have seen so many features on this lovely shop and such a lot of its great products featured, I would like to have a look for myself!

For now, however, I must be content with their lovely website, and share with you today one of my favourite ranges from them. With a built in rattle, they are obviously designed for little ones, but honestly, who wouldn't love a knitted doughnut? Or, my personal favourite and healthier option, peas in a pod!

100% no added calories.

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