Of Books and Mussels

Wellington from Thornden
It’s been a very busy couple of days. First there was an interview with Lynn Freeman for a Radio New Zealand arts programme 'Arts on Sunday'. I love radio - mainly because of the anonymity. No-one can see you, there's only the voice. And it was a delight to be interviewed by someone who really knew the subject and wasn’t just reading from a list of questions prepared by a researcher.

This weekend there was a second hand book fair in Wellington and it was book-browser’s heaven. If only I wasn’t travelling with a luggage allowance! There were books I’ve always wanted to read as well as a good selection of New Zealand literature we don’t get in England.  I've never seen so many books under one roof.

At 2 nz$ per book every one was a bargain and I bought quite a lot. I will try to read them all before leaving NZ and then release them into the wild! New books are so expensive here (a very sobering reality check for a writer) I’m sure I will have no shortage of takers when I leave.

After the book fair I met up with Mary McCallum for coffee. She runs the Tuesday Poets’ blog and is herself a very fine novelist and poet (see her novel The Blue, published by penguin). She is absolutely fizzing with energy and, like most people I’ve met here, incredibly welcoming and friendly.

Then to the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace, where KM was born and which is now a beautiful museum.

Katherine Mansfield Birthplace
On my first visit to New Zealand ten years ago I met its founder Oroya Day and over the intervening years have become friends with the curators, Laurel Harris and Mary Morris. Today, they had a film unit there making a documentary about Katherine Mansfield and toys, centred about the Dolls House - a treasured childhood toy that became one of her most famous short stories. So, unexpectedly, I found myself sitting in a chair in front of a camera (my least favourite position!) talking about KM for the tv.

Now, it’s off for dinner. The seafood here is miraculous - the green-lipped mussels are the size of mobile phones!


  1. How nice to discover you're in Wellington! I am hugely looking forward to reading your new biography of KM - it's greatly needed. If you have a look at my food blog http://somethingelsetoeat.blogspot.com you will find a recent post about mussels.

  2. Tell me about the dear books, they are a curse this side of the Tasman too.

    Fresh mussels yummmmmm. Green lips are really nice, like I said before yummmmm.

  3. Glad I made your mouths water! As for the price of books - it's shocking. You need a mortgage to buy a hardback and paper-backs are double the UK price.


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