Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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Busytown: Here comes the sun

23 Responses

  • Deborah,

    Bags (first!) - shortly after my eldest was born, my mother gave me a tote bag, which was small enough to use as a handbag, but big enough to carry nappies, baby wipes, and a spare set of clothes, and a bottle of wine. Very convenient for meeting up for the after-class sessions with the group of new mothers I joined. We were all very cautious at first because we were so anxious to be 'good' mothers, but after a while, when we realised that they wouldn't break, we broke out, the wine, that is. That bag is still lurking in the corner of my wardrobe, though it since been replaced by a succession of others, which in their turn are lurking in the wardrobe. My current bag is teal blue - lovely.

    Matthew McFayden - lovely.

    The sun - lovely. Winter still hasn't really struck us in the old country, and NIWA is promising us a couple more months of tolerable weather.

    Lovely to hear some more from you, Jolisa.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1306 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Jolisa,

    It's great to see you emerging from your winter hibernation. Encore!

    RE: latest P & P film

    I completely agree that McFayden did a much better job than silly old Colin Firth -- although I admit to confusion in terms of Donald Sutherland's concept of playing Mr Bennet with a Canadian accent: "I'm just going ooot to visit Mr Bingley". Quite mysterious.

    I also thought the film did a nice job of highlighting the wealth gap between the Bennets and Darcy/Bingley/etc., but I can't help feeling that there's yet to be a successful realization of P & P on the screen. Each version seems to have its own (major) flaws.

    I've never been to Iceland, but a friend once called from Reykjavík to say that she'd spent €90 on a pizza. The trauma was such that she needed to phone someone in New Zealand for counselling.

    This rather gave me the impression that food can be a bit pricey in Iceland -- so it may be wise to give the kids a good feed beforehand.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 983 posts Report Reply

  • Gabor Toth,

    I have never been to Iceland, but a friend once called from Reykjavík to say that she'd spent €90 on a pizza.

    Hot tip - make sure all the adult members of your group take in their maximum duty-free limit of booze. If you don't drink it yourself, you can always trade it for pizzas (alcohol is insanely expensive, but Icelanders still go crazy over the stuff). Beer is probably better than wine in this regard as you'll have more trading "units" (the duty-free limit is 1 litre of spirits + 6 litres of beer OR 1 litre of spirits + 1 litre of wine).

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 120 posts Report Reply

  • Anne M,

    Woohoo, you're alive!

    On the book front, BusyBoy may enjoy the "William" stories by Richmal Crompton. Though not only will you have to skip over the stuff that jars with modern sensitivities, but you may not want to encourage William as a role-model. Last night's chapter was "William Sells the Twins" ...

    Iceland was were the "Top Gear" chaps drove an off-roader across a lake. Not a frozen lake, a wet one. If you could try that I'm sure we'd all appreciate the YouTube link.

    Since Nov 2006 • 101 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan,

    Re: The mango splitter

    I viewed the demo video and it seems very impressive. However, here in Aus the mangoes can get rather large (big yellow/orange Kensington Mangoes rather than the smaller green ones that seem to be largely from South America). Do you have an idea of the largest mango this splitter could handle?

    Nice to 'read you back' bloggin'

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 147 posts Report Reply

  • Muriel Lockheed,

    Shame on you and David, there is ONLY one Mr Darcy, one do you hear, and it is Colin Firth. And the BBC version of P&P is the only one worth seeing IM (not so bloody) HO !

    Wellywood • Since Nov 2006 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Oh hurray. Welcome back, BusyMummy. You have been sorely missed. On the cheering front, there really is nothing more uplifting for me at the moment than a husband getting around to doing long overdue tax paperwork. Oh, and hearing that BusyBoy is five and a half already, and you're reading wonderful books to him. A few years ago, I had the terrible job of trying to shepherd Margaret Mahy around the Storylines childrens' book festival at the Aotea Centre. Absolute living legend, absolutely lovely lady, absolute bugger when it came time for moving to the next venue. Anyway, one thing she said to me, and I pass this on to all the parents of the children I teach, is that you should read to your kids till they are 12. Simply because you are able to read them books well past their reading age, which will take them on adventures they would not to get to go on themselves until much later. Beautiful, I thought. And reading the Famous Five to BusyBoy is a wonderful example. Can't wait for the next instalment of BusyLife!

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    On the cheering front, there really is nothing more uplifting for me at the moment than a husband getting around to doing long overdue tax paperwork.

    Your husband does that? I regard tax as women's work ...

    A few years ago, I had the terrible job of trying to shepherd Margaret Mahy around the Storylines childrens' book festival at the Aotea Centre. Absolute living legend, absolutely lovely lady, absolute bugger when it came time for moving to the next venue.

    I almost inadvertently insulted Margaret when I met her, by saying that The Man Whose Mother Was a Pirate was the bane of my life, or words to that effect. What I meant, of course, was that it was so brilliant that I'd read to my kids more times than I could count, and still they wanted to hear it again.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18838 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I've never been to Iceland, but a friend once called from Reykjavík to say that she'd spent €90 on a pizza. The trauma was such that she needed to phone someone in New Zealand for counselling.

    And there was probably bloody tinned sweetcorn on it too. That's just wrong.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18838 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    As a boy I was not overly familiar with Blyton's works. I do profess a passing acquaintance with Noddy jokes (Q. Why did the elephant have big ears? A. Because Noddy wouldn't pay the ransom).

    Times change. I am now fighting for access to "In the Fifth at Malory Towers".

    It's educational.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1615 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Ooh Malory Towers. Not a place for sissies or anybody feeble.

    And yes yes yes to Just William. There is something exhilarating about how free children are in older books. Likewise the piratical works of Margaret Mahy (and I like that the adults in her books have complicated inner lives as well).

    I have been meaning to check out the Nicholas books by Rene Goscinny (better known as one half of the Asterix team), with pictures by the brilliant cartoonist Sempé.

    We've also been enjoying Esther Averill's books about Jenny Linsky, a very sweet cat who lives with a sea captain in Greenwich Village. They are just lovely, very low-key but vividly told and full of real characters, like Pickles the Fire Cat. Again, I think a huge part of the appeal is the fact that the cats wander at will through the city, and get into mild mischief but always make it home safely.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1411 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    As for mangos... I have noticed that the mango splitter works less well on *very* ripe specimens. The traditional way to eat them when they're that ripe is to squeeze them vigorously all over, then cut a hole in one end and suck out the pulp.

    That Kensington Pride is impressive! But looks pretty close to the Caribbean mangoes we get over here, which are no trouble for the splitter. You cut them lengthwise, so it's the width that really matters, and by my scientific measurements, the gizmo can accommodate anything up to 9.5 cm wide across the pip, and 11.5 cm in line with the pip, if that makes sense. Length is no object.

    Ooer, sounds a bit rude.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1411 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Haha, David, hibernation, that's a good one. [Wipes tear from eye]

    The day I can crawl into a cave and sleep for three months will be ... let me think, about 16.75 years away.

    Which is sooner than for you, daddio ;-) [Sits back to watch DH's blog-rate plummet after initial months of adrenaline wear off]

    You're right about the problems of bringing Pride and Prejudice to life; the worst of all has to be the Olivier vehicle, in which all the women flounce about in crinolines with puffed sleeves, like an 80s wedding. Appalling. But even the more right-on BBC versions are just never quite grubby enough. Even if the girls get their hems muddy, their eyebrows are always plucked just so, and the windows are shiny clean, and the shoes are new. (Y'know? Like how Harry Potter in the first film had a tidy haircut, after living in the cupboard under the stairs for years. I don't think so).

    I did like the singing Irish maid, though - a nice glimpse of yet another layer of social life. Agreed on the excellent depiction of varying degrees of wealth. Pemberleigh seemed a bit of a chilly museum, really, after the cosy-to-overflowing Bennet household with that nice flock of chickens out the front.

    And Muriel, true, Colin Firth was an excellent and not un-hot Darcy -- but I find it so hard to see him now except through the lens of Bridget Jones's bit of trouser, and the slight variation on the same character he played in Love, Actually. Too much accrued irony, alas.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1411 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    OK, so if this Iceland thing comes off, it's a suitcase full of instant noodles and microwave mac-n-cheese. And as much duty free as we can manage. Excellent advice.

    I am quailing a bit, though - someone told me that pizza was the cheapest thing on the menu.

    It sounds like a very kid-friendly place, and I am looking forward to bumping into Bjork and her baby in a cafe (I will be the one forcing Busyboy to eat the free packets of sugar in lieu of lunch).

    Am wondering what the midnight sun will do to Busybaby - it'll probably blow his mind up, to use the phrase his big brother coined.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1411 posts Report Reply

  • sallyr,

    Haven’t been but always wanted to. IcelandAir has just published a list of things to do which makes me want to go even more (and no, I don’t work for them). Some look fun for kids. Many seem to involve drink.

    http://www.icelandair.com/70ideas/

    Three cheers for Upper Fourth at Malory Towers and The Twins at St Clare's.

    I do like to see a bit of mud and grit in an Austen adaptation. "Persuasion" I remember as very good at that: grand ladies dismounting from carriages had to step around the horse shit, which seemed just as it ought.

    Since Jun 2007 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    Hi,

    I have been to Iceland, and the pizza was probably the cheapest thing on the menu !

    We went there for 10 days in 1993. We have been warned of the huge prices, and took instant meals and canned food with us, so we got away with eating out only every second night. (Tip: if packing juice concentrate put them into a plastic bag so that if one of them bursts, then you do not have a orange-juice-flavoured sleeping bag). The restaurant menus are interesting, with a wide variety of fish, and seabirds, such as puffin and gulliemot. Couldn't bring myself to try the specialty though, Hakarl - Shark buried in sand for 6 months to ferment and sort-of cook slowly in the heat of its own decomposition.

    We actually happened upon some hunters - er gatherers, er ... catchers of puffins on one of our beach walks - to the hexagonal stones I think. They have a net slung between two poles about 4m long, and as the puffins launch themselves off the cliff above, swooping to gain airspeed, they flick up the poles to catch the puffins in the net. A quick twist of the wrist and another puffin body joins the pile next to them. Puffins are much smaller than they look in books - less than a foot tall.

    Ooops. A little off topic there. Supermarket shopping was interesting, with every fruit & vegetable labelled with country of origin - quite a few from African countries when we were there. (Though when I say supermarket, they were more like a largish grocery store than a supermarket, per se). But supermarket food was expensive as well. (If you stay at B&B's eat large breakfasts !).

    Highlights of our stay (anti-clockwise circuit of the island in a rental car) :
    - Swim in the waste-heat hot pools of a power plant
    - visiting a large waterfall with a natural stone bridge across it only to find that it had collapsed a couple of weeks earlier
    - aforementioned puffin catchers and hexagonal rocks
    - girl at a school-converted-to-hostel-school (cheaper accommodation when schools have their summer holidays) just down the road from the most geothermally active place in Iceland, who said "You're from Auckland ?!? That's that crazy place where they built a city on top of 60 volcanoes !". (I'd never thought of it like that before).
    - picnicking on a peninsula-like bluff over a gorge with a large waterfall pouring into it.
    - Gullfoss, the largest waterfall in Europe - impressive !
    - Seeing a 4m high tree (believe me - after a week of not seeing any trees taller than 1m - a big tree is a majestic thing).
    - discussing farming at the inland Youth Hostel, to be told that the farm next door ran 13 head of sheep. "What, 13 hundred ?". "No. 13." Government subsidies made it possible.
    - discussing what to do for our last day in the country (at the same Youth Hostel), and considering driving to Reykjavik and taking a ferry out to the Westman Islands. Hosteller overhearing, says that a farmer down the road flies people there in his plane. Organised ! Took off from a paddock in a cessna and landed in a quarter of the international runway on Vestmannyar island, walked up steaming lava to the top of the volcano that partially destroyed the town (a few half buried- burnt out houses were still present). Landing on the way back in a stiff cross breeze was the softest small plane landing I have ever experienced - that farmer was a superb pilot !

    Don't know how much time you have, but 9 days is really the minimum for a drive around the island (including a couple of long driving days). Never used public transport because we were told it was fairly minimal, which is why we paid huge amounts for a rental car - gave us great flexibility - and a fright or two - they drive on the wrong side of the road.

    Hope this helps - if there is anything in particular you want to know, just ask.

    Oh, and welcome back Jolisa - BusyTot's exploits have been sorely missed.

    Cheers,
    Brent.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 412 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    That's a fantastic list, Brent. We should be so lucky as to find a farmer with a wee plane heading for the volcanic islands.

    Mostly we'll be in Rekjavik with a couple of excursions to the exciting hinterland. I'm fascinated to see what it feels like to be in a country smaller than NZ, after being so long in a country so big it doesn't know where it is half the time. Expect lots of reports on playgrounds and cunning menu options!

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1411 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Sally, thanks for the link to that other great list - this is all making me think we should go all out and rent a car and a farmhouse for a week after the conference is over... hmmm! Watch this space!

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1411 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    Bleak church on a cold tundra / Mountain-glacier-glacier-glacier-stream ?

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 457 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    Hi,

    The Youth Hostel we stayed at that organised our Westman Island flight was Fljotsdalur (see YHI Fljotsdalur, Iceland).
    I'm sure that if you gave them a call, they could tell you whether it was still possible. The airfield we took off from was about 30km south of there (so quite a drive from Reykjavik).

    The Hostel is an old farmhouse with turf on the roof and was very cosy - had to watch your head on the beams. A great place to stay.

    Cheers,
    Brent.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 412 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Amy, just spotted your post. You forgot horse-horse-sheep-waterfall- GEYSER!!!

    Thanks for the additional info, Brent. Watch this space - the tickets have been booked. It is my solemn mission to track down and record every playground within Reykjavik city limits, before we head out for the boondocks...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1411 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    > Amy, just spotted your post. You forgot
    > horse-horse-sheep-waterfall- GEYSER!!!

    Did not.

    YouTube

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 457 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    - visiting a large waterfall with a natural stone bridge across it only to find that it had collapsed a couple of weeks earlier

    Ah yes. Did it actually "collapse a couple of weeks earlier" or is that just what they say when you arrive? Similar to arriving at an 'always sunny' holiday spot only to find it raining, heavily. And the locals/staff invariably always say "oh, but you should have been here last week. It was so hot you could've ..."

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

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