The joy of independent bookshops

Independent bookshops are such an endangered species in the face of the relentless march of online shopping. How lovely, then, to find two very different indie bookshops in Auckland.

The Women’s Bookshop in Posonby has become a go-to place if you want to find good and interesting books of all kinds. Their purpose is to promote women’s writing and to provide a range of books that meets the diverse interests of women, though there are many male authors represented there and many male customers too. Everyone likes the different focus here.  I enjoyed the hand-written mini-reviews of many of the books on display. This review task is clearly shared among the staff as each one is signed. The walls, where not covered in books, present articles about women writers’ lives and achievements. Generally this is an uplifting place – do bring your credit card as it is hard to leave empty-handed.

Another amazing institution is the ‘Hard to find’ secondhand bookshop in Onehunga. Keeping part of the orignal window from its time as a fruiterer’s, it’s a maze of small rooms and under-stair spaces with books on subjects ‘from the rare to the recent’ as their blurb says. So bookworms will never be bored in Auckland!


Christmas Eve – French style in Auckland

What a lovely way to spend Christmas Eve! We went shopping in the French Market in Auckland. As well as an outdoor area full of fascinating stalls (Sicilian liqueurs, Italian pasta and, of course, various patisseries) there is an indoor food area. We had the best coffee along with a chocolate tart that was just to die for. To add to the ambience a French family were chatting at the next table. The main speaker looked very French. As you know, I am getting more and more intrusive with my camera but, even with my bad manners, this was the best image I could capture. He wore a striped top and a flat cap – deliciously French.

Laden with goodies to top up our already-full fridge and cupboards, we then had lunch on the Auckland waterfront, which is such a lovely public space, shared by diners, families and just people enjoying the start of the holidays.


Prep for the Otago Rail Trail

Planning meeting venue

Oooh – I love planning! The prep for this trip has been going on for about a year so it’s very exciting that it’s really close now – we start next week. The planning, of course, had to include maps, food and wine. Of course!


The final planning meeting was in this lovely ‘colonial’ house in Auckland. As well as the food and wine and maps, I must get back into bike-shape. So I did a bit of that today with Auckland Nextbikes. I saw my first pohutukaka flowers. No – I did not take a photo of them – what am I? A tourist?

This is all about the famous Otago Rail Trail – the first (?) and most famous of the newish bike trips in New Zealand. It seems fab and will take us a leisurely five days. It’s 150 km in all but it won’t feel like that as we’ll have a grand time exploring the little towns on the way and trying to keep warm and dry. Just like home!