Eureka! Arthur B. Adair

A few weeks back, I was checking a few details about Leila Adair’s New Zealand tour on Papers Past when I noticed something that had previously escaped my attention. Auckland Star 30 March 1894Taranaki Herald 21 April 1894 Mr A. Blackwell appeared to be part of Leila’s entourage. He is listed as a passenger with... Continue Reading →

Granny Dalton: Eccentric

One of the many colourful characters I came across during my research for The Aerial Queen was a local Whanganui identity known as Granny Dalton. She doesn’t feature in the novel, but when Leila Adair made a balloon ascent from the Whanganui Racecourse, Granny Dalton was living in a shack nearby. Feisty, independent, and illiterate... Continue Reading →

Historic Petone

One of the best things about my new locale, Petone, is the history associated with the area. Since we are all restricted to short walks in our local area during the Covid-19 pandemic let me invite you to a virtual walk through Discover Historic Petone. Many of the Petone streets are named after the early... Continue Reading →

Best Books 2019

2019 has been a busy year for me: my first grandchild, moving house and getting back into researching my family tree – no apologies, but this blog and my writing have been neglected. I still found time to read, however, and here is my annual book-reading summary for the year. My reading habits haven’t changed... Continue Reading →

Leon Sagehomme

Most barnstorming aeronautical performers (including Price and Van Tassel) kept scrapbooks of clippings, photos, and advertisements to prove their worth when arriving in a new town — and at last, I’ve managed to locate one of these elusive items! A few weeks ago, I obtained a copy of Leon Sagehomme’s ballooning scrap album from the... Continue Reading →

The Notorious Jimmy Price

In a previous post, James William Price: Balloonist, I bemoaned the brick walls I ran into tracing his elusive genealogical origins. I can now report after a bit more sleuthing on Ancestry and GenealogyBank, thanks to a tip-off from Jerry Kuntz (who is researching a non-fiction history of the parachuting craze of 1887-1890s) — I’ve... Continue Reading →

19th-century Hotels: The Eagle Tavern, Wellington

I’m fascinated by the history of early New Zealand hotels — and there were a lot of them! While researching The Aerial Queen I sometimes found mention of the hotels that Leila Adair stayed in: Albion Hotel, WhanganuiClub Hotel, Palmerston North Digby Andrews’ Coach and Horses Hotel, Nelson European Hotel, Dunedin Burnip’s Criterion Hotel, Christchurch... Continue Reading →

Featherston Booktown Festival

What is a booktown, you may well ask? Alex Johnson in his book Book Towns: Forty-five Paradises of the Printed Word defines it as “simply a small town, usually rural and scenic, full of bookshops and book-related industries.” The most well-known booktowns are Hay-on-Wye in Wales and Wigtown in Scotland (the location of Shaun Bythell’s... Continue Reading →

Flash Fiction

I’ve been bereft at the sudden closure of the Wellington Central Library last month. I used to go there two or three times a week but now I have to check the opening hours of another branch and get in my car – so I haven’t bothered. I thought I would make a dent in... Continue Reading →

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