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Heritage Week

Old High Court Building Open Day & Exhibition: The Old High Court building is now part of the Supreme Court complex and the ceremonial courtroom was opened to the public for Heritage Week in Wellington. I went along for a look and found the theatrical design of the courtroom with its kauri panelling, large canopy... Continue Reading →

The Fakir of Oolu: Illusionist

Alfred Silvester (1831 – 1886) was a magician who first appeared in London in the 1860s with Pepper’s Ghost, a transparent ghostly illusion created by reflecting an image onto a sheet of glass. A special effect, similar to the holograph, it’s still used today in amusement rides such as Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. Silvester ran into... Continue Reading →

Bibliomania: Wellington Bookshops

Starting with the annual DCM book fair I’ve been on a bit of a book-buying binge lately, so for dedicated bibliophiles here is a miscellany of new and second-hand bookstores in and around central Wellington. Conveniently, my two favourite bookshops (Unity and Arty Bees) both have a bus stop right outside. Unity Books Unity Books... Continue Reading →

Trapeze: A Visual Spectacle?

  Watching my daughter’s video of the recent P!nk concert in Auckland, the breath-taking thrill for both performer and audience of P!nk soaring at speed above the crowd was obvious. Something that’s easier to capture on film than in words, but following on from my previous post about 19th-century aerialists here are some books that... Continue Reading →

Vade Mecum: 19th-century tourism

Before Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor, travellers in the 19th century would use a handbook or guide titled Vade Mecum (translation from Latin = go with me). For example, The New Zealand tourists' vade mecum: being a handbook to the services of the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand Limited (4th edition, 1891) is... Continue Reading →

The Faust Family of Acrobats

How Lillian envied their freedom. She didn’t notice the heat, the dust motes shimmering in the shafts of light or the smell of stale sweat. Their poise and agility, their triumphant shouts as they flipped, twisted and spun across the stage entranced her. It looked more like fun than work. She wished she could remove... Continue Reading →

Six Books about Ballooning

While I was writing and researching The Aerial Queen I read quite a few books about ballooning because I reasoned that if I read enough books, then there was no need to take an actual balloon flight was there? Here are some of my favourites: Enduring Love (Ian McEwen): Who can forget the horror of... Continue Reading →

Harry Rayward: Ventriloquist

The next morning, Lillian’s head ached with a pounding throb, her back was stiff and every movement an effort; but her spirits lifted when a bouquet of flowers arrived. ‘Better if the Professor doesn’t see this.’ Ruby snatched the card before Lillian could stop her and read it aloud. ‘Mr Stiggins offers his sincere commiserations... Continue Reading →

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