Just a few minutes drive from my home is the Gardens shopping centre - so called for its proximity to Dunedin's beautiful Botanic Gardens. Amongst the usual shops we are fortunate to have not one, but two secondhand bookstores.
On a recent trip I came across these two treasures:
WHAT JANE AUSTEN ATE AND CHARLES DICKENS KNEW by Daniel Pool.
There are chapters on subjects such as Currency, Etiquette, Transport, Clothing and Disease. Then at the back there is a comprehensive glossary, covering words like reticule, tiffin, pelerine and cotillion.
It will sit comfortably on my bookshelf next to Ian Mortimer's 'The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England' and Candy Moulton's 'The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West'.
BLACK BILLY TEA - NEW ZEALAND BALLADS by Joe Charles.
This fascinating book is filled with ballads about old time New Zealanders. There's ballads featuring gold diggers, swaggies, shearers, drovers and even sailors, all written by Joe Charles. Before each song is a short history or explanation and a black line drawing.
I'm particularly drawn to his ballads, 'Somebody's Darling', 'Gentle Annie' and 'Roaring Meg', well known legends from Central Otago.
Here's a few lines from 'Roaring Meg.'
... No butter-milk maid with shy girlish ways,
But a bull-busting barmaid of the gold-digging days,
Who could handle a team and a full bullock yoke,
A girl you could talk to and share a good joke.
Her voice was as clear as a chime of brass bells,
And the mountains fair rang with her bullock-driving yells.
Her eyes were bright blue, a-roving and bold
And her heart was as true as a nugget of gold.
A bull-whacking barmaid - an Irish colleen-
Was wild Roaring Meg, the gold-digger's queen! ...
There's plenty of fodder in these pages for my fertile imagination! I'm sure they will inspire many a story.
And on a final note, this is my 100th blog post!