Hey ho, sorry for the silence. This is the first day of wireless access for me, having jumped through many hoops and filled out one of the very first applications for access (sorry, excess) as an external visitor staying longer than 2 weeks. The university has, of course, had other medium-stay visitors, but they've never had a formal process for them. Until now. Excuse me whilst I remove my guinea-pig costume.
I wrote a post on Sunday night, on the evening of my first full Dunedin day, but haven't had the ability to upload it. So, while I'm organising my photos from the last few days, here it is:
Kia ora from Dunedin!
After experiencing my special cat alarm service (the one that wakes you half an hour before the alarm you actually set), I spent all day yesterday wrangling earcraft and earports, with my first plane at 6:40am and arriving at DUD (AirNZ’s acronym, not mine) at 7pm their time (5pm Canberra time). I was a bit knackered by the time I arrived.
My host, Donald the Rare Books Librarian of Otago University Library (say it all in one breath, please), took me to his amazingly beautiful Victorian villa on a hill overlooking the bay to have a lovely home-cooked roast dinner with his family and friends, and I managed to muster enough energy to be articulate and witty for a while, before needing desperately to go and have a lie down.
I always knew that I would be staying at one of the university’s colleges, and assumed that I would be getting just a basic student room. But no! I am in a guest room at St Margaret’s College (above), which is a posh college that has formal dress-up Sunday dinners (except this weekend, when most of the students are off on a ski trip) and gorgeous landscaping and facilities like a lush common room with a piano (that someone is playing to a small but rapt audience as I type). My room is off to one side, near the dining room, and it has its own loungeroom, small kitchenette, bathroom and bedroom with double bed! LUXURY! Am very happy.
I spent today getting to know Dunedin a little, walking in huge loops and taking photos of all the beautiful things I found, which seem to fall into some distinct categories: street art (thanks to Byrd’s influence, I notice these things now); the textures of things, such as peeling paint and flaky metal; and hand-painted typography on walls. Also the usual: nice architecture, funny signs, etc. I’m putting some photos up here, but the rest will be at flickr.
The University of Otago is beautiful, with new and fancy architecture butt-cheeked next to Scottish-influenced Victorian gems and through the whole thing flows the nostalgically-named Waters of Leith, which is running fast but low at the moment, but quite obviously (from the manmade barriers and desperate student-installed sandbank walls) when the snows melt the river rises very high. I hope I get to see that!
Tomorrow I start work in the university library, in their print studio. At first I’ll just be exploring their type collection, learning to work their presses and marshalling my army of volunteers to help me tear paper, but once I get a grip on things I’ll be designing my 7 broadsides and title page & colophon, and then working hard and fast to print an edition of 100 each while not wasting too much paper. I’m also giving a talk, maybe running a small workshop and, I was told last night, I’m being interviewed by the local paper soon.
So tonight I’m going to have a quiet one…
Heh. Turns out most nights are quiet ones, as dinner is at 5.30pm (and I've not quite caught up with being two hours in front of myself, so in my head I'm still waking at 5am and eating dinner at 3.30pm). I found out that Thursdays and Saturdays are the Big Nights Out and indeed tonight there is more student nocturnal movement than usual. The tv stations are abysmal, with no state-run station like the ABC, so they're all commercial channels, and people avoid them by getting cable. I just joined the local video store, and it has a really good range of foreign and alternative titles, so I'm now happy. Plus I can blog again, which makes me even happier.
Next time: Starting at the Print Room.