Sunday, June 27, 2010

It seems to be a bookshop/taxidermist...

I’ve spent most the weekend working, and by working I mean personally shifting a mountain of beer from loading bay, to stockroom, to shelf. It’s a dirty job with a more than average chance of cuts, bruises, and getting sprayed head to foot in Carling if (and they often do) a can splits. The upside is that my chances of winning an arm wrestling contest are a lot better than they were a week ago and the blonde took me on a book hunting day trip.

We de these from time to time in the hopes that we’ll hit bookshop nirvana, and whilst so far the Astley Book Farm has been our best find by a long way the quest continues. This week we hit Stamford – which is undeniably picture postcard perfect and has an amazing second hand bookshop, which as you might have gathered from the title also sells a range of taxidermy (we didn’t dare ask why). St Marys books and prints is more of an antiquarian book shop than anything else, though I managed to find Eudora Welty’s ‘Losing Battles’ (a nice old Virago which is the main quarry on these expeditions) and Bemelmans ‘Life Class’ in a lovely old penguin jacket. Had I £30,000 to dispose of I could have had a first edition of Pride and Prejudice. We didn’t see the actual books, but we did see their photograph.

Even without seeing the Austen’s in the flesh (leather?) there are very plush bookcases full of quite exciting looking bits and bobs along the Angela Brazil lines. I love looking at these books just for the bindings, and should I ever have the space to have books just for decoration (not that I wouldn’t read them, but in truth I like books as compact as possible so that I can fit more of them in the flat) I’d love a collection of those early twentieth century boys and girls own type books – the ones with the very camp titles preferably.

By then we were feeling pretty please with Stamford – lovely town, intriguing side streets, Emma Bridgewater and Cath Kidston as far as the eye could see, and then we went to The George for a toilet stop.  The George is pretty spectacular anyway – a properly historic coaching inn that makes you feel like you’re in the middle of a Georgette Heyer novel, but it has gone down in my memory as the place with the most glamorous toilets I have ever seen. Now I’m not claiming to be any sort of expert in this field but I’ve seen some more than adequate powder rooms in my time, but nothing to equal this... Even the oddly disorientating effect of going over five county borders in as many minutes (Lincolnshire, Rutland, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire – not necessarily in that order, and because I knew you’d want to know!) couldn’t compete with those toilets. In conclusion an okay town for books, best place in the country to go to the toilet.

The rest of the weekend (such as it’s been) has been dedicated to rearranging the ‘new’ bookshelf which I actually put up in February, and which has finally got its permanent allocation of books. Despite being the new bookshelf it took no time at all to over fill it, get frustrated, change my mind, move the books, and then put the same books back again. Records show that I haven’t acquired an extra 200 books this year, but moving things seems to have created exactly no extra shelf space anywhere, and far too many books are still piled on the floor. How can this be?


  1. Ooh la loo!
    [sorry, couldn't resist}

  2. I've just found a copy of Eudora Welty's The Optimist's Daughter in a second-hand bookshop. I'm looking forward to reading Welty for the first time.

  3. That sounds like a good place to visit and I do admire your new bookcase - would love to have a browse!

  4. The fanciest toilet I have ever visited is in the Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh but even its splendour pales beside trompe l'oeil swags!

    It is true that books seem to expand to fill any space that they are given; they must breed or get fatter or something. I love the colour of your new shelves!

  5. I passed up an identical copy of the Welty in my local secondhand bookshop last week - I couldn't justify purchasing as it would be a while until I read it (considering that I have around another sixty unread VMCs on my shelves still to read). I'll be interested in your thoughts though as it's one I do intend to pick up eventually!

  6. Claire - chances are I won't read it for an age either, but see less and less of those old green Virago's around, so pounce on anything I think I might read one day before the prices become unrealistic, especially ones that might stay out of print.

    Verity, they're my Virago shelves now, and your welcome to come and browse...

    Sherry oo la loo indeed, pictures don't begin to do justice to the splendour!

    Tea Lady - bet the Balmoral loo is nice though

  7. Vintage reading, never read Welty either, but was quite taken with the sound of this one, so have high hopes for it.

  8. I may take you up on that offer one day :)