Monday, December 17, 2007

Independent bookseller

Financial considerations aside, the independent bookseller (IB from now on) must be nurtured, supported, encouraged and cherished. I buy too many books, and admittedly not all from IBs. The giant Amazon does prove irrestistible now and then, but wherever possible I go for used books from the smaller online people. Our local libraries are terrific and a good place to read before buying; that way everyone wins. (I felt so guilty when Richard Mabey told me that he only received pence from library loans, that I bought "Nature Cure" immediately, and it is now one of my favourite books with bookmarks, real one's, not web, stuck throughout.

However, for a bibliophile, not only is it bliss to browse in a real shop, but it feels like "a good thing to do", along with recycling the rubbish and helping old ladies cross the street.

Good indies in Sussex are:

City Books, Western Road, Hove near our studio flat. Inge and Paul, the owners are somewhat ubiquitious in Sussex as not only do they have a great shop, but they run book themed talks by all the best authors in The Old Market, Hove and also provide the bookstalls at all the reputable festivals nearby, such as Brighton, Charleston and Lewes. They are unusual in that they offer discounts, and have a good loyalty card.

Much Ado Books in Alfriston has a great reputation and won The Independent Bookseller of the Year Award in 2007. (They also bake fabulous cookies, but that is privileged knowledge.)

In and around our Oxfordshire cottage:

Warwick Books, in, yes you guessed, in Warwick is a recent find and looks well up to scratch. My friends say they are very helpful and it certainly looked a well arranged shop.

Jaffe and Neale in Chipping Norton is delightful, and apart from shelves with their recommendations there is a pleasant cafe area. They also have an online service

Old Hall Bookshop in Brackley (Northants) is also a good place for new books, as well as a large, well organised second-hand department and high quality antiquarian books. They also support our King's Sutton Literary Festival

The giant retailers stress the importance of a good shopping experience. I would challenge them and say that it would be impossible to beat the IBs for their enthusiasm, efficiency, and devotion to their reading customers.

Those unread books

Having spotted several blogs about books which have been bought but lie unread, I thought that I would impose my own challenge on myself. The slight cheat is that I have already started all of these. To make matters worse, I could add many more books to this list.

These are just some and I give myself until February 28th to read:

Nature's Engraver - Jenny Uglow Finished 20 Jan 08

The Snow Geese- William Fiennes Finished Christmas 2007

Death's Other Kingdom - Gamel Woolsey Finished Jan 08

Barbarian in the Garden - Zbigniew Herbert Finished 21 Jan 08

Alice B Toklas - Linda Simon Finished Jan 08

Fathers and Sons - Alexander Waugh

Case Histories - Kate Atkinson Finished Jan 22 08

Human Traces - Sebastian Faulks Finished January 08

Saturday, September 08, 2007

At last - we got married!

On 3 September, 2007 Robin and I were married at Hove Town Hall, with brother Chris and his wife Angie as witnesses.

The ceremony took place in the small room which was better than being in a large room with loads of empty chairs. It was surprisingly well decorated and furnished with rather grand "thrones" and good Regency colours on the walls. The Registrar was a delightful woman, with just the right personal touch, and the form of the marriage ceremony was unexpectedly beautiful and moving.

After it was over we walked to The Grand for a jug of Pimms, generously provided by Chris, then wandered back to the flat to change back into jeans and T-shirts with a rush round to get ready for our trip to Suffolk. I drove A, and C went with Rob. We were blessed throughout out trip with good travel, super weather and the most heavenly house - Landmark Trust, Purton Green. 2 wheelbarrows are provided for your luggage as it is quarter of a mile off the track, with a nicely mown grass path alongside a field full of finds, eh, Chris? (He found a croatal bell, the sort found of horses' harness, which could be very old, from medieval to 19th century. It was full of clay, but once washed and cleaned still has its clapper and works beautifully)

Purton Green is the sort of place you don't want to leave, and we spent much of our time there, surrounded by trees, farmland, pheasants, partridges, some rabbits, birds galore and the occasional passing horse, quadbike or farm equipment - somewhat incongruous to see a vast combine in such simple surroundings.

We ate in the medieval hall by candlelight which sounds corny but certainly wasn't. A lot of good food and medieval revelry were enjoyed. Angey Forster came to see us, and was ecstatic when we told her our news - tears and screams in the middle of the grass path! It was wonderful to have her with us for a whole day and we spent it at the house, eating in the hall and sitting on the lawn under the walnut tree in green and white striped deckchairs.

We all felt privileged to be experiencing this special place and it was great for a soi-disant honeymoon. The housekeeper knew we were just married and left a pretty card full of gold heart shaped confetti which went everywhere, and is still appearing from strange places....

Lovely memories, and a special time for us.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

King's Sutton Literary Festival 2007

Another year, and better than ever! It is early days, but already ticket sales are going really well. The programme is out a good 10 days earlier than last year, and the content seems to be generally very popular across the board. Unsurprisingly, Margaret Drabble is a big draw, with Salley Vickers also popular. Having set up the admin last year, this time it has been easy to drop into a routine. Finding letters with orders reminds me of gathering in the hens' eggs.

So, let's hope that this year we sell many more tickets, making everyone's hard work more worthwhile.