One of the Cornish days was just spent around and about Penzance. With a day visit from Lynne (dovegreyreader) we all three enjoyed a lovely sunny visit to Penlee Gallery “The artistic heart of West Cornwall’s history”. There’s a nice cafe where we had lunch before wandering around the galleries.
“Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft presents the story of outstanding artist, designer and typographer Elizabeth Friedlander. The work of Friedlander (1903-1984) is instantly recognisable as mid-20th century design at its best, but few will know the name behind the art. Best known for her Penguin book covers and Bauer Type Foundry typeface ‘Elizabeth’, the exhibition touches on her escape to London from 1930s Nazi Germany, friendship with her sponsor – poet and printer Francis Meynell – and her work with a wartime British black propaganda unit. The show includes rarely-seen works from the artist’s compelling career including type design, wood engravings, decorative book papers, maps and commercial work.
Adderstone is the name of my friend’s cottage in Northumberland. It’s situated just off the A1 on the road to the coast at Bamburgh. I’m just home from a brief stay and I must say that, despite flurries of snow at lunchtime today and a shower yesterday morning, we had better weather than I’ve had on multiple visits to this part of the country in previous years and which were always in late June or early July.
On our last day we had make the difficult decision as to what we would do and where we would go. We still had several “must-sees” on our list. In the end we settled on heading to the very northern tip of Rügen to visit two famous lighthouses and walk to the picturesque fishing village of Vitt. We would then drive and walk to a Neolithic burial ground (Nobbin). Travelling via the village of Altenkirchen we would then take the car Wittower car ferry over the Breetzer Bodden and finally visit the village of Gingst with its handicrafts museum, cafe and bookshop.
We caught the little road train from Putgarten to Cap Arkona
The drive between Lübeck and Boizenburg takes less than 90 minutes but suddenly along the route we came across a few cars parked by the side of the road next a small fenced off area. Intrigued, Rhona and I swerved into the grassy car park and got out to investigate. Apparently, what began as a school project developed into a small open air museum. It turns out that at that point in the road the former border between east and west Germany had existed.
The excellent Buddenbrook Book Shop
Lübeck is proud to claim three Nobel Prize winners among its residents: Thomas Mann (1875-1955) Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929); Willy Brandt (1913-1992) Nobel Peace Prize in 1971; and Günter Grass (born in Danzig in 1927 died Lübeck 2015) Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999. All three claim this Hanseatic city as their home. The writer Thomas Mann was born here and for the first 18 years of his life called this city on the river Trave his home. The politician Willy Brandt was also born in Lübeck and, similarly, spent his formative years in the Hanseatic city. The author Günter Grass moved to Lübeck at the age of 68 – to be, as he once stated, “closer” to Thomas Mann and Willy Brandt.
“Hello and welcome to the Tea and Tattle tearoom and Arthur Probsthain bookseller! Our story starts over 100 years ago when our bookshop was founded. Since then four generations of our family have been helping our customers to find an amazing selection of books, and more recently art and music. In June 2010, we decided that we wanted to offer our lovely customers something more and so, the Tea and Tattle tea room opened its doors.” (T&T website)
This post is not a discussion or review of the book in question: Emily does that so much better than I could.
Rather, I’d like to tell you about how a Walking Book Club works.
Inside Daunt Books South End Road
You may remember that I mentioned Daunt Books‘ Walking Book Group in a previous post. Well, at last I have managed to coincide my visit to London with a Sunday meeting of the group. Only a couple of weeks ago did I discover that the group was back in action after Emily’s baby, Vita, was born just 4 months ago.
A group of about a dozen or so keen walker-readers gathered together at the shop on Sunday 22 February to walk on Hampstead Heath to talk about the chosen book – The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani. As I’d only discovered this about a week before and as it wasn’t available from my library ordered a copy directly from Daunts. I just managed to finish reading it on the train down from Leeds. This was good as it meant that the book was fresh in my mind. Also, the evening before I had just watched the dvd version of the 1970 film.
At 11.30 we left the shop, crossed the road and before setting off Emily introduced herself : some of the group were regular reader-walkers, some occasional and others, like me, were there for the first time. The only man was later joined by a couple more; we were delighted to have two Italian nationals amongst us who had read the book in its original and were able to offer us other insights into Italian life and culture relevant to our discussions.
Book talk with Emily [left]
We set off walking and talking in pairs or small groups and every ten minutes or so Emily would bring us all together to sum up, ask questions, provide answers and suggest further topics for conversation. We would then find we started discussion with someone else. The formula works very well. At the highest point of the walk, with long views over London, Emily shared her home-baked cake with us.
Highgate from The Heath
View from the Heath
Somehow after about an hour we found ourselves back where we started and Emily summed up the discussion, distributed copies of the 2015 2nd Daunt Books Festival programme (there’ll be a walking book group from the Marylebone shop on 20 March) and told the group the next date and book for the regular Sunday Heath walk : 19th April “the Living Mountain” by Nan Shepherd :
“Shepherd wrote a short nonfiction book, The Living Mountain, during the 1940s. The Living Mountain is a reflection her experiences walking in the Cairngorm Mountains. Having completed it, Shepherd chose not to publish the book until 1977.” (Source)
If you’d like to hear a Walking Book Club session in progress you can listen here to Clare Balding who joined Emily on one of her walks in February two years ago.
When I meet with my online book group chums there is not much chance of sightseeing. Rather we seem to stagger from book shop to tea shop with our bags getting heavier and our purses lighter (although every purchase is always a bargain) and tummies fuller.
Saturday was no exception. Back in December Simon, over at Stuck-in-a-book, had invited us to join him for a day in Oxford. Although it is possible to get there and back in a day from Leeds for easier travel I opted to go via two nights in London. This meant a not so early start from Paddington in the company of another group member on Saturday morning.
St John’s College, Oxford, on St Giles
The Jam Factory is just across the road (more or less) from Oxford Railway Station. (I should just add that from the station there is no indication that one is in the city of dreaming spires and all that; but we did eventually pass hurriedly by one or two colleges and churches so the joys of Oxford await me on a future visit.) The JF is a lovely light and airy venue and the food looked excellent although I only shared a pot of Oxford Blend Tea before we set off on our books and teas trail. Whilst we all assembled at this venue Simon told us more about the new project that he’s a founder member of Shiny New Books an online book review magazine. I urge you to pop over now and have a look.
At Albion Beatnik Books
From the Jam Factory we headed to The Albion Beatnik Bookstore at 34 Walton Street. “Opened in 2009, this bookworm’s paradise is the coolest and most maverick of Oxford’s many bookstores. It offers an eclectic selection of new and secondhand books with a particular focus on jazz and blues … , American pulp fiction, graphic novels, beatnik poetry, Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group and neglected 20th century novels.” Says my 2011 LV City Guide to Edinburgh, London and Oxford. On the table were flowers made of printed paper and our purchases were wrapped in more printed paper with a quotation sticker to seal.
Our next stop was the Oxfam Bookshop on St Giles but I also spotted the pub The Eagle and Child which has associations with the Inklings writers’ group which included J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.
“A fascinating past :
The Eagle and Child lays claim to a number of interesting literary connections. J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and fellow writers met here and dubbed themselves ‘The Inklings’. They nicknamed the pub ‘The Bird and Baby’. A public house since 1650, our hostelry takes its name from the crest of the Earls of Derby. During the Civil War, our building was used as the playhouse for Royalist soldiers.” [From the pub website]
St Michael’s Street
Time for lunch and the recommended venue was The Nosebag on St Michael’s St. I immediately recognised the address and building of The Oxford Union for it is the location of a Landmark Trust apartment : The Steward’s House. Even though it was after 2pm The Nosebag was packed so rather than miss out we had to split into two groups of 3 and 4. After the meal we dragged together enough chairs round one table in order to discuss the next steps in the campaign.
The Steward’s House and Oxfrod Union (red brick building) from the Nosebag
Pretty Arcadia is next door. It’s doesn’t just sell books but has a few displays and boxes outside and lots of vintage cards and accessories inside.
Before the end of our day we reached The Last Bookshop. This is also known as the £2 bookshop. It’s a great source of, presumably remaindered, new paper and hard back books. All priced (as it says on the tin) at £2. If I wasn’t such a devoted library user I would have bought loads here.
Actually, not The Last Book Shop for us
Our final two shops were – sellers of brushes not books – Objects of Use on Market Street – and a further Oxfam Bookshop on Turl Street. At least I thought OoU was more or less a kitchen wares shop as my companion and I only hovered near the entrance at a table full of brushes for different uses but I see from the website that it sells so much more. Apart from at The Home at Salts Mill this is the only other place that I have seen my Book Brush!
The very handy Book Brush
Instructions for Use
With trains and buses to catch around 5.30 time was pressing so we had a final tea and cake at ‘news’ and discussed plans for a Tenth Birthday Celebration in the autumn. All too soon it was time to hurry to station and rest our weary legs and heavy bags on the journey back to London.
At the London Review Bookshop, we have some upcoming events that are too good to keep to ourselves. Tickets are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment :
April Customer Evening
Wednesday 2 April, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Browse our shelves with a glass of wine and an Eccles cake from the London Review Cake Shop, and get 10% off any books, DVDs, cards and stationery purchased on the evening. We are also offering a FREE gift wrapping service on the night.
Tonight’s menu: According to The Bloomsbury Cookbook, Virginia and Leonard Woolf considered Eccles cakes suitable sustenance for type-setting and printing at the Hogarth Press. We think they make suitable sustenance for book browsing too! We’re pairing them with nutty Lancashire cheese and plenty of Russian tea.
Eccles Cake pieces, Lancashire cheese crumbs and slurps of Russian Caravan Tea
As well as the usual treats – wine and nibbles and 10% off books – you’ll have the chance to win a copy of the beautiful Bloomsbury Cookbook, courtesy of Thames & Hudson. Just print a copy of your confirmation email and hand it in to one of our booksellers at the Customer Evening for the chance to win.
The Bloomsbury Cookbook Window Display
This message arrived in my email Inbox a few weeks ago and I worked out that my next visit to London would coincide with this customer evening. The London Review Bookshop is another of my favourite London shops. On many occasions I have visited the Cake Shop with friends, family and to meet members of the online book group. It’s one of our favourite venues.
Shopping Evening at London Review Bookshop
However, on many visits, time in the Cake Shop takes priority and I find I have little time to browse the bookshelves. So I was looking forward to spending time in the actual bookshop for a change.
The Bloomsbury Cookbook looked very tempting … but I was expecting to win a copy! I haven’t received the ‘winners email’ yet though 😦 . I think I will reserve a copy from the Library as it may be useful to contribute to creating the atmosphere when I visit Sussex and the Bloomsbury connections later next month.
Breakfast at Charleston
I spotted some other books to add to my list for the future :
A History of Armchair Travel : I do a bit of this. What’s not to like?
Quiet New York : I have no plans to visit but I do have companion Quiet volumes – London and Paris
(I could be tempted to buy this just to read, anyway)
I’m a big fan of the late W.G.Sebald – new books keep being published!
I found the staff were very patient and helpful. They found each of the titles I wanted to buy, recommended a further title and hunted high and low for a book which should have been in stock but being a very slim volume had probably been mis-shelved.
The four books I bought last evening
The Cake Shop Window Display – I’m Looking Forward to My Next Visit!