Chatham and Rochester, Kent

Chatham Dockyard is a terrific place to visit, and this was my third or fourth visit. However I baulked at the £21 entry fee and decided to abandon the visit. After all, I already had loads of pictures from the previous visits!
After a bus ride to the nearby Rochester, I headed for the huge second-hand bookshop Baggins Book Bazaar, which, with half a million books, claims to be ‘England’s largest second-hand and rare bookshop’. I honestly think it’s possible to get lost in this amazing bookshop!

I bought three novels and was particularly taken by the cover of the New Crimes anthology.

While waiting at Rochester station I took a panoramic picture (multiple shots stitched together) of the track and platform. Note how the straight track has been curved by the panorama. I like the effect even though it might not be a truthful image.

I’m not happy

Taylors ScarboroughI’m not happy. Taylors Cafe and Books in Scarborough has new owners – and they’ve done away with the books! After a decent coffee and cake, I could always find a couple of interesting second-hand books on the top floor. Sadly, no more.

However it gets worse. The only bookshop selling new books (other than a middling Waterstones) has cut back to 3 days opening. It always seemed to me that it was far too small to survive, but it’s still there two years after opening – but for how much longer? It’s at the wrong end of an alley off the main street, an alley which is looking very rundown, and I feel pessimistic about this bookshop’s prospects.

Oh, and it hasn’t stopped raining all day, and the forecast is for more of the same tomorrow. I’m not happy!

Cotswolds bookshops

Today was cold, cloudy and, for a while, very foggy. No point taking pictures in the pretty (though not as pretty as they say) village of Broadway, but we had a decent sandwich lunch at Hunters Restaurant & Tea Room and I found 3 reduced paperbacks at the disappointing Blandford Books.

Stow-on-the-Wold has two bookshops. The Borzoi Bookshop sells new books and is excellent – I bought 2 books. Evergreen Livres is the archetypal second-hand bookshop – dusty old books – I found a wacky modern paperback amongst the old stuff.


The Queen’s Head in Stow is old and attractive and made for a quiet, evening drink. The lunch and dinner menus look interesting and we plan to revisit later in the week.

A rant about an unnamed bookshop

Things I don’t like in an independent bookshop

  • Books squeezed in so tight that removal is difficult and replacement impossible.
  • Old, discoloured books mixed in with the new books, suggesting poor stock rotation.
  • Owners ranting on the phone to their suppliers. This is unprofessional. In addition, bookshops, like libraries, should be mainly quiet.
  • Books right at the back of the bottom shelf. I’m 6 feet tall with creaking knees.

I will always try to support a high-street bookshop and so, despite my gripes, I did manage to find two Christmas presents.

Independent bookshop opens in Scarborough!

Scarborough already has a few places for book-browsing; a decent Waterstones for new books, and several second-hand bookshops.

The cramped Mrs Lofthouses Secondhand Book Emporium may make you sneeze, but is worth a visit for the huge number of books. Curiously there is only ever a gentleman there – Mr Lofthouse?

I prefer the small collection of second-hand books upstairs at Taylor’s Café & Books. It’s also a very nice café, particularly if there is space in the front area.

Scarborough really does need sprucing up and the arrival of an independent bookshop is encouraging and also a little surprising.  Wardle & Jones Books has only been open for a couple of weeks.
It’s a very small (compact?) bookshop with small seating areas, inside and outside, for coffees and cakes. It’s very pleasant, the owner was charming, and I came away with a couple of novels (The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook and A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman).

[Looking at the front covers, one is ‘The International Bestseller’, the other ‘The Million-Copy Bestseller’. Oh dear, these would normally frighten me off. I hope the hype turns out to be justified].

Good luck to Wardle & Jones Books, of Scarborough.

The Blue Tango – Eoin McNamee

BlueTangoThe Blue Tango by Eoin McNamee is based on the 1952 killing of a Northern Ireland judges’s daughter. Beautifully written, it effortlessly meanders around the events and characters. It’s a terrific read and is highly recommended.

A visit to Skoob Books, which is less than 10 minutes walk from Kings Cross, turned up five novels including a Cornell Woolrich novel Rendezvous in Black. It would have been really great if I had managed to find his 1941 novel The Black Curtain which has disappeared from my shelves and which I’d love to read again. If you borrowed it from me, can I have it back, please?

Skoob Books is a great place to find secondhand books, though at £4-£5 for a novel it’s not as cheap as Oxfam Books.

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