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-queens-head

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.
shopfront[1]inside[1]
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.

Oh, Epsom!

IMGP7308webBIGThings have changed in the handful of years since I last wandered around Epsom. The train station has been rebuilt beyond recognition, and for the better (see images).

Shocking is the loss of the only bookshop, Waterstones.

When I mentioned the missing Waterstones to the man in the bank, he said there was a ‘Will Smiths’. He then corrected himself by saying he’d confused the Will Smith movie he’d watched the night before with ‘W H Smiths’, which sells greetings cards, magazines and books!  Some people think W H Smiths is a bookshop.

According to the local newspaper, Waterstones is to return to Epsom…

IMGP7309webBIG

Father’s Day presents to myself

SkoobIt’s Father’s Day tomorrow and my family have flown the nest – wife as well (!), so how better to soften their absence but to indulge in a visit to the wonderful secondhand bookshop, Skoob, where for a mere £16, I bought:

  • Wide-Angle Lens Photography, by Joseph Paduano
  • Novel About My Wife, by Emily Perkins
  • The Man Who Never Returned, by Peter Quinn
  • A Little History of Science, by William Bynum

Oh happy Father’s Day!

Belated Birthday Book Binge!

Being well enough to wander into town for a belated birthday book binge, I easily managed to find 8 new paperbacks at Waterstones (previously known as Waterstone’s). OK, so 8 new books is rather excessive, but hey, it was a big birthday.

The afternoon was rounded off with a couple of glasses of Merlot, with the lad, at a pub. Perfect.

The biggest bookshop, the last one and a closed one

The biggest
Just before reaching Chatham (see earlier post), my train stopped at nearby Rochester and I could see a sign advertising ‘The biggest second-hand bookshop in England’. Unfortunately I was unable to check it out, but on looking for it on the Web I found this picture and located the shop’s rather modest website. I understand it has half-a-million books! A visit to this bookshop can’t be far away!

The last
As I was web browsing I came across a blog The Last Bookshop which features a charming film called The Last Bookshop. The film uses some wonderful bookshop interiors in the story, including the one above. It’s a lovely little film, looks terrific in HD and is well worth 20 minutes of anyone’s time. To watch the film, click on the ‘Watch the film’ tab at the top of the blog and click on the ‘Shop locations’ tab where you find out more about the beautiful bookshops used in the film.

The closed
Sadly, the Ibis bookshop in Banstead, Surrey, which has been a local landmark for nearly seventy-five years, will be closing at the end of March.

More second-hand books!

There are a couple of good second-hand bookshops in Scarborough, an OK one opposite the steam railway station in Pickering, and none that I could find in Malton. My browsing resulted in buying three books: Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend, John Updike’s Terrorist, and Reggie Nadelson’s (who?!) Fresh Kills. I’m happy with that haul!

Arundel, West Sussex

Arundel is a very pleasant market town with many independent shops, galleries and eating/drinking places. It also has a castle and two bookshops.
If I’d had the appetite, a good lunch of sausage and mash at the Red Lion could have been followed by bread and butter pudding – foiled again!
Across the road is the wonderful Kim’s Bookshop, where I bought a couple of novels and a copy of How to Cheat in Photoshop. There are 30,000 second-hand books spread over 3 floors and all nicely categorized.
Arundel is a good starting place for country walks, but today, shortage of time, the floods and the variable weather meant it was mainly a day for eating, drinking and book browsing!

Hindhead & Haslemere

Hindhead was a village on the A3, the main road between London and Portsmouth, and was a notorious traffic bottleneck until a tunnel bypassing the village was completed in 2011. As a result of losing the through traffic, Hindhead has become pretty rundown. The village is famous for the Devil’s Punch Bowl, a large natural amphitheatre. The A3 used to go around the outside of the Devil’s Punch Bowl, which made for a very noisy beauty spot, but the area is now quiet, and the road has been dug up and removed.

Haslemere is a rather attractive small town a couple of miles from Hindhead, and has good train links to London. The Haslemere Bookshop is rather good, and I picked up Ryan David Jahn’s The Dispatcher. There is a large collection of second-hand books on the first floor.

Banstead’s Ibis Bookshop saved

IbisBookshopThe Ibis Bookshop in Banstead , which was due to close at the end of 2013, has been saved, for the moment. Its future is assured until June but not beyond. I did my small bit to help by buying Jim Crace’s Being Dead and Ferdinand von Schirach’s The Collini Case. Best wishes to the Ibis owner.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑