Friday, 15 August 2014

Hay-on-Wye - Book Heaven!

It’s always a delight to visit the Hay-on-Wye book town. Its position on the border between England and Wales makes it the perfect place to set out on an exploration of the beautiful border country

A mug of tea and a quick study of the map is always first on the agenda. I know where the shops are, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared!

The main attraction for me is, of course, the numerous bookshops. We were only in the town for half a day, but I've been before so made straight for my favourites, one of which is Backfold Books & Bygones, an interesting mix of general & children's books, plus postcards & ephemera. 

Backfold Books & Bygones (Oxford Road)

Someone at The Addyman Annexe (27 Castle Street) has a fine sense of humour!
Kindles are banned from The Kingdom of Hay – Amen!

I noticed the ‘No Parking Sign’ on the side of the building when I took the previous ‘photo but what I didn't notice until later was the message chalked above it.
Buy a Book - At any time.  

If you like your bookshops big, be sure to visit The Hay Cinema Bookshop 
From the Guardian Independent Bookshop Directory... A cathedral of books, an enormous building, stuffed to the rafters with second-hand books on old library shelving.  

I could happily spend a week browsing the shelves but my husband doesn't enjoy book shopping, so I made a beeline for the children's section and avoid the rest. 
A tiny corner of the Hay Cinema Bookshop. 

We picked a perfect July day for our visit.

If books are not your thing, you will find plenty of other distractions.

Quirky vintage shops, 

delightful flowers

and charming streets to explore. 

I didn't get much time in this interesting shop and am kicking myself because I can’t remember the name. I do remember the owner saying it was named after one of his dogs. Looking at the map, I think it might be Belle Books on Broad Street?

From Hay-On-Wye it was on to Stella Books at Tintern in the beautiful Wye Valley.

With around 30,000 out-of-print books this is one shop you can’t afford to miss. 

The river with Stella Books in the distance.

After a good sleep and a delicious breakfast at this fantastic b&b, we were ready for more adventures.

We weren't intending to visit Hay this year hence the shortness of our trip. We were en route to Buckinghamshire, but it was raining there so we went to Hay first. If you are thinking of going, you really need to allow more time to visit all the shops. A week should just about do it!


Just before I close I want to share this beautiful gift received in the post last week.

Thank you very, very much Nicole I was so excited when the postman called, and I love every single thing.

For those of you who haven’t met Nicole, she is a very talented author and illustrator living and working in Holland; See more here 

Nicole and I have not met, but we have corresponded over a number of years, and I count myself very lucky to have her as a friend.

I am also grateful for all my blogging friends, thank you for visiting.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Book of the week; The Cheery Chicks Book with illustrations by Harold Earnshaw

The Cheery Chicks Book published by Blackie & Son c1920.

 A beautiful picture book telling the story of three small children, a dog and a cat about to go on holiday..

Travelling by steam train…

and taxi!

On arrival at their destination, they chat to a flower seller...

and a hurdy-gurdy boy. 

They spend a long time gazing at the toys in the toyshop window 

before going to play in the park.

Then it's off to the cake shop for tea with grandpapa. 
I know some people might think the animals have no business being in the cake shop never mind sitting at the table, but it’s my favourite picture. Grandpapa looks like a kindly old gentleman. The children are incredibly wholesome and the animals well behaved. Even the waitress is smiling.   

The story follows the children as they enjoy a holiday on the farm...

and ends when they put their toys to bed.
The Cheery Chicks Book illustrated by Harold Earnshaw

Thanks for looking...

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Peek-a-boo it's for you; a collection of vintage greeting cards

I adore vintage greetings cards so finding this collection rather made my day!  The cards were given to a little girl called ‘Briony’ between her birth on the 28th December 1946 and her second birthday in 1948. As much as I love these, I can’t keep everything (as Terry is happy to remind me) so these are listed for sale on my website.  If you would like further details, please follow the links. I'm always happy to reduce prices for job lots.

Peek-A-Boo -  unused miniature greeting card. This adorable card is a little creased but other than that it's in perfect condition. The wording inside reads 'It's for you'.

Congratulations to Baby and you. This delightful die cut card features a baby in a crib surrounded by flowers. The verse inside reads - rejoicing in your happiness, sincerely wishing too that life and love may always bless your little one and you!

Happy Landings. This pretty card was produced in 1946 as part of the Victor and Mabel Evershed range. It was given to Briony on the occasion of her birth on the 28th December 1946. Inside reads - Congratulations! I hear the great Little Person has arrived. It's signed by Vi and Eric with every good wish. Hand coloured flowers at the bottom of the card and a pink ribbon bow. The illustration is signed 'LP' there is a little browning to the centre of the card but is otherwise in good condition.

Tom Tom the Pipers son stole a pig and away he ran, over the hills and far away to wish you luck on your first birthday.

Good luck from Tom, good luck from me for this and every year, may life be bright as bright can be and bless you, baby dear!   If you look closely you might spot the farmer chasing after Tom. These tiny details really bring the card to life.  

For Baby's Very First Birthday Super greetings card from 1947. "Creeping here and reaching there, bright eyes searching everywhere, may your eager heart find, too, this Happy Birthday wish for you!" With hand written message "Love & kisses, darling from Auntie Tubby." Sweet black and white image on the inside of a baby with a teddy, toy dog and rattle.

Birthday Wishes now you're ONE YEAR OLD today! Lovely card given to Briony on her first birthday in 1947. Delightful verse inside reads - Everyone knows, from your head to your toes you're a Darling! So this will convey fond love, and the very best wishes of all, to greet your first birthday today. Hand written greeting 'From Gerda To Briony x' .

Two original vintage gift tags; Two of the prettiest little gift tags you are ever likely to find.  Both are used, and both were attached to parcels given to 'Briony' for Christmas 1947.The first shows a hand coloured rabbit with a red bow and a lovely fluffy white tail. The message on the card reads To Briony with lots of love from Barbara Merry Christmas. The other shows a windmill with the words To Dear little Briony from Nellie with love. I'm sure it would be very difficult to find two others quite like these.

Hickory Dickory Dock Part of the Alpha Series made in Britain. Folding nursery rhyme card 'Hickory Dickory Dock the mouse ran up the clock! The clock struck one the mouse ran down! Hickory Dickory Dock. Many Happy Returns! Message reads - With love & kisses from Gillian xxx. Pretty colour illustrations inside and out.

Here is Teddy watch him run Charming die cut card "Here is Teddy watch him run to greet you on the day you're one" produced by G. Delgado, London in 1947. Message on back reads ‘With lots of love and kisses'  Single sheet die-cut card.

 A Christmas Smacker Delightful die-cut card featuring a smiling 'sailor' duck. Card stands 6" tall. I just love this happy smiling chap in his sailor outfit.  There is a sweet verse, inside - Here's a LUCKY CHRISTMAS DUCKY! He's really quite a "QUACKER" - For he's bringing you a CHRISTMAS HUG and a great big CHRISTMAS "SMACKER"! The card was given to Briony in 1948, but the handwritten greeting just reads "with love from Nicolas"

Peek-A-Boo - I see you!

Thank you for taking the time to look at some of my vintage greeting cards, there are many others in stock here

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Guest Post; Land of Dragor by Julia Suzuki

Dear March House Books Readers,

Firstly a big thank you to Barbara for this lovely invitation: a site I often visit for a trip down memory lane.

My name is Julia Suzuki and I am author of the soon to be released Land of Dragor, a children’s adventure series with an appeal for the child within us all too!

My formative years were enchanting, and the strongest inspiration for my current authorship. The earliest recollection I have was being sat in my bedroom with the breeze blowing in through the window on a beautiful summers day, listening to the sounds of animals merged with the thrill of happy human cheers!

It wasn’t the usual garden sounds though; not dogs, not cats, not birds - nor of children playing in the garden as they would normally do.

But it was the noises of real beasts: lions and monkeys, zebras and cheetahs! Our family home was uniquely set on the closest edge to a Zoo and Theme Park in Staffordshire; we were separated only by the Millrace at the bottom of the garden on the ‘Deer park Estate’ by Drayton Manor Park in Tamworth, Staffordshire.

The Drayton Manor Theme Park

One summer, my Father lovingly handcrafted myself and brothers wide canoes. In the years ahead we would regularly set off for secret adventures. Down the millrace we would paddle, and into the fields we would go; playing wildly in the woods, loving nature, embracing the outdoors - pretending we were the animals.
Boating with my eldest brother: In my element!

My imagination started to grow with my love of books.

My winter months were spent indoors often reading. I loved all the now vintage books: Beatrix Potter, CS Lewis, Enid Blyton and others of that period. I would often close the book and write my own endings and so my joy of creative writing began.

At the age of seven I was enrolled in elocution lessons with a local speech and drama school, ran by a former teacher from a local convent. She was very strict and austere but that did bring out the best in the group of girls that attended. In the lessons I would practice reciting pages of literature and poetry, from memory, in preparation for the London School of Music examiners. I continued through to the senior grades. My favorite and most memorable recital was from the book the Snow Goose; such a sad tale that even in recollection pulls at heartstrings.

Here are my three favourite books and their covers that sat on my shelf:

Into adulthood a business career followed. After time at University studying marketing, a career with Disney licensing then followed. After this I worked in international licensing with the leisure entrepreneur David Lloyd in a resorts business. I had the good fortune of travelling to many of the most beautiful places in the world - inspiring me further.  My urge to be an author was growing daily, and I recently gave up this career to become a full time writer.

And so the first book the Gift of Charms came to be!

I had been thinking back to the wonderful vintage books I had read and wishing there were more like this - but with unique and modern edge and an interactive web presence. Being a mother I believed I knew first hand what parents were looking for when purchasing a book for their children, yet more than that, I felt strongly that I knew also what they sought themselves: gripping action, lots of adventure - all the classic aspects of heroes and villains, mystery and magic, quests and suspense, and the dream of happy endings.

I wanted to write books with universal appeal, that were fantastical and 'out there' and yet still felt somehow real; to fulfil the expectations of book lovers and also hook non-readers back into reading. For me this had to be in the form of a series set in a place we would all be excited to visit.

I designed the land, integrating beautiful countryside, mountain trails, great waters and caves to explore. All the things I loved as a child and still do today. The most beautiful places that I had seen on my international travels formed the setting of Dragor: the amazing mountains of Colorado, the great deserts of Palm Springs, in California, the vast waters in the Lake District, and the seaside caves of Cornwall - not forgetting the enchanting wilderness of Scotland. Dragor would be my ideal place to live - full of magnificent scenery, bursting with animals and nature's magical flowers and plants. A place of adventure, excitement and promise.

 Synopsis of Book #1

The Gift of Charms is an enthralling children’s tale of magic, adventure, and suspense, with a heart-warming centre.

 The first in the Land of Dragor series, transports the reader to the magical Land of Dragor, where dragon clans live hidden from man.

 Their great wars with humans and the evil dragsaurs are over and the dragons live in the caves among smoking mud pools and around The Fire Which Must Never Go Out. But the terrible years when they were enslaved by humans has left a lasting scar and they are told they can never soar above the mountains and leave their safe haven to explore the outside world.

There is unease in the air of their mist-filled valley, and the coming of a strange egg heralds a new era. Unlike the normal delicate lilac, this shell is multi-coloured like the contents of a treasure chest.

The newborn hatchling is called Yoshiko, but he is immediately treated with suspicion by the elders, and is lucky to survive. The last time a coloured egg was laid, legendary warrior leader Surion was born from a red shell, and with his gift of fire the dragons went to battle with the humans. Will Yoshiko bring a blessing to the clans, or a curse? Could Dragor be about to meet its saviour, or its destroyer?

 Author Julia Suzuki

 ‘The Gift of Charms’ is released by John Blake Publishing under the Dino Children’s Imprint on September 4th and is available to pre-order here:

The Land of Dragor: Book 1: The Gift of Charms

 All best wishes 

Julia Suzuki

Fantasy Author 
The Land of Dragor adventure series
(John Blake Publishing House, Dino Imprint)

After so many stories and myths about dragons finally the truth is revealed!
The epic series begins with 'The Gift of Charms' PRE-ORDER at AMAZON

'A beautifully presented, wonderfully unique debut' - The Sun

WEBSITES (Author blog and website) (An interactive website for Dragor fans)
TWITTER (Follow Julia here on Twitter)
FACEBOOK (Follow Julia and here on Facebook)
GOODREADS (See latest book reviews)
AMAZON (Buy the books here)

Thank you so much Julia! The gift of charms certainly sounds like an exciting read.  I wish you every success, Barbara.

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