Monday, 25 September 2017

Bookshops not Bombs

Dear all, I will explain the title of this post shortly but to begin with, I must apologise for not posting last week and for my absence from your blogs.  I have a good reason – honest!  We spent a couple of days in London, but I still had plenty of time to prepare a post.  That, however, was before I visited the dentist. 

(c) Can Stock Photo / izakowski

To be fair to the dentist or rather implant specialist, he is nothing like the picture above!!  I went to see him because of pain in my upper jaw, and an X-ray revealed an infection around one of my dental implants. The specialist recommended laser surgery to treat the infection, but it was unsuccessful and the implant had to be removed. It was all rather painful and to be honest my bed looked far more inviting than a trip to London but the hotel was booked, and so we went. 

It’s almost two weeks since the implant was removed and a week since we got back from London. I would like to say I'm fully fit but actually my mouth is still very sore, and now I have a cold! My next appointment with the specialist is in four days time so if I disappear again you will know why. In the meantime, I'm going to share a few photographs taken in London. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope to visit your blogs very soon.

If you are still wondering about the title of this post, it’s because of this:  

a notice in Quinto & Francis Edwards Booksellers at 72 Charing Cross Road.
A sentiment I heartily agree with spotted at Quinto & Francis Edwards Booksellers.

Quinto & Francis Edwards Booksellers
Quinto & Francis Edwards Booksellers at 72 Charing Cross Road. 

Quinto & Francis Edwards Booksellers
Quinto Bookshop: Find a bargain in our basement.

Quinto & Francis Edwards Booksellers bargain basement
Quinto’s bargain basement: Everything from poetry to sci-fi and an old stove almost buried under books.

Cecil Court a bibliophile's dream located in a quiet pedestrian lane in London’s West End.
Cecil Court a bibliophile's dream located in a quiet pedestrian lane in London’s West End.

Marchpane children's and illustrated book shop
I spent a very happy hour at Marchpane books and came away with a lovely edition of Josephine Keeps House by Mrs. H. C. Cradock, more of which in a later post.

Close up of Marchpane's window
Close up of Marchpane's window 

Marchpane Bookshop
and some of the delicious books on offer.

Natalie who works at Marchpane was tired after a flight home from Australia, but she was still full of smiles and happy to have her photo taken. I probably should have asked why there were at least two large Daleks around the place, but I was far too busy checking out the books.

Now as a change from bookshops some of the other places seen or visited. 

Mr Fogg’s Tavern – 58 St. Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden
Mr Fogg’s Tavern – 58 St. Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden

Soho Square
I love how one can be wandering around busy streets in London and suddenly find oneself in an oasis of relative peace and quiet.  This is Soho Square located behind Oxford Street. The mock-Tudor building in the centre was built in 1895 refurbished in 2009 and is now used as a storage space for the gardeners.

The British Museum
The British Museum under a beautiful blue sky

The British Museum
The British Museum’s inner courtyard with its spectacular roof.

This may be a little macabre, but I found myself fascinated by Egyptian death and afterlife! Visit rooms 62-63 of The British Museum if you would like to see for yourself. 

Mummy and cartonnage case.
 Mummy and cartonnage case.

 Squatting turtle-headed deity
 Squatting turtle-headed deity – Late 18th Dynasty, about 1295BC. Perhaps from the tomb of Horemheb, in the Valley of the Kings.

 Glowing decorations inside a box coffin.

This painting is part of a wall showing Nebamum inspecting cattle.
This painting is part of a wall showing Nebamum watching as farmers bring animals to him. Nebamun is known today because of the 1820 discovery of a tomb on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes. 

I took masses of photographs in and around the museum, but in the interest of saving your sanity, I will just share two more. This from room 90: Prints 

 Posthumous portrait of a child
This portrait of a dead child is more poignant than macabre. Posthumous portraits of children where common from the 17th to 19th century when child mortality was high. 

Artist unknown (Karo School).
Illustrations of flower arrangements. Artist unknown (Karo School). Rooms 92-94 Japan.

China Town
Leaving the British Museum, there was just time for a quick walk around China Town before catching the train home.

These two were so obviously enjoying the music and each other’s company it made me smile, and I couldn’t resist taking a snap.

How would you spend two days in London?  

Monday, 11 September 2017

Dear Ruby - Agony Aunt of Yesteryear

Flicking through a 1930s Home & Companion magazine, I was bemused by one of the replies on the problem page and would love to know what you think.

Home & Companion Magazine March 21st, 1953. In Vintage Magazines

Dear Ruby, I am thirty-two and I live alone in one room.  I have no relations. I have known Jim for some time and he has asked me to marry him, but it’s no use pretending I love him. He has some very silly habits. But he offers me children and a home. Ought I to marry him? Lorna. 

My first thought was – NO!     

Ruby, however, disagrees with me:

Certainly, I should marry Jim if I were you. But you must make up your mind that you are going to make a success of your marriage and that you are going to make Jim happy at ALL costs. By building him a good home and giving him children to love you will find that you will be making a happy life for yourself. Ruby.

Oh come on Ruby you might be condemning the poor woman to a life of servitude. Be a good girl, marry a man you don’t love, wait on him hand and foot and be sure to provide him with children! 

If Lorna is still alive, she will be in her nineties now, it would be interesting to find out if she did marry Jim.  And if she did, was she happy, did they have children, did she stay with him?  How tantalising it all is… 

Your comments are always warmly welcomed so please go ahead and tell me what you think. 

If you are interested in vintage magazines you might like these previous posts;

Monday, 4 September 2017

Basking in a happy glow

It was my birthday last weekend, and I’m still basking in a happy glow. This is why;

An African violet from a friend and books from hubby, I love birthdays!  

The perfume from this bouquet is incredible and the message that accompanied it made me cry: Dear Mum, wishing you a day as sunny as your smile,  as warm as your heart... and as wonderful as you are. 
The above photograph was taken at Disneyland Paris the last time we were together, which will be two years in December.  The two little princesses are my granddaughters Zoe and Lilly with a Disney Princess (Aurora) in the centre. Sending hugs and thanks to my son, his lovely wife and children.    

Mum, nanny, sister, wife, aunt and friend.

I love all my cards, but this one from a friend made me smile. Thanks Pat, the next Group Therapy is on me!  (Birthday Card Berni Parker Designs)

My sister and her husband gave me a weekend bag full of products from Champneys Health Spa. How spoilt am I?  This recipe for a superfood summer salad was also in the bag. I’ve not tried it, but I thought I would share the recipe in case any of you would like to give it a go. I’m going to try it as soon as I find Pink Himalayan sea salt (I didn’t know there was such a thing!)      

My birthday was on Saturday but as Terry was working we delayed the celebrations until Sunday when we were up bright and early and on our way to the Giant Shepton flea market at the Bath & West showground.

Victory Cut-Out Book/Teddy Bear Frolics and The Hedgehog's Waistcoat
Victory Cut-Out Book/Teddy Bear Frolics and The Hedgehog's Waistcoat

I didn’t buy a lot, but I’m delighted with the things I found especially these vintage books. My favourite is The Victory Cut-Out Book published by Dean & Son c1945. 

The Victory Cut-Out Book Dean & Son c1945

The Victory Cut-Out Book Dean & Son c1945

The Victory Cut-Out Book Dean & Son c1945

The Victory Cut-Out Book Dean & Son c1945
It’s remarkable to think this has remained untouched and complete for more than seventy years. 

Leaving the flea market we carried on to Gurney Slade, where we enjoyed a fabulous Sunday roast at The Mendip Inn and from there it was on to Pensford.

We’ve often passed Pensford on our way to Bristol and always thought it looked interesting. As luck would have it, there was a Regatta taking place so we couldn’t have chosen a better time to visit. 

It was fun to watch the duck racing and the children paddling in the river all in the shadow of a now-defunct viaduct. Opened in 1873 the viaduct carried the Bristol & North Somerset Railway over the valley of the River Chew. It closed on the 15th July 1968 after flooding weakened the structure. It appears that flooding is or certainly was an issue for Pensford as the Church of St Thomas a Becket was also badly damaged in the flood of ‘68. The nave is now a private residence (which we only realised when we tried to open what we thought was the church door!) but the Tower which has stood in the centre of the village for seven hundred years is still in use. Just before heading home we took a walk through Culvery Wood, situated on the western edge of the village overlooking the valley. The sun shone all day, and we felt very blessed.

Birthday card ArtPress/Sam Toft 2014 (Thanks Rae)

Thank you to everyone who took the time to send cards, to ring, email, Facebook, Tweet, and wish me a Happy Birthday in numerous other ways.  I appreciate it more than you can know.

Monday, 28 August 2017

A Tale of Beatrix Potter, Manderley, Rain and Roses.

You may be wondering why I'm starting this post with a picture of a house. You might even be questioning what the house has to do with Beatrix Potter. To be honest there isn’t much of a link other than it's where I found the book I will be sharing later in this post.

Nymans House West Sussex

Actually, there is another connection. I took the photographs at Nymans a National Trust property in West Sussex. Beatrix Potter was a writer of children’s stories, a Lakeland farmer, conservationist and a benefactor of the National Trust. On her death, she left 4000 acres, fifteen farms, forests and houses to the National Trust. Sadly, this house is not one of them, but it is a link of sorts. OK it's tenuous but it does sort of tie in. 

Rose and Bee at Nymans

Nymans NT West Sussex

Nymans became a National Trust property in 1953 although the story really began in 1870, when Ludwig Messel and his family moved to England from Germany. A family of Jewish descent they arrived when anti-Semitism was rife but despite that, Messel carved out a successful career as a stockbroker and by 1890 had the means to purchase Nymans and shortly after he, and his head gardener James Comber set about creating the gardens.

Sadly, much of the house is in ruins after a disastrous fire in 1947, but the surviving rooms give a fascinating insight into the life of the Messel family.

The ruins reminiscent of Manderley as immortalised by Daphne du Maurier in Rebecca.

The story of Nymans is well documented online, so I won't trouble you with too many details. But I would like to mention a couple of members of the family. Firstly, Anne Messel (later Countess of Rosse) renowned beauty and socialite and mother of Anthony Armstrong-Jones, who in 1960 Married Princess Margaret and became the Earl of Snowdon and Viscount Linley. The connection between Nymans and the Royal Family came as a complete surprise to me. I was twelve going on sixteen when Margaret and ‘Tony’ got married, obsessed with The Beatles, Mary Quant and miniskirts.  All that changed when a Royal Wedding was announced and before long pictures of the happy couple started to jostle for space on my bedroom walls. Where John, Paul, George and Ringo once reigned supreme now there was a Princess and her beau. 

Anthony Armstrong-Jones and Princess Margaret
Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones

Messel family photographs on the piano.
Messel family photographs on the piano. 

When we eventually left the house the rain had come on in droves hence we made a beeline for the coffee shop. Once suitable fed and watered Terry decided he wanted to take a few photos in the garden while I chose the dryer option and made a dash for the gift shop. Dozens of people were milling around seeking shelter from the rain, but their voices faded as I immersed myself into the world of Beatrix Potter.

The Story of Beatrix Potter by Sarah Gristwood
The Story of Beatrix Potter by Sarah Gristwood

The Story of Beatrix Potter by Sarah Gristwood
The Story of Beatrix Potter by Sarah Gristwood

Bestselling biographer Sarah Gristwood follows the twists and turns of her story, from childhood to her tragically brief first engagement and her happy marriage late in life. She traces the creation of Beatrix’s most famous characters – including naughty Peter Rabbit and cheeky Squirrel Nutkin and reveals how she drew on her own childhood pets and homes as the basis for her stories. Within a few years, her books were appearing all over the world and the merchandise industry, so familiar today, was gathering momentum.  

Hunca Munca with her babies.
Hunca Munca with her babies.  From a book on my bookshelf.

Although she had a younger brother, Beatrix was a lonely child, educated at home and kept away from other children by her parents. A brief engagement to her publisher Norman Warne ended within weeks when he died from leukaemia. Eventually, aged 47, she married William Heelis, a Lakeland solicitor, with whom she lived until her death in 1943.

Beatrix taking Benjamin Bunny for a walk
Beatrix taking Benjamin Bunny for a walk in the vegetable garden where he would graze on the cabbages.  Page 43 The Story of Beatrix Potter by Sarah Gristwood

Proceeds from her books and merchandise plus a legacy from an aunt gave her the means to purchase Hill Top Farm. In the following decades, she became a conservationist and a prize-winning breeder of Herdwick Sheep. She continued to write but her diminished eyesight, and her enthusiasm for farming meant that The Tale of Little Pig Robinson, published in 1930, was the last little book.

Further reading:

If you would like to know more about the Messel family or discover the history of Nymans why not visit Nymans/National Trust

The Story of Beatrix Potter: Sarah Gristwood: Published in the United Kingdom in 2016 by National Trust Books.  ISBN 9781909881808

For anyone wishing to know more about Beatrix Potter's work, I recommend The Writings of Beatrix Potter written by Leslie Linder.  It contains facsimiles of fourteen picture letters, including the Peter Rabbit letter to Noel Moore, which started it all. The correspondence between Beatrix Potter and her publishers shows how involved she became in the production of her books, and it sometimes reveals unexpected aspects  of her character - she once lectured Warnes (the publisher) for being 'a great deal too much afraid of the public' for whom she never cared 'one tuppenny-button'. Nevertheless, she was very particular about her writing, often revising the same story until it was to her satisfaction; several of these versions are quoted, including the privately printed edition of The Tailor of Gloucester.  A valuable feature for book collectors is the Appendix section, which will help to identify first editions. The copy I have is a second edition from 1971 but there could well be an updated version available now. A History of the Writings of Beatrix Potter: Leslie Linder: Frederick Warne & Co Ltd London and New York. ISBN 0723213348

A History of the Writings of Beatrix Potter: Leslie Linder:

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in South-East Asia and Texas, stay safe.
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