Last week the St Andrew’s and St George’s Church in Edinburgh held their Christian Aid book sale, it had been cancelled for the last few years due to the Covid pandemic, so we were quite keen to get there, something different to do for a change. Saturday was actually sunny and quite warm – for Edinburgh – and the sale was very busy, they have a lot of tables full of books outside the church, it felt quite safe but we still wore face masks. Inside the church was even busier, that’s where they have the more unusual or rare books, so they tend to be more expensive. Outside it was £3 for hardbacks and £1 or £2 for paperbacks. This was the 50th anniversary of their first book sale there, I spoke to the woman who was the convenor and had been at the first sale which had been teeny wee!
Anyway, my haul was:
1. The Diary of a Farmer’s Wife 1796-1797.
2. The Unjust Skies by R.F. Delderfield
3. The Small Army by Michael Marshall
4. Visitors from England by Elisabeth Kyle
5. Spiderweb by Penelope Lively
6. An Orkney Tapestry by George Mackay Brown
7. Life and Work of the People of England (The Eighteenth Century) I bought it because of the cover!
8. Scottish Painting 1837 to the present
9. To Lie with Lions by Dorothy Dunnett
Jack bought one book by William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin. That’s about the normal book buying ratio for us.
I forgot to put An Orkney Tapestry in the photo since I’m reading it at the moment and it wasn’t in the pile.
A recent trip to Edinburgh led to my TBR list expanding by twelve books – in no time – many of them could be described as being for young people or YA as they tend to be categorised nowadays, some of them I had never even heard of but I reasoned that if a book is a Newbery Medal winner it should be a good read – for all ages.
The Giant Baby by Allan Ahlberg The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi The Kirk of the Corrie by Isabel Cameron White Bell Heather by Isabel Cameron The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett The Dividing Sea by Ruth Elwin Harris The Eleventh Orphan by Joan Lingard Cuckoo in the Nest by Michelle Magorian Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild Mail Royal by Nigel Tranter Horned Helmet by Henry Treece Legions of the Eagle by Henry Treece
You might know that I went to Hay-on-Wye (that famous book town) recently and was quite disappointed with the place, I didn’t manage to find any books which I wanted to buy.
So it was a lovely surprise when we came out the east gate of the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, to discover second-hand bookshops which were completely unknown to me. We hadn’t been in that area of Edinburgh before, I think it is called Broughton Road.
As you can see, I bought four:
Silence Observed by Michael Innes
The New Sonia Wayward by Michael Innes
The Village by Marghanita Laski
The Rebecca Notebook and Other Memories by Daphne du Maurier
I was especially chuffed to find the du Maurier book in a shop which is part bookshop and part antiques shop. I would have bought it anyway but it’s particularly nice that it’s a signed copy, as you can see. It was very reasonably priced too.
I always get my best book finds when I least expect to. I could have bought quite a few more books but I exercised restraint and of course I now wish I hadn’t. Luckily, Edinburgh isn’t very far away!
We did drive all the way to Hay-on-Wye in Wales, our first ever visit to that country, as we’d heard so much about Hay. We have friends who love the place so much that when they decided to go off on their own to get married, it was Hay they chose as their place to get hitched.
When we got there I must say that I was less than impressed. Do you almost instantly get a feel for the atmosphere of a new place? I do anyway, and Hay just didn’t do anything for me. For one thing there’s something terribly strange about a town full of mainly bookshops and although I adore books I couldn’t help thinking that it would be an improvement if there were more ordinary shops in it, for the inhabitants of the town anyway. After all, you can’t live by books alone. I think Hay is also well known for real ale, and that doesn’t score high on my list of things which are life enriching. I didn’t take any photos but there are loads which you can view here.
It was a grey, wet day when we were there so we obviously didn’t see it at its best, but worst of all, neither of us bought a book – not one. Unbelievable, I know! That always happens whenever I visit a place which has a bookish reputation. The trouble is that there are so many like-minded folks traipsing around that the likelihood is that the books I would have bought have been snapped up already.
My best book treasures have always been found when and where I least expect them to be. Pure serendipity, and that’s the way I like it. So, don’t think for one minute that I didn’t add to my book pile on this trip. Of course I did! Here they are.
Between the Woods and the Water – Patrick Leigh Fermor
The Violins of Saint-Jacques – Patrick Leigh Fermor
Thin Ice – Compton Mackenzie
A Shilling for Candles – Josephine Tey
Take Two At Bedtime – Margery Allingham
Desirable Residences – E.F. Benson (short stories)
The Matchmaker – Stella Gibbons
Down the Garden Path – Beverley Nichols
Renny’s Daughter – Mazo de la Roche
Death at the Dolphin – Ngaio Marsh
Flowers on the Grass – Monica Dickens
King Charles II – Antonia Fraser
Singer Sewing Machine Book
The Book of Samplers – Marguerite Fawdry and Deborah Brown
Embroidery and Colour – Constance Howard
Landscape in Embroidery – Verina Warren
Not a bad haul, some nice old obscure books, but not one Thirkell or Margaret Ogilvy, which is a real disappointment. But that lot should keep me busy for a while!
I suppose there are worse addictions to be afflicted with but I just couldn’t stop myself from hitting every second-hand bookshop which I found on our journey from Fife to East Anglia. My excuse is that I think we’re going to suffer yet another horrendous winter and if we’re snowed/iced in again I’ll need plenty of reading material, but if I’m honest, I’m never going to be in danger of running out of books to read. I think they just about all come under the category of comfort reads and they’re all fairly ancient, the most recent publication is Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy and even that’s fairly old – 1985, and probably isn’t a comfort read but I’m sure I’ll enjoy it. So this is what I bought and I have to say that I don’t feel too naughty because I could have bought a lot more …
The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Setons by O. Douglas
The Crowded Street by Winifred Holtby
Going It Alone by Michael Innes
Voices in Summer by Rosamunde Pilcher
An Academic Question by Barbara Pym
An Unsuitable Attachment by Barbara Pym
Crampton Hodnet by Barbara Pym
Ankle Deep by Angela Thirkell
Close Quarters by Angela Thirkell
Growing Up by Angela Thirkell
Enter Sir Robert by Angela Thirkell
Summer by Edith Wharton
… and last but not least Crime Stories from The Strand which is a lovely Folio book of short stories by crime writers such as Conan Doyle, G.K. Chesterton, A.E.W. Mason and many more. I was especially chuffed to get the four Thirkells, three of which I bought from a stall in Cambridge market, her books don’t often turn up in Scotland for some reason, strange really as she’s at least half Scottish.
I’m hoping to have sorted through some photos from our trip by tomorrow.
You might know that I’ve been avoiding buying books recently, mainly because I’ve got so many unread books in my house. But last week I bought a few in Edinburgh and that sort of opened the floodgates.
As it was a lovely day today we took ourselves off to St Andrews and ended up (well actually we began) in the bookshops. This lot is the result.
Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
Love by Elizabeth von Arnim
The Courts of the Morning by John Buchan
Look to the Lady by Margery Allingham
Hamlet, Revenge! by Michael Innes
Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey
The Singing Sands by Josephine Tey
Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey
Thornyhold by Mary Stewart
The book gods must have been hovering above me today. Only one Virago mind you but what a one, I love Elizabeth von Arnim. There weren’t any books by the authors that I was actually looking for, except for The Braddons by Angela Thirkell but I requested that one from the library so there wasn’t any point in buying it.
It’s just as well that I’ve got more time for reading now that we don’t have a house full of boys any more.
On to Dundee to try out Duncan’s local fish and chip shop which was very good. Then we had coffee towers from Fisher and Donaldson – so bang went the healthy diet. And bang went another Saturday too.
Well, if you’re going to fall off the wagon you might as well do it in style.