Christmas books

This Christmas I got far fewer books than usual due to not being able to travel around and visit bookshops where in normal years from the autumn onwards I would just ask Jack to put any book purchases away and wrap them up for Christmas for me.

More Christmas Books

Christmas Books

I was lucky enough to be given a copy of Completely Perfect by Felicity Cloake. She’s a cookery writer who features in The Guardian, I really like her as any recipes of hers that I’ve tried in the past have worked out well, and you can’t say that for all food writers. The blurb on the front says: ‘A gift for anyone who is learning to cook’. I’ve been cooking for over 45 years but I’m sure I can improve using these recipes which are all classics.

During a brief lifting of lockdown I visited a favourite rake-around upcyle shop near Perth, they’re always so much more interesting than ordinary shops as you just never know what might turn up. This time I bought three lovely wee Alison Uttley books to add to my own collection of children’s books. Squirrel Goes Skating, Moldy Warp the Mole and Little Grey Rabbit’s Party.

It’s lovely to think that they’ll be in use again at some point in the future. I hope my granddaughter will grow up liking books! They’re illustrated by Margaret Tempest and I think the endpapers are beautiful. These editions date from the early 1970s.

After reading my first book by the Scottish author Dorita Fairlie Bruce I decided I would have to resort to the internet to get some more. So I opted to begin the Dimsie series:

Dimsie Goes to School
Dimsie Moves Up
Dimsie Moves Up Again.

These books date from the 1930s. I’ve ony read one book by her before and that was from her Springdale series, set in Scotland, so I hope I enjoy these ones as much, although I believe the setting of the school is England. The very first page has endeared me already though:

The mail train from the north roared its way towards London down the long bleak incline of the Chap Fells, and Dimsie curled up in her corner seat, regarded the green rounded hills with a certain contempt; the Scottish mountains to which she belonged, were made of altogether sterner stuff, and already she was begining to feel a little bit lonely without them. Ben Lomond – the Cobbler and his Wife – they had all been as living friends to Dimsie through the ten short years of a life that had not known many human friends.

If you look at my header photo of Dumbarton, the town I grew up in, you can just make out Ben Lomond in the distance.

Did you get some lovely Christmas books this year?

Prefects at Springdale by Dorita Fairlie Bruce

 According to Queeney cover

I think I had been looking at Angela Brazil books when this author’s name popped up. I had never heard of her, but was interested to see that her books are mainly set in Scotland. Although Dorita Fairlie Bruce was born in Spain – hence her nickname Dorita – her name was actually Dorothy, she was really Scottish and apparently second only to Angela Brazil in popularity where school stories were concerned. Her books are set in Scotland, I recognised the area as being Ayrshire, the other side of the River Clyde from where I was brought up and quite a bit south. At one point some of the girls go on a jaunt with Dimsie to Arran which is a place I’ve always wanted to visit and intended to do it this year – but we all know what happened to that plan.

I don’t think it was just the setting that led me to enjoy Prefects at Springdale, which was first published in 1936, more than any Angela Brazil books that I’ve read. Somehow the schoolgirls seemed more authentic to me. Unfortunately the books can be quite expensive, there are seven books in this Springdale series and I inadvertently started off with the sixth one. Well, I was amazed to find this book in a pile at an antiques centre, the books are usually really expensive but obviously the seller didn’t rate this author highly as it was priced at £5, I snapped it up.

Anne is preparing to go back to Springdale School, packing her trunk when her sister Peggy tells her that she has received a letter from Diane, also known as Dimsie, a Springdale old girl who is now 23. She’s going to be working there as a temporary games-mistress until a permanent replacement can be found. Peggy is worried about Dimsie and wants Anne to look out for her. It’s going to be a bit of an awkward situation all round as some of the younger girls had rather idolised Dimsie when she was a senior girl.

This was a great read which seemed quite before its time with one of the girls being keen to become an archaeologist and another one being determined to train as a museum curator and luckily they both get a chance to get some hands on experience. There’s a bit of an adventure and a smidgen of romance and this one was an enjoyable trip back in time and place. I also like the rather stylish 1930s design of the book cover.

When I opened this book I discovered that a previous owner had left a wee cache of bits cut out from pop magazines, from the 1970s. I suspect that she wasn’t allowed to stick posters on her bedroom walls so made do with small ‘photos’ cut out. She was a fan of Gilbert O’Sullivan, Rod Stewart, Slade and two mystery chaps that I don’t recognise. I’ll try to take a photo of them and add it here later, maybe someone can enlighten me.

Whose posters did you put on your bedroom wall? I was devoted to Marc Bolan and T.Rex. I’m not even sure if teenage girls still do things like that nowadays.