The Life and Times of a busy bookseller, her husband and Gordon setter dogs in North Norfolk.

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Born In Essex, UK.
School in Luton.
College - Sussex.
Worked in Cambs.
Now Living in Norfolk.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Elisabeth Beresford

Elisabeth Beresford, author famous for her Womble stories, but actually the writer of many more mystery and adventure books for children - many of which were based on Alderney (see our site at died on Christmas Eve 2010. She was awarded an MBE for her services to Childrens' Literature in the 1998 New Years Honour's List.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Snow, snow, ice & snow

Here in Stibbard we have been shivering for the last 2 weeks - and been deep in snow. It still lies on the ground, although the level has gone down a little. The dogs needless to say love it - although the novelty is wearing off. This is the second time this year we have had significant snow (Last January saw lots 0f snow) so we are beginning to think we have moved to a snowy part of the country! It is of course very pretty - the countryside here looks beautiful - and walking locally, although slippery, is lovely as long as you wrap up well. My wellie boots have never seen so much use. I have taken some photographs to illustrate. Just one thing - we have storage heaters in this house - not the most efficient heating - I look forward to having radiators in the future. Meanwhile - lots of lovely log fires blaze to keep us warm.


I don't know if its caused by the snow - but our telephone line is down. Stibbard still has snow - more of that to come - but the telephone being out of order - now day 2 - is affecting our business! People can't even leave answerphone messages. It just rings once (as heard by the caller) then stops. Obviously we hear nothing this end. If anyone needs to contact us, our internet connection is currently working, so please send us an e-mail -

Friday, 5 November 2010

Sybil Burr

As usual I have been buying in books - I never stop, I just can't resist them - much to Jeff's dismay! In the latest batch I acquired some Sybil Burr books - an author who is usually much sought after but whose books rarely surface. I suspect the print runs of her books cannot have been very long. I remember her name as an author from when I was young, but can't remember why as I don't remeber reading any of her books.

Sybil Burr wrote several girls' books in the 1950s. She is perhaps best known for her book Life with Lisa, the fictional diary of a 12-year-old girl who lived in Ramsgate - (as did Sybil herself for a time), and whose story concerning Lisa and her obsevations on her neighbours and surroundings, was later reprinted by Puffin Books (1979) and then adapted for Radio 4 in 2003 with Victoria O'Donnell playing Lisa. Sybil wrote a sequel, Leave It To Lisa.
Sybil wrote several full length stories, and some short ones for annuals but I think my bibliography of her books is probably incomplete. If anyone can help me out with extra bibliographic details, I would be grateful & interested to receive them.

Bibliographical details - that we know of.
1. Full length books.
Lantern of the North, illus. Sheila Rose. London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1954.
My Candle the Moon, illus. Sheila Rose. London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1955.
The Saint Bride Blue, illus. Leslie Atkinson. London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1956;
Full Fathom Forty, illus. Leslie Atkinson. London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957.
Life With Lisa. London, John Murray, 1958.
Leave It To Lisa. London, John Murray, 1960.Operation Blindbell. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1960.

2. Short Stories - there are probably many others.
'Lisa Loses Her Hat', Daily Mail Annual for Girls 1953, 1952.
Story in Daily Mail annual for Boys & Girls, published 1954
Collins Girls' Annual, Girls' Own Book, etc in the 1950s (various)
Swift Annual 1 (1954)

Harrogate Childrens Book Fair

The Childrens (& Crime) book fair in Harrogate last weekend was great as ever. Someone commented to me that this was an unusual mix of subjects - but nor really as it happens. There are several authors who wrote in both genre - Gladys Mitchell being a prime example, and many more. I don't know why the two tend to sit side by side - although these are the 2 book fields that interest me both. I know that when I was growing up I went straight from Enid Blyton to Agatha Christie - although this was partly because these were the two authors most prevalent in our local branch library! The love of both of these genres has stayed with me until the present day.
It was good to speak to a multitude of customers at the fair, seeing many regulars, but also introducing ourselves to some customers who we had only sold to over the internet, hopefully the won't have been frightened off meeting us in the flesh, and meeting some potentially new customers. There seemed fewer exhibitors than last time, but I know a couple pulled out at the last minute for personal reasons.
I always enjoy this specialist book fair - whether it be in Harrogate or Bath. I love seeing all the gorgeous books laid out - childrens books are often really well illustrated, and most attractive to look at. Even after all these years I still feel a rush of excitement as I see such lovely books displayed.
As we were going to view a collection of books on the Sunday, we stayed over in Harrogate on the Saturday night and it was lovely to have dinner with some customers turned friends in the evening. This is another great aspect of selling childrens books - you meet great people and several become friends.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Books - and more books

Off to the Harrogate Childrens & Crime Book Fair tomorrow (Friday). We can get set up on Friday evening ready for the selling day on Saturday - so we won't need to get up at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning. Dog/House sitters have arrived so we will be able to get away promptly tomorrow. Jeff has been busy packing up books whilst I have been doing the orders to get those out before we go.
As we have recently acquired some unusual Jane Shaw items, I have added to our book site a page on Jane Shaw - catagorising her novels by place instead of series, for a change. She seemed to revisit the same places in her different series - no doubt wanting to set them in locations she knew.
After this book fair we will only be doing 1 more before Christmas, and that is the Norwich one (date on our website ). We will hopefully be too busy despatching packages for peoples Christmas Presents, to be out doing too many book fairs.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Murder on the Sheringham/Holt Steam train

Being great fans of the traditional 'Who-dunnit', Jeff & I , along with our friends Annette & Ashley, decided we should join the murder mystery train last night at Sheringham, and investigate 'The curse of the mummy's tomb' - whilst in the best British Style eating a delicious four course dinner, with plenty of wine to aid our little grey cells.

The scene was set in 1923, with both actors and travellers dressed in an approximation of 1920's outfits. As is usual in these Agatha Christie type settings, many of the characters were of the nobility, with the addition of a vicar, an archaelogist and some glamourous ladies.

Needless to say a good time was had by all (see the photographs). The actors mingled amongst us, whilst we interogated them in depth. There were 2 murders - mild compared with midsummer I know - one on Holt platform, and another at Sheringham.

We thought we had done quite well - discovering lots of information about the characters involved - but come the end were still not sure of the murderer, there still being loose ends we could not tie up. However when Jeff filled in our form, he did indeed put down the correct murderer - the greedy Lady Molly - but we were not 'the winners' as we omitted to discover one essential clue - that she alone was the only person to have access to the dagger - the murder weapon. Back to the drawing board for us. We will have to polish up our investigative skills before we attempt it again.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Leaving Peakirk for Good

Yesterday Jeff went and collected the last van load from Peakirk. It consisted of shelving that was in a friends garage and lots of boxes of uncatalogued books that were in another friends stables. Its a strange feeling after almost a year to at last have moved lock stock & book! Yes, we have been in Norfolk for almost a year - and what a year. Van load after van load of books, shelves etc not to mention our personal goods. This followed by getting the outbuilding at this end ready to put the books on shelves - it has been a tiring, but satisfying time. Also over the year we sadly nursed then lost our gorgeous dog Golly - who at least made it here, and enjoyed our much larger garden for a little while. Then of course we were lucky enough to gain our lovely 'new to us' gordon setter Henny, via Gordon Setter resue, who despite having many problems of her own, has settled in well and is making progress all the time.

Quite a year. Despite the work, not helped by getting virtually cut off due to the snowy winter, we have never once regretted the move here. Norfolk is a lovely county - the beaches and countryside are gorgeous, and we hope in our next year here, to be able to really enjoy it. I have added some pictures of Jeffs last visit (well until we go back to see friends).

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Agatha Christie's 120th birthday anniversary

The 15th of September saw the 120th anniversary of Agatha Christie's birthday. Google even provided a google-doodle to mark the occasion - an elaborate scene adapted from one of the crime author's many detective novels. Each of the logo's letters has been replaced with a character taken from her novels.

This author, who also wrote under the pen name Mary Westmacott, was born in Torquay, Devon on September 15, 1890. She wrote more than 90 books, mostly detective novels, which have sold an estimated four billion copies worldwide. Her books have also been popularised by the many film versions and television adaptions of a variety of titles - still going strong. Her best known detectives are Hercule Poirot - her little belgian detective with his 'little grey cells' and Miss Marple, the little old Lady who just manages to solve the many mysteries that the police find so difficult. Needless to say we have many of these books for sale, from paperbacks to 1st editions, on our website at

Thursday, 16 September 2010

York Book fair 2010

York National Book fair is the largest in the UK with 189 dealers exhibiting. It is important that we go there, both to look for books for our customers, and to have a stand ourselves.

We arrived in York early afternoon on the Thursday to put up our stand ready for the fair the next 2 days. On our arrival the place was buzzing as usual, and I had to restrain myself (or Jeff did) from going round to every stand buying up goodies, but I did mange to get a few! A very nice young man - off to university next year, acted as a porter and helped us get all our books up to the mezzanine level where our stand was. We were in exactly the same position as last year - which unfortunately is about the hottest place in the building. We decided to go for the same spot to make it easier for customers to find us, but by those lights we really did start to melt - also commented on by several customers. Anyhow - it took us the afternnon to get set up - along with chatting to other exhibitors, then we were ready for the opening next day at 12 oclock. The fair opens Friday 12.00 - 7.00, then Saturday 10.00 - 17.00.

Friday was extremely busy, and we met lots of customers, sold lots of books - I'm pleased to say, and also learnt some interesting bits & pieces of book information too. It was a lovely, if tiring, day - and we collapsed back to our lodgings for a nights sleep before we did it all over again on Saturday. Saturday, as usual, was not as busy as Friday, but there was still a healthy buzz and lots of chat. However by the time 5 oclock came, we had to call upon our energy reserves to get the stall packed up, books back in the car, and start the 3+ hour journey home. When I started the business Jeff did wonder why I picked books (heavy items) as opposed to selling pot pourri, china or other such lady like pursuits. However I never was a lady, and books were the things that interested me - so book selling it was! Our journey home was quite straightforward for once - we stopped only once, 10 minutes from home, to pick up Fish & Chips for tea.

The fair was good for us - and I hope good for the visiors who came to look & browse.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Books - and Book fairs

We had a good fair in Bristol at the Girls school story conference - meeting up with customers old and new. We stayed in Bradford upon Avon, and travelled into bristol on the day for the conference. We had allowed ourself the day off on the Sunday after the conference, and at first - feeling guilty at having a day to do nothing, almost got in the car to come home - but then told ourselves that we were being daft, and settled into having a lovely walk in the sunshine down by the canal, and meandering back through the town. On Monday we set off back to Norfolk - at 11.00 am, and thanks to the dreadful traffic made it back at 6.00pm.
Tomorrow we are off to York National book Fair. Our friends are arriving first thing to house & dog sit, and we should be in York early afternoon ready to set up our stand. We have some lovely new and quite scarce stock to take with us, that we hope will be of interest - we bought in some rare Biggles titles about a month ago, and this will be the first time they have been out and about!
It is a 2 day fair, so we will not be back until Saturday night. As usual I will miss the dogs - but no doubt will enjoy the trip. Last year it was hot, but I think the weather will be quite different this year.

Poppy & Henny the Gordon Setters

Henny is settling down with us now, although still occasionally showing signs of stress.
She went to the vets and was spayed a couple of weeks ago - something she tolerated remarkably well. The worst part of it for her was not going out for runs afterwards whilst her wound knitted up again. She amazingly never once appeared to lick or touch her sttiches - totally ignoring her cut as if it didnt exist. Once she stated having runs again, she was ecstatic! Poppy too took little notice of the whole procedure. Jeff smuggled her out from time to time, so that she managed to get exercise, but we had to be careful not to let Henny know! they are both enjoying long walks again I am pleased to say.

Beaches - Brancaster

Once again we (Jeff, I and our 2 gordon setters) met our friends Ashley & Annette, and their 2 Westies, and went walking on Brancaster beach yesterday evening. Ashley had checked the tides, and high tide had - seemingly, passed by the time we met at 6.15. There was still only a small amount of beach exposed, but enough for us to walk along. After a little while the rain began. As it got heavier we thought we better turn round and go back. Then the thunder & lightening started. Fortunately none of us were too worried about this - but we did get very wet. It was lovely to see the rain beating against the cliffs.
As we got back to the car, another walker told us that the road into the beach was flooded with the sea - high tide seemed to have come late - and that we wouldnt be able to leave for another hour as cars couldn't get in or out. The eight of us walked down to look, and the sea had definitely come in across the road. Ashley walked through the water in the road to see just how deep it got (he was the only one wearing wellington boots) accompanied by Henny, who thought the adventure was much more interesting than staying with us.
After about half an hour we decided that the water level was low enough for the cars to get through.

Definitely a Famous Five type adventure for the eight of us! Sadly no one had brought the ginger beer.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Busy Times

As usual our life has been busy of late - and I have realised that I haven't been blog writing recently. I now write a little about each of this blogs topics - Books, dogs and beaches!

Dogs - Henny, our latest rescue Gordon Setter, is settling in and seems to becoming less panicky. Instead of lying right by our feet all the time, she relaxes in other rooms, or further away from us, which must be a good sign. We have been continuing our 'leaving them' exercises, trying to pop out for a little while most days, and we are gradually getting less damage in the home! Henny obviously searches the house from top to bottom when we leave, but providing we leave internal doors open it means they will not be damaged on our return. There is the occasional broken ornament to greet us, from where she has been looking out of the windows - I am learning to move ornaments to safer places, but when we creep back there doesn't appear to be any barking or crying, so she is obviously settling. Maybe one day, we will be able to go out for an evening! Poppy is gorgeous as ever, and tolerates Henny's behaviour remarkably well, if with some puzzlement. Henny however has shown her some new tricks (Poppy never used to go upstairs until Henny came, and Henny has lead her astray when she has done her escaping activities - we think the garden is now escape proof at long last). We nickname them Bonny & Clyde when they go on their 'naughty' expeditions. They always come back looking very pleased with themselves.
However due to our great neighbour George, who has painstakingly fenced our adjoining boundary with even higher fencing, we hope these escape antics are now at an end.

Books - as ever books continue to multiply. I am sure they breed over night.
The book room is getting a little more organised each week, and now many books are on shelves, they are much easier to locate when we get orders. We recently have bought some great new stock. Top of the list must be some W E Johns books we have bought in from someone who had had them in his loft since he was a child, and was amazed at what we were prepared to pay for them. They included a nice copy of the elusive Biggles and the Deep Blue Sea, which was great to get hold of. We haven't catalogued these on the internet yet, as we thought they would be great as new stock to take to the York National Book Fair, but if anyone reading this is interested in elusive Biggles titles, just contact me to see if we have it in stock now.

Beaches. The glorious North Norfolk beaches - which I recently heard described as some of the best beaches in Europe - get a little busier at this time of year, but nevertheless, if you are prepared to walk just a short way, you will soon find vast expanses of sand without people. I must admit we tend to go for beach walks a little less at this busy time of year, but earlier this week we met some friends and went for an early evening walk at Brancaster. Our friends took their 2 Westies and we took our Gordon Setters, and the eight of us had a great time. Our friends showed us where there were some seals - 7 of them enjoying the early evening sunshine. We took care not to show our dogs where they were. We walked along the beach for a while, soon losing most other people, and then back amongst the dunes - where we saw loads of beautiful sea lavender and attractive sea holly. It was a gorgeous evening - even worth the wasp sting and many midge bites I incurred.

I still think that North Norfolk is the most fantastic place to live, and we have no regrets about our move, even if we are worn out with the moving of the 30,000 books. Things are slowly coming together.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Verily Anderson (Author)

(Taken from her obituary in The guardian Thursday 29 July 2010.)

Verily Anderson was born in Edgbaston, Birmingham, the fourth of five children of the Rev Rosslyn Bruce and his wife Rachel. She recently died aged 95. during her life she had published more than 30 books – memoirs, biographies, children's stories and work ranging from personal reminiscences to Shakespeare scholarship and 10 Brownie books. Her breakthrough as a writer came in 1956, at the age of 41, when she published Spam Tomorrow, a deft and frequently uproarious account of her wartime experiences on the home front. It was a new kind of memoir, one of the first to explore the lives of women in wartime.

During the war Verily met Donald Anderson, a writer who specialised in military history. They married in 1940 and had five children. Donald died in 1956, and by the mid-60s Verily was again struggling financially. She was rescued by the actor Joyce Grenfell. They had struck up a friendship when Verily interviewed Grenfell for the BBC. Grenfell was so shocked at the conditions she found Verily living in that she bought her a home in Northrepps, a village in Norfolk, where she stayed for the rest of her life, writing dozens more books (including the critically acclaimed The Northrepps Grandchildren in 1968) and glorying in the role of matriarch to an ever-expanding family of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. When Verily married Paul Paget, architect and surveyor to the fabric of St Paul's Cathedral, in 1971, Grenfell was matron of honour.

Verily is survived by her children, Marian, Rachel, Eddie, Janie and Alexandra, 16 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren – and Alfie, her beloved RNIB guide-dog.

• Verily Anderson, writer, born 12 January 1915, died 16 July 2010

We have books by Verily Anderson for sale on our website at

Thursday, 8 July 2010

An eventful week.

The weather here has turned for the better, and so we have been enjoying th sunshine, whilst still toiling away at sorting out the books, still moving boxes around. The book room gets more organised daily (although a few shelves still need transporting from Peakirk to here, and fitting) - and why is it that books that are ordered are invariably in a box, at the bottom of a pile of boxes, not sitting nicely on shelves? Not strictly true - but it does feel like it.

Jeff's dad went into hospital nearly 2 weeks ago for an operation. He is 88, so it has been an anxious time for all the family. He is still there, and will be for quite a bit longer I think - but hopefully it will all work out for the best in the long run. Jeff decided to go and visit him, but I couldn't go as I had to'Henny Sit' - she still can't be left. As the hospital is in London, I suggested Jeff had a bit of a rest - something he doesn't often get - and go by train. He took my advice, and I think quite enjoyed the journey from Norwich to London. It was a slow train ride taking a couple of hours, but a chance for him to relax. However after sleepy Norfolk, London came as a culture shock, and I don't think he was sorry to get home again in the evening.

Over the weekend our fridge freezer broke down - the freezer part anyway - and as we hadn't noticed - this meant we had to throw away all the food inside. Now we have to decide whether to get it mended or buy a new one. We hope to do quite a transformation on our kitchen in a year or 2, so would prefer to have a quick mend for now until the kitchen is done, and then buy a new one. We will have to see just what the problem is.

On Sunday we had a day off - most unusual. We put the dogs in kennels for the day (they both seem happy there) and set off to Holt for the Vintage Transport Weekend held by the North Norfolk Railway. We went in the Singer gazelle Convertible, and parked up just by the steam railway station. It was a very well organised day, right down to the weather, and the railway had a newly renovated art deco train with quad articulated coaches running. We went on it into Sheringham, sat on the front and watched the people on the beach and the sea glistening whilst we ate our sandwiches, and then caught the train back again. We then spent a couple of hours sitting by the Singer - Jeff chatting to people wanting to discuss the car, and me with my head in a book. A lovely day.

Back to work on Monday - but the good weather continues. Brilliant. See pictures of our 'day out'

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Beaches - Blakeney

We are so lucky to be living in this part of the country. Last night - Monday - having collected Poppy & Henny from kennels, we decided to go down to Blakeney in the early evening and blow all our cobwebs from the weekend away. Blakeney of course is not a beach as such, but a gorgeous small costal resort, with boats bobbing about, great walks and loads of wildlife. The dogs gallop about on the muddy sand, and run to their hearts content, whilst we amble along enjoying the beautiful scenery. Of course when it is hot, as it was yesterday, the dogs can cool off in the water. Henny brought her beloved ball, and rescued it from the water numerous times.

Heart of England Book Fair

On Sunday we had a stall at the Heart of England Book Fair. It took place at the National Motor Bike museum, which was a very good venue.

We arrived in a hotel in Birmingham on Saturday evening, as we needed to be at the venue at 7 oclock Sunday morning, and didn't want to drive through the night! (A long way from North Norfolk). We got set up in the heat, and sadly our room - there were two rooms for the event - was the one without air conditioning. I must say that Jeff did alot of the setting up, whilst I (Heather) went around with customers wants lists and did some buying. I managed to get a couple of items off a customers wants list which was satisfying, and also found a few books I wanted for stock. I always enjoy buying more than selling, its as well that Jeff is the opposite, or we would be totally broke!

The fair was extremely well organised, and the best part of 100 sellers attended. However there were a few things against it. It was the hottest day of the year, the England v Germany world cup football match was on, there was a Grand Prix taking place (Jeff had to tape it) - and it was the middle weekend of Wimbledon. Consequently there were not as many customers as we would have liked to see - not the fault of the organiser who worked extremely hard, just pure bad luck for us. Consequently we did not get the takings we would have hoped for, but nevertheless it was an extremely good fair. Our Gordon Setter friends had to go into kennels for the duration - however this is good for Henny who needs to learn that we go away - and then come back. The kennels, Waggtails, have had the dogs for a couple of day time visits, but this was the first overnight one. They told us that Henny, apart from being rather vocal, got on well - so she is starting to learn.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

North Norfolk Beaches & Beach Huts

I have just realised that although I have spoken quite alot about books and dogs, I haven't mentioned beaches very much - a crime in this gorgeous area.

We are in a very fortunate position beach wise - being approximately 8 miles from our very favourite beach at Wells. Miles of glorious sand, and sand dunes - a haven for birds, wild life and of course a wonderful place for dogs to run. Our favourite walk starts at Wells beach car park, walking to Holkham through the woods, then going onto the beach and returning to Wells via the sand. A wonderful walk for gordon setters and humans alike! Henny (Henrietta if naughty - which is seldom), our new recruit, soon got into the hang of this walk, and joins Poppy in her running and rummaging, a treat for us all.

We also love the beach huts at Wells (as in Photo) and dream of the time when we could afford to buy one - probably never. The sad thing is that we have never, ever seen one being used. I am sure they must be at times, but we have never seen it. I know if we owned one, we would be there regularly, and it seems such a waste for them to sit there idle. I dream of sitting in a beach hut, dogs running round, drinking coffee and studying (when I return to the Open University, probably next year). A peaceful idyll - but alas I can only dream - unless of course we win the lottery as people say. Still, they are lovely to look at - and may I suggest to the owners that they use them more regularly, and appreciate them to the full.

We are lucky enough also to be near the beach/harbour at Blakeney - smashing for boats & wild life, Brancaster - a vast expanse of sand, and many more beaches. North Norfolk is a lovely place to live, and we are so pleased to be here.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Book Room - nearly up and running!

Apart from taking pictures of our dogs, we have been working away at getting our book room shelved, and it is largely done. We just need a bit more shelving, and we will have all our childrens books on shelves - which will make life a great deal easier when orders come in. Instead of moving lots of boxes of books, to get at the book ordered, we can just go to the shelf, and, hopefully, just take it off. Heaven after the last 7 months iesince we moved to Norfolk.

We have just got a new camera - our last one broke somehow, and will take a picture of the book room shortly!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Henny comes to stay

People who know us, and followers of our blog, know that we recently lost our beloved dog Golly. He will never be replaced in our hearts. However our other dog Poppy has been very lonely without him. A couple of weeks ago we heard from the brilliant United Gordon Setter Rescue, that they would shortly have a bitch aged four in need of rehoming, and would we be interested in giving her a home. In consultation with Poppy, we decided that yes, we would, and on Sunday we set off to Coventry to pick her up. Another long drive for Jeff, who drove to the Enid Blyton Society day yesterday, near Reading. Sure enough Henny (Henrietta) was waiting, as the three of us arrived to collect her. Poppy had a run around a lovely field at our collection point, and then the 2 of them were introduced. They didn't shower each other with kisses, but did have a sniff of interest, and then both got in the back of the car for the long journey home. I sat on the back seat so I could talk to them on the journey. With a couple of short stops the journey home took over 3 hours, and so we were all relieved to get out in what was to be Henny's new home. She investigated with interest, showing no sign of nerves, then launched into a full scale exploration of the garden (and she hoped escape routes - not knowing Poppy had examined these some time ago, and hopefully we have blocked them all off), and then excitedly a full investigation of the house - both appeared to get her seal of approval. Fortunately there was no sign of antagonism between the 2 dogs, and we are hopeful for a good future. Henny seems quite dominant, but Poppy doesn't appear to mind this, as she gleefully rolls on her back. Unlike Poppy, Henny seems to single mindedly be on the scrounge for food at all times, so we will need to hide all food out of her way.

Unsurprisingly, we got hardly any sleep last night, as Henny decided to bark & howl for almost the whole night. She didn't seem unduly upset or stressed, just wanting our attention. However she was in a new strange place, with people and a dog she doesn't know, so its not surprising she didn't sleep. As with all rescue dogs she comes with some issues, but we will wait and see how she settles in and develops. For now, we seem to have got ourselves a lovely dog (well bitch) companion for Poppy, and only time will show how things pan out. When she is well settled in, we hope to rescue a boy Gordon Setter to balance things up a bit! Much as Jeff may like living in a house of women, I think some male company would be good.

The Enid Blyton Society Day - May 15th 2010

Despite the fact that it was his birthday, Jeff set of on the long journey to Twyford, Near Reading, leaving home at 5.30 am on Saturday morning, and arriving at 8.30 am ready to set up our book stand. His efforts were rewarded in it being a really interesting day (he tells me - I had to Poppy sit as we won't leave our gordon Setter on her own since we lost Golly - see next blog). This was the 17th EB Society day, and was well attended as usual.
Sophie Smallwood & Robert Tyndall gave the first talk - being the author (and also Enid Blyton's grandaughter) & illustrator of the recently published Noddy book - Noddy and the Farmyard Muddle. This was followed by a talk by Susan Sheridan, the voice of Noddy and many other characters in the Cosgrove Hall Noddy TV series, produced for the BBC in the early 1990s.

After a lunch break, the afternoon was spent with some of the boys and girls from the 1978/1979 Famous Five TV series. Needless to say they had changed a little from their Famous Five days.
Marcus Harris, Gary Russell, Julie Davis & Gail Renard watched a full tv episode with their audience, and gave an enthusiastic running commentary on their memories of filming in the New Forest/Dorset - an enjoyable time of their lives. I wish I had been there.

Then after a good day of sales, Jeff packed up and eventually got home about 8.30, giving him a couple of hours to celebrate his birthday with me before falling asleep. His exciting weekend was not yet over - tomorrow he has to get behind the steering wheel again. See the next blog.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

The Shop

Good news (we hope) the shop has sold again - this time for conversion into a small cottage - as we originally intended. I just hope it goes through this time - after last time, I won't believe it until we exchange contracts!

Friday, 30 April 2010

Norwich book Fair

Jeff is trekking off to Norwich tomorrow - Saturday - to do the book fair there - once again without me. I have to stay at home and 'Poppy sit'. Since the death of her great friend golly, she has been lonely, and until she has a new doggy friend with us, will not be left for any length of time. We are in touch with both gordon setter rescue and English setter rescue, and hope to aquire her and us a new doggy friend - or 2 - soon. Then, when they get along well, and we have people they can be left with for the day, I will be able to once again attend the book fairs too.

Alan Sillitoe

The death of Alan Sillitoe was sadly announced earlier this week, probably best known for his books saturday Night, Sunday morning, and his short story The Lonliness of the Long distance Runner. I was introduced to his writing, when before I went to teachers training college - many moons ago - The Loneliness of the Long distance Runner was on the list of prescribed reading for us before we went. I was impressed with the book, and went on to read more of his works. I believe he was an avid reader as well as writer, reading a wide variety of material.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Weather lovely - and so to work.

We have been waiting for a weekend without rain forecast, to start sorting out our book room, so today is the day.
Stage 1 - take out all the boxes of books that, when they were in the shop, were in the upstairs middle section. Erect the book cases - we brought them with us, then put all the books on shelves. It sounds easy, but I bet it takes us a couple of days to complete. Just as well the sun is shining.

That is just the easy bit. Stage 2 will also require good weather - and for a longer period. The remainder of the boxes of children's books' will need to be taken outside whilst the room is fully shelved. then the books can go on shelves. Hopefully we will be able to do this soon - dependent on the weather.

Volcano causes delay in postage

Due to the volcano in Iceland that has closed down air space over the UK and much of Europe
Royal Mail have announced that it is expected to result in minimal export despatches by air from - Friday 16th April. Royal Mail has implemented plans to despatch mail to most European destinations by road. Airlines are currently accepting mail from Royal Mail for 'Rest of the World' destinations, in expectation of being able to fly as soon as our airports re-open. Temporary delays to International parcels, small packages and Express Mail Service items are likely.

This being so, our overseas customers may experience a slight delay in our mail arrival - sorry.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Golly the Gordon Setter

Our gorgeous Gordon Setter, Golly, died yesterday. Jeff & I are devastated - Golly was a very special dog. He came to us aged 2 - a dog that was terrified of all human beings. With coaxing and love, Golly slowly learned to trust humans, just Jeff & myself at first, but eventually some of our friends too. When Poppy joined us, he followed her lead and learned that new people were not all a threat. When Golly did trust you, he did whole heartedly, and we were rewarded with the most loving and affectionate dog I have ever known. I cannot begin to describe the hole he has left in our hearts.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Pearl Buck-Author

For anyone interested in the biography of Pearl Buck - writer of fiction and a few children's stories - Radio 4 are serialising her life story this week. I heard part 2 at 12.30 am last night (insomniac that I am) and am looking forward to part 3 tonight - same time. It is currently following her life from the US to China and back again in the early 20th century.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Peakirk Book Shop's Van

After being parted with his beloved 1940's Ford Van that people in the Peakirk area will have been use to seeing, Jeff today is driving it over to Stibbard. He has been waiting for suitable weather to bring it. He could have had it trailored over here, but he actually wanted to drive it. I thought this was a bit risky considering it has been standing, undriven for 5 months through the winter, but he has great confidence in it, so around now (mid-day Sunday) he should be starting the drive from Peakirk to Stibbard. I hope he makes it without any hiccups!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Book Pricing

Amazon have announced a new pricing policy which dictates that anyone selling books through their website - people such as us - have to price each book at the same, or a lower price, than on any other non physical selling channel ie any internet source. Consequently if we wished to advertise any of our stock cheaper on our own website, we could not do so if we still wish to sell through amazon. We need the amazon sales to stay in business - but it doesnt seem fair that they are dictating just how much we can sell our books for on our own site! Comments welcome.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Peakirk Books Shop for sale

We thought that our shop had sold and we were on the point of exchanging contracts when it all fell through. This was disappointing, as the 'sale' had been on the go for nearly six months. However, these things happen for a reason - so we will be putting it on the market again shortly. It will make someone a lovely little home when it's converted, and has loads of history with it. The people who were buying it, had wanted it for another shop - but it still has its planning permission to turn it into a cottage.
This however means we will still be going back & forth to Peakirk for a little while yet.

If anyone wants to buy an ex bookshop to convert into a cottage (it can be seen in the picture on our blog) do contact us!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Philip Turner aka Stephen Chance

I have been busy cataloguing some new stock, and thought I would mention this author, having just put quite a few of his books up for sale.

Philip Turner , who also wrote under then pen name Stephen Chance, is probably best known for his Darnley Mills Adventures, although he did write other titles. Under his pen name he wrote another well known series - his Septimus Books, that featured the ex-CID Chief Inspector, turned village parson, Reverend Septimus Treloar.

Philip Turner (1925 - 2006), was born in Canada, but only lived there for a year, and had his roots firmly in East Anglia. Both of his parents were born in Peterborough (UK), and he spent much of his childhood exploring remote Fenland villages whilst staying with his grandparents. He originally trained as a mechanical engineer, but after the war abandoned this, to work in Prisons and in hospital administration. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1951, and served in a number of parishes.

He wrote his first children's novel in 1964, Colonel Sheperton's Clock, which was to be the first of a number of books in his series of DarnleyMills' Adventures. In 1971, as Stephen Chance, he launched another series of books, beginning with Septimus and the Danedyke Mystery - which was adapted for television in 1979.

Philip Turner won the Carnegie Medal for children's literature for his second novel the Grange at High Force in 1966.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

All our Books in Stibbard!

Today we collected the last batch of the books from Peakirk, and took them home to Stibbard - this is the last of the 26,000+ books we had to move to continue our book selling business, All we need to do now is remove the shelves, transport them here and put them in the new book room. This will hopefully be done shortly. Then we unpack all the carefully labelled boxes and return them to the shelves. Until then, to find the books we have orders for, Jeff will continue having to move boxes around until her finds them - a laborious task, that I am sure he will be pleased to see the back of.

I have just remebered however that we have not actually moved all of them. We still have lots more, as yet uncatalogued, sitting in a friends barn, in Peakirk. They will also have to be loaded up and transported down here. Oh well - we are nearly there anyway.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Golly Gordon Setter update

Well, despite being very wobbly on his legs, Golly is hanging in and still enjoying life. We can tell - he still loves his food - dinner, treats and bones.
Poor Old Golly only has 1 decent leg out of 4, and so his 'walking' style is most peculiar - reminiscent of Spotty Dog in the Wooden Tops. He collapses regularly, but just sits and waits to be rescued, without any apparent distress. Today he managed to get right down our drive to look out the gates at the world going by. He loves seeing what is going on. We obviously wouldn't keep him alive if he was showing signs of distress, that would be selfish, but as long as he appears to be enjoying life, he carries on. Poppy meanwhile wonders why he isn't running around as usual, but accepts it in the way dogs do.

I am also wobbling round, but that is the BPPV! I can now stand without falling over, unless I move my head up, down or side to side too quickly, when the world spins. Both Golly & I ended up in a heap on the grass yesterday - he having fallen, followed by me bending down to try and rescue him, and ending up on the floor next to him. Jeff came to the rescue.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Girls Gone By Publishers

Obviously today is a day for thinking about stock levels of the new books we sell (despite selling 99% second hand & collectable books we stock new books by a couple of very small but subject related publishers). We have just received through the post some copies of 'True to the Trefoil' - a celebration of fictional girl guides, an interesting work following the development of girl guide stories, and 'Monica Edwards - the authorised biography' - the first biography of her, commissioned by her family and written by Brian Parks, an expert on her books.

These books were both published by Girls Gone By. 'Girls Gone By Publishers' is a publishing venture run by Clarissa Cridland and Anne MacKie-Hunter. They re-publish some of the most popular girls' fiction from the twentieth century, concentrating on those titles which are most sought after, and difficult to find on the second-hand market As with the titles above, they also occasionally publish non-fiction books that are genre related.

Bettany Press

Note to self - I must put in a book order from Bettany Press.

Bettany Press is a smallpress publisher which was founded in 1994 by Rosemary Auchmuty and Ju Gosling and is now run by Ju Gosling. They specialise in books for fans of British girls' fiction - both writing new books on this genre and republishing some scarce titles that are hard to find in the original form.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


I have been out of action for a few days - as my dratted BPPV - or Benign Paraxysmal Positional Vertigo to call it by its full name - is back with a vengeance. It's a little while since I had this badly, but I now find that if I move, everything swims and I fall over if I am not careful. Working is also difficult - so more for Jeff to do. I am just getting by, and hoping the world settles down soon.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Cambridge Book Fair update

Jeff had a good time at the Cambridge Book Fair, and, he tells me, got to chat to lots of customers there. He has also come home with a list of books to do a search for, and I hope that we can locate them for people. We will do our best. He tells me the fair was extremely busy, as I suspect was Cambridge itself, as it took him a long time to get home on Saturday evening.
We were very lucky, as on Sunday morning we awoke to blizzarding snow again, and if the weather had been like that on Friday or Saturday he would not have been able to get there at all.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Cambridge PBFA Book Fair - 19th and 20th February

On Thursday afternoon Jeff & I drove to Cambridge, armed with a selection of book stock to display on a book stand at the Cambridge Book Fair. As always Cambridge was very busy, and it took us quite a while to unload and set up the stand. We have some new stock - old Rupert Annuals, collectable Enid Blyton books and other goodies, so I hope we do well. Originally we had planned to stay over in Cambridge and leave our dogs in kennels, but due to Golly's ill health we cannot do that now, so Jeff is driving up each day. On the way home from Cambridge last night, the weather turned very snowy when we got to Swaffham, and the last part of our journey was very slow, going through snow storms and blizzards. I hope it stays better today (Friday).

Oliver Postgate

We now have a freeview box - a novelty for us - and I found by accident a programme about Oliver Postgate on BBC 4 Wednesday Evening. We sell numerous Postgate & Firmin books, mainly I think due to peoples memories of the wonderful tv programmes produced by Oliver Postgates small film productions. It was amazing to watch how these programmes were filmed in his shed/outbuilding/studio. Of course in the books Peter Firmin drew brilliant illustrations of these characters too.
In the programme we saw how Oliver made the incredible characters that so many of us remember from our childhood. Most time was spent looking at the Clangers, but we also watched Ivor the Engine, Pogles Wood and many others. What I hadn't realised as a child watching these programmes were the way Postgate's socialist values (handed down from his father Raymond Postgate) were incorporated into the stories.
A most interesting programme.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010


Beaches - the third Passion for my blog. If it wasn't so wordy, I would have put 'Beaches and Beach huts'. I love Beach huts, both practically and aesthetically, they look wonderful on British Beaches. We recently moved to North Norfolk which has both an abundance of gorgeous sandy beaches, and on some of them, the most delightful beach huts. A fine example of this, are the colourful beach huts situated on the fantastic beach at Well-Next-the Sea. My dream is one day to own one, so that I can pop down any time in the winter, sit inside with my dogs, and just watch the sea. However the last one I saw for sale was so highly priced, I fear this will stay a dream!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Enid Blyton - The film 'Enid'

Recently BBC 4 showed the Film 'Enid', a story of the life of this renowned childrens author. We didn't have access to BBC4, but a friend taped it for us and we watched it last night.
As with all films of this type - generally called biopics I believe , I really do not know just how accurate a portrayal this was, and at the beginning they did state that some scenes were fictional. However from what I have read I believe the essential facts are accurate. It made an interesting viewing, and I hope that it is shown soon on a more mainstream channel such as BBC 2. Helena Bonham Carter did in my opinion make superb Enid, I thought bringing out a side of her that I could feel some sympathy with, whilst simultaneously finding many of her actions quite unpleasant.
I took away from this film the feeling that Enid Blyton was a little girl that never really grew up from the time her father left home and who took refuge in a fantasy land, which both coloured her life and enabled her to write books that children - myself as a child included - found thoroughly exciting and escapist. She did, as she said, understand want children wanted, and gave it to them (us) in vast quantites. However this was to the exclusion of her own children. Enid was indeed a very complex character.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Book News - Dick Francis sadly died today.

Sadly we heard that crime writer Dick Francis, famous for his horse racing-based crime novels, has died today aged 89. Being a crime fiction enthusiast I have read many of his books - and we have many of his first editions in stock on our web site at

Dogs - Our gorgeous Gordon setters.

Our Blog is called Books, Dogs and Beaches as these are the 3 main passions of my - and I think Jeff (my husbands) life. We currently have the privilege of 2 gordon setters living with us - Golly - aged 10 nearly 11 and Poppy - aged 4 nearly 5. We also are registered with United gordon Setter rescue, and have asked for another suitable boy Gordon setter when one becomes available.
We were off out yesterday to go to my mums 80th birthday celebrations. However 1 of our dogs is unwell and we could not leave him at the kennels. This is doubly upsetting, as I obviously wanted to be at my mums birthday celebrations and wanted to look after my gorgeous Gordon Setter called Golly. Golly sadly has cruel arthritis. The worst is in 1 of his front legs where he sustained an injury before he came to live with us, aged 2. Arthritis set in early, and he has adapted his walking over the years to take the pressure off that leg. However now his rear legs are giving way and things are rather sad for him - and for all of us. He will be off to the vet again tomorrow to see if there is anything else that can be done to help him.

Poppy - our girl- is lively and full of fun. Golly is the no. 1 dog in the pack, and she respects that and adores him appropriately. However she is a confident dog and lives life to the full - even when that includes escaping from our garden to explore the local neighbourhood. We have not been in Norfolk for long, and thought the garden of our 'new' house (built in the 1800's) was escape proof. However it takes a dog to find the escape routes - and she found her way out to explore. On one outing she found her way to a neighbours duck pond where there were 4 lovely white ducks. Jeff waded in after her (temperature was below zero). She did not want to leave - well she is a setter! Fortunately no ducks were harmed, Jeff was fine after a bath and change of clothes, and the neighbour fortunately was very understanding. We still have to watch her in the garden in case she finds any further exit points.

Hopefully they are going to love living in Norfolk. They have a much larger garden than before, and lovely local walks and of course the gorgeous Norfolk beaches to explore.