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.
 

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


Russell Hoban, author, dies aged 86

Author Russell Hoban, whose novel Riddley Walker was described by Anthony Burgess as "what literature is meant to be", has died aged 86. Hoban, born in Pennsylvania but a resident of London for more than 30 years, first made a name for himself with his children's books; his series about Frances the badger and his novel The Mouse and His Child are acclaimed as modern classicsrrently have in stock by Hoban,  'La Corona and the Tin Frog', A Near Thing for Cvaptain Najork (Illus by Quentin Blake, 1st edition);A Bargain for Frances (Pbk); Bread and Jam for Frances (Pbk); A Baby Sister for Frances (pbk); The Dancing Tigers (1st edition); Harvey's Hideout (1st edition); Tom and the Two Handles (1st edition); The Marzipan Pig - Illustrated by quentin blake (1st edition); The Great Fruit Gum Robbery; Big John Turkle (1st ed); Crocodile & Pierrot; 

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A Norfolk Day near Christmas

Even though we have we have been living here for two years now, we still consider ourselves extremely lucky to be living in this gorgeous county, and when we are able to get a day 'off' it is a real treat to be able to go out and about.  Saturday was no exception.

One thing in particular we have noticed here is that when it comes to Christmas, Norfolk does it particularly well with its array of fayres, concerts, pantomimes, plays, fireworks, shopping nights and many other festivities - and of course the famous Thursford Concert, if you can manage to get a ticket. Well it is mid November, so things have started to happen, and as we try to support the Hillside Animal Sanctuary whenever we can - who incidentally do tremendous work in rescuing and looking after a large variety of animals, we planned to go to their Christmas Open Weekend.

By now I think it is fairly obvious that all events have to be planned around our two mutts - Poppy and Henny. Weekends always involve a reasonably long walk for them - and so for us, so for once I did a little planning, and decided we could go to West Runton with the doggies in the car, go to the beach - have a long walk along the beach - wear them out there - well try to, and then hopefully have a short look round Hillside whilst they had a snooze in the car after their walk.

We set off in the car on our expedition, armed with the usual equipment - dog bowls, water, towels - the dogs have far more 'stuff' than we do, and headed for West Runton.  The sun was shining amazingly, it was a lovely day.  We decided to let the dogs run around the field going up the cliff to start with.  They hadn't been here before and they seem to know when it is somewhere new.  They looked at each other excitedly and rushed about all over the field - even bumping into each other at one point.  Jeff followed with his trusty poop a scoop bags - I always let him have the nice jobs! Then we went onto the beach and they loved it.  The sea was right in so there wasn't much sand, but the tide had turned so we were OK, and would not get cut off further down the beach. All four of us had a lovely walk.

Having returned to the car, given the dogs water to drink, and settled them down, we then went to the Hillside sanctuary, just up the road. Things were already in full swing and the car park was quite full.  We found a shady spot for the car and hoped that it would be peaceful so as not to disturb the doggies post walk snooze. We left the windows down a little to allow air to circulate and crept off.  We then hid behind some cars (if people were watching goodness knows what they thought) to make sure all was quiet - not a peep.  We weren't going to leave them long, but wanted to make sure they were happy.  Off we went - first stop the Nativity Scene.  Hillside do a real stable with animals at the nativity - it is lovely, and I think has so much more meaning for the children (and big children like us) than most nativity scenes. I love it.

Hillside run several stalls as money raisers including a tombola. Unusually, I won something last year.  Now when I say something - when I win I do it in style - it was the most enormous teddy bear - a real giant one. This I proceeded to give to my then 2 year old niece, although I am not sure her parents (My brother and his wife) liked it quite as much as she and I did! Between us he was christened Billy - as in 'Billy no Mates' as we told her he didn't have any friends because he had been a naughty boy, and he needed her to look after him and make him into a good boy.  Since then he has developed a 'Phil Mitchell' (with apologies to Eastenders) type voice, and gets up to all sorts of pranks. I told the family gleefully that I was going back to Hillside this year and would try to win Billy's brother Bobby - I saw the look of dread on my brother's face as he suggested if I did win it, wouldn't it be better going to a hospital?  Sure enough - there was another large bear in the Tombola - but try though I might, I couldn't get it, although I did win some other bits on the way. So, much to my brothers relief I'm sure, my niece will be getting a small white polar bear, but not another huge bear to add to her collection.

Our Trip to Hillside was cut short as Jeff went back to the car to check if the dogs were OK, to find them 'singing' or in reality howling beautifully.  There were people around making noise and instead of sleeping they decided they would try to get attention, so despite the fact we had only been missing for 10 minutes, they were not to be placated and Jeff had to stay in the car with them whilst I went to the shop and get some Christmas presents and of course have a quick look at the books, where I actually got some  for me to read. I also patted some horses, had a quick chat to some cows, some donkeys, and the occasional person.  We then moved on, gave the dogs another walk to make up for leaving them for such a long time! and went home, via Binham craft fair as planned - where I bought a couple of Christmas decorations.

Having done a little work in the afternoon - well you have to, don't you, we then went to Docking Quiz night in the evening with friends who live in Docking.  This did mean taping Strictly Come Dancing, but it was a very good evening.  We don't partake in quiz nights very often, our general knowledge being a bit on the thin side - and with my memory getting worse on a daily basis, but if it's just for fun, well that's OK. (Are these things ever just for fun?).  I must admit though there is something amusing sitting in a room of generally middle aged people all sitting mumbling to themselves, reciting away, trying to recall things in the back of their mind - all these facts that we know somewhere, that elude us, but given a week or 2 would suddenly pop into our minds. Mind you the alcohol consumed on the night probably doesn't help. Anyhow our team came a respectable 3rd - no thanks to me - and then it was off home, and of course we couldn't go to bed, as we had to entertain the doggies who had had the evening to sleep and become recharged.  So we watched the dancing at Wembley - and what a spectacular that was, chatted to the dogs about the evening, and thought what a nice life we are leading in Norfolk!


Monday, 21 November 2011

The Greyfriars Alphabet!

The Greyfriars Alphabet! (from The GreyfriarsHoliday annual 1925)

A Humorous Poem of some well-known Greyfriars Characters

A Is Alonzo, a dreamy young duffer
B is for Bunter, the world's greatest Stuffer
C is for Coker a comical fellow
D is for Dutton, at whom we all Bellow
E is for Elliott a junior well-dressed
F is for Fish, who is sometimes a pest
G is for Gatty - gay jests are his aim
H is for Hoskins, of musical Fame
I is for Inky, who's dusky of visage                                                                      
J's Johnny Bull, who's a marvel for his age!
K is for Kipps a conjurer clever
L is for Loder - no good whatsoever!
M is for Mauleverer languid and lazy
N is for Nugent, as fresh as a daisy
O is for Ogilvy, Scotland's Proud son
P is for Penfold-great deeds he has done
Q is for Quelchy, a capable master
R is for Russell, wholse left spells disaster
S the sly Skinner plans Japes by the dozen
T is for Toddy, Alonzo's cute cousin
U is the Upper Fourth's Elegant Leader
V Vernon-Smith gaily greets every reader
W is Wharton, a sport born and bred
X sometimes Xtra - Bob Cherry's 'YZ' (Wise Head)



Sunday, 6 November 2011

I have been rather busy of late - what with us having the VAT to do, our year end accounts to finish, the catalogue to get out - which yes, I did eventually do, a couple of Book fairs to go away for, and finally a weeks holiday to squeeze in (Lanzarote in the sunshine) to recover. So the Blog has suffered neglect - sorry. I am still not a natural blogger.  Some people can 'blog' as naturally as breathing - I guess they are generally younger than I am, and a great deal more creative, but for me it takes a little more work - and I always seem to have so many things to do.  I know we women are able to multi task - but there are limits at to things that you can do at the same time as blogging - and the blogging still make sense. I do have my coffe break at the same time, but I guess that doesn't count - and there is still the danger of the coffee going over the keyboard. Those who know me, will realise that isn't just a jokey remark but a very real possibility. My co-ordination isn't the best.

The holiday was great - and the 6 days away always gives Jeff and I our best thinking time.  The rest of the year we tend to spend chasing our tails, knowing that our lives could work better but not seeming to have the time to sort it out, but on holiday we actually stop, and after about day three we start to talk about how we could make changes. This includes just about everything.  One year we got out a paperbag and pencil whilst sitting at a poolside, and redesigned our house - the one we are now living in, and is now slowly taking shape (actually, our last one evolved in the same way too - maybe we should learn from this!). This year it was the business.  Jeff's contribution was to vastly improve the efficiency/timewasting through better organization - no surprises there.

Again those of you that know us, will also know that Jeff is the tidy organised part of our partnership. He loves systems, organization, things in place, efficiency,  in fact just about everything that I hate! (But I do have the good grace to understand are necessary for a business to work properly). Now to some degree this works well - Jeff takes care of the paperwork of the business - the accounts and the generally troublesome side that, even though I am quite cable of dealing with, I don't have to bother with - but Jeff actually likes it. Wonderful.  The problem comes more with issues of my untidiness and disorganization - things like me forgetting - (or to be honest, not being bothered), to write book purchases down,  and then having to recall afterwards and look for the receipts, and wasting oodles of time looking for them. Then there is the messy way I work - with piles of books everywhere - well you get the picture! Well we had a full and frank discussion - and I had to feel a little sorry for him, when he said he had even tried working a bit more messily himself to see if that helped him undestand - but it didn't! Anyhow - a few ideas emerged to see if we can 'streamline' to become a bit more efficient in our procedures. In my defence - I can try, but when you have my type of disorganized personality (I naughtily call it creative, but its not, its just untidy) it is very difficult to change.  My brain works in a disorganized way - ideas don't come in nice orderly pattern, I remember things either all at once or not at all.

Now - my contribution to the holiday discussion was somewhat different - shock horror!  For sometime I have been wanting to have another 'string to our bow' - just a little string. Both Jeff and I love old toys.  Jeff collects dinky toys - you probably won't be surprised to know (but I was) that when he was a child he actually kept some of his cars in their boxes, all neat and tidily when he finished playing with them - I didn't know anyone did that!  Needless to say his mum gave them all away, didn't mums always do that? He has slowly, and at great expense, been replacing them - only wanting all the ones he had as a child - and getting fussier and fussier as he has progressed.
I just like toys - especially those from the fifties and sixties - there is something about the colour and design that really appeals to me - although I am still searching for a replica of my doll with blue hair - I would only know her if I saw her again.  Anyhow - I would like to set up a separate Peakirk Vintage Toys & Collectables Shop soon - I have been squirreling away some things - just bits and pieces, to see how it goes, and I asked Jeff if he would register it with our accountant. He looked doubtful, as I expected - he is not one to be rushed - it took ages to get Peakirk Books going - but the seed is sown. Watch this space.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

I listened with interest to the programme on Radio 4 this week about the influence of the Chalet School Books on Val McDermid's writing career.  As I am both a book seller of children's books and a great fan of Val's books, I thought this was bound to be of interest. I did find it interesting, but was a little disppointed in the style of programme that the BBC transmitted - a kind of mock mastermind effect being a bit gimmicky for me. 

However, that apart I was pleased to hear Val discuss the virtues of the Chalet School books, saying that although the girls obviously were having privileged schooling, as a child that was not what the reader noticed.  I wasn't fortunate enough to read these as a child, my library didn't have them, but reading Malory Towers & St Clares, I can echo this. I didnt worry about the class of the girls at school, I was much more interested in their adventures.

Ms McDermid said she felt much more to be taken from the Chalet Books was that girls could grow into women, who could both have families and careers, that naughty children were redeemable, and that the books were aspirational - anything was possible. She also said that personally she saw in the books, exemplified in Joey Maynard, that people could write stories and get paid for it and make a living, and indeed what is more aspirational than going to Oxford from a working class background.

The programme also included several guests, such as Clarissa Cridland, Chalet School reader, female vicar and one of the excellent Girls Gone by publishers of the reprints of the Chalet School Books (which we stock at http://www.peakirkbooks.com). Between Val and her guests they mentioned the other virtues of this series of 58 books, such as the fact that they are not all sunshine and light, dealing also with subjects such as death - mainly by involving the sanatorium nearby. One of Val's favourite book in the series was also highlighted - Chalet School in Exile, which came out in 1940 and dealt with the difficult issue of Nazism.

These books were then given to some of todays girls to see if they liked them to read - I was pretty sure they would as we sell them to children today quite regularly, despite the fact they are 'Old fashioned' and don't involve  mobile phones, computers, and twitter and sure enough they seemed to.  They were keen to read more.  The books are quite short in comparison with a Harry Potter - children are used to quite large works these days, but are enjoyable and there is still quite a large market for children, mainly girls, who want to lose themselves in the fantasy of boarding school adventure stories.  If you would like to hear this interview it is currently available at the following link. http://bbc.in/pohhKk

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

I was really excited the other day when Stephen Booth the author bought a book from our site.  I know its daft, but authors that I read (and I do read his books regularly because I think they are very good, and I do enjoy detective fiction ) I have a job relating to as real people, they are sort of 'mini gods' in my world.  Thus when  I get a book order from such an author I find it hard to believe.  I do know it is from him, and not another Stephen Booth, as I have mentioned his books to him, and the book I sold him was a childrens detective fiction book set in the Peak district, where he sets his crime novels too.  Maybe 'my' book will get a mention in his next book! Anyhow - he seems really friendly and pleasant, which is always good to know.
I have always been a sucker for animals - and this started I think with animal stories in my youth - probably with stories like good Old shadow the Sheepdog, the Enid Blyton favourite. This story is about a mole who was different because he was white, and avoided by all the other animals because he was different - except by the Stoat family, and their interest was not comforting.
Then he meets another creature in a similar plight - a white blackbird, who has advise for him.  He follows the advise, and in the end, with courage and persistence, he wins the day. I know these stories have a moral theme, but I don't think there is anything wrong with that - those that are a little different sometimes need to know that with courage they can win through.Barkers illustrations are evident throughout. If you click on the picture opposite you can see the details of the book for sale if you are interested in purchasing.

Monday, 12 September 2011

'He was my friend, faithful and just to me' Julius Caesar/Shakespeare

I saw this picture as the frontis of The Girls Own Annual Volume 57, and had to share it - along with Shakespeare's words written underneath, although taken totally out of context - I completely agree with their use!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Off to York National Fair

House sitters in place we are off to the York National Book Fair for a couple of days. Say hello if you are on our stand - 193 room 1A. Heather

Monday, 29 August 2011

Old Rhyme

Oh, for a booke and a shadie nooke,
Eyther in-a-doore or out;
With the grene leaves whisper'ring overhede,
Or the strete cryes all about.
Where I maie reade all at my ease,
Both of the newe and olde;
For a jollie goode booke whereon to looke
Is better to me than golde.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Laddy groomed himself ready for the competition!


He preened himself ready for the competition - 'Black, glossy hair, short beautiful legs and short ears. I am bound to win!'

Spot Holds a Beauty Competition'


A sweet little story published by Litor (London) about a kennels, where 5 dogs, 2 puppies a rabbit and a toy dog lived, and Spot - one of the dogs decided to arrange a beauty competition.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Wayside Book

The Wayside Book by Gilbert Rumbold - This gorgeous book by Gilbert Rumbold I think is a real ttreasure. It ambles around the country in the year of 1934, illustrated brightly in orange green and white - very art deco in appearance, ,illustrating the treasures of the British countryside from Kent Oast houses, to Ann Hathaway's Cottage, but with an emphasis on Inns, and hotels - and musings such as why ancient man did not scratch 'Homio Sapiens loves Eliza Piltdown' in Wookey Hole Caves. A 1st edition, in its dustwrapper, of this delight costs only £6.00 plus postage on our website - simply click on the illustration and follow to purchase (unless someone has beaten you to it and bought it already!).

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Auctions & Book buying

Busy week this week. I have spent 3 days at Aylsham book buying at the auction. It's a long time since I have been to this particulat auction, and know it to be a good one, but what with so much to do - buying, selling, cataloguing, booksearching, living!, decorating, dogwalking, book fairs, etc etc, I just hadnt got round to it, but when a friend organised me to go - just what I needed, along I trotted - and instantly remembered just what it was I loved about auction rooms. Not only is it all the lolvey books - and oh, I could spend, spend, spend, but its the sense of anticipation - not so much the ovbious - what is listed on the catalogue - obviously there is the anticipation with that - ''will what I have spotted in the catalogue be in the condition I hoped it will be in - and will I be able to get it at an affordable price - how many others will have spotted it' type questions race through your mind - but also the fun of rummaging though boxes to see what it in there, what little treasures you might spot and again wondering who else will spot them too.
Aylsham auctions are well known auctions in the book world and people travel far & wide to go there, so you know that many people will have been to view the books. Lots of bids are left as Commission bids, and many others are telephoned through on the day, but as I hadn't been for such a long time I wanted to attend the viewing and both days as a bit of a treat to myself. It has certainly changed quite a bit since I was last there - which now I think about it, is probably between 10 and 15 years! Time flies. It is much more orgainised now with lovely comfy chairs, and on day 1 we had to sit down, much to my surprise, whilst the bidding was on. There was a nice friendly atmosphere and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and intend to have it on my calendar as a regular event - if my bank balance can stand it! Much more stock will be listed soon.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Viola Bayley

Just about finished Viola Bayley pages on our Peakirk Books website - http://www.peakirkbooks.com . Brief biography and bibliographic details of this popular childrens author. It still needs tidying a little, but the work is now done.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Children's Fairy Tales Artists

Interested in Fairy Tale artists - great article - Imagine the Hobbit illustrated by Maurice Sendak - In The Los Angeles times March 25 2011 - follow me on twitter to see the reference.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Awfully Big Blog Adventure ONLINE Litfest 9/10 July 2011

Don't Miss the Awfully Big Blog Adventure Online Litfest 9-10th July 2011 run on http://awfullybigblogadventure.blogspot.com - they hope to have 40 children's authors involved and a great programme of events to offer promoting reading and books. It is free and open to all - and you can come in your pyjamas!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Amazon take over Book depository

Are amazon buying everything in the book world? (Strangely enough they havent made an offer for us - I don't think we are big enough to interest them). However it appears that Book Depository and their 6 million books are - and amazon are welcoming them into their fold. See - http://yhoo.it/ITvisX

Friday, 1 July 2011

JULY 1ST - OUR BIG SALE

TODAY OUR SALE BEGINS. We are having a big 'July summer Madness' 25% off all our stock sale starting today. Of course it is only available for stock bought on our own site at http://www.peakirkbooks.com because we can't afford to take 25% off stock on the other sites where we have to pay so much commission as well - we would then be trading at such a big loss. If you want to take advantage of buying our books at a 25% discount - between July 1st and July 31st 2011, simply go to our own site, and purchase, using the e code MAD007 in the coupon box at the checkout, and you will automatically get the discount. We specialise in children's collectable books, but there are lots of other books there too - 26,000 of them! It's worth a browse.

i MUST BE THE MOST USELESS BLOGGER THERE IS!

I wrote a lengthy account about going to the London Book Fair, meeting some customers I had never met in the flesh before - despite having had long e-mail relationships with, (you know who you are Eileen & Parizan) - and the rest of a long and tiring day - and managed to somehow lose the whole lot - except the title - see my last entry. I havent got the heart to write it all over again. Oh well - the life of a bookseller who is not technologically savvy, is an interesting, if exasperating one!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Friday, 20 May 2011

Paul O'Grady

Well done to Paul O'Grady - for moaning about his kindle! He promoted the book over the kindle which he said on his show, (see his interview with Miss Celia Imrie) had problems with both dirty finger prints, and it bringing up the dictionary when he 'turned the pages'. Well done Paul - there is nothing like curling up with a good book - a 'real' one!

Viola Bayley

Currently working on putting an article on Viola Bayley, written by a friend/customer, on our website. Interesting - especially as she has both written about her life and collated all her works including all her short stories, but it takes me ages to transmit it onto our site. I wish I was more computer literate!!!!! When I have finished this one, I have one to do on Kathleen O'Farrell that her daughter kindly wrote with her mothers input.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

More about the Seals of East Anglia

Having written before about the seals on the beach, at Wells, I was delighted to find a book in our stock - Summer of the Seals by Geoffrey Morgan - all about Seals in East Anglia. It concerns a girl whose dog finds a seal pup stranded on the sands of the East Anglian Estuary, but then her pleasure is spoilt when she discovers that seals are wanted for their pelts. A story follows of a girl's fight to save the life of a young seal, and then to meet the wider challenge of the tragedies that follow a season's culling.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Diana Wynne Jones

We were sad to hear of the death of this writer of popular children's fantasy book author on March 26th 2011, aged 76, after her battle with cancer. Diana was a British Born author (1934) who wrote unconventional fantasy stories with modern settings that featured witches and mythological figures. She began with 'Wilkin's Tooth' published in the UK in 1973, and in the US, under the title Witches Business in 1974. In this she pitted a group of contemporary schoolchildren against a witch. She then progressed to writed around 40 or so books, and won several awards. She will be sorely missed by her many fans as well as her friends & family.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Independent Book Sellers

Today I see that ABE have acquired ZVAB books (which of course are part of choose books).
Now a couple of years ago Amazon bought up ABE books. ABE also bought up the small firm , chrislands, that made & hosted small book sites, for little independant booksellers like ourselves - peakirk books. At this rate amazon will soon own all the internet sites on the globe. Fair & Competitve trading? I think not.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Henrietta Stays for Good

Not that it was ever in doubt (I would have had a physical punch up if it had come to it, as there is no way I could part with her now!!) but Henny's 'social worker' as we knick-named him - or Paul & Pam Woodhouse to give them their proper names, the representatives from United Gordon Setter rescue came to pay Henny her final visit to ensure all was well on Saturday, and to sign her off into our permanent care, so I am pleased to say Henny is now well and truly our adopted dog. They came armed both with some nice doggy treats, which Poppy shared in, and with their newest Gordon setter in their car - an 11 month old Gordon setter - Domino - who stayed in the car for some of the visit, but had a little run around in the garden on her own so we could meet her. She is, needless to say, adorable - and seemed very grown up for 11 months old.
We intend to meet on the beach sometime, so that their 3 Gordon setters can meet our 2, and there is plenty of space for them all to run around together.

Peakirk Books at Stibbard W I

Stibbard W I asked Jeff & I if we would give a talk last Wednesday about what we do at Peakirk Books. Armed with a few props Jeff & I went across to the village hall and were pleased to see that so many villagers had shown interest in our business, and had tuned out to listen to what we had to say. There were even 2 men there, much to our surprise!

There were lots of questions, and despite it being cold and dark, about half the audience chose to accompany Jeff over to the book room - fighting their way past the builders skip and other tools and general debris to get there. They showed great interest. They were also kind enough to give us flowers and wine as a thank you for the evening. The picture shows some stragglers discussing the books.

Seals at Wells-Next-the-Sea

During the Winter period we have been taking quite a few beach walks with the dogs, and have seen that the seals have been quite visible on the beach and at the waters edge at Wells Next the sea. We have of course kept the dogs well away from the seals, but watched from afar. What a treat.

We have been hibernating

The long long winter has, I think, been causing us to largely hibernate, and thus our blog has got neglected. Lesson to self - I must do better. What a long cold miserable winter it has been, and thank goodness the winter is nearly ending. March begins tommorrow. Hurrah. We have had the builders with us for the last month, and the house is slowly transforming into the shape we would prefer it to be in. We are doing the house transformation in stages - due to financial constraints - but the first stage is the largest. The front door is moving, a new hall is being instated, the main reception room is growing, the kitchen is gaining another door, we are having a new porch, the downstairs bathroom is shrinking, we are having a new window put through a wall, plus several windows replaced - some internal walls moved - not just a few cosmetic changes. When the builders eventually leave us, there will be an awful lot of decorating to do, but it will all be worth it - in our opinion obviously. When chatting to some local villagers it was interesting to hear that we are actually putting the front door back to where it used to be - and it also used to have a little porch, much as we plan to have built. What goes around comes around!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Christmas tv & radio

Christmas on the television was mixed as usual but we did have some favourites. Strictly come dancing is a favourite of mine, and Jeff quite enjoys it too, so the final was a must - and I think the correct decision was made. Much as I loved Matt as a character, Kara was the better natural dancer and a joy to watch.

My favourite over the Christmas Season was - tucked away in the middle of the day - but on for 4 days - The Just William Series. The casting of William was inspired - Daniel Roche - better known for playing the younger boy, Ben, in Outnumbered. Daniel was William Brown - with his expressions, grumpiness, speeches about 'girls' (yuck) - the whole thing I felt was true to the books by Richmal Crompton. Martin Jarvis, so well known for his radio 'William' episodes has a place in these tv versions, gving a voice over type commentary, and the whole thing worked very well. I am just amazed that the BBC put this on in the middle of the day (we taped them and watched them in the evening) - but if you missed them, do keep a look out for repeats that are sure to come along at some time - they are very funny and not just for children. Needless to say we have lots of ~William books in stock on our site at www.peakirkbooks.com

Christmas in Stibbard 2010

We ended up having a very quiet christmas this year.

Originally we were going to have a big family Christmas, but as the weather got colder & colder, and bearing in mind our parents are now quite elderly, and 2 out of 4 take blood thinning tablets that make you really feel the cold, it was cancelled at the last minute. Out house has storage heaters which arent the most effective - and it is also draughty, and a mutual decision was made that parents were better staying in their nice warm bungalows, and having christmas dinner our local to them siblings. This was very disappointing, but sensible, and left Jeff & I plus of course Henny & Poppy having a quiet Christmas here. We went to a local carol service in the village church on the Sunday before Christmas, and joined the group of carol singers that went a-carroling around the village one evening before Christmas - great fun in the snow in a festive atmosphere.

Jeff & I spent much of Christmas collapsed in a heap recovering from the busy pre christmas time. However this sudden empty space in our calendar which we happily filled with dog walking (with our friends at Holkham on boxing day and otherwise as a happy foursome) - and sitting by the fire watching television and reading. It was a lolvey peaceful Christmas and allowed us time to catch up with ourselves! We obviously still worked over the Christmas period - fortunately book orders still come rolling in (see our site at www.peakirkbooks.com ) but we packed up earlier and snuggled by the log fire.

Christmas

In the run up to Christmas things got very hectic - not only did we lose our telephone connection, we then lost our internet connection, causing chaos. This is a really busy time of year for us, and customers were sending their orders - still in time for the last Christmas post - well they should have been, but the Christmas post has been a whole different story this year. Anyhow - thanks to our lovely neighbours, Rob & Roxanne, who let us use their laptop at their house to help out - and who also tried to rig up a phone line, and then with more thanks to the second BT engineer who came and sorted things out for us, we eventually got our phone line back and then broadband back. Not the best time of year for this to happen. We are still having occasional phone problems - but that is now due to the new telephone we bought - to try and improve things - now not working, and having mucked the system up again. We think all is now well, and are awaiting a replacement telephone, but I say this with everything crossed - and if the snow comes again, who knows!