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

My photo

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

Friday, 24 August 2012

Graeme Roberts - A Bookseller

In my early days of bookselling I came across a bookseller from London called Graeme Roberts.  When I say came across, I met him on the internet, on a book selling group, where booksellers chatted and helped each other. Graeme was always helpful to newbie booksellers, and led a group of us together into a project that became known as ibooknet - a group of booksellers who wanted to create our own booklisting group and be a professional alternative - on a small scale - to ABE, and even amazon (well we could dream).

Well we didn't ever quite make that, but Graeme, despite running his own shop in London (Magpie Bookshop in Spitalfields for many years, before moving up the road to The Bishops House) and his internet business, always took considerable time & patience to help newbies like me with their computer problems - (as I was and still am a real computer illiterate), as well as helping and advising with his book knowledge. He also gave a great deal of time to helping with the setting up of the Ibooknet project.

He and his partner moved up to Todmorden and he continued selling books in an internet only business in Northern England. Life carried on, and he sadly split from his partner, and then I believe he established himself in Hebden Bridge. Sadly I hadn't been in touch with Graeme for the last year or two - things drift in life. When I heard that Graeme had died last week I was shocked - not only because it was well 'before his time' but because he had always seemed so full of life.  As I am sure many will have, I have spent much time since I heard the news, thinking about times gone by, and appreciating the help he gave me when he was here.

Graeme & I also chatted about dogs. He used to think I was mad about my dogs - until he got Winston, his own standard poodle, and then he understood what the love for man's best friend was all about. He was hooked. I have read on facebook that someone has given Winston a good home - I am so glad - Winston will need another good friend.

Graeme will be sorely missed.  I don't suppose for one minute he was an angel throughout his life - who of us are - but he was a kind and humorous man with a twinkle in his eye, and a good heart.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Nina Bawden 1925 - 2012

Nina Bawden, probably best known for writing Carrie's War, died this morning.  I just heard it on the news. Another talented children's author leaves us.It's as well there are some budding new talents amongst the youngsters!

In fact Nina Bawden began her writing career as an adult novelist, in 1953, and published her first children's book some 4 years later.  She went on to establish an equally high reputation in both fields. She began her children's writing exploring conventional adventure stories, producing such works as Devil by the Sea (1957), The Secret Passage (1963) & On the run (1964).  However, later on, in Squib (1971) she produced a more striking story, about children who encounter a maltreated boy, and how frightening the realities of life can be. Her successor to this, Carrie's War (1973) proved to be an original and worthy achievement, being an account of wartime evacuee children in Wales, based on her own evacuation experiences. Likewise The Peppermint Pig (1975) is another realistic outstanding novel, about childhood experiences, based around an Edwardian family who are suddenly thrown into poverty, leaving their comfortable London home for a Norfolk market town.

In 1978 Nina produced a sequel to Carrie's War (Rebel on a rock) which was an ironic inversion of a children's thriller , as the intervention of the children produces not the usual happy ending, but disaster - as it probably would in real life! Likewise, in The robbers (1979) expectations are inverted again, as when the boy heroes act out their fantasies about thieves, they find themselves in deep trouble.

Bibliography of Children's Books

Devil by the Sea - Collins, 1957
The Secret Passage, Gollancz, 1963
On the run, Gollancz, 1964
The White Horse Gang, Gollancz, 1966
The Witch's Daughter, illustrated by Shirley Hughes, Gollancz, 1966
A Handful of Thieves, Gollancz, 1967
The Runaway Summer, Gollancz, 1969
Squib, illustrated by Shirley Hughes, Gollancz, 1971
Carrie's War; Gollancz, 1973
The Peppermint Pig; illustrated by Alexy Pendle Gollancz, 1975.
Rebel on a Rock (sequel to Carrie's War); Gollancz, 1978;
The Robbers; Illustrated by Charles Keeping; Gollancz, 1979;
William Tell (Illustrated by Pascale Allamand) Cape, 1981
Kept in the Dark; Gollancz, 1982
The Finding; Gollancz, 1985; 
Princess Alice (illustrated by Phillida Gill) Deutsch, 1985.

See our current Nina Bawden Stock at:         (or go to and do a quick search under Nina Bawden). 


Thursday, 2 August 2012

Peakirk Books Olympic Offer

I have just realised that in my usual disorganised way, that I haven't mentioned to my blog readers/members that we are having a special offer to celebrate the London Olympics. This hasn't been a high profile sale, but in celebration of the London Olympics we are offering the following discounts to customers buying books from our own website at

Until 12th August on any orders you make, simply add the following discount codes as appropriate into the coupon box when you go to the shopping basket checkout,  to get the following discounts.

BRONZE - Spend up to  £25.00, and receive a 10% discount
SILVER -  Spend up to £100.00, and receive a 15% discount
GOLD -     Spend over  £100.00 and receive a 25% discount


Monday, 16 July 2012

Our Gordon Setters - Update

Just a few piccies to show how Poppy & Henny are doing!

First - as you can see, reading is not just for humans! Henny always likes to get in on the act.


Poppy always likes to try and help - this is her resting her chin (below), when helping gets to much!

Henny wonders if she can replace the fairy at the top of the tree if she flies up there (below)

Poppy always loves to climb and get a better view! Here she is on our Patio table (covered up).

............And sometimes it's just time to sleep!


Monday, 9 July 2012

'Words Gone By ' takes to the Road

The time had come for Annette and I - those intrepid Vintage Paper Girls to take to the road and do our first Ephemera stand at an Antique and Collectors Fair. Our fledgling business was at last got off the ground after what seemed an interminably long process of dealing with banks, who inevitably lost bits of paper and caused even more delays, and we had got ourselves named & registered,  had filled in endless forms and got sorted out for tax. However, we got there,  and having been doing a little buying, eventually a few weeks ago started selling on the internet on the ebay site using sellers name Vintagepapergirl12012.  Our first item was very successful - a lovely old early twentieth century scrapbook, full of a gorgeous variety of scraps went to one happy purchaser.  Since then we have sold some attractive old Christmas cards, including the attractive  Hold to Light ones, and some vintage posters including some illustrated by Pauline Baynes.  We have more of all of these coming plus loads more stuff that we have been squirreling away.  We had also been accumulating items for the fair we were going to do, as we intend to sell by Fairs and ebay.  The last couple of weeks have seen  a flurry of plastic bags, price tags, sticky labels and tape, as we were due on the Saturday to go and set up in The Greshams School in Holt,North Norfolk on Saturday afternoon before the sale on Sunday.  Even though I am obviously used to book fairs, this to me was very different, as we aimed to make the stand as pretty and eye catching as we could - not something Jeff and I aim for when doing our book stands. Also for Annette this was all very new, as she doesn't do book fairs, and she was really enthusiastic.

The weather however wasn't on our side.  We had obviously booked an inside stall as water and paper does not mix, and we were inside the marquee - but the rain of late has not been ordinary rain, being considerably heavier than usual, and as we arrived the heavens opened. We had quite a wait before we could even begin to unpack - we couldn't risk getting our precious paper wet.  Fortunately though, the rain did eventually cease, and we were able to unpack, and the sun did come out and dry the mud to some degree.  However we could anticipate that we would need to wear boots the following day!  As it was our first display Annette and I had left ourselves lots of time as we knew we would need it.  We're not naturally artistic, but do love what we do - so just need to 'work at it!'
Eventually a couple of hours later, having done lots of fiddling and twiddling, we were happy.  You can see the results below.





Having set up, we left on Saturday little nervously, as we were doubtful of the ability of the marquee to withstand some of the amounts of water threatening to leave the sky, but there was little we could do but cross our fingers, and when we returned at 7.30 am the next day (yes 7.30 am) all was well - that is except for the pouring rain.  The marquee had held up well, but there was the occasional drip from joins, and we did spend the day trying to stop drips of water getting onto our stock, which wasn't very relaxing.

Despite the fact that it rained for most of the day, and the Wimbledon final was on with Britain's own Andy Murray playing, and the British Grand Prix was taking place, we were pleasantly surprised to see that quite a few brave souls had decided to brave it out and attend the Fair, and we did better than anticipated. We met some very nice customers, and a great deal of interest (and purchases I am pleased to say) ensued. Some people also left their 'wants interests' with us, much as they do with books - I hadn't expected that! It also made a pleasant change for me.  Don't get me wrong, I still love my books, and would never want to give up being involved with them, but its always good to develop new interests and to see what else is out there - and really ephemera is a fairly close relation. Despite the rain, and it was  it chilly too - British Summertime at its best - Annette and I were both very pleased with how things went - and another benefit.  Ephemera is a great deal lighter and easier to pack away than books. We were all packed up in about half an hour, ready for the off  and I don't think it will be very long before Words Gone By takes to the road again - we will keep you posted.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Baby Fairies

I wonder very much, don't you,
What little baby fairies do
When all the mother Fairies go 
To dance upon the green, you know?

Are they not lonely by themselves,
These darling little baby elves?
And do they ever cry and fret,
Or into dreadful mischief get?

But then, of course, 'tis understood
That baby fairies are always good;
Yet, when their sleepy time is near,
They must be cross and tired I fear.

I shouldn't be surprised, should you,
If there are fairy nurses, too,
Who take these little sleepy heads
And put them into tiny beds?

A bluebell or forget-me-not
Would make the sweetest fairy cot;
A pretty leaf, of green or brown,
Might answer for an eider-down

I'd love to see these babies lie,
And hear their nurses 'hush-a-bye'
While all the twinkling starlets peep
To watch the baby fairies sleep.

Helen Stewart in Our kiddies Fairy Star

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Isle of Wight

As usual we have been incredibly busy lately. Not only were we involved with the village jubilee events -all of which went well, if a little chilly I am pleased to say - but recently we have had lots of people offering us books for sale.  We are of course always pleased to see books for sale, as we hope to find just the books we are looking for, to meet our customers needs, but going through the books to see them, either via lists or going on house visits, takes up time (even if enjoyable - I do love routling through books) and then when we get them home, I have lots of sorting to do way before they ever get listed for sale. In amongst this, and all our other usual work and activities, we were also due to visit the Isle of Wight for a week.  This was to be a family event - indeed celebration, as my parents will soon reach their diamond wedding anniversary (60 years) and wished to celebrate it with us, and my brother and his family all together in a holiday house on the Isle of Wight.  They had hired a fabulous house for a week, and we all planned to spend the week there - hopefully basking in the sunshine and exploring the island.  The last time I had visited the island I was 13 - I in fact had my 14th birthday there.  I had gone youth hostelling with 3 of my school friends, and had nostalgic  memories of my first holiday adventuring off on my own, without 'grown ups' in 1968.  Jeff too had only been once before - in 1967 with his family, and was eager to see the Island again.

We crossed on the Ferry from Southampton to Cowes. I must admit the queues in Southampton to get to the Ferry were quite a shock - and we managed to miss the ferry, not a good start, but they transferred us onto the next one, the ferry people were obviously used to this.  The Ferry was quite a pleasant experience, and I went with my young niece and her mum to listen to the story teller on board tell us tales to make the crossing more entertaining. At the other side we drove in the sunshine to our destination which was a village called Bonchurch, just by Ventnor, and the house we stayed in was indeed lovely - especially the gardens - an acre which went down to the sea, and quite a site to behold. Indeed a little corner of paradise.

Unfortunately we did not see a huge amount more of the sun during the week, just the occasional little burst, but a great deal more of the rain, which really was a shame as it meant we could not appreciate the garden as fully as we would have liked to.  Nevertheless, it was a lovely place to be.  Of course, as well as generally exploring, I was led a little by the locations of where bookshops were - but of course this does have the advantage of taking you to places that you maybe woudn't have otherwise gone to. We made a point of visiting a village called St Helens, where someone had told me there was a book shop, and I am pleased to say it was still there (so often you do go to places where you are told about book shops, and they have gone, as was the case in Ventnor), and we also went off to a place called Yarmouth, a lovely place when we got there, because we had been told there was a book shop there. The shame was it has taken us so long to get there and have a look round, that when it came to bookshops, the others in the party didn't want to wait while I looked round, (that's the problem of going with 'non-book' people) and so I was out voted and had to leave without looking inside.  The height of frustration.

Needless to say the 4 year old member of our party had a wonderful time.  Even if the sun wasn't constantly shining, she did manage to go onto the beach a few times.. She also introduced me to the joys of 'Mist' (a real life working sheepdog)  the Puppy sheepdog who lives on a North Devon Farm - created by David Kennard for Channel 5. Of course being a dog person I immediately fell for Mist and all her sheepdog family and have become a firm fan. Come my nieces bedtime, Jeff, Susie & myself were lined up to watch the next episode of Mist !

To be honest I am not sure how much the Isle of Wight has changed since I was there before.  I couldn't find one of the Youth hostels, and suspect it has long gone. The island seems to be much busier, with far more traffic than I remember, but maybe that is false memory - and we didn't have enough time to fully explore the island.   Maybe I need another visit, in the sunshine, to explore further and get round the rest of the bookshops.

The crossing on the way back on the Saturday was pretty choppy, and it it took most of the day to get back .  General verdict - Isle of Wight was quite nice - but it doesn't beat my good old Norfolk!                                                                                                                                                                                            

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee/The Economy - a Point of View

I don't usually write about things like this on the blog, but this is something that has been bothering me and getting under my skin every time I hear it on the news, so I reckon it is time to express myself.  If anyone else would like to comment - and I know by looking at the statistics that there are quite a few of you out there who dip into my blog from time to time, do feel free to comment - all views accepted, politely of course.

I am not a huge royalist, but not an objector either, and feel that celebrating the jubilee at this time, mainly as a way of cheering up a largely 'down in the dumps' country, due to the economic recession etc, is not a bad idea. Consequently I, like many people around the country, am involved in a jubilee event in the small Norfolk village I live in. As a village we are just having some races for the children, a village barbeque, and a lighting of the beacon at our allotted time.  Nothing earth shattering, but what should be a pleasant get together, and something to enhance the community spirit.  All around the land similar events will be taking place in towns & villages and hopefully a pleasant time will be had by all.  However we keep hearing on the news that the price we have to pay for this event is that, because we are having the day off work to celebrate, our country will 'obviously' stay in recession for another quarter.

We are having another day off work. an extra bank holiday, in an advanced Western democracy, that has one of the fewest public holidays in the Western world, and this 1 extra day is going to keep us in recession.  Now I know that we are in a very delicate situation at the moment, but what about the pluses to the economy that that politicians & economists fail to mention.  As I see it  the balance sheet looks a bit like this.
On the negative side - yes, the economy is going to lose a days output.  This is a week, that the schools close, and many people take off anyway, and go away with their children, so some people would have taken the Tuesday off already, but yes, everyone is getting an extra days bank holiday. One day less output.

On the plus side.

There is a micro economy going on specifically for the Queens Jubilee.

A whole mass industry in paper, red white and blue cups, saucers, plates and the like for use at all the street parties. Likewise paper table cloths, plastic cutlery, red white & blue balloons, paper hats. All the pound shops are full of them. Even if not made in this country, our shops are selling them. Our supermarkets are full of produce that they are advertising for street parties. I am constantly getting flooded with advertisements for street party appropriate goods. Musicians and entertainment has been booked up for along time for the parties, as have services such as hog roasts (We found this out to our cost, when we were too late to books them). Beacon Makers must be quids in too!

Red, white and blue flower displays are being planted, plastic medals are being manufactures in their thousand, there is a jubilee catalogue of things that can be bought for the occasion, mugs are being produced and sold by the hundred, the list is endless.

Of course there will also be the visitors who come to the country just to see what all the fuss is about, because, as we all know, if there is one thing the British can do is put on a good show when it comes to pageantry.

I am pleased that there is a plus side for the economy, it will do it good to have a bit of stimulation, and I hope it gives it a bit of a push in the direction it needs - but what I will resent, is that when the next lot of figures are announced, and if the country is still in recession, the politicians look at us gloomily, and tell us it is all because we had that extra day off and enjoyed ourselves when I am very sure it was not!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Enid Blyton Society Day May 12th 2012

May the 12th saw the return of the usually annual Enid Blyton Day run by The Enid Blyton Society at the Loddon Hall in Twyford near Reading, a day that was sorely missed by the members last year.

As usual the day was well attended, with a room full of members present to peruse the the numerous book stands, which included ourselves,  with lots of Enid Blyton goodies to sell, and to listen to the various speakers who were there to deliver interesting talks.  There was also the usual scrumptious snacks on offer to tempt the appetite - including 'Anne's' cherry buns and 'Famous Five Clotted Cream Teas'.


The first speaker was Sarah  Lawrence. Sarah is the Collection Director at Seven Stories in Newcastle.    I am ashamed to say I didn't even know of Seven Stories existence, although how I had missed out on it I have no idea, but for those like me who didn't know, Seven Stories is the national home of children's books in Britain.   See

Seven Stories is a registered charity that celebrates the art of children's books, their place in our childhood and in our culture. Sarah is largely involved in assembling original manuscripts and artwork from 'modern'   British children's authors and illustrators, to keep a record of how children's books have evolved.    From this exhibitions, events and learning programmes are made, and the exhibitions are both at Newcastle, and some now go on tour around Britain.   Exhibitions currently on show are 'A squash and a Squeeze' sharing stories with Julia Donaldson' and 'Daydreams and Diaries : the stories of Jacqueline Wilson'.  After telling us about the nail biting auction where they managed to acquire some important parts of the Enid Blyton archive, Sarah told us that Seven Stories are planning a major Blyton exhibition for next year.  I hope to visit Seven Stories in the not too distant future.

Following this talk, Jon Appleton, the editorial director (fiction) at Hodder Children's Books, gave us a short update on the Blyton publishing situation. Hachette Children's Book, Hodder's parent company have recently bought the Enid Blyton Estate (apart from Noddy) from Chorion.  There seemed to be general nods of approval from the audience!

Lunch time followed alongside book browsing/buying/selling and we chatted to some of our customers old & new.  It was great to see young enthusiasts spending their pocket money on paperbacks with relish. I am always pleased to see younger children setting out on the adventure of reading - I suppose I remember myself at that age, with all that pleasure in store. (And there is the bit of primary school teacher in me that will always be there!)

At 2.15 Georgina Hargreaves took to the floor. I had no idea what to expect, but this self deprecating and humorous lady was a real treat to listen to.  According to her, she got the job of illustrating Enid Blyton books because she happened to be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time when one of the Johnstone twins unfortunately died.  She did indeed take over the deluxe Dean editions after the Grahame Johnstone Twins, but I don't think she has any idea of how difficult they are to get hold of now, because they are in such demand! She told us mischievously of the various characters she puts into her pictures (no I'm not telling) but she puts herself in as a fairy occasionally. She kept referring to herself, not as an artist, but just 'a mum', although she did appreciate that she earned quite a decent amount from illustrating the deluxe books for the Dean Blyton editions, and said that she did enjoy working with Enid Blyton. She told us she was allowed complete freedom in designing the deluxe editions, which looking at their popularity and pleasing results, was just as well. It was a very entertaining session.

The last session came after another tea break and book browse, and was from Pam Ally, who retired from Chorion last year, having worked as an archivist for the Enid Blyton collection for 30 years - initially for Darrell Walters.  This was most interesting, and took us through the changes and times of publishing.  For much of the time her job was, along with another couple of people,was collecting & archiving as much Enid Blyton works as they could, and I must admit to feeling a touch of envy at hearing just what her job had entailed for some years - especially when she told us about replying to the childrens letters when they wrote in to the famous Five Club, and the telephone calls they received from one very persistent & entertaining Famous Five young club member in Northern Ireland  It all sounded a great deal of fun.  However the fun obviously ran out after a few office moves, and when several take overs later they found themselves working for a boss less interested in the archives, and the Famous five Club and the whole atmosphere changed. I am sure she is now pleased to have retired, and she too, seems pleased that Hodder will be taking the Enid Blyton estate forward.

After this, for us it was a last quick chat, then a pack up of the books and off in our various directions. The sun had been shining all day.  We were staying with relatives, so only had 40 miles to travel rather than going all the way back to Norfolk - and were welcomed back by a 4 year old - who hopefully will both get to visit Seven Stories and enjoy the world of Enid Blyton one day soon - although currently absorbed by Scooby Doo, Firefighter Penny and still has a softspot for Peppa Pig!



Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Maurice Sendak 1928 - 2012

Maurice Sendak's wonderful illustrations probably came to my attention much the same time as he caught the eye of many other people of my era - when he had that wonderful book published - 'Where the wild things Are'.   He had in fact though already been illustrating books for some time before this.

Maurice Sendak was born Maurice Bernard Sendak in New York in 1928. He studied at Lafayette High School, subsequently working as a window dresser and enjoying his first major success as an illustrator with Ruth Krauss's 'A Hole to Dig' in 1952. He illustrated more than 80 children's books by other authors before he wrote one himself. In 1956, he published his first book without outside help, Kenny's Window. However it was his book Where the Wild things are, published in America in 1963, and the UK in 1964, that after a controversial beginning it eventually brought him literary acclaim, and he was awarded the Caldecott medal.

Maurice Sendak was reported to have died today from complications after a recent stroke. He brought a great deal of pleasure to children through his illustrations & books. Therefore he made a difference, something we would all like to do, but not many of us achieve it.

If I'm not careful my blog is going to turn into a collection of author and illustrator's obituaries. Thus after this I will make sure I get something else written quickly before someone else has the chance to die on me!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Loss of another favourite author - Miss Read/Dora Saint including Bibliography

Somehow I missed hearing about the death of Miss Read pseudonym of Dora Saint,  on 7th April this year.  It came to my attention a couple of days ago, and despite her making the good age of 98, almost 99, still made me sad.  With her passing, another writer leaves us, who in her writings brought memories of a certain sort of England and its rural village life. This may not be a type of England that all people experienced, but it was one that she enjoyed for some years in her youth, and wanted to preserve in words and pass on to others in her fictional villages of Fairacre and Thrush Green.

Dora Jessie Saint, so much better known to her readers as Miss Read actually started her life in London,(See part 1 of her autobiography as a child A Fortunate Grandchild which describe her days as a London child) and moved to the country when her family moved to the countryside to aid her mother's health. From 1921 to 1924 she went to the local village school and she clearly made many friends and found living in a small community fun (as can be seen in Time Remembered the 2nd part of her autobiography as a child). At school she was good at both reading and essay writing, and went on to follow her father into the world of teaching. She taught in Middlesex from 1933 - 1940 when she married Douglas Saint, and after the war, although doing occasional supply  teaching, turned more to writing, including articles for magazines, and scripts for the BBC schools service.

The first of the Fairacre novels, Village School, was published in 1955. The rest of the series then followed:

Village Diary (1957)
Storm in the Village (1958)
Over the Gate (1964)
Village Christmas (1966)
The Fairacre Festival (1968)
Tylers Row (1972)
The Christmas Mouse (1973)
Farther afield (1974)
Village Affairs (1977)
Village Centenary (1980)
Summer at Fairacre (1984)
Changes at Fairacre (1991)
Fairwell to Fairacre (1993)
A Peaceful Retirement (1996)
Chronicles of Fairacre: Omnibus (1972)
Further Chronicles of Fairacre: Omnibus (1972)
Mrs Pringle (1989)
Fairacre RoundaboutL omnibus (1990)
Miss Read's Christmas Tales: Omnibus (1990)
Christmas at Fairacre: Omnibus (1991)
Miss Read chronicles Giftset: Omnibus (1992)
Village Christmas/The Christmas Mouse: Omnibus (1993)(2003)
Fairacre Affairs omnibus (1997)
The Last Chronicle of Fairacre: Omnibus (2001)
Storm in the village/The fairacre festival:omnibus (2002)

Miss Reads other well known Series was her Thrush Green set of books, another rural sequence:

Thrush Green (1959)Winter in Thrush Green (1961)
News from Thrush Green (1970)
Battles at Thrush Green (1975)
Return to thrush Green (1978)
Gossip from Thrush Green (1981)
Affairs at Thrush Green (1983)
At Home at thrush Green (1985)
The School at thrush Green (1987)
Friends at Thrush Green (1990)
Celebrations at Thrush Green(1992)
The year at thrush Green(1995)
Christmas at thrush Green(2009)

Life at thrush Green - Omnibus (1984)
More Stories from Thrush Green: Omnibus (1985)
The World of thrush Green: Omnibus (1988)
Tales from Thrush Green: Omnibus (1994)
Encounters at Thrush Green: Omnibus: (1998)
The Villagers of Thrush Green (1999)
Farewell Thrush Green: omnibus (2000)

Apart from her 2 main series of books set in fiction country villages around village schools, Miss Read also wrote some other books. The following complete the list.

Caxley Chronicles

The Market Square (1966)
The Howards of Caxley (1967)
The Caxley Chronciles (Omnibus of above) 1999

Other novels

Fresh from the Country (1955)
Hobby Horse Cottage(1958)
Miss Clare Remembers(1962)
Tiggy (1971)
Emily Davis (1971)
Hob and the Horse Bat (1974)
Animal Boy (1975)
No Holly for Miss Quinn (1976)
The White Robin (1979)


Country Bunch (1963) (1992)
The Little Red Bus & Other Rhyming Stories (1991)
Miss Read's Christmas Book (1992)
Tales from a Village School (1994)
A Country Christmas (2006)
Non-Fiction including autobiographical works

Miss Read's Country Cooking: (1969)
A Fortunate Grandchild (1982)
Time Remembered (1986)
The English Vicarage Garden: 30 Gardens of Beauty and Inspiration (1988)

Miss Read wrote about the simple, the good things in life - friendship, the countryside, nature, and harmless gossip.  She was realistic about the downs as well as the ups in village life, but she did let good prevail. Her stories had a charm and appeal that many appreciated and her characters had values and a stability that many still seek out in a fast changing world. I feel sure her work will be appreciated for many years to come. Many of her books we delightfully illustrated by John Goodall

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Flower Fairies of the Summer

The Song of the Honeysuckle Fairy

The lane is deep, the bank is steep
The tangled hedge is high;
and clinging, twisting, up I creep,
and climb towards the sky.
O Honeysuckle, mounting high!
OWoodbine, climbing to the sky!

The People in the lane below
Look up and see me there,
Where I my honey trumpets blow,
Whose sweetness fills the air.                                                                  
O Honeysuckle, waving there!
OWoodbine, scenting all the air!
The Song of the Poppy Fairy                                                                                                

The green wheat's a-growing,
The lark sings on high;
In scarlet silk a-glowing,
Here stand I.

The wheat's turning yellow,
Ripening for sheaves;
I hear the little fellow
Who scares the bird thieves
Now the harvest's ended,
The wheat-field is bare;
But still, red and splendid,
I am there.

These prints come from a 1920's edition of Flower Fairies of the Summer by Cicely Mary Barker.  The book binding had lost its spine, and was badly worn, and the book was falling apart.  The plates however were still in nice condition. They make a lovely set of single sided 1920's colour flower fairies plates, suitable for mounting and framing. The page size is approximately 5.5" x 4". We have available for sale at 4.00GBP each plus P&P (available individually or grouped). e-mail us at to purchase.

The Heather Fairy
The Honeysuckle Fairy
The Travellers Joy Fairy
The Greater Knapweed Fairy
The Scarlet Pimpernel Fairy
The Wild Thyme Fairy                                                                          
The Thistle Fairy
The Scabious Fairy                                                                            
The Toadflax Fairy
The Yarrow Fairy
The White Campion Fairy
The Nightshade Fairy
The Poppy Fairy

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Words Gone By - The Vintage Paper Girls

Well we have done it - Annette and I have now officially 'launched' our new business, and this is what we are calling ourselves.  Words Gone By - The Vintage Paper Girls (Not specifying whether it is us or the paper that is Vintage!). When I say 'launched' what I really mean is spent some money on it thus committed ourselves to the business. However we are both excited about it and so far thoroughly enjoying ourselves. We are ploughing through the necessary 'boring stuff' so that we can get to the good bit, enjoying wading through the goods that we are buying. It is quite a long time since I have started up a business - Peakirk Books began in 1997, and although that feels like yesterday to me, some things have changed, and I had forgotten about some of the paperwork that is demanded of you. However we are getting through it and are nearly out the other side. To cheer ourselves up we went to an auction to do some buying of goodies that we felt would be appropriate to sell in our new business, and were amazed at what was available. However we weren't alone in finding such things interesting, and the bidding was very competitive.  I have also squirrelled away various bits and pieces over the years (at long last my hatred of throwing things away is coming into its own) so I think Annette my be quite surprised at the odd bits and pieces I produce over time.  Some of course will be quite worthless, but others I hope will be of use to be people - you never know quite what people are seeking.   It is both amazing and interesting  just what people do collect, and makes the world such a diverse place with people having such  varied interests.  It also keeps so much more of the past, and our social history, alive and in our memories.

We intend selling via 3 mediums.  Our main regular sales will be via ebay. This will enable our various small bits and pieces to reach a world wide audience, thus hopefully help us reach a variety of collectors, family tree researchers, etc.  We intend to take up the name Vintage Paper Girls as soon as our Bank account comes through (I sat through my hours interview with the Business Account Manager last week and came out with my head spinning) and am now just waiting for the bank account to be set up so that we can get the ebay account up and running then we will be off!  The second medium will be local ie Norfolk, Fairs.  Here we intend selling more general items that we find, and probably more visually attractive ones on stalls around this locality.  As soon as we have some booked I will put on here where we will be.I have collected some great bits already.  Thirdly I will add some ephemera to the Peakirk Books stand at the PBFA book fairs that we do, when I am allowed to increase my stand to a larger stand - I am currently investigating where the stands can be increased in size, and am hoping that the June fair at The Heart of England will allow me to have a larger stand, to get started.  Here we would have strictly printed matter & ephemera in line with PBFA book fairs. We see these 3 outlets working well concurrently, and hopefully leading to a thriving 'bolt on' business to add to our main one ie Peakirk books.  Meanwhile, you will probably see me next flat our asleep on the floor, happy but exhausted!

Keep an eye on our blog for further news!

Saturday, 31 March 2012

How Time Flies

It is commonly said that as you get older time goes more quickly - and never has it been more true than in my case.  At this rate if I live to be 80, I shall be a total whirlwind.  Maybe it is just in my head, but I have so much to do, I never know where to start. This wouldn't be so bad if I had the energy to match - this is a definite design fault in the human race. When you are young you have bags of energy - and not enough to do, thus the perpetual cry of the young - I'm bored! I remember saying this myself. Then, as you become older, the energy banks drain as you have so many more tasks to accomplish.


The other problem is that I actually want to do so much more.  The message hasn't actually reached my brain yet that I am getting older. Again, twenty or thirty years or so ago, I remember hearing people say 'You get older but don't feel any older' and I would nod in agreement, not fully realising what they meant - but it is true, you don't feel older mentally. When people talk about getting older, to me they are talking about other people.   I hear the words, but inside I am still the twenty something year old that I was, not the fifty something year old that I am now (there I have said it), and I expect to be able to do the same as I could then, ie a full time job as a business partner, be busy at weekends, start up a new business (as I am doing), do the housework (to a fashion), the gardening (to a lesser fashion) help with the decorating, walk two active dogs, you get the picture and get cross with myself when things don't get done properly. Obviously I don't do all these things alone, Jeff is a partner in all the home chores as well as the  work chores, and fortunately for me, is energetic, but I have to realise the limit to the hours in a day!


Bookselling is a time consuming labour intensive occupation. I remember when we had a shop people had an image of booksellers (ie me) just sitting in a shop reading books all day - and maybe once this might have happened, but I doubt it, as there are always things to do. Certainly in this day of computers, there is no time, sadly, for sitting around book reading - that is a treat I usually reserve for bed time or in the bath. A large amount of my time is spent now in front of a computer.  All the cataloguing is done there, as is the order processing, and adding pictures to records. Also updating our website, our catalogue and of course this blog are computer tasks, so computer work must account for well over half of my week.  Other regular tasks comprise of looking for books in the stock room (why oh why do books always seem to move from the place where we left them?) , book buying - whether from house calls, going through lists that people send us, going out to hunt in bookshops etc (something I love to do but have little time for), going through catalogues we are sent etc. Also booking new stock in, and contacting customers when books we have ordered in for them have arrived. Occasionally I get trips out to auctions - rare, and when they come around they are very time consuming as they usually take up a couple of days, 1 to view and another to return and bid.


Then there are book fairs - the most time consuming of all.  First - the decision which books to take.  We try to take the books we think will appeal to the customers we expect to see, but that is 25% knowledge, 75% guesswork, so we can get it completely wrong.  This is followed by a great deal of packing - and you can guarantee that a book that is packed, will then  be ordered on the internet, and need digging out before we go. Then, having got house sitters in place to look after the dogs and the house, we trek off with a car load of books and shelving, often having booked accommodation as the fair will require an overnight stay. The fair itself will require a couple of hours stand preparation, and then a day or 2 fair follows, which is enjoyable as we get to meet customers, but tiring, and then we dismantle the stall again and head for home. The next week sees us trying to get the books back onto the right shelves.  Now, none of this is moaning, even if that is what it sounds like, it just explains the time consumed - and how time intensive the job is.  People say to us 'How nice going to York, or Harrogate or Bath for the weekend - they don't understand - we don't see the place - we see the accomodation and the hall we are standing in!


OK - so the last picture is rather creative - but its a book and its a fair!

So as you can see our job alone takes up a good deal of time, and that's before we squeeze in the rest of life - but then, we shall not get bored, and that's a good thing. People do say, if you want to get something done, ask a busy person - still not quite sure why - presume its because they have to be really organised, but there is some truth in it.  So time may continue to fly, and we may continue to get busier and busier, but at least we are living!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Developments Afoot!

I wrote a little while ago about our possible development into selling vintage toys.  Well, things never go quite as you expect. My mind has been floating around - as it does, exploring various options, and I have been chatting to people, and have eventually settled on a variation on a theme.

To start with, I wish to reassure all my loyal customers - Peakirk Books is safe and going nowhere. My new little venture is purely an add on. I love Peakirk Books and all it entails - the children's books especially are my passion, and between us Jeff and I really enjoy what we do.  To be honest Jeff and I have plenty to keep us busy, but unfortunately, with the recession, the advent of of ebooks, and the development of cheap and cheerful mega listers, times are much harder for us, as they are for many small businesses.   Thus, so as not to rest on our laurels and to add another string to our bow, (metaphors are such fun) I have joined together with another female seller in the development of a small business, with the aim of selling interesting ephemera, both adult & Juvenile.  For those of you unfamiliar with ephemera it is quite an elusive subject, but essentially is Transitory & printed matter, that was never really meant to be kept, and takes in a whole range of items - for example greetings cards, brochures, advertising materials, posters, leaflets, letters, photographs, bookmarks, - the list goes on. We will be quite broad in our collection so as to take in old jigsaws etc as we both like childrens' materials/toys - it just depends what appears.

My partner in this venture may be known to some, as she already sells some ephemera on ebay. Her name is Annette York and sells on ebay.  She lives in Norfolk too, just as well really, so we plan to go out together ephemera hunting (as well as book hunting obviously) and then we will sell the ephemera jointly on ebay, as well as at local fairs and see how it develops.  I will find it interesting to learn about this 'new to me' field. I have seen some of Annette's Ephemera purchases when we have been to auctions and must admit to finding them extremely interesting, which did get my nose twitching initially.

Anyhow, we are currently at the initial stages of setting up the business - all the practical boring bits have to be gone through - registering, setting up bank accounts etc etc. before we can get to the interesting bit.  Once we actually start trading I will announce the name and update any readers out there, with our progress!  Are we mad doing this in a recession? Who knows.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

World Book Day

Celebrate World Book Day - Read a book - but don't just read one on World Book Day.  Reading is Great - read books as often as you can!

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Good Bonnie

A friend of mine lost her dog, Bonnie, recently, to that big Doggie heaven in the sky. Both she and I have been through this several times, and it doesn't get any easier.  Each time it is a different dog that you have formed a relationship with, and you have loved. Each time their passing is very very painful, and the pain feels as if it will never pass - but in time it does dull.

 I was looking through a book called Mother's Stories and saw a short piece called 'Good Bonnie' about a dog called Bonnie, and as my friend's dog was called Bonnie, albeit a girl dog, whereas the dog in the story is a boy,  I thought I would reproduce it here, in tribute to Bonnie - who was a gorgous chocolate Labrador. Rest Peacefully Bonnie.

Good Bonnie.

'Bertie Bingles had been taught to say her prayers every night.

Bonnie did not know what she did when she knelt down beside her little bed so quietly; but he wondered.   And because she wouldn't take any notice of him when he whined the little brown and grey dog climbed right up her back one evening.  And there he stayed till she said Amen.

Gertie did not want to hit him, so she scolded him the same as mummy did her when she has been naughty, and the next night she told him to sit inside the door. And Bonnie did, and no one, not even Gertie's parents, could get him to move whilst their little girl was saying her prayers.

Wasn't Bonnie a good dog?'

Times may change - Dogs still stay loyal friends to humans!

On a more cheerful Note ......

The same publication of the bound Early Days  has a nice 'Welcome to Spring' which we need after the winter time. I for one am looking forward to the thought of spring time now - even though it hasn't been such a hard winter this year - mind you, my fingers are still tightly crossed, I am well ready for spring days, flowers and days in the garden.

A welcome to Spring by Rev Julius Spring - 1891

O! Shout, ye merry children, the smiling spring is here
Its brightest blessings bringing the waiting earth to cheer
The winter's icy sceptre is broken once again
And glory of the spring time is flooding hill and plain

The cuckoo's call is sounding, the lark is soaring high
And trilling out it's anthems to bless the earth and sky
And buttercups and daisies are blooming o'er the sod
The treasures of the children, the handywork of God

O! come ye where the woodlands with birds' sweet carols sing
And listen to the welcomes out-warbled to the spring
O come ye where the meadows are gay with green and gold
And gather of the glory as much as hands can hold.

But, better still let winter be banished from within
And let the heart's long springtime in brightness now begin
By summer time succeeded, with all its hold in store
Then golden harvest reaping in heaven for ever more.

Words About Books

Words about Books - Taken from 'Early Days' a Magazine/Journal published in 1891 - (January Issue, we have the bound years volume for sale on our website for 15.00GBP).

'It is often worse to read bad books than it is to keep company with bad boys.  Actions grow out of thoughts, and a bad book can in a few minutes injure us for ever.

One of England's greatest and best men says that , when a boy, another boy lent him a bad book for just fifteen minutes.  It sent a deadly dart to his soul. He never could get away from the vile impression made upon his mind by that book in so short a time.  He shed many  bitter tears over it, and tried to forget it; but the shadow lingered.  God forgave him; but he could not tear from his soul the memory of that evil book.

My young friends, if you will hear the voice of age and wisdom, do not read the bad and trashy books and papers. They feed unholy thoughts, and lure to dark deeds.  They poison the mind and corrupt the morals.  If you fill your mind with rubbish, there will be neither room nor relish for the choice gold of truth and the diamond dust of pure thought........'

 Well - if that doesn't warn you nothing will!  I trust none of the books Peakirk Books sell come under the category of Bad Books!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

One of the benefits of being a bookseller is that we sell books to all sorts of interesting people - some of which often include book authors.  I mentioned before I sold books to Ronald Searle, well this time I write about selling a book to one of 'our' children's authors family - Kathleen O'Farrells daughter, Annie.  Whilst 'chatting' Annie said that she thought her mum would be happy to write a bit about her life for us (Peakirk Books) to put on our website - which we have, and I thought I would put it on our blog too.  Thus below, is the piece she wrote for us, last april.

Kathleen O'Farrell - Children's Book Author

The following was written by Kathleen in April 2011 for Peakirk Books.

I was born in 1924 in a village in Surrey. I started writing poetry while at school, then went on to write children's books in my twenties, while working in a city bank. My dear dad paid £5.00 for my first book of children's poetry 'Little Poems for Little People' to be published when I was a schoolgirl in wartime.

After I married I wrote more and more. Having six children provided plenty of inspiration! I still loved, and continued to write poetry and eventually went on to submit short stories to magazines including 'The Lady', 'Peoples Friend', 'My weekly' and 'Grace'. Very many stories and Poems have been published in these magazines, also in various gift books and annuals such as The Fireside Book and similar.

Many of my children's books were translated into several foreign languages and my poems have been reprinted as far away as New Zealand.

I am still writing, though output is not as much now and I will carry on as long as I can hold a pen. I have always written in long-hand before transferring onto a typewriter and have never used a computer.

I am unable to think of a more delightful hobby, or source of income, than writing. Through my work I have accumulated numerous pen-friends over the years, many with their own interesting tales to tell. Many of my stories and poems are based on fact, gleaned from people I've met, perhaps for only a little while but who have made a lasting impression on me.

In total I have had 15 children's books published and 3 books of poetry together with hundreds of poems and short stories for other publications.

My passions in life have always been my writing, my family, including my many grand-children and my pets. My daughter recently told me that I see beauty in everything around me and I would like to think that is true.

Kathleen O'Farrell - 2011

We would like to thank Kathleen O'Farrell and her daughter Annie for taking the time to prepare and write the above for our website.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

.....and yet another literary death - I suppose it is the heart of winter, and more older people die in winter, or so it seems. I heard last night on the radio that Reginald Hill had died, and very selfishly thought, oh dear - no more books to read by him then - which was both egocentric, but yet a tribute to the man who was still producing very good crime fiction. I shall miss his books, as will his many readers. No doubt his family and friends will miss him.

Hill was best known for his crime novels about Dalziel and Pascoe, and he wrote a further smaller humorous series set in Luton, featuring the private detective Joe Sixsmith.  He won  the Crime Writers' Association's Gold Dagger award, for Bones and Silence in 1990 and received the Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement five years later. However he produced more work than this - he wrote historical novels and standalone thrillers, and wrote further books under the pseudonyms of Patrick Ruell & Charles Underhill.
Reginald Hill was a talented writer, and wrote with humour and popular appeal.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Ronald Searle

It was with some sadness that I heard today of the death of Ronald Seale, the brilliant cartoonist, famously associated with St Trinians and who also provided illustrations for the Molesworth series, written by Geoffrey Willans. Searle's work also regularly appeared in magazines and newspapers, including Punch and The New Yorker. His work was award winning.

Only a couple of days ago Jeff & I chortled over a St Trinians film during the Christmas holidays, and were discussing Ronald Searle.  A year or so ago he became a customer of mine for a short while, when he was looking for some abbey school titles for a friend of his in France. When I saw his French address, I had to ask if he was THE Ronald Searle, and he told me that indeed he was, and was friendly and chatty.  I was impressed that a man of his age was not phased by using the internet (and really not surprised that a man such as he would be), and it was a pleasure to get the books. I am honoured that just for the briefest of time our lives touched. RIP.