If you find yourself in the South West, maybe you'd like to pick up a copy of the "Old Books Guide" (available in such bookshops, art centres, information offices in the region). Nothing fancy, just a listing of all the antiquarian and secondhand booksellers across Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset.
They also have a website, on which they have some event listings too!
Not from me, though, go and have a look at Matt ArtPix's blog.
He will also be showcasing quite a few designs at the Leigh-on-Sea Handmade and Vintage fair next Saturday 25th June... the new version of the 50's "Dazzling Decades" collage, several 60's collages and the first images from the new Seaside Specials and Collector's Corner series... And of course, a few new retro football designs!
The cards have gone all posh now, and have been snugly slipped into some nice little plastic bags together with their envelopes. It looks very nice and more professional!
Bridport seems to be the artistic hub of Dorset. Curiously, our guidebook was rather dismissive and less than enthusiastic about the place, insisting that the seaside end of the town, West Bay, was "possibly the least attractive resort in Dorset". Well, I couldn't say, because we didn't actually go to West Bay (lack of time!), which is a shame because there can be found Sladers Yard, an art centre located in a Georgian warehouse: http://www.sladersyard.co.uk/.
The town has also been called "Notting Hill-on-Sea", which at first sounds slightly worrying. But we haven't seen any trace of weekending yuppies and luvvies. Maybe we were too early in the year...
Bridport is bustling, and seemingly really pushing the arts and culture, which can only be good news for everyone.
The Bridport Arts Centre is extremely dynamic and has a great programme of events and shows: http://www.bridport-arts.com/
The Electric Palace is a dynamic little venue: http://www.electricpalace.org.uk/
First, we came across two very nice secondhand and antiquarian bookshops, both on South Street:
Bridport Old Bookshop and Wild and Homeless.
We then went to the St Michael's Trading Estate, the "art and vintage quarter". It is located away from the main streets, and doesn't look like very much when you first approach it (we probably arrived the wrong way). And indeed, once we found what we had been looking for, we spent hours browsing, looking, being generally nosey around the place.
Here are the St Michael's studios (http://www.stmichaelsstudios.com/), the perfect place for artistic-minded people to work and network.
The area regularly helds a vintage market (more details here: http://www.oldalbion.co.uk/)
The Sanctuary Bookshop in Lyme Regis is the best secondhand bookshop I have been in. Ever.
Look. Don't you just want to go in?
They buy books!
Once inside, you have stepped into a different world...
The shelves (and at times, the floor) are covered with books, statues, artefacts, original artworks, curios, comics... Fabulous creatures lurk in dark corners and piles of mysterious papers are left for you to peruse through.
You can lose yourself for hours and hours, because the more you look, the more intrigued you become. Downstairs, in the "bargain basement", they even have a comfy reading room complete with welcoming sofas.
The Sanctuary Bookshop is a secondhand bookshop, an antiques centre, a bric-a-brac, an art exhibition... It is even a "booklovers B&B", and guests can stay in the upper floors and sleep blissfully surrounded by the thousands of books displayed in the rooms and corridors, listening to the sound of the waves crashing against the Cob, down the harbour. We didn't stay there, but how tempting it was!
The Sanctuary is an eccentric refuge in another dimension, in which time is happily suspended. It is old-fashioned but not stuffy. Its atmosphere of laid-back, sofly out-of-kilter intellectualism stimulates the imagination. It is for all ages, all walks of life.
When you step out, you can see the crumbling cliffs of the Jurassic coast from the threshold of the shop, and you blink. It is an exhilarating experience.
The Sanctuary is one of those very special places we should cherish... I for one will be returning in October.
The Sanctuary bookshop website is here, with their complete online catalogue:
"Aunts Aren't Gentlemen" by PG Woodhouse.
I have watched some spisodes of "Jeeves and Wooster", but this one is the first PG Woodhouse I read and I want MORE!
It is utterly delightful, incredibly witty ... the use of language is fabulous. I've learned so many new words! Oh, and I laughed a lot, OUT LOUD!
It was my light-hearted, short holiday reading... Back to Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone now.
Yesterday, I went to a literary event and there was a book stall... Guess what... I bought two books! More on those later.
Yesterday, I went to Chalkwell Hall in Southend to attend Metal's "Salon" (more on this in a forthcoming blog).
There, we picked up the first issue of a large size, glossy art/photography magazine. It is free, the articles fulfillingly long and the pictures satisfyingly large. It is packed full of info, profiles and features, and it is FREE.
I have contributed to several free magazines myself for 9 years and seen all of them disappear in thin air when they looked at their most promising...
I do wish STATE and its companion F22 good luck and a long life... And I will try and pick them up whenever I can.
If you want, you can download the mags here:
I have had to do a bit of corporate work today and I am already late in my blogging. I'd like to get it done tomorrow because I intend on starting on "The Book of Thoth" again from Monday. Next blogs will feature:
Bridport, The Best Bookshop Ever and a short summary of the Salon event I attended yesterday (and it was fascinating!)
The Cerne Abbas Giant is one of the tourist attractions of Dorset.
It is a cheeky one, and you really should have a look at the souvenir shop...
In the tea room where we stopped for a lovely tea, they were selling a great clock. It was a tad overpriced, which is a shame because it was very tempting to just buy one for the sake of it!
There should be movement here, to show you how it's really working ;-)
The real thing (ok, the picture is not great, but ideally it's seen from a plane and we didn't have one...)
So, apparently, there is a mystery relating to the exact origins of the figure.
Some say that the chalk giant comes from ancient times - there are several versions of that one as well - and, for obvious reasons, that it is a fertility symbol. It was long believed that childless women could bear children after lying on his crotch. Ha. Some people need the facts of life explained to them, don't they? ;-)
The other version is that the giant is a caricature of Oliver Cromwell.
More on the giant here: CERNE GIANT
I knew I would love Dorset before setting off, but I was not expecting falling in love with the area as much as I did last week. If I told you I have found the perfect place, would you believe me?
Well, let me tell you: I have found it.
It is not easy to describe, even for a writer, the kind of feeling you get when you are out there, standing in a landscape that hasn't been changed nor spoilt for hundreds - even thousands of years. You feel like you are in a timeless place, a place in which Nature has always had the upper hand. You feel at peace.
It is the best of places for a writer: Dorset can give you beauty and danger, placid hills and uncompromising cliffs, chocolate-box villages and atmospheric manor houses, but also isolated, ruined ghost villages and wind-swept 14th-Century chapels.
It offers you a much needed quiet and allows you to retreat inside yourself, your thoughts at last unpolluted by the increasingly attention-seeking outside world.
The countryside is lush, abundant and extremely varied. It is full of animals and feels incredibly alive.
You feel linked to the past and the future and tend to reflect on the place of human beings on this earth, especially when you look at the breathtaking Jurassic coast or at the imperious ruins of Corfe Castle. If you have an ounce of imagination, then hundreds of images appear in front of your eyes and you make up stories in your head at the pace of at least 100 per hour.
No wonder the area has got links to literature and the arts. It is one of the most inspiring places I have been to.
It is also well placed if you itch to explore further (Devon, Somerset) or go back to the pulsating hive that is London (about 2 hours and something only away!).
Now for one of my favourite places in South Dorset: St Catherine's chapel in Abbotsbury.
We saw it under a blue sky with the sun shining. I want to go back and see it in the winter... I will see it in the autumn, which is not too bad.
The chapel is overlooking the incredible Chesil beach.
Incidentally, St Catherine's chapel has inspired PJ Harvey's song "The Wind".
Catherine liked high places
High up on the hills
A place for making noises
Noises like the whales
Here she built a chapel with
Her image on the wall
A place where she could rest and
A place where she could wash
And listen to the wind blow
She dreamt of children's voices
And torture on the wheel
Patron-Saint of nothing
A woman of the hills
She once was a lady
Of pleasure, and high-born
A lady of the city
But now she sits and moans
And listens to the wind blow
I see her in her chapel
High up on a hill
She must be so lonely
Oh Mother, can't we give
A husband to our Catherine?
A handsome one, a dear
A rich one for the lady
Someone to listen with
Below is the video for "The Wind". It has absolutely nothing to do with the song, but hey. Never mind.
Here are my pictures of St Catherine's chapel.
Read more about the chapel here: St Catherine's chapel
I think therefore I write.
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