A Slice of Heaven

I’d like to take a moment to get geeky, if I may. There are a few things I get geeky about. Books, knitting, language, books. Mostly books. I love books. But if there’s anything I love anywhere near as much as books, it’s bookshops.

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(Toppings and Company, Bath, my favourite bookshop in the sunshine. Photo by me.)

Quiet, peaceful and musty, a good bookshop is an oasis to me. There are hundreds of stories held in those shelves, so many voices that have something to say – the possibilities are endless and the atmosphere zings. But still you can hear every foot shuffle, every throat clear and every page flip. Each tale is held quiet, like a child waiting to surprise you, in a silence so close to speaking. It’s soothing.

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(All on my own in Toppings. Photo by me.)

After the quiet, the smell is my favourite thing. Book pages all generally smell the same, that rich scent of time and paper mulch. But each one has its own quirks, a kind of signature. Older books smell stronger, while newer ones have a slight vinegar tang from modern inks and printing technology. Put them all together in a bookshop and the whole is so much more than the sum of its parts. You can flick through the pages of as many tomes as you like and in between breathe deep this great, rich aroma.

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(Books, beautiful books, in Toppings. Photo by me.)

No matter how many people are in a bookshop, it’s still a personal experience. Whether you are looking for advice on your next holiday destination or to get lost in a ripping adventure you can make that decision all by yourself even with a stranger standing by your side. I can have the most stressful day at work, but five minutes in a book shop can make it all melt away, just by standing in the place. For some people solitude can be found in museums, for others it’s galleries. But for me, nothing is better than a bookshop.

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Duckie power!

Happy Friday, sports fans! (I don’t know if you actually are sports fans, but you could be, so I’m sticking with it).

I finally have something crafty that I can show you – huzzah! In just a few weeks there will be a slew of FO posts and hopefully happy recipients but until then, I have the little yellow ducks…

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(I like to think they are having a chat on my windowsill…”Quack quack?” “Quack, quack, quack quack.” “Quaaaack”. Photo by me)

Why little duckies? I hear you ask. Well, that’s a good question.

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(Going for a little sill-swim. Photo by me.)

A few months back we featured this duck pattern in Simply Knitting. The duck is obviously cute, but it’s also for a good cause.

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(They wanted to use my typewriter but, of course, that’s ridiculous (they have no fingers). So that’s why the picture is shocking. Adorable, but shocking. Photo by me.)

The Little Yellow Duck Project aims to raise awareness for blood, organ and bone marrow donation. This is such an important part of medicine and effects thousands of people every year. The point of these knitted (or crocheted or sewn, patterns available for all three) ducks is for them to be left in public places with a little tag that displays their name, the TYLDP website and tells the finder to take them home. It’s an exercise in mystery and intrigue that will hopefully result in getting more people registered as donors.

So…

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Here’s one of my ducks looking very coy nestled in the rosemary plants outside Ask in Bath….

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And here’s the other on a sculpture by the Abbey. This one even got a little shower before heading off to her new home! Her perch was a bit precarious, so I popped her somewhere safer before I left.

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I positioned these guys on my way to work yesterday morning, so I can wait to see if they have vanished today. Finger’s crossed!

The knitting pattern was designed by Alan Dart (love him) and so it was a joy to work from, easy to understand, and I don’t think mine is too far off his original. (I saw it in the flesh, it is cuter than mine, but it was made by Alan’s fair hand, so it was going to be.) Get your hands on all of the patterns at www.thelittleyellowduckproject.org/patterns and why not make some of your own ducks for unsuspecting strangers to take home?

I’m off to make a few more myself…

Literature Crush

Well hey there! I know, I know, where have I been? Well, the making hasn’t stopped, per se, it’s just not the kind I can talk about. Lots of gifts and plenty of things for work have been jumping off my needles and out of my sewing machine but I can’t show you any of them. Yet.

Instead, let’s talk about books, shall we?

For quite some time now I’ve regarded myself as a strange literature graduate and geek. There are a lot of writers and texts that I haven’t come into contact with that, considering my education and interest, I really should have. When I started university it was Chaucer and Marlowe. As an adult in charge of her own reading (I know right? What a rebel) I’m discovering it’s so much more than that.

My latest discovery is Truman Capote. Oh Truman, where have you been all my life? The recommendation for Capote came to me in a round-about way. I was trawling through a friend’s blog archives (it’s not stalking, honest) and she made a passing comment about how much she loves Capote’s work. This was right before my birthday so I thought, what the heck, and asked for his short stories as a gift. Once unwrapped, the book took up residence on my shelf and gathered dust for a while. Shinier books and good weather stole my attention. For shame.

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But then I read Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (I’m only slightly obsessed with this book) and Capote is mentioned as a background character (you’ve gotta love a bit of meta-literature!) It reminded me that the book was waiting and so when I finished Ruta’s masterpiece, I turned to Truman.

Oh Truman.

His writing is lyrical without being fussy. He evokes his era so effortlessly, you are instantly transported to 40s America. He’s honest without being brutal and he touches on things that you didn’t even realise were true until he showed you. I haven’t even finished the collection of short stories and I’m hooked, addicted, obsessed!

In the introduction to my edition, Capote is discussed in parallel to Hemingway. I’ve been a Hemingway Groupie for some time now. My dissertation was a short story in his style and so I’ve read a huge whacking proportion of his work. I love it. Yes, he’s a misogynist and I’m not condoning that. I get sick of his pathetic female characters. But by the same token, I get sick of pathetic male characters in other literature. When I want to wallow in the depressing, the dark and the gritty, I turn to Papa. But now, when I want a rosy hue to the difficult things, when I want to feel like there’s still good underneath all the crap, I have Capote.

Thanks Truman, you’re a babe.

P.S. My copy of the book has a photo of Capote on the cover. I find this a little unsettling. He has very probing eyes. A little too probing for my bedside table…