Tea and Books in Oxford

When I meet with my online book group chums there is not much chance of sightseeing. Rather we seem to stagger from book shop to tea shop with our bags getting heavier and our purses lighter (although every purchase is always a bargain) and tummies fuller.

Saturday was no exception. Back in December Simon, over at Stuck-in-a-book, had invited us to join him for a day in Oxford. Although it is possible to get there and back in a day from Leeds for easier travel I opted to go via two nights in London. This meant a not so early start from Paddington in the company of another group member on Saturday morning.

St John's Oxford

St John’s College, Oxford, on St Giles

The Jam Factory is just across the road (more or less) from Oxford Railway Station. (I should just add that from the station there is no indication that one is in the city of dreaming spires and all that; but we did eventually pass hurriedly by one or two colleges and churches so the joys of Oxford await me on a future visit.) The JF is a lovely light and airy venue and the food looked excellent although I only shared a pot of Oxford Blend Tea before we set off on our books and teas trail. Whilst we all assembled at this venue Simon told us more about the new project that he’s a founder member of Shiny New Books an online book review magazine. I urge you to pop over now and have a look.

In Beatnik Books

At Albion Beatnik Books

From the Jam Factory we headed to The Albion Beatnik Bookstore at 34 Walton Street. “Opened in 2009, this bookworm’s paradise is the coolest and most maverick of Oxford’s many bookstores. It offers an eclectic selection of new and secondhand books with a particular focus on jazz and blues … , American pulp fiction, graphic novels, beatnik poetry, Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group and neglected 20th century novels.”  Says my 2011 LV City Guide to Edinburgh, London and Oxford. On the table were flowers made of printed paper and our purchases were wrapped in more printed paper with a quotation sticker to seal.

Beatnik books

 

Beatnik book

Our next stop was the Oxfam Bookshop on St Giles but I also spotted the pub The Eagle and Child which has associations with the Inklings writers’ group which included J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.

Eagle and Child

 

“A fascinating past :
The Eagle and Child lays claim to a number of interesting literary connections. J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and fellow writers met here and dubbed themselves ‘The Inklings’. They nicknamed the pub ‘The Bird and Baby’. A public house since 1650, our hostelry takes its name from the crest of the Earls of Derby. During the Civil War, our building was used as the playhouse for Royalist soldiers.” [From the pub website]

St Michael's St

St Michael’s Street

Time for lunch and the recommended venue was The Nosebag on St Michael’s St. I immediately recognised the address and building of The Oxford Union for it is the location of a Landmark Trust apartment : The Steward’s House. Even though it was after 2pm The Nosebag was packed so rather than miss out we had to split into two groups of 3 and 4. After the meal we dragged together enough chairs round one table in order to discuss the next steps in the campaign.

Oxford Union from The Nosebag

The Steward’s House and Oxfrod Union (red brick building) from the Nosebag

Pretty Arcadia is next door. It’s doesn’t just sell books but has a few displays and boxes outside and lots of vintage cards and accessories inside.

Before the end of our day we reached The Last Bookshop. This is also known as the £2 bookshop. It’s a great source of, presumably remaindered, new paper and hard back books. All priced (as it says on the tin) at £2. If I wasn’t such a devoted library user I would have bought loads here.

Last Bookshop

Actually, not The Last Book Shop for us

Our final two shops were – sellers of brushes not books – Objects of Use on Market Street – and a further Oxfam Bookshop on Turl Street. At least I thought OoU was more or less a kitchen wares shop as my companion and I only hovered near the entrance at a table full of brushes for different uses but I see from the website that it sells so much more. Apart from at The Home at Salts Mill this is the only other place that I have seen my Book Brush!

Book Brush

The very handy Book Brush

Book Brush Label

Instructions for Use

With trains and buses to catch around 5.30 time was pressing so we had a final tea and cake at ‘news’ and discussed plans for a Tenth Birthday Celebration in the autumn. All too soon it was time to hurry to station and rest our weary legs and heavy bags on the journey back to London.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An August Bank Holiday Lark

The men do some strange things over in Lancashire. They wear fancy straw hats with real flowers in them; they dance in lace-up shoes with wooden soles and they celebrate something called The North West Rush Cart Tradition by building and decorating a tall cart with rushes upon which they place a saddle and one of them is brave enough to climb up onto the top of this cart with a kettle on a rope – don’t ask!  At least they did in 1914 – 1915 when this play was set.

ABHL-A5

Written especially for  Northern Broadsides Theatre Company ‘An August Bank Holiday Lark’ is based on a rural village in Lancashire where the cotton mill rules but the old traditions still continue.

Commissioned to write a suitable play as a Remembrance for the World War I Centenary Deborah McAndrew has produced a winner. There is music and dancing and humour and traditional customs and, I’m afraid, needless to say, tragedy as well. The title is taken from a line in Philip Larkin’s poem ‘MCMXIV’.

Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;

And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day—

And the countryside not caring:
The place names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat’s restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;

Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word – the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages,
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.

[Source]

Back in November last year I wrote about my great uncle Marshall Howman who was killed at Gallipoli in August 1915. The lads in this story enrol in the 6th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment which in real life suffered many casualties and great loss of life in the ill-fated August Offensive in the Dardanelles in 1915 .

It is currently showing at The West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, which where I saw it this afternoon, but will move around the country for the next couple of months.

 

 

The Garden Museum

Some exhibitions, especially those national museum ‘blockbusters’, are just too unwieldy but the bijou exhibition Fashion and the Garden occupied just over half an hour of my visit the the Garden Museum on Thursday. Just a short walk along the Albert Embankment (opposite The Houses of Parliament) from Westminster Tube Station, the Garden Museum is right next door to Lambeth Palace, the official London residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury. GM exterior Formerly known as the Museum of Garden History, The Garden Museum is based in the deconsecrated parish church of St Mary-at-Lambeth. I’d met up with my friend Rosanna (the mosaics maker) with whom I had recently been to see The Isabella Blow Show at Somerset House. Garden Museum Church

Inside the Garden Museum with Rebecca Louise Law Installation

After morning coffee in the Museum Cafe (we couldn’t resist a tiny home-cooked apple tart as well – all the food served looked very acceptable!) we headed under Rebecca Louise Law’s installation ‘The Flower Garden Display’d’ for the Fashion and the Garden exhibit that I had read about recently in the press. Booklet

The Accompanying Booklet

Put together by Nicola Shulman, sister of British Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman, the displays cover fashion and garden connections between the 17th and 21st centuries.

TV Introduction

unknow artist-796785

This portrait of Lettice Newdigate (1608) by an unknown artist is the first known example of a Knot Garden in art.

Influences of gardens on fashion extend over time from knot gardens reproduced through embroidery on clothing to Philip Treacy hats such as the Orchid.

Philip_Treacy__Orchid

Philip Treacy Orchid Hat

I noted that an interest in flowers is a very English characteristic. They have featured in English clothing designs throughout the centuries where they are absent, for example, in France. There were exquisitely embroidered gloves and pockets; flowers feature in the silk designs of Anna Maria Garthwaite and other 18th century Spitalfields silk weavers; phaeton carriages were built very high so that owners and their families and guests could drive around their landscape parks and show off; and then there are the clothes that we wear when visiting gardens or even when gardening.

It’s a small show but perfectly formed.

We had time to visit the permanent collection – gnomes; gardening tools from trowels to lawnmowers; rare books; paintings such the recently acquired ‘Portrait of a Black Gardener‘ by Harold Gilman; posters, ephemera and garden seed packet displays.

Yates Seeds

Yates Seeds. No longer sold in the UK but still available in Australia and New Zealand.

The Museum’s garden was created in 1980. At its heart is a knot garden designed by the Museum’s President, The Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury (who was then also re-making the gardens at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire). The reason for the seventeenth-century spirit of the design is that our garden also houses the tomb of the great plant-hunters, gardeners and collectors, John Tradescant the Elder (c.1570-1638) and Younger (1608-1662), the rediscovery of which originally inspired the creation of a museum of garden history in the deconsecrated, and then derelict, church of St Mary-at-Lambeth.” From the Garden Museum website.

Tradescant Tomb

The Tradescant Tomb

In addition to the tomb and monument to the Tradescants is the tomb of Captain William Bligh of ‘The Bounty’.

Tomb of Bligh

Captain Bligh Tomb

I’m Invited! – A Shopping Evening at The London Review Book Shop

You’re invited!

At the London Review Bookshop, we have some upcoming events that are too good to keep to ourselves. Tickets are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment :

April Customer Evening

Wednesday 2 April, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Browse our shelves with a glass of wine and an Eccles cake from the London Review Cake Shop, and get 10% off any books, DVDs, cards and stationery purchased on the evening. We are also offering a FREE gift wrapping service on the night.

Tonight’s menu: According to The Bloomsbury Cookbook, Virginia and Leonard Woolf considered Eccles cakes suitable sustenance for type-setting and printing at the Hogarth Press. We think they make suitable sustenance for book browsing too! We’re pairing them with nutty Lancashire cheese and plenty of Russian tea.

Caravan tea

Eccles Cake pieces, Lancashire cheese crumbs and slurps of Russian Caravan Tea

As well as the usual treats – wine and nibbles and 10% off books – you’ll have the chance to win a copy of the beautiful Bloomsbury Cookbook, courtesy of Thames & Hudson. Just print a copy of your confirmation email and hand it in to one of our booksellers at the Customer Evening for the chance to win.

Good luck!

Bloomsbury cook book

The Bloomsbury Cookbook Window Display

This message arrived in my email Inbox a few weeks ago and I worked out that my next visit to London would coincide with this customer evening. The London Review Bookshop is another of my favourite London shops. On many occasions I have visited the Cake Shop with friends, family and to meet members of the online book group. It’s one of our favourite venues.

Shopping evening

Shopping Evening at London Review Bookshop

However, on many visits, time in the Cake Shop takes priority and I find I have little time to browse the bookshelves. So I was looking forward to spending time in the actual bookshop for a change.

The Bloomsbury Cookbook looked very tempting … but I was expecting to win a copy! I haven’t received the ‘winners email’ yet though :-( . I think I will reserve a copy from the Library as it may be useful to contribute to creating the atmosphere when I visit Sussex and the Bloomsbury connections later next month.

Charleston breakfast

 Breakfast at Charleston

I spotted some other books to add to my list for the future :

History of Armchair travel

A History of Armchair Travel : I do a bit of this. What’s not to like?

Quiet New York

Quiet New York : I have no plans to visit but I do have companion Quiet volumes – London and Paris

(I could be tempted to buy this just to read, anyway)

Sebald

I’m a big fan of the late W.G.Sebald – new books keep being published!

I found the staff were very patient and helpful. They found each of the titles I wanted to buy, recommended a further title and hunted high and low for a book which should have been in stock but being a very slim volume had probably been mis-shelved.

Books bought

The four books I bought last evening

LRB Window

The Cake Shop Window Display – I’m Looking Forward to My Next Visit!

 

Villages and Churches of Lower Nidderdale

What a difference a day makes! Well, most of the day anyway. Sunday’s walk was with The Dalesbus Ramblers again. It was another visit to Nidderdale but much lower down the dale and just a short bus journey from Harrogate. For most of the day we had blue sky and sunshine but after lunch we walked through a brief snowfall.

map

SUNDAY 23rd MARCH: VILLAGES & CHURCHES OF LOWER NIDDERDALE
Learn some of the history of the villages of Lower Nidderdale.
Start: Hampsthwaite: 11:25
Finish: Ripley: Approx. 15.30
Distance/Grading: 7 miles / Moderate
TRAVEL: Outward: Bus 24 from Harrogate (11.05). Connections on bus 36 from Leeds (09.45) to Harrogate or from Ripon (10.45) to Killinghall.
Return: Bus 36 to Ripon, or Harrogate and Leeds.
Walk Leaders: Duncan & Brenda”

Hampsthwaite Church

St Thomas a Becket Church in the large village of Hampsthwaite has a long history probably dating back to Saxon times. It has connections with the murder of St Thomas of Canterbury.

St Thomas a Becket

The first known church to be built here was probably completed about 1180 and is believed to have been constructed by Hugh de Morville the then Constable of Knaresborough Castle and one of the four knights responsible for the murder at Canterbury in 1170 of Archbishop Becket. The knights were later pardoned for their crime by the Pope who (it is thought) required the building and dedication of the church as part of the penance imposed upon Hugh de Morville. The church is believed to be one of only two churches in the Church of England to currently enjoy that dedication to St. Thomas a Becket.”

Hampsthwaite Lych Gate

The Lychgate …

The lychgate at the entrance to the church is the work of Robert Thompson of Kilburn. It was given by Lady Aykroyd and was erected in 1938 in memory of her parents, Sir James Roberts Bt. and Lady Elizabeth Roberts. Sadly, in comparatively recent years the original four-legged Thompson mice have been damaged.

… and the War Memorial

Hampsthwaite war memorial

Nearby, is the War Memorial, which commemorates the men from the village who died in the two world wars. It takes the form of a Celtic cross on a stone plinth and lies in direct line with the cross on the altar in the church. This was stipulated by Canon Peck and the churchwardens in their application for a faculty from the Diocese.”

A church service was in progress so we began our walk out of Hampsthwaite towards Ripley along the tracks of the Nidderdale Way which we followed for the best part of the day’s walk.

Hampsthwaite

Looking back to Hampsthwaite after a steep climb out of the village.

After a couple of miles of broad track, much of it through woodland, we approached the Castle and village of Ripley. Ripley Castle also has a long and fascinating history with connections to the Gunpowder Plot. It is a great visitor attraction and popular local wedding venue. The village of Ripley itself, where we stopped for our lunch break, has a unique style and history. It was rebuilt in the 19th century and modelled on a village in Alsace, France, complete with a Hotel de Ville-style town hall.

Ripley Castle and Church

Approaching Ripley we had a glimpse of the Castle and grounds

Ripley Castle

Ripley Castle

Ripley Church

Ripley All Saints Church

Ripley village square

Ripley Village Square

Ripley Houses

Typical Ripley Houses

From Ripley we took The Nidderdale Way to add a loop to our walk via Cayton Gill meadows and woodland returning to Ripley for the bus back to Harrogate.

On my recent rambling forays I have been made more and more aware of the fact that The Tour France ‘Grand Départ’ will be staged on two days in Yorkshire in July this year.

Grand Depart

Le Grand Départ will pass through Ripley. Signs at The Boars Head Hotel

 

 

 

Wodehousian Connections

jeeves_and_wedding_bells_600

[Source]

Many of you know that the origins of the name Miladys Boudoir and the strapline that accompanies it (“There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature”) both have P G Wodehouse connections. You can read about this here.

A while ago, with the help of a friend (who shares a mutual taste in literature with me), I tracked down the context of the strapline. You can read the short story ‘Strychnine in the soup’ we found here.

Or watch the BBC Wodehouse Playhouse dramatisation from the 1970s here :

It was never my intention that Miladys Boudoir should be a book reviewing blog but many of my friends do just that. Now, on my recommendation, my friend Lyn at I Prefer Reading has read, enjoyed and reviewed Sebastian Faulks’s ‘Jeeves and the Wedding Bells’ and I get a mention! Read her post about it here.

 

A Founder of British Geology and The Terrible Knitters of Dent

Leeds Station sign

“Sat 22 Mar – Dentdale Explorer – 7mi Moderate

Dent Station – Cowgill – Dales Way – Whernside Manor – Deepdale – Coventree – Dent Village. Alight (12.12) and return Dent. Connects with 10.49 train from Leeds. (JD/DW) Please ring to book your place on the return minibus from Dent Village to Dent Station. [About 5 miles]“

Ribblehead Station

That was the description of the guided walk organised by the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line on Saturday. Leaving Leeds in bright sunshine and with a cloudless blue sky we arrived at Dent Station to a rain shower closely followed by a hail storm which turned into blinding snow. By the time we (five of us) reached Cowgill and the Dee valley bottom all weathers had cleared temporarily but we were beset by rain showers (some heavy) and cold winds for most of the walk.

Cowgill signpost

Signpost at Cowgill – formerly in the West Riding of Yorkshire and complete with OS Grid Reference

Much of our route followed the Dales Way long distance path that crosses the country from Ilkley in West Yorkshire to Bowness on the shores of Lake Windermere. I’m familiar with and have walked most of  it between Ilkley and Yockenthwaite so it was interesting to fill in a section with which I was not familiar. As we left Cowgill we were able to pick out across the river the 150 year old church of St John, Cowgill. My Dales Way Companion by Paul Hannon tells me that “Outside are the unmarked graves  of smallpox victims from railway construction days.”

Cowgill Church

Cowgill Church

With variations in the weather tracks took us across fields, through former pinewoods, along quiet country lanes past waterfalls at full spate, ancient farm buildings and a deserted chapel.

View from lunch spot

View from our lunch spot

Former pine woods now cleared

Former Pine Woods now cleared

Waterfalls

Chapel

The deserted chapel near Whernside Manor

Ancient building

Ancient Farm Building

Arriving Dent

First View of Dent

Finally and quite suddenly we arrived at the quiet backwater village of Dent. At some point we must have crossed the border between North Yorkshire and Cumbria for, although within the boundary of The Yorkshire Dales National Park, Dent is in the South Lakeland district of Cumbria. On Saturday afternoon the village was very quiet. The cobbled streets were practically deserted. We had about an hour to explore before catching the bus back up the valley to the rather mis-named Dent station nearly 5 miles away.

Dent Village

The Main Streets in Dent

Our leader Duncan first explained some of the history of Dent. One notable son was Adam Sedgwick one of the founders of British Geology. Sedgwick was born in Dent in 1785 the son of the local vicar.

Sedgwick Birthplace

The Old Vicarage – Adam Sedgwick’s Birthplace

Memorial stone

Granite Memorial to Adam Sedgwick in Dent Main Street

He was educated at nearby Sedbergh School and went up to Cambridge University where he became a Fellow in 1810 and by 1818 he was Woodwardian Professor of Geology. Read more about Sedgwick and his geological studies here. The Cambridge University Earth Sciences Museum is called The Sedgwick Museum.

We then learnt about the Terrible Knitters of Dent and the unusual knitting method they employed. The last of the knitters, Elizabeth Hartley and Elizabeth Middleton died in 2007 aged 93 and 91 years respectively.

3 storey house

Typical 3-storey house in Dent

There are two pubs and two tea shops in Dent but before heading for one of the cosy tea shops we had a look round the church.

The church of St. Andrew is a Norman foundation, though largely rebuilt in 1417 and restored in 1590. The top storey of the 1614 three-decker Jacobean pulpit is still in use. The chancel is paved with fossil-rich marble, quarried in Dentdale. The box pews were removed in 1889, much of the wood being used to panel the walls of village cottages. On the south side of the aisle are the famous pews of the 24 sidesmen. Originally yeomen farmers, today landowners of Dent, they have shared with the Bishop (now of Bradford) the patronage of the living since 1429.” [Source]

Pulpit

The Remainder of the Jacobean Pulpit

Marble Floor

Fossil-Rich Marble floor

The Western Dales Bus left Dent promptly at 17.05 and brought us back along the valley to Dent Station comfortably in time to catch the 17.32 train back to Leeds where I noted it had also been raining.

Self Catering at Dent Station

You can stay at Dent Railway Station!

Come and Stay