Wednesday, 20 February 2008
Thank you all so much for your lovely kind comments on the last post. I am beginning to feel better and slowly catching up on some sleep. You are all so supportive, thank you!
Our half term started at the weekend with a trip to the British Museum in London (yes another project to be completed during the holidays). I cannot believe how lucky we are to have so many treasures to view in our museums, not sure whether they should still be there or returned to their native countries, but that's another story. I love the British Museum.
The majesty of the building and the magnificence of its contents never fail to leave me awestruck.
As we strolled around the Egyptian rooms it was so hard for little sister and indeed, all of us, to believe that these artefacts had actually been made by the Ancient Egyptians themselves. Learning about the Egyptians in a classroom is one thing but seeing real sarcophagus, mummies and treasure is another.
The museum is in one of my favourite parts of London - Bloomsbury. I could walk its streets for hours, there is so much history around here. When I was a student I loved strolling around the colleges and visiting the careers office just to have a nose round the buildings. Rows of gorgeous Georgian houses and beautiful squares, blue plaques on many of the homes. It is easy to imagine the Woolfs or any of the other "Bloomsberries" strolling around. So many hidden gems behind those facades. It would have been wonderful to have visited in the 20s and 30s.
A few months ago I read about a publishing house in this area of town that I wanted to visit. I forgot the name and had almost given up when out of the blue I received an email from somebody who reads my blog, We'd been writing to each other about the books we were reading and she asked me if I'd heard of Persephone Books - that was it, the name of the publishers! Thank you Jackie! We managed to squeeze in a visit to the shop as well as it was just a short stroll from where we were.. It is everything I imagined, a beautiful little shop, in a beautiful street filled with beautiful books! Quiet and unassuming from the outside and totally enchanting and seductive inside. Rows and rows of beautifully printed and packaged books, mostly by women dating from the early to the mid-twentieth century. Books that have been neglected and overlooked have been given a second lease of life - I wanted them all.
Each book has a beautiful dove grey cover with gorgeous patterned endpapers and matching bookmarks. Some designs are based on fabrics by the Bloomsbury artists for example or a 30s scarf or print dress.
The hardest part was the choosing. I came home with three new books. "Marianna" by Monica Dickens, which promises to be like "I Capture the Castle" so that had me hooked, "William, an Englishman" by Cicely Hamilton which is a novel set against World War 1 and "Miss Pettigrew lives for a day" by Winifred Watson which is described as an adult Cinderella tale. I could have bought them all. You can even buy them ready gift wrapped if you could bear to part with them as presents.
The website is wonderful and the mail order is very fast, but if you get the chance try and visit the shop and see the books firsthand (and the beautiful 1930s dress that's in the window!).
I came home grinning. clutching my beautifully wrapped treasure. I've started Marianna and really enjoying it too. I wish there were more shops like this, it was more than worth the five minute walk from the museum. If you're up visiting a museum and have had quite enough of queuing in the gift shop, I can recommend this detour.