With a sleuth of much-needed time-off at home coming up this Christmas, it’s time yet again to recoup, relax and recap on all the marvellous moments of 2015; particularly the bookish stuff.
Following one amazing morning hot air ballooning (a previous Christmas gift) over the jewel-coloured hills of Derbyshire, the other half and I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and go on the hunt for intriguing nooks and crannies. Scarthin Books (whose inspiring Crowdfunding campaign I featured here back in April) was one such nook I was determined to get to. Nestled in the hills in the village of Cromford, following a scrummy chippy dinner we were ready and raring to go on the hunt for books.
Scarthin is not only a bookish labyrinth in the truest sense of the word but what became very clear after hiding in the stacks for a while is that it is very much a heart of this small community. A community of avid readers by the looks of things, who contentedly popped in and out to browse and gossip the whole time we were there. Awesome.
Although the second-hand fiction section wasn’t quite big enough for true Lucy perfection (I need the challenge!) the overall selection, all divided up into their individual shelves/rooms over a gorgeous three floors, was mind boggling. The children’s room was particularly gorgeous, laid out beautifully with an arty collage of book plates and paper trees up on the ceiling. Magical. I just need more children to buy for!
Having contributed my own little bit of cash to Scarthin’s bid to take care of their creeky old building and ensure that it can continue to bring joy to the community and its visitors for many more years to come, it was so nice to see how cared for this place really is. I’m a big believer of book shops that encourage its shoppers to stay and browse all day and these comfy chairs and cosy clock create just the environment in which to do so.
Don’t be fooled however. This place isn’t just a haven for hardened readers but also, reassuringly, a savvy business, making those bestsellers and latest crazes (e.g. adult colouring books) easy to find for the casual peruser. Decent book shops that actually manage to keep themselves ticking over in these Kindle-laden times are few and far between and it’s heartening to see somewhere where some serious book/market knowledge is abound. (e.g. a beautifully curated selection of books on the British countryside on the stands next to the till – Lewis-Stempel’s Meadowland, Macdonald’s H is for Hawk … it was all there…)
And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, lurking in a quiet corner was a little room full to the brim (and pasted to the ceiling) with sheet music of all varieties. My baby brother would just DIE.
It’s hard to imagine the UK was so dry and gloriously sunny this year. Eating our chippy on the banks of the river and glancing out of the stacks at the geraniums was just delicious and, feeling the pub garden beckoning, I, with much self-control, left with just two volumes; an original copy of East Lynne by Ellen Wood (a largely overlooked classic I’ve been meaning to read for years) and The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. The other half, in his usual esoteric fashion, snapped up Ghond the Hunter by Dhan Mukerji. Which, incidentally, has a pretty shite Goodreads rating.
If you’re in the South Derbyshire region some time soon please please do pay this wonderful bookshop a visit and keep the festive feeling going by buying a little something bookish for a loved one this new year…