rotwang was away this weekend; one of his long-time friends decided to have his stag do in Amsterdam. This left me needing to amuse myself...
It turned out that one of our fellow-bibliophile friends had never previously visited Hay-on-Wye. (For those who don't know, it's a little town on the border between Wales and England which is, these days, best known for its second-hand bookshops, of which it has upwards of 30.) Naturally I jumped at the chance to accompany them on their inaugural visit.
Hay can be done as a day trip from London, but it makes for a very long day. The actual journey itself is probably somewhere around three and a half hours either way, maybe a little more, assuming you don't get stuck behind any slow traffic. Factoring in a couple of admin things which needed to be done on the way, and a stop for lunch and dinner, meant that we left chez Bibliogirl around 9am and got back just a smidgen after midnight. It always looks as though it should be nearer than it actually is; the last leg into Hay itself isn't very direct because there are hills and such in the way. Very pretty on a sunny day, though.
We pottered round the bookshops for a few hours, picking up various and sundry volumes along the way. I came away with a total of sixteen books, of which four are destined for other people; the ones staying with me are:
- The Land Of Laughs, Jonathan Carroll - having enjoyed White Apples, I'm keen to read more of Carroll's output.
- Telepathist, The Productions of Time and The Long Result, all by John Brunner. One of the shops we visited had a lot of obscure Brunner paperbacks, but between myself and my companion I think we almost cleared them out. ;)
- The Private Library, A.M. Humphries - this is a non-fiction book published in 1907, and subtitled "What We Do Know; What We Don't Know; What We Ought To Know About Our Books". It's aimed at people building up and/or maintaining libraries in their (no doubt large) private homes... well, mostly in stately homes, I suspect. Fascinating stuff.
- An Introduction to Sex Education, Winifred V. Richmond. Published 1936, need I say more?
- The Glamour of Oxford, ed. William Knight. This is a lovely book, published in 1911; it's an anthology of poems, (short) prose and quotations about (no surprises here) Oxford. One of its former owners has neatly copied a poem by Alfred Noyes, Oxford Revisited, onto the back flyleaf and inside back cover.
- Patent Nonsense, Clive Anderson. Subtitle: A Catalogue Of Inventions That Failed To Change The World. It's a collection of patents (including accompanying illustrations) which seem, now, rather misguided. (Perhaps he can do a second collection, Software Patent Nonsense, though that'd have to be a rather thicker collection.)
- A Primer of Persian, G.S.A. Ranking. I collect instructional books for foreign languages, the more obscure the better; this primer was published in 1907 and contains the usual types of examples that never seem to crop up in phrase books or teaching aids these days;
- you must buy ten asses' loads of apples
- they have built the observatory tower on a high hill
- if I had not been able to carry out this work why should I accept it and be put to shame in the end? (er, right)
- you must buy ten asses' loads of apples
- The Library In Education, R.G. Ralph; "education" in this context meaning in schools rather than in tertiary education. Lots of talk about card indexing...
- Ultra Goes To War, Ronald Lewin - one of the very few books about Ultra/the Enigma machine/cryptography in WWII which isn't already on my shelf (or some days it feels that way)
- Science-Gossip - a year's worth of this magazine, subtitled "An Illustrated Monthly Record of Nature and Country-Lore And Applied Science", edited by John T. Carrington. 1897, I believe. Rare plants in Lincolnshire! Blood as a microscope object! Repairing an electric cable! (More interesting than it sounds; the cable concerned was a marine telegraph cable running between Tenerife and La Palma.) An article on the Kent Coalfields which mentions that some of the diagrams had originally been produced for the Channel Tunnel company...
After all the driving on Saturday, Sunday was earmarked for somewhere a bit closer at hand; we decided to have a picnic in Kew Gardens. Stopped off at Tesco to buy picnic necessities, just about managed to find somewhere to park at Kew, and then spent the next few hours ambling around and being impressed (as always) by the plants and the setting. I may not be interested in gardening myself (the state of our garden bears mute witness to this) but I do like to see what can be done... if you have a huge glass-house and several hundred years of experience...