It's been some months since I last hijacked the Captain's blog, but in view of my impending date with the surgeon's knife, I am doing much to distract myself. And so today I found myself at Fradley Junction. This is not my usual haunt. I do not tend to leap into my car and head to the nearest canal. Or even a somewhat distant canal. But today, Fradley Junction held special appeal for me.
The Captain may have mentioned that I am something of a bibliophile. There is little I like better than to sit at the pointy end of Wand'ring Bark, reading. Unless it is to sit at the pointy end of Wand'ring Bark, reading, while drinking a large gin and tonic. Being an inanimate and, I like to think, decorative figurehead is about all I contribute to the whole boaty business but I feel it is enough. It is true that I sometimes am something of a goddess with things culinary but I don't like to brag about that. Besides this post is about sitting, drinking gin and reading. Books, in fact. This post is about books.
Doing all this sitting and reading means I get through a lot of books. And I mean a LOT (I get through quite a bit of gin too but that's an aside). So can you imagine how amazingly fantastically wonderful it is to discover that someone has come up with a way of sorting this out so that potentially I wouldn't even have to leave the Waterways?
I have discovered The Book Barge.
And it is wonderful! Now, you probably all know all about it as I am the first to admit that I am more than a little slow on the uptake when it comes to boaty matters. But this whole enterprise is just fabulous.
Normally moored at Barton Marina, they have just embarked on a six month tour so there is a reasonable chance they'll be coming to a waterway near you soon. Their itinerary is loose but at this stage they're planning on visiting Stratford, Oxford, London, Bath, Bristol, Gloucester, Chester, Manchester, Skipton, Leeds, York, Nottingham then home to Barton Marina. Have they missed anywhere? My geography is sketchy but that seems to be quite a lot of the wet bits, isn't it?
Like lots of independent book sellers, The Book Barge is struggling to stay afloat in the current economic climate but it would be a great shame if such an enterprising business were to go under (sorry for the cringing watery puns but you may have detected the Captain's influence there!). For the six months of their journey they are hoping to raise their profile both on and off the waterways and would love to be visited by anyone passing. If you can help out by supplementing or assisting with their very limited facilities (see 4th paragraph), then so much the better!
I have to say, I loved my visit. The interior was beautiful, books lined the walls. A delightful children's corner was at one end, with adult books, new and second hand, filling the rest of the shelves. Of course I made some purchases, but then I do believe there is a law that prohibits one from leaving a bookshop empty handed. At least that's what I tell the Captain. Please don't tell him otherwise! Besides, I only bought two. Which is a very modest number. I left with a beautiful copy of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark, illustrated by Beryl Cook (which may or may not be a Folio Society edition - intrigued? I am!), an Everyman Library edition of P.G. Wodehouse's Spring Fever and a bookmark all packed together in a bright red paper carrier bag sporting The Book Barge logo.
So now I have two shiny new reads all ready for my latest trip into NHS hell. This time though I should be able to actually read which is a massive bonus. Hurrah! I make no apology for gatecrashing Andy's recounting of our delightful trip along the Leicester Ring. Instead, I would urge you all to look out for The Book Barge when it comes to your neck of the woods. I am assured that updates of location will be posted on Facebook or Twitter so follow them there for more details.
I commend them to you. Go, visit, spend lots of money and help keep bookshops independent!