A Day Out Shopping
27 September, 2009
For books, of course. It was a surprisingly sunny day today, just when I was adjusting my inner clock to welcome chilly Autumn, there is sunshine in London. I’ve been reading about the Persephone Reading Week Challenge hosted by The B Files and Paperback Reader in the last few weeks, and although I was too late to participate, I’ve been thinking about visiting the Persephone Bookshop for the last few days. And why not today? It’s sunny, I could go and have a light lunch in one of my favourite cafés in the heart of Bloomsbury, purchase some Persephone books and round off the afternoon with a quick visit to the British Museum. It’s funny how when you live in London, you don’t really do London things. You get stuck in your commute during the week and don’t feel like venturing into the sea of people on your days off. But sunshine changes everything.
So I took a bus down to the British Library next to St. Pancras Station, walked down Judd Street and right at the bottom, just before the Brunswick Centre is a cute little French café called Pâtisserie Deux Amis where I enjoyed my favourite baguette, chicken, bacon, cranberry and mayonnaise. Yum, yum. It’s a tiny place but they have the best baguettes, pastries, good coffee and radio four in the background. It’s where I used to get my lunch when I was writing up my thesis at the British Library and has remained unchanged in the past ten years. They do good soup too and a proper pâté baguette (you don’t get much of that in London).
After feeling nicely full, I walked down to the revamped Brunswick Centre, and what do I find? Skoob! Yes, that legendary secondhand bookshop that used to be in Sicilian Avenue near the London School of Economics but which closed down over ten years ago. I had been lamenting it’s loss for so long and didn’t realise they had reopened elsewhere! I found a couple of books there on the twenties and thirties and stopped myself from buying anything else as they were pretty heavy and I still had to make my way to the Persephone Bookshop.
It was only another ten minutes to walk down to Lambs Conduit Street (I love that name!) and start perusing the shelves of dovegrey Persephones. I had made a mental list of what I was interested in, but totally forgot when I got there. There were only a couple of other people there, so I took my time reading the titles. I caught sight of the Persephone Notebook (I want!) but as I already have a large collection of notebooks at home, I contented myself with purchasing the following:
Good Evening, Mrs. Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes
Family Roundabout by Richmal Crompton
Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple
I confess I bought the the Dorothy Whipple purely for the cover. It’s just so beautiful. I also still have Nicola Beauman’s A Very Great Profession: The Woman’s Novel 1914-1939 safely stashed away in my TBR pile. I came away with their catalogue which I have already marked with the titles that I want, but they will have to wait until I’ve read these.
I finished off my outing with a quick dash around the Great Court in the British Museum. It’s one of my favourite places in London and that roof is just beautiful.
Currently I’m reading The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser, longlisted for both the 2008 Man Booker Prize and 2009 Orange Prize which I’m loving. Her prose is sublime and I’m savouring every word. And after that I’m planning to read A Game of Thrones by G.R.R. Martin (finally!), so my Persephones will have to wait.
You can visit Deux Amis at 63 Judd Street, London WC1H 9QT, Tel: 020 7383 7029.