Hello, Kew

I visited Kew Gardens for the first time in 2013, just as summer was leaving. I was blown away by its beautiful grounds and I have wanted to go back ever since, especially when it was more autumnal. So, once it hit mid-October, I bought a ticket to one of my favourite places in London.

Autumn is also my favourite season. It’s normally a time of happiness and excitement at the prospect of all the fun things to do (and eat and drink…). Unfortunately, it hasn’t been a great one for me this time, but I’m glad I got to go back and experience this beautiful retreat once again. 2016 has not been a forgiving year. With one thing after another – both globally and personally – it’s been tough. But wandering slowly through the botanical garden’s glorious fiery trees, colourful flowers and secret pathways gave me a chance to focus on myself and forget about everything else, even if just for a few hours.

Hello, KewHello, Kew Continue Reading

A Tour of London Bookshops: Book and Kitchen

A Tour of London Bookshops: Book and Kitchen
I visited Book and Kitchen on the same day I went to Portobello Market and Holland Park last July. Why it has taken me over 15 months to write about Book and Kitchen, I couldn’t really tell you, except I did accidentally delete 100+ photos I took inside the bookshop shortly after visiting (because I thought I had them backed up. I hadn’t). Luckily, I did save the best ones below! I can’t be sure that the bookshop still looks exactly the same, so you’ll just have to visit yourself and find out!

I first came across Book and Kitchen on This Is Your Kingdom, a lovely blog all about the wonderful things you can do in the UK, often little-known. It sounded like the perfect bookshop for me so I made sure it was next on my tour of London’s bookshops.

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Books Are My Bag / Bookshop Haul

Books Are My Bag / Bookshop Haul
Books Are My Bag
ran from 9-11th October and is a nationwide campaign to celebrate bookshops and the importance of buying books on the high street. I celebrated by buying books from two bookshops: Waterstones Gower Street and Waterstones Covent Garden (last year I visited Foyles). I really do love indies – and I do support them – but I wanted to visit two bookshops that were easy for me to get to, and I knew would have the books I wanted, as it’s a busy, busy month in publishing.

I like that Gower Street and Covent Garden are both quite large bookshops. I always enjoy this quote from The Great Gatsby because I believe it to be true: “I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.” I do enjoy tiny bookshops – their charm, passionate booksellers and curated stock – but I actually never feel that comfortable in them. I prefer large stores that I can get lost in and browse without feeling watched.

I originally wanted to visit a Big Bookshop Party on Saturday, but unfortunately two friends (non-readers!) rescheduled our pancake-eating date and I couldn’t bring myself to travel after such a busy week, but I did manage to buy some really wonderful books on Thursday and Friday that I cannot wait to get stuck into. Here’s what I bought for Books Are My Bag:

Books Are My Bag / Bookshop Haul
Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death by Chris Riddell
Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

I bought Chris Riddell’s stunning Goth Girl last year, and although I haven’t read it yet, I though I’d treat myself to the sequel: Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death. It sounds like it may feature a bake-off so I couldn’t really ask for more. (And it still has a mini book in the back!). I attended a seminar on children’s classics earlier this year and Kate Saunders was on the panel. She spoke a little about her book Five Children on the Western Front because it’s a sequel to E. Nesbit’s classic Five Children and It. As I adore wartime children’s novels, I cannot wait to get started. I’m happy that the sequel to The 5th Wave The Infinite Seahas finally been published, and as it’s one of my favourite YA science fiction novels, I hope the sequel is just as good. And lastly, I bought the science fiction-horror thriller that everyone’s been talking about, The Girl with All the Gifts.

Books Are My Bag Reading Survival Kit
And here’s the books the lovely people over at Books Are My Bag sent me part of the Reading Survival Kit (I didn’t notice that all the authors’ names began with ‘J’ until now!):

The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell
Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry

I was super excited to read The Bookshop Book! Jen Campbell’s official Books Are My Bag book looks at “three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents” and it sounds absolutely wonderful. Five Quarters of the Orange (recipe books, memories of war and a mysterious lady) and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (an exploration of religion and sexuality) are two books I’d heard of but didn’t know too much about. All the Truth That’s in Me – about a young girl whose tongue has been cut out and so she cannot speak about the horror she has seen – is a YA novel that I actually already have a copy of, so I passed it onto a friend to enjoy.

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Afternoon Tea @ The Tea Terrace

I went for a lovely Afternoon Tea at The Tea Terrace in House of Fraser on Oxford Street today with my lovely book blogger buddies Daphne, Debbie, Caitlin, Faye and Caroline. I thought I’d bring along my camera as I’m one of those annoying people who enjoys taking pictures of their food. I’d only been for Afternoon Tea maybe three times before, so I was really looking forward to it. I had cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, ham and tomato sandwiches, a fruit scone and an apple and cinnamon scone (with plenty of strawberry jam and clotted cream), lemon drizzle cake and peppermint tea – all delicious. As you can imagine, we were pretty full after eating, although that didn’t stop Caitlin trying to take us to McDonalds afterwards! We are already planning our next afternoon tea trip… so watch this space!

Afternoon Tea @ The Tea TerraceAfternoon Tea @ The Tea Terrace

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Books Are My Bag @ Foyles

Books Are My Bag
You may have seen a lot of people tweeting about Books Are My Bag, a wonderful campaign that launched yesterday to encourage people to use bookshops, over the past week. It was actually one of my New Year’s Resolutions to visit more bookshops and I have also been blogging about them for A Tour of London Bookshops. Here was my reasoning, back in January:

I rarely go to bookshops and I find that really sad because it’s one of my favourite things to do. I know books tend to be cheaper online and I know it’s more convenient, but it’s just not as fun. I’m going to attempt to buy the majority of my books in actual bookshops and I’m hoping to combine this with the below resolution [to blog about bookshops]. I’ll also enjoy supporting many different business, rather than just Amazon and The Book Depository, although no doubt I’ll still use them throughout the year, especially as I own a Kindle.

It really is as simple as that. I have nothing against shopping online – I completely understand why people do it, especially overseas – and I read many eBooks, but I also love bookshops. And they won’t exist unless people use them. I’m happy to say that this year, I’ve bought more books from bookshops than online (including eBooks!) and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it.

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