Wow, that were 3 amazing, fast-flying weeks, full to the brim with Welsh (and Oxfordian) adventures. The whole going-cold-turkey-from-the-Internet was not planned at all and rather hard on me the few first days (making me realize how addicted I was), but there was so much happening around, from beaches to castles, from farm animals to road trips, from mountain trains to… bookshops.
You won’t be surprised to learn that I couldn’t resist British bookshops. My willpower wasn’t so much tested by the ubiquitous Waterstone and W.H. Smith branches that offered little from my dream list (but walls covered with every possible shade of the 50 Shades of Grey and its already numerous copycats, ugh).
But the small indie bookshops with a side business of cafés (flapjacks!), art, hats (!?), and what have you… now they’re really dangerous (and an endangered species, which made me keen to come to the rescue!). This one is actually in picturesque Burford, in the Costwolds, and you can drool at the book list and the hats here.
The crux most certainly was Blackwell’s in Oxford, an object of book lust since 2009 when I’d first visited. Of course I had to return, and buy.
I had in mind to get the latest Hillary Mantel’s, Bring Up the Bodies (the follow-up on much-beloved Wolf Hall), but when I saw the massive cobblestone of a book it was (as we say in my native French), I grew worried about the airport luggage policy, and I thought that Amazon would do the trick. But I didn’t leave empty-handed.
I found the complete poems of Philip Larkin (quintessential British in my mind), whom I had discovered last year, and Kate Summerscale’s newest book after The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace (is a visit to Britain ever complete without something properly Victorian?)
And of course PD James’ Death Comes to Pemberley, which I couldn’t ignore.
And there also the appeal of the Ashmolean Museum bookshop, which I would have bitterly regretted to come out empty handed.
And…, needless to say, my luggage was noticeably heavier in the departure hall than upon arrival. So I’m quite happy to return, if only to start all these new books (and reconnect with y’all!)