Sunday, 15 January 2012

First Post in 2012 - Books I got over Xmas

It's been a few days now that we've returned from our Xmas holidays. We left home on the 12th of December and flew to England to visit the missus' family and to reconnect with old friends. On the whole the trip was excellent; other than the flight from 'hell', our 9 hour adventure that left us cramped, achy and out-of-sorts. I won't get into that as I want to focus on the good parts of our trip. I'll let the missus describe our meetings with family and friends and some of the places we visited while we were there as I want to focus on the book buying part. :0) As a Book Addict, that's what it's all about, right! I must say there we had a great time, saw family that we hadn't seen for over 5 years or more and Jo got to meet friends that she hadn't seen since she'd been in school. That was great as I'd only met a few of her school chums since we got married in 2002. We also saw many lovely sites; Ely Cathedral, Sandringham, the new Amex stadium where Brighton hosted Wrexham in a FA Cup tie. The weather was beautiful for the most part and all in all, it was a great trip.

Now onto the important stuff, books! I had brought a few books with me for the air flight and to tide me over for most of the trip; some 2012 Challenge books and one or two to finish off 2011. But I also hoped to visit some book stores wherever we might be staying, just to get some different choices from the usual stores I visit while I'm at home. I wasn't disappointed. I also managed to read a few books to finish off 2011 and start 2012, but I'll get those into in my next Blog.

We started our trip in Tonbridge, near London, spending a night with an old mate of Jo's. When we went to grab a few groceries, I split up with the ladies and made a quick detour to the local WH Smith. Nothing fancy, it's basically a corner shop with a few books. I thought I might need another book to finish off 2011 so I purchased Laurell Hamilton's 17th story in the Anita Blake series; Skin Trade. I must say that due to differences in types of paper, that the books in the UK are different in scale for the most part to those I normally purchase. I have since read this book, but I'll comment on it next Blog. Let's just say it was the first of a few books I bought during our trip, enough that Jo has told me that I'm not allowed to buy any books in January now that we're home. I think I can behave.

After resting and recouping some of our energy in Tonbridge, we got into our hire car and drove up to spend Xmas and New Year's with Jo's sister and her hubby up in Lincolnshire, near Long Sutton. Jo hadn't seen her sister since their last visit in 2008 so it was a very nice reunion. We also got to meet Rob and Sue's two lovely dogs, Duke, a gentle black Lab, and Bella, a hyper-active, lovely Patterdale terrier. Dogs factored into many of the locations we visited, by the way. In Tonbridge, we were welcomed by Harry, a lovely dog and darn if I can remember what type of dog he is..

Anyway, we had a lovely, relaxing Xmas morning at Sue and Rob's, choosing to enjoy a 'full English' brekkie rather than journeying to Sandringham to watch the Queen and family attend Xmas services. I think we made the right decision. For Xmas, I received a number of books I'm looking forward to reading; Lee Child's 61 Hours (a new author for me, a Jack Reacher story), Sue Grafton's U is for Undertow (one of the Kinsey Millhone series, which I enjoy very much), Mark Billingham's From the Dead (the 9th in the Tom Thorne series. I've read one so far and enjoyed very much) and finally Josephine Tey's Franchise Affair (one of the Inspector Campion novels. I've read one so far and have another on my TBR bookshelves). I also got Ian St John's Book of Soccer Lists. (You can never go wrong with books, I always say.)

While visiting Rob and Sue, we had family visitors from London, took a side trip down to Colchester to visit other relatives and checked out the local area, Long Sutton and such. Long Sutton is a nice little market town and we very much enjoyed wandering around the shops and such. There was a crafty type store where we could have spent much money; lovely paintings, crafts, small pieces of furniture. We restricted ourselves to some nice post cards featuring Long Sutton in the early days. We also visited a very nice antique shop and I found a couple of books there that I couldn't resist. The first was the initial Agatha Christie mystery, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, this one featuring her irrepressible Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot. I also found a Robert Louis Stevenson edition, published in 1900 in London by Chatto & Windus, which features a series of essays from R.L. Stevenson. I do like an old book and this one is in lovely shape.

After spending New Year's Eve at Sandringham, with Sue and also their nephew Allan and his wife and young son, Jo and went to spend the day at Ely, visiting the town and the Cathedral. Jo nicely checked out local book stores on line and while we were there we visited one of the nicest book stores I've ever been in, Topping and Company. It has branches in Bath and Ely and Jo and I spent a couple of relaxing hours there before visiting the cathedral. The store is on three floors; fiction, mystery, SciFi and such on the ground floor, biographies, history and such on the first floor and a variety of non-fiction on the top floor. While I meandered around checking out books, the ladies told Jo to go up to the first floor and get a pot of complimentary tea and then relax, enjoy her tea and read a book. Basically a perfect way to spend a day for both of us.

I was able to find the first books in two mystery series for which I'd been searching; Colin Cotterill's The Coroner's Lunch and Tarquin Hall's The Case of the Missing Servant. I also found a JG Ballard SciFi story that I'd not heard of before, Hello America. When I went upstairs to find Jo, I found her sitting at a small table by the window which provided her with a view of the cathedral, sipping tea and reading a book from the stacks. She was totally enjoying herself. I joined her and she indicated a book she'd found; a signed copy of Bill Bryson's At Home: A Short History of Private Life. I also purchased a signed copy of Iain M. Banks, Excession. We spent a very enjoyable time in Toppings, the visit was topped off by a wander through the cathedral which I found to be so impressive. It was an excellent day!

After our stay in Long Sutton, Jo and I headed back south, spending 3 days with Allan and Karen and their son Michael in Worthing. They very nicely let us use their home as a bit of a jumping off point; we'd sleep there and then spend our days and nights visiting old school chums of Jo's. It was definitely a highlight for Jo as she'd not seen some of her friends since their school days. (I won't say how long ago that was, but a long while.) For me as well, we did manage to spend a little while in a used book store down town Worthing after having a nice lunch at a local coffee shop. I found a few books there; John Buchan's The Three Hostages (one of the Richard Hannay series which started with The Thirty-Nine Steps), H.G. Wells' The War in the Air and a new author for me who I'd been looking for, John Bingham's Five Roundabouts to Heaven (a mystery which I have read already and very much enjoyed).

We finished off our visit to Worthing with a FA Cup match between Brighton and Wrexham. While the game ended in a disappointing draw for the Brighton fans, Jo and I enjoyed ourselves and came away so very impressed with the new stadium that was built for the Seagulls. After the game we headed back up to Tonbridge to rest and relax a bit before our return to our old homestead, last Thursday. We've been spending the last couple of days getting over our jet lag and enjoying being back home.

All in all, we had a lovely trip to England, spent time with family and friends and saw many lovely sites. We may have to go back again soon.. :0)

Next time I'll try to discuss some of the books I've read this past few weeks, finishing off 2011 and starting off 2012. For now it's time to get my mind back into a 'work' frame of mind.. What was my computer password again??

Keep on reading!
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