When I was a teenager (many moons ago) it was considered almost a rite of passage to travel round Europe on an Interrail ticket. The furthest I had been up until then was France. I travelled with two friends – unbelievably we manged to stay friends during the month long trip and to this day. Our journey criss-crossed Europe and finally into Turkey. I had never seen landscapes or scenes like it before. The camaradarie on the trains – sharing food, sleeping wherever you could (on one occasion in the luggage rack), looking out for each other was a new experience for all of us. I still remember going to sleep in Germany and waking up to the most beautiful, stunning countryside I have ever seen. It was Croatia (Yugoslavia as it was then). I was absolutely spellbound. I have been to many countries since then, but very few have made such an impression on me. In Greece we spent an evening in a tiny bar drinking with the locals. Our only common language was footballers' names and as each name was shouted out we drank some more. As teenage girls at that time our knowledge of football was limited and so we had to keep repeating the few that we knew. I don't think it mattered much! We may have been “innocents abroad” at that time and although we had a camera and money stolen and we endured two nights of heat stroke and sickeness in Turkey we survived, and it left me with a lifelong love of train journeys and travel.
There has been a canine addition to my household recently in the form of Bertie, a Cavachon. What you may ask is one of those?! Well, I can tell you he is a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Bichon Frise. He is actually more Cavalier as his father is a pure bred Cavalier and his mother a Cavachon. He is a crossbreed which according to the Kennel Club is “a dog of mixed blood, whose parents are of two different breeds or a mixture of several breeds”. There have always been crossbreeds which until recently were usually referred to as 'mongrels'. The Oxford English Dictionary defines mongrels as dogs of 'no definable breed or type'. Today people often refer to dogs such as the Cavachon as 'designer dogs.' But what does this mean?
For many car drivers or repair enthusiasts, possibly the first 'Haynes' book we own will be the repair manual for our first car. I know that this was true for me, although I think that possibly it was used by my father more for repairs and trouble shooting, than by me!
How though did the company begin?
In 1956 John Haynes, whilst only 16, wrote and illustrated a book ('Building a 750cc Special'), which showed how he adapted an Austin Seven into a sports car. After the book's success, he went into partnership with his brother, David and they produced a few other titles. However, it wasn't until 1960 that J.H. Haynes & Co. Ltd was officially founded.
Names are wonderful things, aren't they? Just imagine how confusing life would be without them!
It is the pursuit of the names of my ancestors which has been occupying (too) many hours of my spare time recently as I try to fill in the gaps on our family tree – including the titular Drains, related by marriage to one of my great aunts.
I have been interested in tracing our family for around thirty years, but as with most hobbies the level of enthusiasm waxes and wanes, or constraints are applied by other factors, so there may be times when there is no active research. However, at present I admit that I am deeply in 'enthusiastic mode' once again and my desk is slowly disappearing beneath an unstable pile of printouts from census returns and certificates of births, marriages and deaths as I attempt to collate all the information onto the computer.
Here are Sooty and Sweep, my six year old lop-eared rabbits. Sooty is the white rabbit and Sweep is brown. As you can see from the photos they both have long floppy ears which is typical of lop-eared rabbits. I always wanted a lop-eared rabbit when I was a child but I was never allowed, although we did have lots of other pets: dog, cats, tortoise, cockatiel and hamsters, but no rabbits.
So as an adult and still wanting a rabbit we (my family) decided to go and pick our bunny. We phoned ahead to the pet shop and they had two left, when we arrived there was just one! We couldn't leave him once seen so he came home with us. We didn't want him to be by himself so we went back to the pet shop a couple of days later and picked another male rabbit. Male rabbits are known as the buck.
What do the characters Colonel Daniel McGregor Dare, Digby, Sir Hubert Guest, Professor Peabody, Hank Hogan and Lex O'Malley have in common? They all feature in the science-fiction comic strip series “Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future”!
We were recently lucky enough to purchase a large collection of Eagle and Dan Dare related items. Not having purchased much of this kind of stock previously I hadn't actually realised that there was a connection between Eagle and Dan Dare! So I did a little research...
The Eagle comic was founded by the Rev. Marcus Morris together with Frank Hampson and publication started in 1950. It was more than a comic for boys, though, as it contained educational features, articles on sports and hobbies, cut-away diagrams of the latest technologies of the time, and so on. The character of Dan Dare was created for the very first issue of the Eagle comic.
The ability to tell a story without the use of words was one of the many talents of John S. Goodall. John Strickland Goodall, to give his full name, was born in Heacham in Norfolk in 1908 to Amelia Hunt and Prof. Joseph Strickland Goodall, a famous heart specialist. During his time at Harrow School, and in the years immediately after, he learnt from and worked with such famous artists as Sir Arthur Cope RA, J. Watson Nicol and Harold Speed, and he also spent some time at the Royal Academy Schools.
Illustrations for magazines including the Radio Times provided regular work for him right up until WW2 when he served in the Royal Norfolk Regiment. Advertisements for major companies and banks were part of his work after the war and into the 1950s. He was comfortable with all mediums, from pen and ink and oils in his early illustrating days to watercolours later and, it would seem, with all subjects including portraits, animals and landscapes.
In the office upstairs at Stella Books, we're always keeping an eye out for any book-related news.
This month, one such article was kept from a recent newspaper. It was about Gordon Murray, who sadly died on 30th of June 2016. Now, if you had said to me 'Gordon Murray' I wouldn't have known who you were talking about! However, looking at the article, I definitely recognized the popular children's characters in the photos that went along with the article.
Gordon Murray (born 3rd May 1921), was possibly most well known for his contribution to children's TV in the 1950s and 1960s. He first helped out on a number of shows with the BBC, including 'The Flowerpot Men' (featuring everyone's favourite characters Bill and Ben!); originally read aloud on the radio programme, Listen With Mother (1951), but subsequently broadcast from 1952 as a TV show on 'Watch With Mother'.
With the recent release of "The Cursed Child", a new play set within the Harry Potter universe, and "Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them", a film about a magical zoologist in the series, the world of Harry Potter is being talked about everywhere once again: J.K. Rowling created a true world of magic when she first wrote "The Philosopher's Stone", and today that world spans ever wider.
For those who have never read the series or watched the films: Harry Potter's parents are murdered by a dark wizard when he's a baby, and although he's raised by his Muggle (non-magical) aunt and uncle, at eleven years old he receives an invitation to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The initial series of books covers his adventures at Hogwarts, and his eventual defeat of the man who killed his parents: it's a fantasy series, but it's also about growing up, and about the polarizing differences between some people and others.
Many of us have probably heard of Tintern Abbey - if not, read Sonia's potted history. However, Tintern has a partly hidden history including being the first place in the world where brass was produced by alloying copper with zinc in 1568. So here is my disjointed article on Tintern industrial history.
So why does Tintern have an industrial history?
It is all to do with Location -
The fast flowing Angidy river – suitable for driving water wheels, at one point there were 22 of them.
Plentiful woodland to make charcoal to heat the furnaces
Originally for adults, examples of three dimensional or movable books date back to the 13th century. Since that time, this type of book has been used to beautifully illustrate fiction stories and serve as a learning tool initially for adults and then for children. They are more expensive to produce and require specialised skills so there are few examples until the Bookano series was produced from 1929 for 20 years. These have lovely, colourful three dimensional pop ups which can be viewed from several angles. Bookano books (the name comes from Meccano which was also becoming popular at this time) are very collectible.
Lothar Meggendorfer, a German, is famous for his movable books. He originally created them for his son and went on to create over 200 from the middle of the 19th Century. The pop up mechanisms and movable parts in his books are some of the most complex ever created. They have been so admired that there is a bi-annual Meggendorfer Prize awarded for outstanding paper engineering to the artist who has produced the most outstanding commercially published pop-up or movable book.
Every day we encounter advertising in one form or another, whether through television, radio, newspapers, post, the internet or advertising hoardings it forms part of our day to day lives. How much we are influenced by it is open to question. I find that there are certain adverts on television that I watch every time they are shown just because I like the music or they amuse me. Often I have no interest in the product and sometimes I fail to see the connection between the content of the advert and the featured product but this doesn't stop me repeatedly watching them. There are also adverts that I find intensely irritating but love them or hate them advertising is here to stay and can be a powerful way of getting a message across. I am proof that this message can remain with you for many years as I can still remember advertising jingles or phrases from 30 years ago for chocolate bars, carpet cleaner, tea, petrol, washing-up liquid, mashed potato etc.
Just a May Day holiday in ancient Rome...
As the days are lengthening and weather improving (in theory at least), many of you may be starting to look forward to the May Bank Holiday. It seems appropriate, therefore, to consider the ancient Roman festival which took place at the same time of year: the Floralia, in honour of the goddess Flora.
Flora, one of the most ancient deities in Roman religion, was a goddess of flowers, vegetation and fertility and she was one of 15 deities that had a state priest (known as a flamen) charged with overseeing her worship. According to legend her worship was introduced to Rome around 240 BC by a Sabine king with the rather splendid name of Titus Tatius. Her worship continued for a number of years before falling into decline, but her cult was reinstated in 173 BC after a series of poor harvests.
With our big stock of Ladybird Books that come through Stella and Rose's Books, we often see which titles are most popular by how long they stay on our shelves.
A title that appears to not stay on our shelves very long is that of 'Tootles The Taxi and Other Rhymes' written by Joyce B. Clegg and illustrated by John Kenney. This being the case, I wondered why this book was so popular and sat down to read it myself.
With the title, which I always refer to as 'Tootles', you could be led to believe that the book is mostly about a taxi by that name (well, that is what I thought anyway). To my surprise the rest of the title 'And Other Rhymes' describes the book more accurately. 'Tootles' is just the first rhyme in the book, with every subsequent page having a different vehicle and corresponding rhyme.
View current stock of Laydbird Nature Series 536
With many rhyming stories and fictional tales in their repertoire, Ladybird Books started adding educational titles to their ever expanding series of books for children.
Included among these educational titles are the four 'What to Look For' books in the 536 (Nature) series. These titles see the pairing of experienced biologist and writer Elliot Lovegood Grant Watson and famous illustrator Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe. The series explores all four seasons, and the changes and exciting events that could be observed during each season.
The other day, I was handed some new Ladybird books that had come into our possession and was thrilled to see five of the six titles in 'The Adventures of Wonk' series.
This series, number 417, was the third series undertaken by Wills and Hepworth in their now familiar small Ladybird format. The books were all written by Muriel Levy ('Auntie Muriel of Radio fame' as it states on the title pages - see below right) and illustrated with beautiful and vivid full colour pictures by Kiddell-Monroe. Wills and Hepworth published them between 1941 and 1948.
Each title recounts the everyday adventures of Wonk, a sleepy, loveable Koala character, and his best friend, a young boy named Peter.
2015 marked the 150th anniversary of the original publication of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.
A year of events to celebrate all things related to Alice have seen some wonderfully inspired activities, plenty of opportunities to take tea with a Mad Hatter, and our own Rose's Books at Hay-on-Wye have had a splendid window display with the kind assistance of Mr. Wakeling.
Partners Chris & Cliff, now enjoying their retirement in Portugal, have sent us details of the story covered in the Portuguese press!
Why rodents in children's books you may ask?
Simple answer - my husband and I are the proud owners of four beautiful dumbo-eared rats. We got our four girls ('does') back in March 2015.
After much deliberation (which pets should we get - cats? rabbits? hamster? rats?), we decided on rats. So we researched cages, food and all necessary equipment. When all this was purchased and set up, we had another choice to make: boys or girls? After much changing of our minds (we'll definitely have boys – two – called Caspian and Reepicheep – so we thought!), finally we decided on girls as they were just so pretty. We picked them up from a breeder not too far away from us and set about getting to know their individual characters.
In 1946 my family bought their first jeep – a Willys with a civilian registration DJY 201. 70 years later I still own and drive that jeep.
Above: Cliff in the jeep in 1956.
About 8 million horses died during World War One, they were used for transporting men, materials and guns. In World War Two the US Army needed a replacement for the horse and in early 1940 the US Army issued a specification. The Bantam Car Company and Willys-Overland were the only two companies that responded to the Army's call, although over 130 companies had been invited to respond. They had been given a 49-day deadline and Willys-Overland asked for more time to finish their vehicle.
Or, for those of you who enjoyed my previous article about our garden visitors, here are “More Garden Visitors” to our garden here in Portugal. Cliff and I have been settled here for a year now and continue to be amazed at the abundance and variety of wildlife we see right outside our back door. Mind you, we have to look very closely on occasions to see the beauty, or some would say peculiarities, of the little creatures that frequent our flowers and the nooks and crannies in the stone walls. Here are some we found particularly fascinating.