Many of us are familiar with battered old Gollies left in the toy cupboard, much loved and then forgotten and many of us have also been brought up with the Robertson Jam Golly brooches which have now ceased production. Perhaps not so familiar to some, is the fact that Florence Upton created the golliwogg character in a series of picture books which were written by her mother, Bertha Upton. The first appearance of the Golliwogg in 1895 in 'The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwogg' caused the Dutch Dolls to "scatter in their fright". Happily for us, they soon got over their shock and the Golliwogg became their closest friend.
It is 30 years since I last had an argument with a golf ball, you know the sort of thing :-
‘I was aiming for the flag, why on earth did you fly off in the opposite direction you stupid article?’‘I hit you straight down the fairway, why are you hiding in the long grass, is it just to be awkward?’
So I was a little taken aback to be asked by my recently retired brother if I fancied a few swings of the clubs on a local driving range, I really should have known better, but the memories of frustrated tantrums on various courses over the years must have dimmed with the passing of time, so I foolishly agreed.
There's a lot of 'em about. Frogs, that is.
At least, there were last week when the annual spawning reached a crescendo in our pond. This week, however, there's barely a head to be seen and only the copious quantity of frog-spawn is evidence of the mass of amorous amphibians that had flocked to the pond during the previous weeks.
Fickle folk, these Ranidae.
Left: the shallow 'beach' of the pond is now swamped with frog-spawn and a temporary line of logs keep any fish from taking a snack...
To view our current stock of books about France, click here
Wine: No self-respecting Frenchman would be without his "Cave" or wine cellar, which is often shown to guests, who may be honoured by being allowed to select wine for the meal. There really is a French wine to suit every palate. Red wine appears to be more popular in France, and ranges from full-bodied, such as those from Cahors, and Burgundy right through to that halfway land, a Rose, such as Rose D'Anjou. The whites of Central France, such as Muscadet, Sancerre & Chablis, balance well with the sweeter dessert wines, e.g. the pricey Sauterne, or more reasonably priced sweet Bordeaux.
The Edinburgh based publishing house of T.N. Foulis was founded in 1903 by Thomas Noble Foulis and Douglas A Foulis. The title ‘T.N. Foulis’ was adopted in 1905.
The output of the firm during the first quarter of the 20th century, was outstanding in terms of book design, illustration and production. T.N. Foulis himself declared in his catalogue of 1913 - "Each Foulis book is the particular outcome of much personal thought and consideration. The more mechanical methods of modern publishing, which pours out wholesale, indiscriminately bound, or with featureless uniformity, have no attraction for Mr. Foulis and his fellow craftsmen."
A typical Foulis book features coloured buckram bindings, rose-water marked paper with rough-cut pages, and probably employs the elegant Auriol type-face. It will be extensively illustrated by the inclusion of ‘tipped-in’ reproductions of art-work by eminent painters contemporary with the time of publication, such as Jessie M. King; W. Russell Flint; Frank Brangwyn; Robert Gemmell Hutchison and Frederick Cayley Robinson - to name but a few.
View our current stock of Fairy Tales, click here
There cannot be many people who do not hold a fondness for Fairy Tales, especially ones such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.
A Fairy Tale need not contain any mention of fairies at all, however there are certain elements that I think a Fairy Tale cannot do without. There should obviously be princesses and princes, a giant or two, wicked stepmothers and at least a fairy godmother!
Fairy Tales started as an oral tradition and only later did they appear in a written form. It was in the late 17th and early 18th century that we saw the Fairy Tale becoming popular amongst the French upper classes with the Fairy Tale collections of De La Fontaine and Perrault and it was in these books that could be seen the tales of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella as we know them today.
To view our current stock of Fairies books, click here
Fairies are something that have fascinated generations of people from all walks of life. What though, are the origins of the 'Fairy'?
These mythical beings were first made popular through the superstitions and tales of old folk lore. Fairies were used to represent powerful natural forces and were even believed to have control over the fertility of the land and those that lived on it. For many people Fairies are small beautiful, sprightly, feminine creatures with wings. For others the realm of the fairy is much more diversified and can include elves, pixies,leprechauns and trolls; indeed any magical creature that doesn't live by human rules!
It's that time of year again, when you suddenly feel compelled to travel into the countryside and stand in a muddy field, with wet feet, munching candyfloss to stare glassy-eyed at an endless stream of agricultural, military and other horribly functional vehicles making a slow, circuitous journey around a local farmer's 'spare' field! And do you know what? I love it!!
You can often hear a steam or vintage rally is happening nearby, long before you see the stalls and vehicles, thanks to an incredible invention - the fairground organ. I have always been mesmerised by fairground organs - the figures depicted in period dress tapping triangles, ringing bells or striking drums; the sheer enormity of the distinctive sound produced by these amazing machines and the fact that they are utterly mobile, making them at first appear something of an assault on the senses! If you have ever wondered just why they are so loud then read on...
Even nowadays there cannot be many children who do not read Enid Blyton, and who would not know who the Famous Five were. During my childhood I loved these stories and they, together with Biggles, were my introduction to the world of reading for pleasure. When my own children were small and we were away on our camping holidays, it was always a Famous Five chapter which formed part of the bedtime story.
Early morning in the village, mist slowly lifting off the River Wye opposite the shop.
Autumn, the river is swollen from the large amount of rain. It can get higher.
The flood waters come right over the road and narrowly avoid the shop due to a number of sand bags and a small height difference.
Sunshine after the rain.
Tintern in the grip of winter. Hopefully this is the only snow of the year! Very pretty.
The woodlands and forests surrounding.Tintern are a haven for wildlfile and walkers alike, it dosen't take much imagination to see why.
"Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul." – Author unknown
It's a warm summer day, the air is filled with the smell of tarmac and freshly cut grass: a low rumble in the distance grows louder as a vehicle approaches. There is no mistaking that distinctive exhaust note - it's a Harley Davidson. Everyone is going to turn to look at it because, whether they are in awe of this great machine, or simply view it as a menace disturbing the peace, there is certainly no denying its presence!
In 1901, a 21 year old William S. Harley drew up plans for a small engine with a displacement of 7.07 cubic inches (116 cc) and four-inch (102 mm) flywheels. The engine was designed for use in a regular pedal-bicycle frame. Over the next two years, Harley and his childhood friend Arthur Davidson labored on their motor-bicycle using the northside Milwaukee machine shop at the home of their friend, Henry Melk. It was finished in 1903 with the help of Arthur's brother, Walter Davidson. Upon completion, the boys found their power-cycle unable to conquer even Milwaukee's most modest hills without pedal assistance. Will Harley and the Davidsons quickly wrote off their first motor-bicycle as a valuable learning experiment.
Have you ever wondered how you hatch a dragon?
Actually dragons are rather good at hatching themselves.
If you ever happen upon a large oval stone, about 1 foot in length, polished till it glows and cool to the touch, think carefully before taking it home! It might be red, or blue or even black, but you will notice thin veins of white weaving across its surface, a surface with the texture of hardened silk. A dragon hatchling is patient, waiting hundreds of years until the time is right for it to emerge. Then, after a few squeaks, your stone will start rocking, faster and faster, until suddenly - you see the first crack splinter the stone's surface. Then another and another and another, until a small dark head appears, possessing large, intelligent eyes which bewitch you from the first moment.
There are so many lovely and interesting people who visit our shop - Stella Books in Tintern in the Wye valley. It is a joy to work here - surrounded by books, all sorts, sizes and subjects, with their own special atmosphere, and with the wonderful view of the Tintern Abbey, the wooded hills and tidal river.
We have people who visit us from across the globe and those who come in from just down the road to share their memories and knowledge with us. I have learned much over the last couple of years - here are some snippets I'd like to share with you.
How do you know if you have a first edition dustwrapper on Five On Kirrin Island Again (left), one of Enid Blyton's Famous Five series? George is looking through the wrong end of the telescope! This was corrected and appeared the right way round in the 3rd edition.
Dogs are part of the Canidae, a family including wolves, coyotes and foxes, thought to have evolved 60 million years ago. Domestic dogs of today are direct descendents of wolves which, it is believed, entered the towns & villages of the Northern Hemisphere about 12,000 years ago in search of food.
Early Man exploited dogs for their own needs, such as guarding, herding and hunting. Particular characteristics were selected depending upon what task they were expected to perform, and now, the various Kennel Clubs worldwide, have split the breeds into various groups i.e. Hounds; Working; Terrier; Gundog;Pastoral; Utility and Toy.
The Saluki, recognised as a dog of grace, great speed and endurance, appears on the ancient tombs of Egypt and is thought to be the dog mentioned in the Bible. This breed is classed as a Hound under the Kennel Club regulations and was originally used for hunting, either by scent or sight. They require a significant amount of exercise but make trustworthy companions.
I sometimes listen to Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4. For those not in the know this is when a guest chooses eight pieces of music they would take with them to a desert island. They already have the Bible, or another appropriate religious work and the complete Works of Shakespeare and they are allowed to choose one other book and a luxury. In a quiet moment one day I invented a new programme - Desert Island Books where the castaway gets to choose eight books to take to their desert island. I of course would be the first castaway!
This desert island could be anywhere in the world. Unlike Robinson Crusoe I would not be shipwrecked to get there! It would have all mod cons - shelter, food and drink - no survival techniques would be necessary. I would have plenty of time to read!
I have always loved dogs and love watching Crufts on the television. Last year, I thought I really ought to go but it fell through at the last minute. This year, at the last minute (again!), I asked Chris if she would like to go on the Thursday (believing this to be the quietest of the four days). Thursday 6th March 2008 was Toy dogs and Utility dogs day. Bruno stayed at home as I thought it might be stressful for him with the noise and crowds.
We left home at the unearthly hour of 6am (Yawn!). Arrived at the NEC car park at 8.15am . There was a shuttle bus to take you to the main entrance but we decided to walk instead. Upon arriving, we were greeted by a huge (30-plus foot high) inflatable 'Gromit' - as in Wallace & Gromit. Gromit is the new face of the Good Citizen Dog Scheme, the largest dog training scheme in the UK with over 1800 participating clubs.
March 2013 marked the 100th anniversary of car production at the Cowley motor plant in Oxford.
Founded on the site of the former Oxford Military College, production commenced on March 28th, 1913 when a Bullnose Morris Oxford rolled off the production line. It was the first of nearly 12 million cars produced at the plant in the following century. British marques such as Morris, Austin, MG, Triumph and Rover are among the 14 makes associated with the factory.
BMW is the current tenant of the plant and manufactures Minis there. The first Mini was produced in 1959 and throughout the following years some 2.8 million new and old style Minis have been produced at Cowley. The site currently employs 3,700 people with 900 vehicles rolling off the production line daily.
There are many reasons to collect children's books: for the amusing story line; for the charming illustrations or to evoke a childhood memory. Any one of these may lead to the purchase of a book which rises in value and can be seen as an investment. Selecting a book to buy as an investment first, and for interest second, is much harder. Which of today's new books will be "The Wind in The Willows" of tomorrow? Which of today's illustrators is the Arthur Rackham of 2020? It's impossible to provide a definitive answer but the purpose of this article is to provide some guidelines.
What is a collection and what makes a collector collect?
One dictionary definition of collecting is "the act of gathering things together" and a collection is defined as "a set of objects collected for their interest, value, or beauty". The desire to collect seems to be something that is built into us, an intrinsic part of being human. We all collect something even though we may not view ourselves as collectors (Don't believe me? What about that collection of shoes in the cupboard, or suits in the wardrobe, or CDs in the rack?)
Me - I collect children's books and teddy bears. Why? Because I like them. But is that really a good enough reason for collectingthem? I like lots of things but I don't collect everything I like. So how did my collections begin?
When I wrote this article it was June - but for those of us with the bug, our Christmas Tree is a year round passion.
Mine started as a child, when the Woolworth's plastic tree with matching baubles my Mother used to put up every year did not match the pictures in my books, i.e. trees laden with candles, glowing in the corner of the room, intricate ornaments dripping from every limb. A clash of images I never forgot.
Left: "The Christmas Tree" by E. Osborn.
When it was time for me to create my own tree, it had of course to be a reflection of my childhood image of what a tree should be. So the purchase of the tree involves trips out into the countryside, looking at many and various options, perfection never quite achieved, but this never stops me trying again each year and surprising my wife with the size of tree you can get into the back of a Ford Ka!