Keep Calm and Carry On

A few weeks ago I noticed this Tweet from Ellee in my Twitter feed:

“I’m in the most extraordinary bookshop I have ever visited, sipping coffee in front of a welcoming fire .”

Before I even clicked on the link I knew exactly where she was, even though it is far away from her home.  It is one of my favourite bookshops too.

The book shop is situated in what was once a Victorian railway station designed by William Bell in 1887.  It is one of largest second hand book shops in the UK.

It is also the place where the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster of war time propaganda was rediscovered.  I am sure that people in the UK are familiar with the slogan and its many spin offs.

You can hear all about the story of the poster and the other war time messages on this video.

The tweet also reminded me of another occasion when I talked about the bookshop…

Richard had just set up a blog promoting the best independent bookshops in Britain and had asked for reader’s contributions to add to the blog. I thought Barter Books was the perfect place to be included so I emailed him my thoughts on the bookshop.

He posted my thoughts as follows:

Yesterday I decided I needed to be away from the Mac, twelve days on the run staring at the screen is not good. What better a thing to do than go and visit a bookshop, so I decided to pack up some books that were OTR and head for Alnwick in Northumberland; it’s the home of Barter Books, Britain’s biggest second hand book shop. At about 3.15 yesterday afternoon I was standing in line ready to pay for the books I had found during my couple of idyllic hours of browsing. Two were books I had been looking for – two volumes of Rupert Hart-Davis and George Lyttelton’s letters to each other; they were the paperback editions that each contained two volumes – so all I need now to find are volumes 5 & 6. I also got several books that I didn’t know I wanted.

I deliberately didn’t take my mobile with me so I could avoid the temptation to check my emails or any other such unnecessary Saturday act. When I got home there was an email from Cherie.

“I discovered this wonderful second hand bookshop a couple of years ago when I was on holiday. It is situated in an old Victorian railway station, which gives it a lot of character. There is a huge selection of books, which are laid out in a logical sequence; there is even a map to help you find your way round easily.

To add to the enjoyment, it has a waiting room where people can sit down to read, drink coffee and in wintertime enjoy open fires. To cater for families it even has a children’s room with toys, so the adults can enjoy browsing the books uninterrupted.”

Synchronicity works in strange and mysterious ways 😉

1 thought on “Keep Calm and Carry On

  1. How amazing. It does sound like a wonderful place to while away the hours and empty the wallet, but the synchronicity (wonderful word) of being there at the same time as an email extolling its virtues is incredible.
    Thank you. And I love the Keep Calm and Carry On ethos as well.
    September 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersoosie

    Oh..I just love this. The way the meeting of the minds work…and the way great ones think alike. I – too – LOVE bookshops..especially those you can get lost in. And – I didn’t know there was a history behind the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ slogan. As always – your writing informs me!!!

    Here’s to many more happy Saturdays spent browsing in bookshops!!!
    September 28, 2012 | Registered CommenterMarcie

    And am I correct to say the LARGEST second-hand bookstore in the UK is the one we visited in Wales??? I can just image what this one must be like if it’s anything like that one. You’d never want to leave without finding a treasure of a lifetime.

    And YES, what wonderful synchronicity! I have a feeling it happens all the time, even when we don’t know!
    September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGinnie

    Just like you, I love independent bookstores, Cherry, and I wish there were more here. I remember during my trips in England I visited so many second hand bookstores, it was a joy. I spent entire afternoons there, and at the end of the trip when I went home (home being Germany at that time) my car was loaded with books. There were also so many lovely and interesting people I met in those bookstores – oh those memories!
    And since the London Olympics the world seems to be familiar with “Keep calm and carry on” – my teenage daughter is obsessed with it! I love your image.
    September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarola

    Our ‘take aways’ from posts sometimes differ – mine today was a profound fascination and appreciation of the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Loved the video by the way! But there most always is a ‘take away’ each and every day as we visit Vision and Verb. Thanks so much for an interesting post.
    September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSue

    Isn’t that funny? You’re right – it happens so often….there are strange and wonderful “coincidences” floating around the universe. Sounds like a wonderful book stop shop. I so relate to idyllic hours lost in a book place. So glad you got to enjoy that and find some treasures. And thanks for the tip on the stop next time I’m in those parts.
    September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

    sometimes, i like coming after others…today, i spent the first half of the day flying from my home to houston to tulsa to see my son who’s still working, so i can keep calm and carry on with v&v. like sue, i smile at how we all “carry” different beats away from one another’s posts. ginnie, i think synchronicity and difference are what make this group of ours so much fun.

    one thing we all seem to share…the love of books and bookstores! oh, another might be our respect for and curiosity about the world….and on we go!
    September 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterhoney

    Love that bookshop, now I want to go there. Thanks for sharing
    September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPetra

    Well I accepted your invitation Cherie, and find a rather interesting place here, even if if a do feel like a bit of an intruder in the company of so many charming lady writers 🙂
    September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDon QuiScottie

    Oh heck… I’m probably in trouble here already for that word “charming”. I always say the wrong things in a room full of women 😦

    Very interesting place to look around though, but I’ll keep my mouth shut, mainly 🙂
    September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDon QuiScottie

    As Don knows by now (yes, I sent him an e-mail), he better NOT keep his mouth shut! We LOVE his male presence here at V&V!!! 🙂 Thanks for inviting him, Cherry.
    September 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGinnie

    ‘Keep calm and carry on’…… I love those words and I love the poster. That poster should do great on the walls of the company where I work………
    I looked at the video, too bad the bookshop is not within reach for us. I would go there on a rainy day and just get lost. I LOVE bookshops, period.
    As Ginnie mentioned, we were in the largest of the country in Wales. I left the store with a kind of ‘unfinished business’ there 🙂
    This is a fabulous bookstore, everything fits, even the model trains.
    People should do this more often. Get away from life, throw the cellphone in the glass of water next to your bed and go out and get restored.
    I just added this bookstore to my bucket list………….
    ‘Keep calm and carry on’
    Have a great weekend.
    September 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAstrid

    its this that i miss probably more than anything else (about my life here) – bookshops. really good bookshops you can spend hours in!!!
    and i love that keep calm and carry on poster, i have one framed on my wall 🙂
    September 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterEliza

    “Charming” is ok by me, whether it applies to bookstores, women or blog posts! I do love bookshops, and they’re getting rare around here. Barnes and Noble just doesn’t do it. If I only want a book, I’ll order it online. If I want to enjoy books, even a Goodwill store is better than B&N. We have one old and vaguely historic bookshop here in town – I haven’t been there in ages, and believe I’ll make a trip today, just because.
    September 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

    It is nice that we all have the books and book shops in common and I am glad you found the thought of this shop inspiring. I had no idea that the slogan had spread quite so far, I was expecting those from overseas to be unfamiliar with it.

    Welcome Don QuiScottie I am glad you accepted my invitation, it is nice to see you here 🙂
    September 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCherryPie

    Yes, it is the most wonderful place. Not only their books, but also their delicious coffee and cakes. You really do get the warmest of welcome. It’s lovely to see book sales thriving in an era of e-books too.
    October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEllee

    Definitely sounds like a place to put on the wish list to visit. I so mourn the loss of “proper” bookstores these days and take solace in the fact that I have a stellar library close by.
    Wonderful that this spot sparks such intriguing virtual connections.
    October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

    Ellee thanks for dropping by to see the post that you inspired with your tweet. I must say you make those cakes sound very tempting, I really must go back for another visit soon.

    I much prefer the feel of a real book, I haven’t really got into ebooks although I do like audio books, especially in the car.
    October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCherryPie

    I love what you did with the photo. It’s pretty hard where I live to find a bookstore. Most have gone out of business since people can buy books cheaper on line or they now read everything on their Kindle or iPad. And none of them had the atmosphere that you’re talking about here. Maybe I have to go to England…
    October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaery Rose

    Oh, I so wish there was a book shop like that near me, though it is probably good that there is not, else I would be spending all my days there.

    It does seem that quaint bookstores, and other kinds of shops, are on their way out as the internet takes over more and more. Let’s hope that some will always survive.
    October 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkelly

    I just LOVE small book stores and amazing that I just saw this sign in one here in Antwerp! In the U.S. most all the small mom and pop stores have closed and even the large chains are consolidating because of better pricing on Amazon and all the electronic gadgets for reading these days. To me there’s nothing better than holding a book and turning pages curled up in a big chair. Beautiful post and will add this store to my list of must-sees one day!
    October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobin aka Gotham Girl

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