As, I think, I have mentioned in a previous article I am an avid book collector. This all started many years ago in Kingsley when, having developed a keen interest in books at the village school, I began requesting books as gifts at Christmas and birthdays etc. My books were originally confined to volumes on rural matters but much later in life I developed an interest in food and cooking and so began my cookery book collection. I buy new books and, of course, the internet has transformed the way in which one is now able to access books from all over the world.
But, my great passion ….my wife would say obsession …is second hand books. Where ever I go my first task is to establish if the town has a second hand book shop. In days gone by this was a fairly simple task, one just tracked down the local Bobby on the beat or traffic warden and, hey presto, directions were provided. Sadly, that is no longer the case, apart from the fact that many second hand book shops have disappeared, (Guildford for example once had two huge shops ), there are now so few Bobbies on the beat and traffic wardens are also gone. However, be that as it may, I am usually able to establish if or if not the place I happen to be visiting has a second hand bookshop, and off I go. Mrs. Y. and I have a well established system in place to ensure that these matters run reasonably smoothly. We agree a time and place at which to meet and she goes off around the shops and I head of to the bookshop. Usually with a cautionary, "don’t buy more than one book, we are running out of space". How negative can you get !
Having said that there has been a decline in second hand book shops, there is one glimmer of hope in the form of Oxfam. They have opened up quite a lot of such establishments in recent years. I suppose, as a charity, their outgoings are far less and they get their stock from donations. In these parts we have Oxfam second hand bookshops in Salisbury, Dorchester, Wells, Yeovil, Warminster and Taunton. In Bath there are two, together with a couple more operated by other charities. So all is looking quite healthy as far as I am concerned.
The people who man the charity shops are usually very helpful and when they get to know an individual will often produce books from the back room which may be of interest.
Well, I hate to admit it, but Mrs. Y. has proved to be right, my book collection is in bad need of more space. There are a number of what, "she who must be obeyed", refers to, menacingly, as piles growing in corners of spare rooms and beside my armchair. I am frequently subjected to the rather rude remark, "oh no not more books" when I return home from a successful expedition.
My original log cabin, purchased at great expense, from B&Q many years ago is now full. Dare I say it, there are even odd "piles" of books within its walls. So it was, a couple of weeks ago, having had my usual ear bashing about the dreaded piles of books in the house, I casually suggested it might be a good idea to build another cabin. To my great surprise my suggestion was met with agreement, the only questions were, where would it be put and how long would it take to build ? Fortunately, ground is not a problem and there was a fairly obvious area beneath a large tree to the right of the garden, in which little would grow. This met with approval and, I think, will work well as it is almost directly opposite the original cabin. However, this time I am going to design and build the cabin myself with the aid of a friendly builder /handyman whom I employ at weekends to help me with all sorts of tasks. I spent yesterday going through the plans with him and between us we appear to have come up with a rather fetching plan for the new book room. We are even going to include a veranda upon which I hope to recline in peace and harmony with a book, glass or two and a wife who will have no cause to use the dreaded "pile" word ever again. On the face of it the cost of such a venture is likely to be a fraction of the cost of the original B&Q structure. I will keep you posted !.