and so beguile thy sorrow

Get yourself a cup of tea and a biscuit, silence your phone, sit down in a comfy chair and treat yourself this slice of bookish wonderousness


from Bookshelf Porn – one of my absolute most favouritest blogs.  Daily delights delivered into my RSS feeder.  I’ve wittered about my library before and pictures of luscious book collections from around the world really does fuel my fictional fetish.

Second hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack.
Virginia Woolf

an apposite seeming quotation found by some enjoyable SEO on this lovely list of library related quotations which also generated my title

Come, and take choice of all my library,
And so beguile thy sorrow.
– William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus


The joy of being back in library land

I will be blogging again, I can feel my typing fingers twitching and my nonsense generation powering up, but in the meantime, books being beautiful, to celebrate my having easy access to the rather wonderful Bristol central library which I love love love:

(via Bookshelfporn via Sarah Moran)

in which I am very glad that I bought a raincoat

The rain it raineth in Berlin.  But for the first time in many years I’m actually somewhat prepared. A few weeks ago, after yet more episodes of swimming in borrowed jackets that are much bigger than I am, I admitted to myself that as I grown up, it was about time that I bought a raincoat that a) fit and b) worked.  I’m now the proud possessor of a bright green paclite which does an excellent job of cheering up grey days and keeping me dry. It is still a little bit big for me, but only so that I can fit lots of layers underneath for cold days*, the smaller size looked admirably svelte but there’s enough of my mother in me to make concessions to practicality, and at least it was a deliberate plan not just the mistaken expectation that I’ll ‘grow into it’**.

Other thoughts from the day:

  1. I remembered that I agreed to do another half marathon next year.  Now I really do have to start running again.
  2. Actually, I need to do that anyway if I’m to have the legs for skiing – and climbing too so that I can remember how to balance
  3. I must admit to myself that I am spectacularly good at wasting time.  I’ve taken my working hours right down at the moment and yet I’m still not managing to accomplish all that much. Hmm.  Not something I can really put on my CV.
  4. the Eisbäre*** aren’t playing when LTN is coming to town, but he’s talked me into wanting to see them.  Is it allowable to go without him?
  5. I’m reading too many books at the moment.  This is my current reading list. It’s getting out of control.  But at least I’m not the only one with the problem
  6. To be scrupulously honest, this doesn’t even include the books which I have started but have been distracted from for a quite a while and therefore can’t really count as current.  I tried to love the Kite Runner, I really did but I only got about halfway through. Possibly because I suspect it’s all going to end in tears.
And now I’m late for Taco Tuesday. Dammit!  See, wasting time….

*not that I was smart enough to actually put all those layers on today so I shivered a lot. But I’m getting there!

**that never happened

*** ice hockey team, duh!

It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring

Such a rainy Saturday it has been*, but strangely satisfying.  The panda and I watched Mr Smith Goes to Washington and it was amazing.  I love James Stewart: his voice, his face and his damn good acting.   He was so young in this film, it’s probably the earliest one I’ve seen. Funnily enough we were going to watch Rear Window, which is right at the other end of the spectrum, but the tech was against us.  I need to watch more of his long list of films, maybe The Man from Laramie, just because I fancy a western and I’ve always loved the song:

the west will never see;
a  man with so many notches on his gun,
everyone admires the fearless stranger,
danger was this man’s special-tee!
So they never bossed, or double crossed, the man from Laramie…

Doo-de-do-de-do-do. the man from Laramie.

Where was I?  Ah yes.  Then I hoovered the whole flat and reorganised my bedroom, which was strangely satisfying.  I often find that when my head isn’t on quite straight a burst of housework cleans out my mind as well as my house.  Two results for the price of one.  My room looks, as Panda put it, more like a room now, and I’ve got a little deskesque space set up to use the computer without mucking my neck and back up any more.  My wonderful birthday speakers are repositioned, my books are tidied up and my chair is just begging to be curled up in with a book and a cup of tea.  So long folks….

* editor’s note.  I’m writing this on Saturday, true enough, but I probably won’t publish it until later.  I’m so rubbish at writing at certain times that it seems wasteful to release a passel of posts into the wild at once, so I’ll save up my loquacious moments and dole them out in measured doses.  It’s my blog and the timeline doesn’t have to make sense …so there.

Tea and books and other good things

Last night I was feeling a little less sparkly than usual, without knowing why, which is always frustrating.  There was honestly no reason for it, so I decided to make a list of things that should have been making me happy.  And what do you know?  Taken altogether they definitely made me feel happier.  This counting your blessing doodah actually works!*

I decided to make a “photo editorial” of the list, because I’m such a pro journo, so here goes.

  1. On Saturday, I received the best care package ever sent by post, courtesy of the ever lovely Bella.  Look what I got:
    Yes you are seeing right, not only did I get a hand drawn card with pigs on, I also got a seed kit for forget-me-nots (very clever) and a big ziplock bag of tea!  I LOVES this girl.  I had been down to only 4 remaining  tea bags .  The situation was quite desperate,  the relief commensurate and the celebrations quite joyous.  In fact, to commemorate the miraculous tea delivery, I hunted diligently in Boxy Flohmarkt for a Teekanne and found this beauty.  Lookit. Beee-u-diful.
  2. On Sunday I cleaned and organised my room so that it was all shiny in the sunshine. I even polished the door handles although to be fair you can’t see that here.  However, it  now looks less like I’m squatting which is an achievement as far as I’m concerned.
  3. I also bargained spiritedly with a disgruntled lady even shorter than me for a somewhat ugly beer advertising mirror, and then I decorated it with a red-haired lady and gold leaves.  It now looks rather yummy in my humble opinion.
    Note: accept my apologies for my rather serious concentrating face, and admire please the detail of my découpage (not décollotage, découpage)
  4. I was further inspired  at the market to purchase this  jumper thing for the princely sum of 3 euro.  That’s definitely something to smile about.  Can’t wait to wear it, wish I could wear it to work but I guess my bright pink shoes will have to do for now…
  5. Nor does the bounty of the markt stop there.  I also found myself 2 new books to be going on with, one of which admittedly looks classier than the other, but the latter is fatter so it gets points too.
    As a result, I’m currently reading 3 books at once, the one about trees, one called Moon Tiger which is on loan and (gulp) one of the new ones which I really shouldn’t have started (but in my defence there’s a rose on the front and it was hard to resist).  Of course the sum total of books should be 4 because I ought to be reading the German loaner from Sonja, but I’m a wicked lazy child. Tomorrow, maybe, I’ll start on that.
And that’s all for now folks. Hope my small cheerfulnesses made you smile too.  I’ll leave you with a quote from C.S.Lewis, who not only wrote good books but clearly was very sensible too.
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me”

*editorial note: honesty compels me to admit that talking to LTN and the lovely Cee may have contributed rather more significantly to the cheering upping but nonetheless… the list and the photographing of the list definitely helped.

This painted city

Today I was out and about in Berlin a little bit because I had my first one-to-one lesson as a cover for another teacher.  I had to go out east through Charlottenburg, a direction I hadn’t taken before.  I forgot my book today and thought that I would regret it during all my s/u bahn journeys, but in fact I was very happy just to stare out of the window and see how the scenery changed.

As I watched the city go by, with deco buildings cheek-by-jowl against distinguished Altbau buildings and new ugly/brilliantly designed blocks, I realised something. It’s a very painted city.  Of course, I’ve already spent a lot of time snatching pictures of the graffiti and street art that’s plastered thickly across any number of likely and unlikely surfaces, but I hadn’t consciously notices how many of the buildings are painted up in colours too.  Ochre yellow is popular, but so are the blues and greens and even pinks of Bristol.  It suddenly clicked that this is one of the reasons I identify this city with Brizzle, even though previously I couldn’t perfectly explain it.

I don’t have any photos to exemplify this for you right now, but I’ll work on it.  In the meantime, I have a building that I found very funky, against a sadly grey sky.

and pollarded trees taking a starring role too

Anyway, the lesson went quite well, the student was very lovely and we had good chats about his work, London, Shanghai, village life, Berlin building sites and so on.  After I finished the lesson, I trotted down the stairs, only to be completely smitten by this chair.  It just begs to be added to my library (modern incarnation thereof) and curled up in with a suitable book, such as 1984 maybe.  I particularly love how the plant and the chair complement each other here.  If I could have sneaked them both out of the building and got them home, I think I’d have been tempted…

This clearly put me in the mood for appreciating orangeness in life.  It’s not normally one of my favoured colours, but when I went back down to the U7 (turquoise line) I was struck by this most excellent ceiling stair arrangement (apologies for the blurriness, it’s not too bright down there.

And now that my eyes were opened, I started paying attention to the walls of the platform itself – how I missed this tiling before I cannot imagine.

Nor was Willmersdorff to be outdone.  If anything I think it may be more splendid.

But that’s enough for now.  It’s suddenly become much later than planned as I’ve been chatting away to you lovely people, so I shall go to sleep and dream of perfect flapjacks.  Anon!

Books on shelves

I’m fantasising about bookshelves.  There, I’ve admitted it.  I have frequent day dreams about many things, like the artistic tours de force I could create in knitting or tailoring or prose for that matter if only I had a little more talent.  There’s also the planning of all the things I could learn to do and all the countries I could live in if only I had a lot more money  z.B. if anybody cared to donate their lottery winnings since I can’t hope to win it when I don’t play it.   And often, I think about ‘my house’.  As the fam’ly knows, ‘my house’ has been in existence for a very long time.   It’s a never-ending expansion project full of rooms like the infinity hotel, always room to squeeze in another one.  This isn’t because I want to live in a big house, I think I’d probably hate it, but in ‘my house’ I’m going to have a room with….chinoiserie wallpaper…..a projector and wall to wall cushions……a big leather Chesterfield sofa with wonderfully soft wool rugs to snuggle into….Gustavian grey walls and a porcelain stove…..minamalism (hah!)….whatever I see and fall in love with goes into my house.  And don’t even get me started on the garden, in real life it’s going to have to be big, in my head it’s the secret garden gone mad.

There’s one thing though that is always in the plan for the house – a library.  I want a room with a least one wall of floor to ceiling books.  Tattered and pristine, well-loved and to-be-read, coffee table beauties and pocket penguins with classic design.  They’ll all go in there.  Hopefully there will be space for a ladder on rails that I can woosh round the top shelves on, and if the daydream gets really indulgent maybe a gallery level too.  It’s an amorphous room, one day there are big windows with deep cushioned window seats, the next it’s cosy and firelit with table lamps casting pools of golden light on the winged leather armchairs.  But always books and a few good places to curl up and disappear inside one of them, and somewhere close by to put your cup of tea.

You may be wondering why I brought this up.  I’m not even sure myself but I think various book type things have collided in my head and created this sudden need to share.  For example, Intelligent Life had an article on hotels with libraries, I want to go and stay in them but they seem unreasonably expensive, especially compared to hostels with tatty collections of books to swap and pass on.  That article then reminded me of the blog that The Guardian introduced me to (which can be seen in my blogroll stage right)  There’s inspiration to be had there, for sure.    The word want comes into my head inexplicably often when I look at those photos.

Anyway, all this reminded me that LTN has promised to raid the public library for me again before he visits next week (yup, my hero).  I’ve demolished Sahara by Clive Cussler and am about to move onto his non-fiction offering, now I’m to suggest new titles to direct his search.  Given that my usual way of finding a new book is to wander around the public library reading backs and random pages until lightning strikes, this seems challenging to me.  But wait, what about one of my previously favoured websites? Why have I callously abandoned Goodreads?  Yup, I definitely need to go in there, get my bookshelves updated and get some suggestions for further reading.  Plus, when I need to go home, I need to retrieve the copy of The book on the bookshelf from where it languishes on my handcrafted boards-balanced-on-bricks-fits-the-gap-perfectly-I-don’t-need-to-build-proper-shelves.  And then I need to re-read the Secret Life of Trees and finish it this time (no reason, just because).

See, that’s what I call a plan.  Booklovers of the world, rejoice!

p.s. we have a chair like this, it lives in the summerhouse.  Maybe it should go in a library tho….mmm, cushion.

From French by design (via bsp) a rather pretty looking blog I may have to explore further.  Ah, le web, c’est fantastique.