Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Some thoughts on the British, the cup of tea, London, design and inevitably books and bookshops.






Well that was Easter and we are back in the bookshop, I have just taken a few pictures out of an album and photographed them with my mobile phone, so everything back to normal, there are a few people, some of the time, browsing in the maze of bookshelves and because the right books at the right prices are in the right places some of the books are being bought in the process.

We have a new secondhand till, cash register, wosisname that is catching us out periodically, it is much more complicated than the previous tills and frankly as nearly all of the tills I have encountered in bookshops over the years don’t quite fit in with the bookselling world.

This one was designed with a C1990 supermarket in mind and I wouldn’t think that anyone would design a till with a secondhand bookshop in mind. It has about 70 buttons and we have a reasonable understanding of some of the functions of about 20 of them, having read parts of the 300 page instructions.

I don’t suppose many people want to know about my Easter Monday, but here it is for my record as much as anything.

For a very wet Easter break we fitted a lot of things in culminating in taking some younger members of the family to London for a concert yesterday. The car has been playing up so we went for the train option and the old issue of the last train to Ramsgate combined with the location and finishing times of concerts in London making things a bit tight at the end.

Anyway we started crossing London by bus, this is the cheapest but slowest way of getting around the capital, I haven’t been on a London bus since around 1970, so it was an interesting experience, what would have been a 15-minute tube journey costing around £5 was converted to about an hour’s bus journey costing about £1.50.

Pros and cons with going by bus – the pros being the bus is much quieter and overall a more relaxing experience, putting the number of the bus into google combined with the electronic display on the bus meaning you have a very good idea of where you are and where you are heading. London busses work with a contactless credit card making payment easier, the London bus was much more comfortable than the bus I occasionally take from Ramsgate to Canterbury and the road surface a lot smoother.

Cons – well apart from taking a lot longer which is fine as seeing London from the top of bus is normally interesting, far and away the main problem is that on a wet day with a fairly full bus the windows steam up so much that you pretty much can’t see out at all. I would have thought the ventilation and heating system on a fairly new vehicle should be up to demisting the windows but it wasn’t. 

I think the Americans, French and Italians mostly drink coffee, we have a very complicated machine in the kitchen, which makes coffee, we also have a filter coffee machine, which we use to make coffee. I have also played with the coffee machine in Wetherspoon’s.

When I was a child we had a coffee peculator and I remember that I liked the smell it produced when making coffee, the coffee was bought from Stoke’s in Salisbury where the coffee was roasted and the ventilation from this exiting below the shop window, so I liked the smell.


Tea however is what I drink, this is made by putting a teabag of a known make (Yorkshire, pg, Typhoo, etc) into a mug and pouring boiling water over it, stirring it on and off until strong enough then removing the teabag and putting some milk in.

This type of tea is hard to find in London, it may be impossible to find.

We went to the Design Museum http://designmuseum.org/ which was much better than I expected and I think I could have happily spent the day there. Looking on Tripadvisor I note that a lot of people don’t seem to like it, see https://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/place/606805-design-museum 

The links to the photos I took will be at the bottom of this post and I think I took enough for you to be able to make you mind up.

Lunch was Gail’s Bakery next to the design museum, small chain of café bakeries offering good quality snack meals in London, the tea, English Breakfast in filter mechanism pot was also reasonable.

What you do once you have taken people to a concert that you aren’t going to is very tricky indeed. You drop them at 7 and pick them up at 11 so optimally you would like to find something you wanted to do in the same part of London that lasted from about 7.30 to about 10.30.

We found an indoor shopping centre that was open until 10, made our way to the cinema café at the top of it, paid £4.50 for a cardboard cup of coke, and sat on very comfortable seats watching the world of shopping go underneath.


We would have had tea but their machine had broken, this in itself begs some questions and potentially could be the stuff of a nightmare.

There were of course no shops that would interest me, books, music, artist’s materials, cameras, the internet combined with tec has put pay to all that.

In the end we finished up by the tube station in Wetherspoons having a cup of Tetley tea, followed by the rush related to 

The whole business of shops and how they form towns and what happens as they close is very much related to Thanet, the impact of dedicated shopping centres on the area around them and I assume the writing on the wall for dedicated shopping centres.

Most of our towns formed around markets and shops, not the other way around, the granting of a licence to hold a market was a factor that caused the growth of English towns. Mostly the markets were selling local produce but the trader of one sort or another soon came along, someone who neither made things or grew them but only bought and sold them.


In this part of London you can see Grenfell Tower in the distance in different places, so some pictures of that too, although what to say about it is beyond me.

I did take a camera and used the camera on my phone, a dull day though and it rained a fair amount, so not the best of pictures.

Here is the link to the content of my camera card http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/418v/id3.htm

And here is the link to the ones on the phone https://photos.app.goo.gl/Lf6SzIKuqMSwC4d53

The newly arrived books in the bookshop as eclection as ever, here is the link http://michaelsbookshop.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/edward-gorey-in-bookshop.html



Looking at this post mostly London and thinking about the relevance to Ramsgate and Thanet, it occurred to me that many people have the same issues as we do, you take the train, we took the train from Canterbury, the fast train is 50 minutes from Canterbury and as there were quite a few of us we went as a group in terms of rail fare cost, so about £22 return with children travelling for £1. The whole thing of being in Canterbury and having an extension into London, where you are in the bit you want in just over an hour, well very useful to us.

Using the tube I recommend using your contactless credit card, same for the bus, and what to do, which for us will probably be mostly bookshopping net time, well that’s another matter.  

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