My partner and I had a week off last week. We didn’t have any holiday plans, but we did want to have a few away days. The first outing was a bit of a disaster. We were miles from home in the middle of nowhere, with only a few cows for company, when the car broke down.
We were rescued by a lovely man in a van, courtesy of our breakdown cover. Once back at home, we took my car and went to the garden centre instead of the coast. The Pennine Garden Centre in Shelley, Huddersfield, is a favourite of ours. There’s a nice restaurant, lots of plants, animals and books!
Unfortunately, we didn’t realise that the garden centre has been taken over by another company. It’s being refurbished. There were no cute animals to look at, but most disappointing of all was the bookshop. It had been drastically reduced in size to a shadow of its former self.
‘The books,’ I said. ‘Where are the books!’
I had to make do with what was in front of me. I browsed the shelves, and found a couple of books. The first was Tom Michell’s The Penguin Lessons, a true story which came with a recommendation from BBC Radio 2’s book club. I’m really enjoying writing non-fiction at the moment, so it seemed a perfect choice.
The second book was Do not stand at my grave and weep. It’s actually a poem that’s been published in book format with illustrations. I wouldn’t normally buy something like this, but I’ve recently found this poem in my grandfather’s house when we were clearing out his things (he died last year). He’d cut the poem out of the newspaper and kept it for years in his drawer. The words obviously meant something to him. I thought they might help me too. Plus, I think he would have liked this lovely little book.
I’m pleased to say that our second day trip was a success. We went to visit my uncle and auntie in Skipton. They’re staying in Skipton for a few weeks, before moving to Australia to live. We wanted to spend some time with them before they go. They made us a huge lunch, and then took us into Skipton to have a look round. They know I like bookshops so that’s where we went.
This time, I came away with three purchases. Amy Tan’s The Opposite of Fate, Moments – Irish Women Writers in aid of the Tsunami Victims, and Ox-Tales Water. The former is a literary memoir. The others are collections of short stories.
At the moment, I’m really interested in memoir and short stories. This could be because I’m working on a memoir, and I’m also part-way through a short story course. By reading memoir and short stories, I want to learn from other writers, understand how they do it, so I can, hopefully, do the same.
Does what you write influence your reading choices?