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The Aardvark Blog

Random Thoughts from Lockdown - Final Edition

Random Thoughts from Lockdown - Final Edition

A breathless week in which the days flew bye , and I found myself coping with my varying emotions with different degrees of success. On the one hand we had a stream of calls, emails and personal visits asking when we were re-opening which gave all of us a lift. On the other hand working through the various government and Booksellers Association guidelines for post Covid book retailing brought home to me how much has been lost. You are not in Kansas anymore Dorothy.

This is the last random thoughts from lockdown, but what to call the next phase we are moving into. After various ideas I have decided to mentally label it the ‘between’ time. Many cultures have stories and legends of between states. In some there are palaces and gardens, in others tales of Succubi and Oneiroi. Who knows which we will confront us but I know which side I would bet on ( if I were a betting person).

This week I also carried out my first house clearance since lockdown. Pat whose house I cleared was a wonderful person and a loyal customer over many years. It was a privilege to work through her books, many of which she had bought from us. Also this week I had an email from a friend of a former customer who died in 2016. Mary and her husband Paddy were loyal customers of oursand great supporters of H.art and of community arts in general. Her son had found something I wrote about her and shared it with her friend, and this lead him to get in touch. Having now run Aardvark for over 16 years inevitably we have had to say goodbye to many long-standing customers ( and my friend and colleague Edward). Book lovers are an eclectic and passionate bunch and it has been a privilege to meet and get to know so many interesting people.

Whilst I am writing this listening to a Record review rewind on a Bartok concerto, in general this has not been a week in which I have listened to much music - the only exception being a Courtney Pine crossover album ‘Resistance’ which showcases many of his strengths and which I haven’t played for many years. We heard CP around the time he recorded this album and I realised that this copy was signed to us. How I yearn to hear live music again. Sadly this year’s Presteigne Festival is to be digital only, which is a great consolation but also serves to confirm what we will be missing out on.

As I walked Coco this morning I realised for the first time how laden with apples the trees on the green are. Autumn will bring fruitfulness, and I am torn between feellings of wonder and sadness ( the classic cherry blossom cocktail) .Today’s Guardian includes a wonderful piece by an Italian writer on what the between time is like in her country - complete with a photograph of a mask wearing waiter serving coffees outside Florians in St Mark’s Square.

Elsewhere in the paper a piece on uncrowded parts of France sings the praises of the area around Sancerre. Ethel and I spent our first holiday after Edward’s passing staying on the edge of La Charité sur Loire a French book town in the west of the Loire, which is dominated by the ruins of a massive abbey. A few miles from Sancerre and Pouilly, it is a wonderful place with marvellous food - including superb goats cheese from Chavignol, and dry white Sauvignon that is austere and yet which has great depth of flavour.

Sancerre is unusual amongst classic French wine areas in only enjoying its current level of popularity since the war. Enterprising growers started a campaign of selling wine to Paris restaurants, and the rest as  they say is history. Along with the wines from St Bris in northern Burgundy this area produces the best French Sauvignon - which notwithstanding the fantastic sauvignon’s from New Zealand, Sonoma Valley and South Africa - is to say the finest Sauvignon on the planet. In my mind I see this wine as the perfect dreadnought, cutting through whatever you drink it with, but also perfect on its own. I have drunk it with fish, as an aperitif and even with Spring lamb. If it is not my favourite grape variety then that is because of my natural love an under dog. My heart belongs with the mongrels like Gamay, Pineau D'Aunis, Carignan or Melon. And with the grapes which consistently disappoint - you know who you are Pinot Noir, Riesling and Cabernet Franc - but which when right are so compelling that they make you want to cry.

Last week Ethel and I shared a bottle of Rasteau - delivering part open bottles of wine across the garden fence has become a strange feature of my lockdown experience. This is a wine that I first encountered in the eighties when it was a humble Cotes de Rhône Villages. I bought a bottle in the old Victoria Wine in Leominster and it was a total revelation. Similar to, but more fleet of foot than, Chateauneuf or Gigondas. Over the years I have tried many other bottles of Rasteau and in the main they have disappointed - I suspect that their cuvées contained too much Mourvèdre and not enough Syrah - but this bottle was just perfect.

Thinking about Leominster I heard this week that Brightwells - still known to old lags as Russell Baldwin and Bright - is ending it's fine art sales and closing its  Leominster showroom. The company is moving to a site near Hereford where they will concentrate on cars and wine. For all the decades that I have known Leominster it has been known as an antiques town, and whilst the number of shops and dealers has fluctuated, RBAndB has always been there anchoring the trade for many decades. Alas no more.

So farewell lockdown and hello  brave new world. If you are passing Brampton Bryan - and yes incredibly people do - or are simply suffering from book withdrawal, then do come and see us from Monday. After the opening week we will be open Tuesday- Sunday from 10am to 4pm.

 

Published by Aardvark Books Ltd on

2018
End of year thoughts Thanks for the Christmas Fair, Poetry Breakfast, 2019 Where does the time go? A return to normality? Autumn Brocante Back from Frankfurt, Brocante on Sunday, Winter Event Autumn returns Long time no blog Bank Holiday Monday - Vide Grenier hoorah! Vide Grenier on Monday, J L Carr Day on 1st September, H.Art opens on the 8th of September Art Books, Angelfest Kingsland, Vide Grenier, Carr Celebration, H.Art Brilliant Scarecrow Sunday, lots of books, looking forward to J L Carr, H.Art and Ludlow Food Festival, sad goodbye Scarecrow Sunday, Applications for Café position, Idle Thoughts of a musical & vinous bent Art Opening - Summer Sextet, Scarecrow Sunday, Radio Fame, Pop-Ups, lots and lots of books Meetings with Remarkable Books, Summer Sextet, Scarecrow Sunday So much has happened, and so much is coming up Fabulous May Brocante about to open ! Don't Forget - Bank Holiday Brocante Bank Holiday Weekend, Out of the Hills Art of the Print, Blue Haze Quartet, new cake selection, looking forward to the Brocante and beyond Bookfair books all stowed away, Art of the Print, Out of the Hills etc Aardvarks Back from Norfolk, Art of the Print, Point to Point, hard pounding What a week its been Busy week in the bookshop, 'Art of the Print', 'Out of the Hills' and Much More Big thanks to all who made Easter so fantastic! Snow again, busy week, April book bonanza, Easter and sculpture, Jazz amongst the bookshelves Snow no more, Borderlines Sponsored Film, even more books Opening Hours 3rd of March Closing Early 2nd March Valentine's event is finally here Spring Fair, Epic victory in Kingsland Quiz, 'The Bookshop' performance at Courtyard, Valentine's Event And so the new year turns Roadworks, new philosophy library and lots of CDs New Year and lots of books
2017
New Year Resolutions 2 New Year's resolutions 1 Nothings gives pleasure more than a good book, a beautiful music and a wonderful view Christmas Fair cancelled, Christmas opening etc Christmas Fair, Aardvark Christmas opening, 2017 Thanks Winter Event - Bill Sewell, Jobs at Aardvark Winter Event, False Lights Review, Aardvark in 2018 Employment at Aardvark Books October Brocante, Frankfurt update, Winter Event Back from Frankfurt, Brocante Sunday, much more to come Syrinx and Harp Arcadia at Aardvark, Frankfurt Bookfair, October Brocante, Weekend helper required 'Syrinx and Harp', October Brocante, new titles in store False Lights, Tickets for Arcadia Music, Stall bookings for October Brocante Ludlow Food Festival, False Lights Book Launch, Syrinx and Harp Why Buy Art? Health updates, Vide Grenier news, H.Art, Literary Ludlow, Book Launch: False Lights Only two days to the Vide Grenier Civil War Weekend continues, H.Art, Literary Ludlow, Launch of 'False Lights' Civil War Weekend Awaits Thank you for best wishes, Re-enactment, History books galore Aardvarks back in the saddle, Jazz Brunch and Sale, Forward to the Re-enactment and the autumn Aardvark is Cyclist heaven, Solstice Exhibition, Changes to Jazz Brunch line up Last weekend of Shropshire Hills Art Exhibition, and opening next week of 'The Solstice' And Humour Books, Music and Art: The answer to all life's problems Mad May Bank Holiday, Shropshire Hills Art Week, Even More Books Catch up, books and forthcoming exhibitions Map exhibition opening, Bank Holiday weekend Last weekend of Fire and Earth Ceramics exhibit, excitement ahead of 'Maps and Mansions', big house clearance An incredible 3 years CDs, Fire + Earth Ceramics exhibition Clwyd Art Fund, Shropshire Books, Map Exhibition, Fire and Earth, Stuart Davies London Book Fair, Building a Library-'Quartet for the End of Time', Books Books Books! In memoriam Paul Williams,London Bookfair Blow Up, Borderlines Film Festival, Blow-Up Part 1 Beautiful bright day, Peter May, Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts Richard Strauss, Rodrigo on Building a Library, Valentine's Day, Peter Reynolds Musicologist, Art of France Valentine's Saturday Who would have known it - books are back in fashion Busy week at Aardvark Books! Hope Bright clear morning, and exciting events to come New Year 2017
2016
New Year's Eve 2016 Five reasons to be cheerful for 2017! Christmas Eve 2016 CHRISTMAS FAIR 2016 Xmas Fair on Sunday, Greg Lake, Abstract Expressionism at the Royal Academy Grey Sunday morning, but ice free Barbara Strozzi on Building a Library, nearly at the end of Frankfurt Books, plans for Christmas Fair Winter Event, plans for 2017 Wigmore Abbey, Poobahs, Leonard Cohen Summer sun, Wi-fi in Café, working through Frankfurt books, next year's programme Slight wi-fi delay Post Frankfurt, Show tunes, new staff member, the coming of wi-fi to Aardvark Café 9 days of problems, followed by a period of sanity Arcadia continues, Brocante next Sunday, yet more books Arcadia at Aardvark; Arcadia weekend; more book Last day of H.Art, that's it for exhibitions for 2016 Good news on Aardvark H.Art; new books in stock; October Brocante; Arcadia Music Jobs at Aardvark Books; H.Art, Autumn programme H.Art & Ludlow Food Fair Vide Grenier day and the weather is fantastic! Vide Grenier Excitement, David Evans, Jill Alford Sale, More changes Charity Sale Today, Vide Grenier on Monday History Weekend (Day 2) History Weekend; H.Art preparations The Poetry of Ted Hughes So pleased with our 'Take Five' Exhibition Fantastic opening for 'Take Five', wonderful summer sunshine Back from La Belle France to Scarecrows, Art and More Work Too Many Tears Books the ultimate consolation Geoffrey Hilll, Peter Florence,Marking Time, Food and Farming Day To Friedrich Schiller in profound gratitude from a poor bookseller An Artist's Life, tragedy in Yorkshire and France, Folio Society Books Shropshire Hills Art Week Exhibition well and truly open Brocante well underway! Opening times over Bank Holiday Weekend and Half Term Arcadia, Vivaldi, Flea Market, Bank Holidays Bliss was it in that Dawn to Be Alive Last day of the map exhibition; thinking about 'An Actor's Life' Shropshire Hills Art Week, May Brocante, Travel Books Non-Marches Interloper for last week of map exhibition Slow morning Wonderful Carlos Acosta Maps Exhibition Opened, Awful weather, Cozy Fire Maps, books, random thoughts LBF, New York Review of Books, Map Exhibition Yet more changes at Aardvark, H.Art already, more DVDs and loads of art books Busy week, peculiar nature of media, Lots going on in April Easter holidays at Aardvark Easter Saturday, Sad News - Jill Alford No claim to infallibility; lots new in Superb bright Sunday morning; changes to the bookshop Slow start, busy week coming up Stop Press - wonderful children's books Beautiful morning, exciting days and weeks ahead As You Like It, the return of the sun Saturday Morning, the wonder of David Sedaris, Carter Dickson More and more and more books, Lucie starting, 'The Garden' Stunning sunny day, thoughts on London and being a country mouse Death of Mary Campbell, CD Review and R3 Schizophrenia, Wes Montgomery and Milt Jackson, fantastic academic library purchase Great Valentine's Day, Cimarosa, Friday Night Lights, Exciting News of Aardvark Appointment Valentine's Day is upon us Any Questions, Valentines Day, Jacques Rivette, James Lee Burke Two good pieces of news, Valentine's Day, Changes to tax reporting for small businesses and the self-employed, Working at Aardvark, D is for Doyle, Davis, Dexter, Deaver, Carter Dickson, Dunant, Durbridge, Dodge and Dickens Extending deadline for job offer, 'The Garden', Sale Tent Wonderful Royal Ballet, less than wonderful politicians Last weekend of sale - but don't despair Quite a busy month Bookshop and Café Person required B is for Bludgeon, Beaton, Bentley, Berkeley, Martin Beck and Burke First day of aardvark sale, job applications, cold weather, thoughts on the year CVs, Sale and more and more books More books for 2016 A is for Alibi, Ames, Allingham and Ambler Change, Change, Change 2016
2015
Post Christmas Thoughts Japanese Single book bookshop Busy day Christmas 2015 Books and opening times update Flaxman the magnificent; Christmas idea; last chance to see Fantastic day, beautiful morning So many art books and all for sale at incredible prices Only one more Aardvark Event before Christmas! Winter Event arrives on time Paris, Culture, What we leave behind Busy Beavers A wet day ... Autumn alert Frankfurt, Culture and Fleamarkets Through the fog, poetry and much more beside Books take centre stage - but art has a last hurrah! Back to life, back to reality H.Art, Ludlow Food Fair, Craaaaazy! Art, Art and a little food too! Phil Rickman at St James', Wigmore The pleasures of selling a special book The pleasures of Spenser Vide Grenier, H.Art, Non-stop activity Phew! Re-enactment under - our biggest ever Extraordinary evening at Brecon Summer Lightning Great opening! Back from an unsettle France, to a summer of madcap Aardvark Activity Make Your Summer Count! Make Your Summer Count! One door closes ... Long days, the Food Fair Camaraderie History is not Bunk ( it's official) Fantastic Iceland; Countdown to Food Fair Iceland is up, and will open tomorrow! Last weekend of Shropshire Hills Art Week, Food Fair, New Books Food Fair, New Books, Iceland Exhibition Fantastic opening to Shropshire Hills Art Week Bank Holiday Brocante Underway! Non-stop Aardvark craziness Great Lecture, Last day of the map exhibition Quiet days are made for Aardvark Books The Art of the Personal Lest any -one should think that there should be any lowering of the cake quality First week without Catherine; Maps Exhibition bonus; Brocante Update Last day for Catherine; great trip to London Bookfair; New Books in Stock Exhibition; George Butterworth; random culture Sunny Easter Monday; crazy Easter Saturday You heard it here first The exhibition is up; fingers crossed for Saturday! New members of the team; Easter events; Map exhibition Book Buying, CD Buying, Fantastic Eclipse Things I forgot Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. RSC 'Much Ado', new books, Welsh and World Book Day February ending, can Spring be far behind One down ... New Books, New Books Science Fiction; change is afoot New Carpet, Change, the Year Ahead Out of the loop If only we were all Charlie 12 Steps to Moving to the Country
2014
2015 awaits And at last it is Christmas Eve An endless river of books, a dreck day, a warm hearth Christmas Fair 2015 Christmas is very much upon us Christmas in the bookshop Busy Sunday, Wenlock Books Christmas Tree Flea Market Heaven More Upbeat Frankfurt; planning for Brocante Antiquarian Sales, children's books, Frankfurt preparations A quiet weekend, but some great sales! H.art sales! H.art carries on for two weeks Our H.Art exhibition is now hung and ready to open H.art is nearly here Vide Grenier, H.Art and onwards DVDs and CD's at Aardvark Books Day two of the history weekend History Weekend Preparations Previously in Aardvark Books ... Huge library purchase; last copies anywhere of Jo Brand Memoir Food, Food, Food First purchase for next year's map exhibition Why does dealing with publishers need to be so frustrating (2) Why does dealing with publishers need to be so frustrating Culture Vulture HIstory and fun this summer A warm Saturday in June Great response to the inaugural South Shropshire Art Week June starts with a bang Nearly a month on Driving rain cannot stop us What a month it has been Saddest News Imaginable Busy, Busy, Busy Quiet before the storm Thinking about books and bookselling Age recommendations on children's books Sunshine and children's books Theology Books and sunny weather Under the Hammer Valentine's Market All roads lead to Aardvark & Flavours of Hereford Festival Water, water everywhere ... Sale expectations The changing faces of winter 2014 comes with a fast forward button On tenterhooks with V I Warshawski Online Bookshop up at last ; acquisition of major literature library New Year Resolutions