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Sunday, 26 May 2013

Antique books in old Bridlington - the very best of medicine!

An antique bookshop in an original Victorian Chemist, a 1920s typewriter and a tearoom groaning with antiques. Sounds like the centre of Chester or Bath? No, this is Bridlington! 

Burlington Books in Old Bridlington
situated in an original Victorian chemist shop

In the 1960's an original Georgian street in the old quarter of Bridlington on the East Yorkshire coast was earmarked for demolition by the local authority. The new town was at the height of its popularity as a holiday resort whilst the old high street no longer seemed to have a purpose. But the council reckoned without the tenacityof the local businesses who were determined to keep the history of the town alive. Last week I discovered the restored High Street for myself and it is far, far better than any museum,  crammed with antique shops, arts and crafts shops and, most of all, with people who are proud of their heritage. Old photographs from the 1950s show this wonderful street with its Georgian bow windows and adverts for Capstans cigarettes and 'Players Please' with a solitary  Morris  Oxford wending its way past the shops. It could almost be the same place today

The bookshop's owners, Mr and Mrs Stephen Reynolds, gave me a particularly old fashioned  welcome, finding me books from World War Two, an era that has always fascinated me, and even producing a paperback about Guernsey as soon as I mentioned where I was born.

We spent most of  the week in York, taking in many historic sites including the Castle Museum with its 'real life' Victorian Street, and the splendid York Minster, both of which attract visitors from all over the world.  Yet it was old Bridlington, once almost lost forever, that really transported me to the past.

A 1920s Underwood typewriter at the
Georgian Rooms, Old Bridlington
Say 'No' to white lines

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Are you reading me? Fifty Sheds of Wray..


Fifty Sheds of Wray

And these are just some of the sheds...

Fifty Sheds of Wray - just one  of the wonderfully inventive entrants in this year's famous Scarecrow Festival held in the pretty village of Wray in the Lune Valley. Adopting the theme 'Read Me' the villagers used their ingenuity (and their front gardens) to create their own scarecrows which entertained visitors from all over the country.

Strange how scarecrows have always held a fascination for young children. Barbara Euphan Todd's Worzel Gummidge about a girl and boy who discover this 'half scarecrow, half man' was immortalized on television in the nineteen eighties. But I wonder who knows that in the Middle Ages it was the children themselves who were used as crow-scarers...?  Only a shortage of young children apparently prompted farmers to stuff old clothes with straw and place a turnip on top to do the job!

The most famous scarecrow of all has to be from the1939 American fantasy adventure film Wizard of Oz. Based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L Baum, it was not initially a box office success, it seems,  but has made up for it ever since.
'I could while away the hours, conferrin’ with the flowers, consultin’ with the rain. And my head I’d be scratchin’, while my thoughts were busy hatchin',  if I only had a brain...' sang the scarecrow. 
If only I had a brain! Now that's a thought that occurs to me when I'm struggling to find the right words sometimes.  I wonder if anyone else feels the same?


Friday, 10 May 2013

Expresso Bongo and Mrs Bouquet...

Blog Awards make me smile.  As well as prompting us all to read and comment on what other people are thinking, they also encourage us to tell all. Happy to be awarded the Sunshine Blog Award this week,  I struggled to find some little snippet  I hadn't admitted to before. So here goes...

Although my my nickname is Maz  I also have been known to answer to Mrs prizes for guessing why...

Here's the second confession:

I met Cliff Richard when I was nine after a concert at the De Montfort Hall, Leicester. He asked me how I was, but I was too dumbstruck to reply.  He'd just made Expresso Bongo - a satire on the music industry for which  (I think) he prefers not to be remembered.

Meanwhile, the  rules of the award are as follows:

* Link to the person who nominated you and thank them.
* Answer 10 questions about yourself.
* Pass on the award to your favourite blogs and link them to your own.

So thank you Barbara at March House books who knows everything there is to know about vintage books for children.  You can find her on

And now for the rest of those questions:

I first got published when I was fifteen and still at school - in a national football magazine.
My favourite UK destination - York
Facebook or Twitter - Facebook
The man I would most like to have met - James Stewart
My favourite charity HUSH - the Uk's E.coli Support Group
The writer who most inspired me - Rosie Thomas
When would I like to have lived - Victorian times
My favourite quote - It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations -
Winston Churchill 1930  (I always wonder if that applies to uneducated women, too?)

And now to the blogs I'd like to nominate

Linda at
Hanner Cymraes … means half Welsh woman
Margaret James at Margaret James
Gloria at Gloria Horsehound's Bungalow
Karen at
Karen at Do Authors Dream of Electric Books?
Helen at
Linda at


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Fifties love affairs, a 'famos ritter' and a fairweather award - it must be Tuesday...

A children's author who sells a book every seven seconds in Britain  today admits that many of her readers have no idea how to spell.

Dame Jacqueline Wilson receives several hundred fan letters every week from children in Eastern Europe, Spain and Portugal but it's the Brits who have the worst spelling and grammar. 'Sometimes it is unintentionally and sweetly funny,' she tells The Times today, citing 'I want to be a famos ritter,'
 as one of her favourites.

Particularly well-known for the famous Tracy Beaker series, the author believes in facing tricky subjects head-on, such as divorce, abuse and mental health issues.  Her huge success also makes her the most borrowed children's author from our public libraries in the last decade.

Talking of decades, I was amazed to read the other day of a 105-year-old author of romantic fiction who has two more titles coming out this year.  Ida Pollock began writing when she was fourteen and has produced 123 novels -  eight of them in one year alone.

Mrs Pollock prefers to write about the attraction between men and women  'full of hope and romance' as opposed to some of the more explicit sexual overtones found in novels today. She likes her heroes to be rich and preferably older, with the ability to 'sweep in and save the day.'

These days she dictates her stories to her 69-year-old daughter Rosemary, but says she will never tire of telling stories.

Interestingly, Mrs Pollock's late husband was once married to Enid Blyton.  She herself helped found the Romantic Novelists' Association which recently made her an honorary vice-president to mark her
105th birthday.

I wonder what Ida Pollock thinks of the enormous success of e-books? Or, for that matter of writing blogs like this one?  In this first week of summer weather so far I have been nominated for the Sunshine Blog Award by  Barbara at March House books, whose own blog is included in Tesco's top ten book blogs for children.

Thanks, Barbara (or Bobbie as she likes to be called.) I will be posting my own list of questions and answers, not to mention other nominees next time. In the meantime - here's to more sunshine!