The British National Literacy Trust and Wild in Art have the summer of 2014 been working together to bring Books About Town to London. 2 july to 15 September you can find 50 unique BookBench sculptures all over London, but at the end of summer, they will all be auctioned to raise funds for the National Literacy Trust’s work to raise literacy levels in the UK.
They have made four different trails, so that you can go book bench hunting. On the webpage you can find maps and descriptions, that you can download for free.
When I visited London in August, one of my goals were to go book hunting. Schedule wise, I found out the best trail for me were the Bloomsbury Trail, as it wasn’t very far from the British Library, where I had been spending the morning at a comic book exhibition.
I pretty much stumbled over the first bench, Jeeves and Wooster, inside the Brunswich Centre where I had gone to have some lunch and visit Skoob Books. Right smack in the middle of the centre, it was easy to find, and I thought it was a good start to my hunt.
The Blooomsbury trail has 12 benches, but I only found 8 of them. That being said, I must admit I didn’t put a lot of work in finding the other four. I was a tad bit tired, and I mainly did it for fun, so I was quite pleased with what I found.
It was fun to look for these beatiful book benches, which book lover can’t find it so? It was also nice to run into other book bench hunters (I even had a chat by the Pride and Prejudice bench with a lady from kent). It’s a bit sad they’ll only be around for 10 more days, and that I will not be able to do another hunt next time I’m in London.
If you do visit London before 15 September, and you think books are awesome, I’ll highly recommend to hunt down some book benches yourself! And, of course, I would love to hear about other people’s book bench hunting stories! Do you have one?
Like a gazillion of others, I too have a bucket list. It is not static, and it keeps chaning. I was thinking that the easiest way for me to keep track on what I have done, and can cross off, would be to put it on here. Which I will. I will make a page with the list, which right now looks like this:
01. Visit Svalbard
02. Visit India
03. See the Taj Mahal in India 04. Get Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman signed by Neil Gaiman
05. Visit New Zealand
06. Run (or partly walk) a half marathon
07. Attend a yoga retreat
08. Make my own hand bag
09. Make my own coat
10. See the Nutckracker ballet
11. Walk on the Great Wall of China
12. Visit China
13. Rent a flat in London for a period of 3-4 weeks 14. Swim in the Blue Lagoon, Iceland, during winter
15. Celebrate New Years Eve in Edinburgh, UK 16. Get a third tattoo
17. Visit every continent: Europe, Northern America, Asia, Oceania, South America.
18. Visit Japan
19. Go interrailing in Ireland
20. Make my own nut milk 21. Visit Bali
22. Go for a walking holiday in Scotland
23. Visit the Faroe Islands
24. Visit Peru
25. See Machu Picchu 26. See the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
The last few days have been far less eventfull that my first week of travel. I haven’t done a whole lot, but slowed it down. I think that after traveling for a bit, your energy level just isn’t at the same peak anymore, and you just feel like doing less.
My main event on Tuesday was visiting Trinity College and the Books of Kells. It was amazing! But more about that in another entry.
I also went to a place called Tea Garden, where my goal was to drink tea. I had looked it up on Yelp, and it had good reviews, so I wanted to try it out.
I was first not sure if I’d gone to the right place, as I had to go down a pair of steep, winding stairs to get there. It also didn’t look like what I expected from a tea place. However, I had come to a proper tea place, and the tea was really good (but I missed having milk in my black tea, but didn’t dare ask for it).
The Tea Garden also seemed to be a very hip place. Not so much for the interiour, but because a lot of young, hip people were there. I, on the other hand, is not a hip person, but was still happy to sit by myself, drink wonderful tea and read my book.
After drinking tea, I headed to the Longstone Pub, to the monthly Dublin bookcrossing meetup. We weren’t very many, but it was a nice bunch of people, and I had a brilliant time. Before I went there, I had a plan on leaving early, but I ended up staying until the end.
Wednesday was another quiet day. I had decided to sleep in, but didn’t, as there was too much noise in the hotel. Not extraordinary noise, just the regular noise that comes from super thin walls. So, I was waken by the fact that the people in my neighbouring room were talking (normally) to eachother. However, I decided to stay in my room and relax, before I went out for breakfast. The breakfast at the hotel I was staying at wasn’t exactly the greatest, to say the least. Instead I went out for brekfast, and then did a bit of walking around Hanry’s street.
I then went to an early showing at the cinema. Off peak tickets were cheaper, only €7.50, and I landed on a film called What If, with Daniel Radcliffe. It’s not the sort of film I’d normally go to, but it wasn’t too bad. Not too crazy about the ending, but, oh well.
After the film, it was already dinner time, and I headed for a cheap, vegetarian place. The food was good, and only €3 for a plate of food. And that was pretty much what ended my day.
On Thursday, i.e. yesterday, it was time to move to another hotel. I’m staying at the convention hotel for Shamrokon (EuroCon), and was fortunate enough to have a bus going directly from right outside my former hotel to where I’m staying now. So, I went to the new hotel after breakfast, and then walked to the centre of the city. Walking through St Stephen’s Green is actually qiote nice, and I was in no hurry, so I did stop and have a look around as well.
I met up with Peadar, whom I first met at EasterCon last year, for lunch, and he then took a couple of other science fiction fans and I on a privately guided tour in Dublin Museum. Peadar was the perfect tour guide, with so much interesting knowledge! Dublin Museum has free admission, and is most definately a place I’d like to visit again at some other point.
After the museum visit, we headed back to the hotel, and I got to check in and then head for my room. I had amazingly tasty Indian take away for dinner (in my room), and the evening was spent chatting to strangers. I was warmly welcomed to sit by the table with a group who had come over from Australia, and it was very nice.
It was then bedtime, and I headed for my room, for a cup of tea and some reading before I got a good night’s sleep.
Ever since I visited Ireland for the first time over 14 years ago, there has been something I’ve wanted to do here. So, after a bit of discussing with myself, I figured that there was really no better time to do this than now. So, on Sunday I booked a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher! I was finally going to see these cliffs I’ve hard so much about. The day trip was signed up with Paddywagon, which was the cheapest I could find online, and early Monday morning I dragged myself out of bed, so that I was ready to board the bus before 8 the very same morning.
Our first stop was a small fishing village called Kinvara. What striked me with this small town, and what would strike me about other small villages and towns along the road, was how colourful they were. They shaps were all in different colours. In Kinvara it was especially a book shop that caught my eye. I badly wanted to go into this shop, it looked so nice, but it was closed while we were there. So we left without being able to browse their shelves.
Our next stop along the road was Corcomroe Abbey, an early 13th-century Cistercian monastery. I have always loved abbey ruins, and this was truely beautiful. A lot smaller than some of the abbeys I’ve visited before (like Whitby Abbey), but also a lot older. We only had 15 minutes to walk around, but I tried to get a few photos taken, and look at things. I would have loved to have some more time there, though.
From Corcomore Abbey we continued down the coast, and had a stop to take photos of what our coach driver and guide called “the baby cliffs”. They’re smaller than the Cliffs of Moher, but still quite beautiful. Besides, it was such a lovely and warm and sunny day, it was wonderful to walk around on the cliffs and just feel the breeze and smell the ocean.
15 minutes later, we all climbed back into the bus, and headed towards the Cliffs of Moher. We had only one more stop before we got there, in the town Doolin (which I think sounded like a name from Lord of the Rings), where we had lunch. But when we all were fed, the bus finally made it to our destination: The Cliffs of Moher. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed!
Wikipedia says about the Cliffs of Moher that “[t]hey rise 120 metres (390 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head, and reach their maximum height of 214 metres (702 ft) just north of O’Brien’s Tower, eight kilometres to the north.” It was quite a magnifisent view, and we maybe 1 1/2 hours to walk around. Unfortunately not enough time to walk both up on the cliffs and to the tower, which I would have loved on this amazingly sunny day. We really had perfect weather, with the warm, sunny and clear view.
As for the visitor centre, I didn’t think it was much to look at. You can just as well read up on the Cliffs of Mohere elsewhere. Maybe it’s fun for kids, as they did have some interactive activities there, but if you’re a single grown up, it’s not much to brag about.
We had only one stop on our way back to Dublin: Bunratty Castle. Yet again we were given just a short time (I think we had 20 minutes) to walk around. In my opinion, this was the bigest “fault” with this trip: Never having anough time to walk around. But, knowing the trip took over 12 hours, it’s understandable.
After over 12 hours we arrived safe and sound in Dublin, and we all agreed it had been a fantastic day.
After having a rather busy week behind me, I found out it would be nice just to take a walk on Sunday, and maybe sit down and drink tea and read my book for a while. So, that was pretty much I used my Sunday for.
I headed over the river towards Dublin 2. It was actually quite quiet in the centre of the city at this pont, probably because it was a Sunday before noon. The weather was gray, with the occationally showers of rain, and walking around Temple Bar was quite nice. I also headed for St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, which is a more quiet shopping centre, and I like the interiour.
After having walked around for a while, it was nice to sit down with a cup of tea and read my book. I found a tea room I had been recommended: Oolong Flower Power. The name might sound a bit hippie like, however, it is nothing of the sort. It had a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere, and it was no doubt that these people knew their tea! In other words, it was a perfect place for a tea lover! It was wonderful to sit there, drink my pot of delicious Darjeeling first flush tea and read my book.
After having tea, I strolled back to the hotel. While doing so, I stopped by some familiar statues, like Molly Malone and James Joyce. I decided to stay in my room and relax until I went out for dinner (I had vegan sushi that was really good), and then went to bed early.
…where the girls are so pretty. That’s where I am right now. I flew in from London yesterday, and didn’t do a whole lot in the afternoon, other than walking around. Nothing new there, in other words. It was nice, though, just to get a grip on where my hotel is, and such.
Today has been a lovely day. I woke up at stupid o’clock, for unknown reasons, and decided to just relax and read and relax in the hotel’s lobby while waiting for fellow blogger Jennifer to arrive. I had somehow forgotten to put the right time zone in my calendar, so it said we were supposed to meet at noon, while the e-mail (when double checking) clarely said one. Oh well, I had my book, and Jennifer actually arrive a lot earlier than planned, so all was good.
Our day together included a yummy lunch, watching a guy playing music in Grafton Street (he was actually really good), taking a walk in the lovely St Sephen’s Greens, and looking around Trinity College. We pretty much gave up on trying to look at the Book of Kell’s after seeing the huge queue outside. It was still nice, though. Oh, and we managed to squeezing in a couple of bookshops and some coffee too!
After saying goodbye to Jennifer, I walked around Tower Records and Easton (the bookshop), before heading bak to the hotel for a rest, before heading outside again, for hunting down dinner. I had pizza at a medicore Italian restaurant, and then went back to the hotel. it was vey windy outside, so it was good to just relax inside.
I had decided to take an earlyish flight, so that I had some of the day free to use, and not end up just travelling. After having our plane delayed, and then having to wait for our lugage for ages, I finally got on the underground from Heathrow and headed to Paddington where my hotel is.
I was staying at the easyHotel Paddington, which for being one of the easyHotels, isn’t too bad. OK, so I had to drag my suitcase up four floors (no lift), as I was given a room at the top floor, but at least it was nice and quiet, as the window isn’t facing a street. Except for the fact that I could hear even the tinyest whisper outside my door, which didn’t go quite the whole way down…
I managed to get some errands done, before I found a book shop called Daunt Books. It was such a nice book shop, I think it deserve its own entry, which will come at some other point.
The day was rounded off with having dinner with lovely people at the Real Greek in Paddington street. The food was amazing, and we all shared the meze. Most of the food was actually vegetarian, and I think my favourite must have been the hummus. The falafels were great too. Yum, yum! However, it turned out the be the most expensive meal I’ve ever had in London, I think. Almost 400 NOK! And they say Norway is expensive… Fortunately, you can get cheaper meals in London, and I managed to get meals closer to my budget the other days.
After some hours spent with lovely people, I headed back to the hotel, and spent a bit of time reading, before I was so tired I fell asleep.
Tuesday, 12 August
I woke up earlier than I had planned, so I actually managed to do a bit of walking around in Paddington before I headed for my lunch “date” in Covent Garden. I had luch with a girl I met at the bookcrossing convetion in Gothenburg last year, and it was fun to see her again. After lunch we headed for Forbidden Planet, that I always have to visit when i’m in london, and also walked around Soho and down Charing Cross road with all the book shops.
I did more walking on my own after we had said goodbye. It’s actually quite good to just walk around and look at things. I then felt tired, and went back to the Paddington are, where I visited the floating book shop Word on Water. Walking along the canal is actually something I’ve never done before, and it was really nice. Those narrow canal boats you see really are something else, and I picked up there’s a whole community around them. It was lovely.
After all the walking during the day, I felt tired, and found a pub with comfy chairs, and ordered some food and a pint of dry cider (not the sweet stuff you get in Scandinavia). It was so nice just to relax and not really do anything. So nice I decided on taking a quite night in my hotel room with sweets and reading, before I was so tired I wanted to sleep.
Wednesday. 13 August
This day turned out to be another day with a lot of walking. My first goal was the British Library, for the Comics Unmasked exhibition (which was really good, a blog post will come later). On my there I stopped to look at some Asus pads, and started talking to a guy who turned out to be Scottish (no Scottish accent to be traced…) Most definately a geek, so we didn’t talk much about the product he was showing off, but more about science fiction tv series, compter games and other geeky things. It was a nice chat.
After my visit to the British Library (which also included the compulsory “drool over Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë manuscripts”), I visited Skoob Books, a book shop dedicated to second hand books. That shop also deserves its own entry.
I was the ready for book bench hunting. Of course, the book bench hunt will have its own blog post as well. White I was doing that, I ran into a lady by the Pride and Prejudice bench who also did book bench hunting. I managed to have a nice chat with her too! Quite lovely.
It’s probably needless to tell you my feet hurt so much from all the walking, I decided to have dinner after that, and didn’t really do anything for the rest of the day. It was quite late anyway.
Thursday, 14 August 2014
This was my last proper day in England for this time. It was also the day where I took a day trip to Norwich to meet up with my friend P. Getting from the hotel to Liverpool Street railway station went surprisingly smoothly (no changing of trains was nice). And the train trip was good to.
P. picked me up at the station in Norwich, and we headed for his place, where I got to see his cat again. It was nice and relaxing, and good to see my firend again. The hours just flew, and I then had to go back to the station and take the train back to London.
I stopped by a place called Le Gourmet Brasserie to have my evening meal. The place itself didn’t look like much, and I was told I couldn’t have the falafel as a meal (not sure about what the reason was), so I got to have falafel and feta cheese in a wrap instead, and to be honest with you, I’m glad I did. It was so yummy! I wouldn’t brag about the service or the place, but the food was both very tasty and very cheap, so I guess you can’t expect more?
Then it was time to head back to the hotel, pack my stuff, and get to bed…
I think you have to be blind if you can’t see Israel’s apharteid system. There’s a lot about how they treat Palestinians in the news these days, and the pictures from Gaza are hard to watch. I’m not going to say a lot, I think this song with Immortal Technique, Don Martin, Tumi, Eltipo Este, and Tonto Noiza says a lot. The video contains the lyrics, and even though you don’t know all the language, it should be enough for most to understand the message.
For the first time in years I have a balcony garden! I started planning it last year, and with the help from nice colleagues (giving me plants), my girlfriend and my mum, I now have chairs, a table and several plants, making this place to my own private Paradise.
Days like today, which is sunny and warm, are perfect for relaxation on my balcony. Just sitting here with a cold drink and a book is heavenly. Even sitting with your eyes closed and listen to the sounds surrounding you is wonderful too.