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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books

The Incompleat Angler

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after” -

Henry David Thoreau

Fishing is, pun intended, a ‘catch-all’ word. It encompasses everything, from the pursuit of whitefish in the icy northern waters off the coast of Svalbard, to the poetic majesty of a brown trout rising to take a hand-tied fly in the summer sunlight on a Hampshire chalk stream. As someone once observed, there are two sorts of fisherman; those who fish for sport and those who fish for fish.

Fishing for fish, in the sense of catching food, is one of the oldest human activities, certainly pre-dating agriculture by tens of thousands of years, if we allow that collecting shellfish falls within this. Many years ago I read a fascinating book by Mark Kurlansky that looks at cod fishing and the impact the humble cod had on history. It is also a paean to the history of the Basque people, the first to develop an international fishing industry that played a huge role in the development of medieval Europe and whose pre-Columbus voyages to North America were made possible, partly by bacalhau (dried and salted codfish), the first dependable and non-perishable food stock.

(Published 27th Oct 2021) Read full article

My Experience of Moving House

It began in March 2018.  Since the death of my stepfather in March 2017 my husband and I had numerous conversations about selling our shop premises at Rose’s Books in Hay-on-Wye along with our flat above, not only to simplify our life but also to be close to family in Chepstow.  We were warned not to act too quickly after the death of a loved one so waited a full year before making a final decision. After consulting with my business partners in March 2018, it was decided that we would go ahead and put the property on the market.

Rose's Books / Packing the Books  

We were so excited to have several viewings immediately and within a couple of months an offer was made which we accepted.  Being a shop with full-time and part-time staff members we thought that it was only fair that the staff were informed of the decision and they were immediately given notice.  The two longest running staff members were given 11 weeks’ notice and their last working day was in September 2018. We arranged to have the shop closed and the books moved down to the Tintern shop, Stella Books, by mid-September.

(Published 1st Oct 2021) Read full article

A Day in the Life of a Stella & Rose’s Books Partner

What, you may wonder, do you do all day???

Quite a lot as it happens!

Firstly, most importantly, I walk my dog on the way to work. Onyx is my Hearing Dog, as mentioned in previous articles, and requires her daily constitutional come rain or shine. Sometimes I arrive at the office in a bedraggled state and Onyx in an even worse state if the weather has not been kind! Fortunately, I am out of the public eye (most of the time!) tucked away in the office upstairs.

On arriving at the office at the unearthly (to me) hour of 8.30am, I generally have half an hour before the rest of the troops arrive at 9am. This time is used very wisely to make my first cup of coffee of the day. Whilst the kettle is boiling, I turn on my PC and log in to my email which is the element that is going to dictate how my day goes… what is in store for me today?

(Published 31st Aug 2021) Read full article

Training Your Human

This month our theme is How To Train Your Human. This is taken from a book written by well-known author Sammy Vallhund to help all dogs with training their humans. Sammy is now 13 years old and this was written when he was a youngster but well-practised in all aspects of training humans and the principles still apply today.  

Statutory warning.

To comply with the law regarding books on training humans this section is to remind all dogs and especially Vallhunds that it is essential to ensure that humans continue to believe that they are in charge of Vallhunds. Our forebears have spent thousands of years conditioning humans to believe this and it is of the utmost importance that we, and our descendants, continue this deception. So without further delay – How to Train Your Human…

(Published 29th Jul 2021) Read full article

For the Love of Water

Water is so precious to all humans and the myriad life forms we share this blue planet with.  In researching this article, I have found many interesting facts.

Cenotes in Mexico ( / Kariba Dam (  

A qanat is an ancient tunnel system built in Iran and Iraq to transport water from a reliable source of groundwater reservoirs to areas requiring irrigation.  Being underground they are naturally resistant to water loss through evaporation or natural disasters such as earthquakes.

(Published 30th Jun 2021) Read full article


One of the songs we were taught at primary school was “Boney was a warrior”  the lyrics of which taught me very little about Napoleon and left me fairly unmoved by the last verse which finished with “Boney broke his heart and died”.  What I have learned over the years has been from the British perspective and there are several myths and half truths that are passed on, just as with many historical figures.   

Napoleon & Josephine - A Love Story by Theo Aronson  

After a crushing defeat at Waterloo Napoleon abdicated and the British sent him in exile to St Helena – one of the remotest places on Earth where they almost certainly thought he would be forgotten. They were wrong.  He died on the island at age 51 and a mere nineteen years after his death the French people brought his body back to Paris where he was given a magnificent funeral.  A reported million people lined the route of the cortege which passed under the Arc de Triomphe and into the Royal Chapel of Les Invalides.  His tomb is a huge sarcophagus which contains six coffins made from iron, lead, beech, oak and ebony.  This is not the ending the song of my childhood suggests – far from it.

(Published 25th May 2021) Read full article

The Wye Valley Greenway

Being a keen cyclist – and having recently moved to Chepstow – I was excited to hear about the new Wye Valley Greenway. It opened on the 1st April 2021 and having walked it a couple of times I thought I’d share a little information about it!

The cycle way follows the southern route of the Wye Valley Railway from Chepstow, starting at Sedbury, through to Tintern. Adam wrote a fascinating article on the Wye Valley Railway back in 2014. The Wye Valley Railway opened to passengers and goods trains on the 1st of November 1876, connecting Chepstow and Monmouth (along with a branch line to the Tintern Wireworks). The line consisted of two tunnels, Tidenham and Tintern, as well as four river crossings (not including the branch line).

(Published 4th May 2021) Read full article

Adrenaline Junkies

I enjoy motor racing and I enjoy reading about the pioneering early days of racing, written by the characters who took part in this dangerous sport. I have read a few books now about racing drivers, pilots and stunt drivers and the thing that leaps out when reading about these escapades is the sheer joy and certainty that this was what they wanted to do.

By today’s standards they did what interested them and did not worry about the consequences.  These drivers however seemed to exceed their quota of catastrophic mechanical failures. Steering failures, detached wheels and cockpits flooding with fuel, rather than warning them off, provided them with a diet they absolutely thrived on, with only a vague relationship with Health and Safety by today’s standards! Most of them seem to suffer many accidents, some serious, that required stays in hospital, sometimes for a considerable time. I suppose to a degree I envy them their freedom to undertake their activity without any restrictions.   

(Published 17th Mar 2021) Read full article

Teddy Bears


What did Andy Pandy, Christopher Robin, Zippy, Kermit, Bill Badger and Noddy all have in common?

Answer: They all had a bear in their lives! (To find out which bears you have to read to the end of the article…)

While these bears take many forms, I am going to focus on the beloved Teddy Bear for this article. How this delightful stuffed toy got its name is quite a long story. It began with Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States . His nickname was Teddy and he hated it! In 1902 he went on a bear hunting expedition.  While other hunters had already been successful, he had not and so his attendants cornered, clubbed and tied an American black bear to a tree, inviting Roosevelt to kill it. Deeming this to be unsportsmanlike (I should think so!) he refused but instructed his attendants to put the poor creature out of its misery.

(Published 23rd Feb 2021) Read full article

Animal Stories

(Published 26th Jan 2021) Read full article


After the celebrations of the festive season January is normally seen as a dark and cold  month just to get through until payday.I think January 2021 will be different, firstly we will hopefully  see the vaccination against Covid 19 rolled out around the world and what an amazing thing that will be!!

So such good news is something to celebrate, so I thought I would look to see what other good or interesting events have happened in January over the years.

On January 3rd, 1924 the British archaeologist Howard Carter and his team uncovered a stone sarcophagus, containing three coffins nested within each other. The last, golden one contained the mummified body of the teenage pharaoh Tutankhamun.

(Published 17th Dec 2020) Read full article

That Was 2020 That Was…

Wow! What a year! So many things have happened… well, two main things but it seems like a lot!

The evening of March 11th 2020 saw extremely high Spring Tides in Tintern resulting in the River Wye, which flows opposite our shop, deciding it was going to overflow its banks and the road, and come into the building and browse our shelves! Prior to this, we did have a flood alert from the Environmental Agency and we had prepared ourselves. The flood boards were in place and books were moved from floor level to shelves to higher up. This we thought would be enough and, anyway, the river was highly unlikely to enter the building - wasn’t it?

(Published 1st Dec 2020) Read full article


Art is a necessity – an essential part of our enlightenment process. We cannot, as a civilized society, regard ourselves as being enlightened without the arts.” Ken Danby

Art can move us to tears, it can make us laugh, it can question our beliefs and the way we look at the world. I think art can be more than just a painting it can be an illustration, a building, ceramics, a film, a play, books -  in fact it I think it can be all of them.

(Published 3rd Nov 2020) Read full article


“We the People……………”

I have discovered that despite believing I knew a fair amount about the USA, its history, its geography, its politics, I actually have huge gaps in my knowledge.  America has always seemed so familiar and what I know of it, I must confess, has mainly been learned through films, books and television. For reasons that may or may not be obvious my desire to understand more about the USA has grown over the last few years.

(Published 29th Sep 2020) Read full article

With Thanks

Thanks to all our customers regular and new, we have been kept gainfully employed over these past few months.

The range of books we have shipped has been very interesting, encompassing a wide spectrum of subjects.

There have been many children’s books either old favourites such as Billy Bunter; Jennings; Rupert; Chalet School and the Enid Blyton’s series, or more recent authors/illustrators such as Lemony Snicket; J.K. Rowling; Michael Morpurgo and Quentin Blake.  There have also been books to enchant such as the Pop-ups or to entice such as the Early Readers.

(Published 1st Sep 2020) Read full article

The Romance of the Railways

Trains and Railways is one of the most popular sections in the shop and online.

There have been many books written on Trains and Railways, detailing plans of carriages, Railway layouts, signalling, station plans etc. More Engineering than Romance, although I am not saying they are mutually exclusive.

However what interests me is that they were more than just a means of getting from A to B; railway travel was holidays, romances, livelihoods, adventures, first dates and new beginnings.

So, this little book caught my eye The Cornish Riviera Express – Paddington to Penzance by Alan Anderson.

(Published 21st Jul 2020) Read full article


Who does not like flowers? Whether it be a beautiful bouquet, a stunning garden display or a springtime collection of wild flowers along the roadside – there cannot be many of us who do not appreciate their variety and beauty.

We use flowers for so many occasions – a wedding bouquet, a funeral wreath, a get well wish for a sick loved one. When we are lost for words, flowers speak for us. They bring beauty to our environment and can be objects of romance, ritual, religion, medicine and even a source of food. The book ‘The Language of Flowers’ contains a dictionary of over 700 flowers and plants with their meanings. Although symbols or emblems of flowers can be traced back to ancient times, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the language of flowers appeared in the Western world. The origins are unclear but may have come from Turkey where flowers were used by the harem ladies to send secret messages to their lovers!

(Published 1st Jul 2020) Read full article


So I thought this month I’d raise a controversial subject: are you a ‘dog person’ or a ‘cat person’? The nation seems fairly evenly split – so maybe it’s time to wade into this debate from a Stella Books perspective. Whilst we do have some cat lovers here, I think it’s safe to say that the dog lovers are in the majority!

Before the current pandemic, we would regularly have 4 dogs in the office. So, I thought I’d write a little piece about my love of dogs, a short bio on each of our 4 office dogs, and finally try and find a tenuous link to books!

(Published 27th May 2020) Read full article

Children’s Annuals

As a child (too long ago now) I remember being so happy to receive book tokens at Christmas time. I would save them until the New Year and then use them to buy as many annuals as I possibly could in the sales. Usually one or two of the girls annuals (such as Bunty for Girls or June for Girls) and of course a copy of the most popular annual of all – The Beano Annual.

(Published 28th Apr 2020) Read full article


What springs to your mind when you hear the word steam? The kettle boiling, ready for a steaming hot cuppa? A steaming hot bath? Or sauna maybe? Or, like me, do you think of the magnificent steam locomotives that used to be a regular sight on our railways?

My earliest memories of steam trains are those of going on holiday to far away climes, well, actually it was to the south coast of England but in those days that was an epic journey by train from where we lived. We would wait eagerly on the station platform, listening out for the chuff, chuff, chuff which told us the train was approaching. Then the smell of the engine, then finally the sight of this great noisy beast that was going to whisk us away for our annual holiday.

(Published 18th Mar 2020) Read full article