Below are some photographs of a deer, taken on 17 May 2006, at approx 13.30. The deer was located on the edge of the wood just behind Stella Books:-
This was the headline to an article in a national newspaper which described how our family got started in the business of selling out-of-print books. Back in the days when I worked for a very large multi-national company,travelling abroad frequently and driving my posh company car, if anyone had told me that in twenty years time I would be a bookseller with two shops selling second-hand books - I would never have believed them! But here I am and this is how it happened.
An avid reader when I was young, I didn't really have time for reading as an adult although my husband Cliff, being a real bibliophile, always had at least five books on the go at any one time. Over the years Cliff had built up quite a large collection of books, (mostly about Cornwall, where he was born and grew up, and natural history, especially birds), whereas I had amassed just a few fiction paperbacks! We were holidaying in the Lake District and took the opportunity to visit Hill Top Farm in Sawrey, Ambleside, where Beatrix Potter had lived and written some of her little books for children.
Charles Christopher Parker, Jr. or Charlie Parker, nicknamed ‘Bird’, was born in Kansas City on the 29th of August 1920. He is best known playing the saxophone and being one of the founders of bebop jazz during the 1940s.
Parker grew up listening to jazz bands like Count Basie’s. During his younger years, Parker’s musical talent does not seem to have been apparent, although some musical influence may have come from his father who played the piano. He started playing the baritone horn before switching to the alto saxophone. Dropping out of school at age 14, Parker concentrated on the Kansas City music scene. Jazz did not take off as his ‘day’ job straight away and he spent one summer woodshedding, whilst building up his technique and getting to grips with the fundamentals.
But did you know that Tintern's claim to fame is that of its famous Abbey? The Abbey is situated just south of Stella Books, about half a mile down the road. Those coming from the direction of Chepstow on the A466 will not miss it on their right-hand side as they enter Tintern. It truly is a breathtaking sight as it comes in to view, dominating the whole valley.
Our Literature and Performing artsroom (Room 10) also boasts a beautiful view down the river to the Abbey - you will have to come and visit us to see for yourself!
This winter (2010 - 2011) has seen some record-breaking low temperatures across many parts of the UK and even in the relatively mild south-western region we have been greeted by some spectacular sights. The last time that ice like this was seen on the river was in the 1960s!
Here are a few of the images which capture the icy conditions experienced around Tintern and the River Wye on December 8th-10th 2010.
Following a working life in the chemical industry, ending up as a self employed Skills Broker (whatever that is), my late fifties brought the opportunity to retire, coinciding with my other half also leaving behind her work as Trademark Examiner - relaxation beckoned!
Six months later came the ultimatum, if I did not get myself something to get me out of the way for at least a few days a week, retribution would be swift and merciless. There followed a scan of the adverts, looking for a complete change, and what caught my eye was a part-time job with a local antiquarian bookseller.
As a collector of movie memorabilia I had been a customer over the years, so how hard could it be? I was lucky enough to obtain an interview where it was explained that people often thought the job involved sitting behind a desk, reading a book and serving the occasional customer. Having discovered they were mind readers they went on to tell me what the job actually entailed!
It's been a while now since I decided that the time was right in my life to leave Stella Books, where I worked on the reception desk, and begin an adventure. There were many sections in the shop that helped to inspire me to set out on my travels with my husband in our ancient motor home. Being a novice traveler I thought I would start fairly safely, so my husband and I chose the United Kingdom . As I was putting books away on shelves, the Atlas area, the Topographical sections, the Natural History and Ornithological sections were all food for inspiration as to places we might visit and sights we might see. I emailed each and every Wildlife Trust and RSPB organization asking for their favourites and nearly all of them replied with much information, for which I was very grateful.
The very first book as we know books today was the Gutenberg Bible which was produced in 1456. The first picture book specifically published for children did not appear until well over 100 years later, in Germany in 1578. It was entitled “The Book Of Art And Instruction For Young People” and published by Sigmund Feyerabend. It was re-issued in 1580 with finely-executed full-page woodcut illustrations including the first known printed pictures of a young scholar using a hornbook and also of a child holding a doll. This treasure was only discovered and recognised in the latter part of the 20th century. It was found in a glass-fronted case in the back room of a small bookshop within a mile of the British museum. Its value can only be guessed at but it does show that treasures can still be discovered today.
Followers of Rupert Bear - 25th Annual Meeting
The 25th Annual Meeting of the Followers of Rupert held on August 23rd was the highlight of 2008 for the hundreds of Rupert Bear fans who gathered in Warwick to celebrate this special event. A host of Nutwood characters welcomed everyone as they stepped through the door into a wonderland of everything Ruperty.
Before the programme started there was an opportunity to browse the many stalls selling anything you could think of connected with Rupert - books, toys, ephemera, clothing, figurines, you name it - it was there!
And this year we were delighted to have the new Rupert artist Stuart Trotter with us to sign his first Rupert annual.
Once a book was published in the Roman world, the author had no further control over it. As there were no copyright laws, any person who had access to a book was able to make a copy. Initially, publication might be through the release of the book to a number of friends but once released it could then be copied and circulated to a wider audience. The earliest evidence for a trade in books in the Roman world is from the Ciceronian period, although the private circulation of books provided the main source of texts for many individuals.
Alphabet books - what are they? They are books that are created for younger readers, which show the letters of the alphabet, along with related words and/or pictures that usually begin with the given letter. Sometimes rhymes or just single sentences will be used to highlight the letter being learnt. Many ABC books will feature the letters in upper and lower case, to help the child recognize that they represent the same thing.
Jazz began in the early twentieth century in New Orleans, in the U.S. state of Louisiana. There were lots of musical influences in the area of New Orleans, as many different nationalities travelled through the port for varying reasons. Spanish folk music, French military band music, Ragtime, European ballroom dance music, Blues music and others, all popular within the New Orleans area, all had an impact on the birth of Jazz.
Primarily invented by black musicians, Jazz was not written down in the same way as previous music, but the styles and tunes were passed on from one to another by ear. The exciting thing about Jazz was the improvisation of different instruments, around a main melody. In early Jazz this may have included popular folk and blues tunes of the times.
A host of Nutwood characters greeted the hundreds of Rupert Followers who gathered in Warwick for their 24th annual meeting on 4th August 2007 to enjoy the day's events.
In addition to the dealer's stalls with thousands of Ruperty items on offer, there were origami demonstrations taking place with the opportunity to make your own paper birds and aeroplanes, as well as a full programme of events in the afternoon.
We were delighted to hear that the classic Rupert we are so familiar with is here to stay. We were introduced to the new Rupert artist Stuart Trotter who will be illustrating the annual published for Christmas 2008 which will also contain all new stories. Stuart, who has illustrated Postman Pat and Thomas the Tank Engine among others, has been a life-long fan of Rupert and promises that the little bear will be very much recognisable as the Classic Rupert.
I went on a wonderful walk the other day in The Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, collecting blackberries for jam making (and eating one or two as I went), being thoroughly uplifted by the sight of so much abundance on our trees this year, with all their shades of colour, and listening to the birds seemingly enjoying their day too.
The Forest of Dean, covering an area of fourteen square miles on a peninsula between the rivers Wye and Severn, has much industrial history. A few generations ago it would have looked extremely different with many mines and tramways, not the leafy place it is now. Many residents can still tell tales of their grandfathers and great-grandfathers working in the pits and other industries and, very often, playing in the brass bands, of which there were many. Today brass banding is still strong in the Forest, as are the arts of recital and singing. One such grandfather worked as a postman. He travelled by horse every day from St. Briavels to Gloucester and back again to fetch the mail, where on his return it was sorted and delivered locally. The story goes that if he stopped for more than one pint at lunch time his horse made its own way home, wanting his sustenance too. The same gentleman was fond of saying that other folk worked from 12 noon to 1pm and took an hour for lunch!
A customer rang me other day and asked whether we were a warehouse or a shop so I thought I would tell you a little bit about us and a typical day in the shop.
We are in the lovely village of Tintern in the Wye Valley in South Wales. I’m sure you have heard of the famous Tintern Abbey, built in the 11th century and now a magnificent ruin - well we are a wee bit further along the village. The road runs alongside the River Wye, which is tidal and can be quite scary at times especially at high tide. We have watched the river rise until it fills the field on the opposite bank and then slowly cover the road outside the shop.
Great excitement in Nutwood! The 22nd annual meeting of the Followers of Rupert Bear took place Saturday August 27th.
For some years now several hundred Followers of Rupert have converged on Warwick, to meet, talk about Rupert, drink beer (and tea & coffee!), buy Ruperty stuff and enjoy what we have come to call "Fellowship" and this year was no exception.
We enjoyed the company of Mary Cadogan who gave us a foretaste of her new book about the women in Rupert's world, with Mary Tourtel, Rupert's creator, of course being the most important. This year's play was "Rupert And Gaffer" and once more the theatre was turned into the world of Nutwood with all Rupert's chums, the Sage of Um in his flying Brella and, making his first appearance, a magnificent sea serpent! (see below).
Here at Stella Books in Tintern, Monmouthshire we are fortunate to be able to work in such a beautiful environment - the River Wye winds through the village in graceful curves, wooded hillsides reach down to the lush river banks, and the famous ruins of Tintern Abbey rise imposingly to the south. But at certain times of the year this peaceful scene changes dramatically...
Left: The flood waters begin to creep across the A466.
The River Wye is tidal and the river level changes throughout the day accordingly. Normally these changes are relatively small and may not be noticed by the tourists who visit Tintern to enjoy the scenery and Abbey ruins, but at the spring tides the river level can overtop the banks and flood the adjacent fields - and buildings!
A few years ago whilst looking through some books the illustrations of A.H.Watson caught my eye. To start with I thought I was looking at the work of E.H.Shepard (whose work has been made famous by the illustrations of Winnie-The-Pooh and friends) as their style was so similar! When I realised these were indeed the illustrations of someone completely different and someone who I had never heard of before I then went on to look for some further examples of this artist's work… and so my collection grew.
Over my years of collecting, I have really come to appreciate more and more the delicacy and gracefulness of her simple line drawings and to see just how unique her style is - very different to E.H. Shepard who I at first likened her to. Join me on a brief journey through the life of a talented and yet largely unnoticed artist.
Almost all of us are familiar with Aesop’s fables – but how many of us know anything about him?
The life and history of Aesop is clouded in obscurity. It is generally accepted that he was born in Greece around the year 620 B.C. and was born into slavery. He was owned by two masters and was said to be deformed but very clever and witty. Sir Roger L’Estrange, relying on Planudes, describes the fabulist as “in his person deformed to the highest degree, flat-nos’d, huchback’d, blobber-lipp’d, a long mishappen head, his body crooked all over, big-belly’d, baker-legg’d, and his complexion so swarthy that he took his very name from’t, for Aesop is the same with Aethiop….” This complimentary description is formed without any historical basis worth consideration.
The Followers of Rupert are pleased to learn that the Express has concluded a deal that will ensure Rupert will continue to be enjoyed by 21st century children.
We hope that any changes that are made do not stray too far from the traditions and formula that have made Rupert so popular for the past 85 years. It is, however, important that he reach younger audiences and we are confident that these new initiatives will provide ample opportunities for fresh adventures and merchandise, and trust that they will be supported by new fans and the traditional collector alike. We are all aware of the happy coexistence of the "classic" Winnie the Pooh, as drawn by E.H. Shepard, and the "Disney Pooh" enjoyed by so many children. We are confident that Rupert's long, distinguished history and integrity will ensure that he will also be here to welcome the beginning of the 22nd century.