Thursday, 17 October 2013

All the Fun of the (book) Fair and a Bird called Ted!

I spent Friday afternoon at a book fair. There were amazing books on offer but worryingly most were beyond my price range. Gone are the days when I could visit a prestigious fair and leave with several bags of books. It may just be that my income has gone down over the last few years, but I really don’t think that is the case. The problem is that prices have gone up and up, and rare books are getting harder to find. Many of the best books are now in private collections thereby pushing up the prices of available copies. That’s not to say I couldn't afford anything, of course I could, but not the books my heart desired.


I've wanted to update my copy of Five on Kirrin Island again for some time. I have a 1st edition with a dust jacket, but the jacket is chipped, and the pages have yellowed, not unusually for a book printed nearly 66 years ago. But, I would like a nicer copy. With that in mind I began my dash around the tables. Half way around I spied the book of my dreams – a pristine copy of Five on Kirrin Island Again. I stopped. I looked. I probably drooled a little! My hand went to my cheque book – but hang on a second – how much???   £950.00 No Way! The disappointment was crushing! The bookseller and I had a nice chat, and I bought three other books from her – but the one I really wanted was the one that got away.


I had that exact book on my bookshelf when I was a little girl! Why didn't I keep it? Why didn't I take better care of it? I have only myself to blame.  It’s true mum threw the jacket out when it got tatty and later gave the book away, but I still have only myself to blame. I got married, I moved away. I took my record collection and my matchbox collection, but I left the books on the bookshelf. They had always lived there, and I assumed they always would, but mum wanted to turn my bedroom into a nice spare room for visitors. I am almost certain there would have been a 'phone call to ask if I wanted my books, and I'm equally sure I would have said something like “why are you bothering me with this?” So I have only myself to blame.



Despite being unable to afford the Enid Blyton or a beautiful first edition copy of the lion, the witch and the wardrobe, I had a thoroughly good time. I love days spent with books and book people it recharges my batteries and reminds me of why I love my job so much.

So that was Friday...



On Saturday morning I received this postcard sent from Holland by my lovely friend the children's book author Nicole De Cock.

Nicole sent the card with a message saying she bought it from the Bakkerij Museum and liked it so much that she got one for herself and one for me! How sweet was that?

So the moral of this story is, books (although one of the loves of my life) are just possessions, what matters most is family and friends. 

Thank you for reminding me about the important things in life Nicole. And thank you to all my lovely blogging friends, my life would be much poorer without you.



Just as I was finishing this post I received the following email;

Hi I started collecting Eileen Soper china after seeing your lovely collection (see post here). I thought you might like to see Ted my orphan bird. He loves flying around the kitchen and always lands on my best china. Kind regards Janet


I was tickled pink to see the photograph of Ted and Janet's lovely collection. When I asked if I could share the picture and email, Janet  not only agreed but also sent some more photographs and another email; 

I am so glad that you like Ted. He is a Great Tit but has never grown properly. He has lived with us since he was just out of the nest. Next door found him, and they know that I take in injured birds. I'm not sure what happened to him. I don't know if his mother pushed him out of the nest early or the dog's next door got him. We have some pictures of him on the first day we got him which I will find and send you.

I didn’t think he would survive, but he has lived with us for over two years now. He even comes on holiday with us in the camper van. We go to Barra in the Outer Hebrides, and he is fine apart from cattle grids which he complains at. He doesn't like to be woken up too early either. His flying is a lot better, and he loves the kitchen, but if he can't find anywhere to land it’s always on top of my head and then he tries to pull out my hair.

He lives on ground beef mixed with hard-boiled egg yolk. That's another thing that makes him moody if he has run out of meat. He also has suet with insects in it and dried mealworms. In the summer, I try to get him leaves with greenfly on. Apart from meat, he loves cucumber; he eats the soft inside and then carries it around for most of the day.  He has a big cage on the breakfast bar where we all eat and sit and he is so much a part of everyday life. 



I just loved reading about Ted, especially about his holidays in the camper van. He must be quite the celebrity when he arrives on site. When I thanked Janet for letting me use the emails and photographs, I told her the story of an owl we picked up off the road one frosty winter night. The owl survived and spent some time flying around the house chased by our two King Charles Cavaliers before Terry had the presence of mind to open the front door and let it out. Janet then sent another email about some of the other birds she looks after;


I once found a gull at the side of the road put it in the car and came home and told my husband that there was a dead seagull in the car. He was less than impressed when he found out it had come around. It stayed in the shower overnight and was released the next day but not before it had given him a couple of bites.

We had a baby owl fall down the chimney one summer. The children woke us at three in the morning to say there was a baby owl in the chimney grate in their bedroom. Luckily, their room was at the top of the house so it had not fallen far. We came downstairs and opened the front door, and off it flew. It was years ago, and no one had mobiles with cameras then so we never got a picture. 

I have an African Grey parrot, cockatiel, finch, budgies and a canary that all need looking after. I also have a hen that I found with 11 chicks on a small piece of land just up the road from our house. I now have her and the chicks safely in a cage with a run. Plenty of work trying to keep them warm, especially yesterday. We live at the top of a hill, and the wind was terrible, so cold. I managed to wrap a tarpaulin around the run, and they were fine. Not the right time of the year for chicks but she is a good mum, so I will try to help her


Ted with a parrot feather and some very pretty nursery china

I think Janet is nothing short of an angel, thank goodness, there are such lovely people in the world.  Janet I know you are busy right now, but one of these days you should write this all down. I'm sure you would have a best-seller on your hands if you did.


The very first picture of Ted

26 comments:

  1. I wonder how many book dust jackets have been discarded over the years or books lovingly inscribed by a grandparent or kindly aunt/uncle?

    Lovely post and yet quite a sad one as what you say about book prices and private collections is so true. Still, as you say family and friends are what are really important and it was nice that you got to chat with this bookseller.

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    1. Hello Tracy, I’m sure it must run into many millions. According to Wikipedia – throughout the nineteenth century, nearly all dust jackets were discarded at or soon after purchase. Many were probably discarded in bookstores as the books were put out for display, or when they were sold; there is evidence that this was common practice in England until World War I.
      I buy lots of books inscribed by grandparents or mums and dads/aunts and uncles and always think how sad it is.

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  2. This was such an amazing post to read! I would just flip for that copy of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe! The illustration is marvelous!

    I loved reading about Ted! And, what a fabulous set of china. I think Janet is a lovely person, and I enjoyed reading about her birds- agreed on the bestseller, that was extremely relaxing and riveting at the same time. : ) ~ Jess

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    1. Hello Jess, the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe was lovely. I just needed a few hundred pounds in the bank!
      Ted is just gorgeous, and I love his name! I think Janet is doing such an amazing job. I hope she does write a book one day, I will be first in the queue for a signed copy.

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  3. First of all, I agree that the days of making with a treasure for little money are gone...sad but true. We have a fine collection of books when we used to attend a "BUCK A BAG" sale every Saturday at the local library!

    Oh Barbara, TED IS DIVINE! Sweet and gentle is he, kind and gentle are you to take him in! Bless his little sweet self! Oh how I love it when we meet up with nature in an extraordinary way. Be well my dear friend. Anita

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    1. Hello Anita, yes I’m afraid those days are gone. ‘Buck a bag’ day sounds like my kind of event, what a shame it doesn't happen any more.
      I agree – Ted is Divine, and Janet is doing a wonderful job of looking after him. Thanks so much for your visit. xx

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  4. ~ Dear Barbara of course I had to come on over and meet Ted...This story is so beautiful and I thank you for sharing with us....Ted I would say has all his 'buttons on' and is one lucky birdie indeed....( camper van holiday) hehe! Hope you are enjoying the bright full hunters moon Barbara...he is shinning so full just out side my window tonight! hugs and kisses Maria x

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    1. Hello Maria, I’ve just been to take a look, and the moon is shinning brightly outside my window too and what a beautiful sight it is. I thought the camper van holiday would make you smile. Your blog was all dressed up and looking beautiful today, and that reminds me I must pay a visit to Bumble bee. Thank you for reminding me to look at the moon. xx

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  5. Good post and Ted was the icing on the cake, really enjoyed it go well Agman

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    1. Thanks Agman, I loved reading about Ted & agree he really was the icing on the cake!

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  6. What an honour to have a trusting wild bird in the house. And what a pity about the book price. I love old books but that would drive even a book lover like me away.

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    1. Hi Roger, Ted is one lucky little bird; I don’t think he would have made it without Janet’s help.
      It's easy enough (and a lot of fun) to build a really nice book collection, just don’t go for any of the rarer titles. It's my own fault for wanting things that have become difficult to find!

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  7. Hello Barbara! Very nice post. Many things to comment. I enjoy reading about your job, you buying and selling books seems so interesting for me, but what a pity what you tell about prices. I agree with you, I also blame me for so many things I left at my parent's home when I married. I think when we are young we can't imagine how much we will miss those things in the future... BTW, I don't remember my mother's call asking me if I wanted them..haha. Fortunately I have some of them.
    As you can imagine I love that wonderful children's china and Ted's story... lovely!!
    Besos!

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    1. Hello Silvina, thank you so much for taking the time to read my post.
      I don’t remember my mum calling, but I tell myself she must have done. I’m sure I was a very grumpy teenager and young woman, and she was probably just glad to have the house to herself. Poor mum, when I think back to those teenage years, I have a lot to be sorry for.
      I thought you would enjoy the china as it is just your kind of thing. Ted is adorable.
      I’ve been curious about the word Besos for some time – does it mean kisses or little kisses? If so I am very happy to accept them and send some back to you!

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  8. What a wonderful post! I am sorry that the book your heart desires was so expensive, but I am glad you got some other goodies. I think the post card and pictures came at the perfect time and I am so glad you shared them with us. What a sweetie Ted is!

    Another lovely visit. :) Have a happy Friday!

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    1. Hello Stephanie, I had such a lovely day and bought some really nice things, so I shouldn’t have been down hearted. It’s good to have friends (like you) to remind me of what is important in life.
      Happy Friday to you too!

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  9. Very nice post, I loved the card gifted by your friend, cute boy holding the cake :)

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    1. It's a lovely card and it was such a nice surprise. Thanks for calling in.

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  10. Oh my gosh! Ted is adorable : )

    I would have loved to have got my hands on the 'The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe' book too. I enjoy hearing about your book fairs.

    Happy buying, selling and reading xx

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    1. Hi Yvonne, you would have loved the lion, the witch and the wardrobe it was in beautiful (almost new) condition.
      I agree Ted is adorable :O) xx

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  11. Ted is simply adorable! Sounds like you had a good time at the book fair in spite of not being able to buy the over priced items.

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    1. Hello Darlene, being there is all that really matters. Thanks for your visit.

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  12. The kindness in people is pristine. I'd love to hear more stories from Janet again! Ted has a grand life and he sure picks the best china to rest on. This reminds me of an Emily Dickinson poem:

    "If I can stop one heart from breaking,
    I shall not live in vain;
    If I can ease one life the aching
    Or cool one pain
    Or help one fainting robin
    Unto his nest again,
    I shall not live in vain."

    Precious people in our circle, Barbara. :) At first I felt your pain in not getting the book you wanted, but after reading about Nicole's postcard gift, Ted, Janet, the birds she's taking care of, and the owl you saved, I think all these more than make up for that ache! (Though, of course, you never know when that book might quietly appear under better pricing again.)

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    1. Hello Claudine, I love the Emily Dickinson poem, thank you so much for sharing it. I hope Janet calls back in and sees all these lovely comments, and then maybe, just maybe she will tell us more!

      I absolutely agree with you about the ache! I’m afraid I was being very spoilt. I almost stamped my foot – but thought better of it! My Dad would have said, “She who wants can’t have” and he would have been absolutely right! : )
      Thank you for the lovely comment. x

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  13. I loved this post!! How absolutely kind and generous she must be to care for wounded or abandoned birds. He is such a cutie too!
    I'm awfully sorry though that you couldn't get your dream books. I feel like that a lot when I see an impeccable piece of vintage clothing in my size but waaaaaay out of my price range...
    -Jamie
    ChatterBlossom

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    1. Thank you Jamie, I’m so pleased you enjoyed the post. I agree with you about Ted, he is a cutie and I also agree that Janet is very generous and kind.
      I know just what you mean, it’s the moment of truth, when you have something in your hands that your heart desires, but you just don’t have the required amount of cash!

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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