Rochester High Street
I was lucky enough to have Bank Holiday Monday off this week and I decided to celebrate by going on a little country trip to Rochester in Kent. Initially, my idea was to go on some sort of literary adventure. However, after doing a little internet research I was drawn to the idea of visiting what is, supposedly, the biggest secondhand bookshop in England – Baggins Book Bazaar!
From the outside it just looks like a teensy-tiny little bookshop. But as soon as you enter this old-fashioned antiquarian and secondhand bookshop, you can see a number of different little stairs and narrow corridors to explore. At first I was slightly overwhelmed by the stacks and shelves of books that lay ahead of me (and I refused to use the catalogue system they had as I prefer to delve into the unknown and come across books that I may not have come across before!). But as soon as I found the sections which most interested me – mainly that of literary biographies and paperback fiction – I was in my element.
Here is the enormous pile of treasures I found:
I was most interested in finding a collection of Sylvia Plath’s letters and a couple of collections of Isak Dinesen’s (Karen Blixen) short stories, which will provide a nice relief from reading novels.
When I finally stepped out into the dazzling sunshine and into the lovely high street, I then, almost instantly, stumbled across an Oxfam shop and had to have a look at their secondhand book section. In my most record time, I managed to retrieve around eight books of interest from such a small collection!
Again, I was lucky enough to find another Persephone Book, this time one of their Classics – Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson – at the bargain price of £1.99! I also picked up another Atwood novel, Good Bones, and an Orange Prize winner, Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.
So, after my incredible book buying binge (I just couldn’t help myself!) I didn’t manage to visit the castle or the cathedral or the museum (which apparently has a section dedicated to Charles Dickens), but I did have a very nice lunch and picked up some wonderful banana cake from one of the many tea shops – Tiny Tim. I also wondered up and down the wonderful high street, which is full of loads of charity and secondhand shops as well as independent boutiques, many of which named after Charles Dickens’ books and characters.
Sweet shop named after Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’
All in all, I would very much call the day a success!