Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Scottish Review of Bookshops: Pitlochry Station Bookshop

Supporting five different charities by selling donated second hand stock, this is a genuine gem tucked into the perfect location.  Made possible by Scotrail’s ‘Adopt a Station’ scheme (similar to BT’s campaign for communities to Adopt a Kiosk) the Pitlochry Station Bookshop has adapted the disused space in a way that creates a welcoming image and preserves a truly lovely old-fashioned train station.  I managed to nab a quick browse and a cup of boiling hot coffee as Him Indoors and I waited for our train, and the selection did not disappoint.  Bigger than it appears at first glance, there is a wide range of fiction and non-fiction, and a separate case for those trendy orange penguin classics people tend to buy more for interior design than for reading.

I wish my bookshelves were this tidy.

However, the real joy of this bookshop, for a bibliophile like me at least is its focus on classic and antiquarian books.  When I visited there was a varied collection of fiction, poetry and drama and some interesting first editions.  All the stock is £1 unless marked otherwise, and this is the section where things are most likely to be pricier, but I was pleasantly surprised to only have to pay double that for one of the selection that I ended up carting home with me.  While I could have easily bought half the shop, I instead opted for a two volume penguin classics set of War and Peace and a copy of Robinson Crusoe which served as birthday presents for a friend, and a book of poetry by Browning for myself, featured below.


Omnomnom coffee cake.

The Pitlochry Train Station Bookshop is definitely worth a visit if you are ever passing through Pitlochry, although I might recommend Hettie's Tea for a cuppa instead.  Cute china cups, a selection of hand-blended teas (available online) and cake cut into ‘doorstop’ sized slices; this tearoom ticks all the boxes and does proper lunch as well (when I visited the special was stovies). And its only five minutes from the train station, so very doable if you only have a brief stopover and are in need of something more substantial that coffee and old book smell.

Friday, 1 March 2013

German Friendship Cake and Sourdough Giveaway!

My healthy 7 day old Herman.
I have recently become parent to a sourdough culture called Herman. He will, given care and attention grow up to become a delicious german friendship cake.   I know this because I have had the pleasure of raising a Herman from gloop to cake before, and trust me, he grows up to be a moist, tasty cake that is a King amongst noms.  First, however, comes the raising. Literally.  You must stir your Herman daily, and feed him milk, sugar and flour on the days indicated on the simple instructions that come with him, and watch him grow and get more bubbly as the sourdough starts to make your kitchen smell more and more like a brewery.  On the 9th day of Herman he will require feeding again before you set about the best part of getting a Herman – giving him away again! Once you have fed Herman, you split him into four and spread the german Herman love by giving away three of them to your friends.  Then, on the 10th day, you bake! But more on that on Monday.  In the mean time, if you’d like to know more about Herman he has a website, and I have a few Hermans looking for homes if anyone would like to claim one.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Scottish Review of Bookshops: Aberfeldy Watermill

Aberfeldy is a very small town. Which is saying a lot, seeing as your author is a native of what would be considered a glorified village by most standards.  How does a town that doesn’t even have a train station support a bookshop as fantastic as the Watermill? It’s a mystery, but it certainly does, as when I visited there was not a seat to be had in the café downstairs.  Perhaps that is the Watermill’s secret: it’s not just a bookshop folks.  The Watermill also boasts a lovely café downstairs, and a rather swish art gallery upstairs.  Combined with the fact that the building retains all the original mill workings and this is a bookshop that is a joy to visit.  With a dedicated room for children’s books, and another containing a craft section with a selection of stock better than the one your author currently curates, there is definitely something for everyone.  

A display to tempt even the most reluctant crafter.

Pretty books for a pretty bookshop.
They stock Two Bad Mice cards, which are some of my favourites, and a host of other stationery. Although the fiction section isn’t massive, it has an impressive depth of range (possibly helped by their being supplied by Bertrams) and my only complaint is the selection of classics on offer (a sign hanging from the ceiling purports a proper classics section that is not in evidence – perhaps it is instead referring to their range of stunning special editions?)  When your author visited there were posters promoting an event with Scottish artist/illustrator Keith Brockie and his new book, and if similar events are a regular occurrence that could also go some way to explaining the popularity of the Watermill despite it’s out of the way location.  On the whole, Aberfeldy seems to be pushing itself as a cultural hub in an area mostly visited by people with the disturbing urge to walk up steep hills in all weathers (him indoors and I did The Birks on the same day – never again) and in addition to showing films at the local community hub type place, work was underway to refurbish and lovingly regenerate the old Birks cinema to its original purpose.  As the granddaughter of a projectionist, your author has been raised on stories of a time when there was a cinema on every corner instead of a poundshop, and while old cinema buildings do occasionally make lovely pubs and clubs, nothing is better than the statement cinema architecture being home to the smell of popcorn once again.