Saturday, March 3

Flea Market * Saturday - It's March Already!

Brits transplanted to the U.S. pining for the delicate English or Welsh lamb, pine no more! Even Americans who've never been abroad can find out for themselves why Brits talk about lamb with a certain reverence. Soaking tough, gamey American lamb in a brine solution transforms it into a sweet, succulent facsimile of the young, tender lamb Brits remember so well.

Let the lamb sit for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours in the refrigerator for the best results. Go to SheKnows for Lamb Brine Marinade recipe and detailed instructions.

While we're on the subject of Brit disdain for certain foodstuffs in the U.S., there's a scene in the Joan Hickson version of At Bertram's Hotel in which Jane Marple and her friend Selena Hazy are poo-pooing American muffins during afternoon tea in the hotel lobby. The waiter appears and inquires if they'd care for seed cake, to which Miss Marple replies, "Real seed cake?".

(Above pic of "Lady Selena Hazy" from "Tea with Miss Marple" at The Aesthete Cooks)

So what is "real" seed cake? Seed cake goes way back in British history but was very poular in Victorian times and would've been a staple in cookbooks of the time. See recipes at The Aesthete Cooks and Marie Rayner's blog The English Kitchen. Enjoy!

Have a great day!
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Saturday, December 2

Monday Mishmash: Family Trees

How many of us remember Christmases Past.

Fuzzy, out of focus. A blur of faces at Grandma's or
Uncle Frank's, none wearing name tags to identify
where they belonged on the family tree.

Have a great day!
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Saturday, August 29

Flea Market * Saturday: Quirky Old Favorite Updated

In a long ago post, I told you about a decidedly quirky bookshop located next to a millpond in Cromford, Derbyshire, called Scarthin Books, which claimed to be "Britain's most enjoyable Bookshop".

Also, that besides new and used books for all ages, it offered rare and antique tomes, and that its Cafe Philosophique offered food for the mind as well as the body. After exploring the site, I heartily agreed!

Well, it's still most decidedly quirky, it's still next to a millpond in Cromford, and it still offers new and used books for all ages as well as rare and antique books. Plus, its Cafe Philosophique still offers food for the mind as well as the body, and Scarthin Books can still claim to be "Britain's most enjoyable Bookshop".

Have a great day!
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Monday, September 17

Monday Mishmash: Wry-on-Wye

(Hope you won't mind me recycling this post from 2009.
I discovered some of the links no longer worked, so
after updating them, I tweaked a few things, too.)

Although Cranbourne Books & Stamps looks like
it's at the seashore, this travel bookshop is actually by
the clocktower in land-locked Hay-on-Wye (below).
(Photo from

Inhabitants of the British Isles have long been known for their
eccentric ways, a wry sense of humor, and a love of books.
It should come as no surprise then that this picturesque
Welsh village just over the border from Herefordshire
is not only the book capitol of the world,
but the home of a yarn bomber.
(More about her later!)

Before 1960, Hay-on-Wye's main claim to fame was its nearness to Clyro and Baskerville Hall, which inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's masterpiece, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Despite Conan Doyle placing his real-life friends' home in Devonshire instead of Wales, Sherlock Holmes fans (naturally) had no problem discovering its true location.

Then Oxford graduate Richard Booth opened a bookshop and set out to turn Hay, his new home on the River Wye, into the Book Capitol of the World. As far as bibliophiles are concerned, he has succeeded admirably.

Today, Hay-on-Wye has around 40 bookshops, meaning this tiny village has more bookshops per capita than any other town or city in the world. The main fare is second-hand books, but a surprising number of first editions in mint condition are also on offer. And Hay's inhabitants and visitors never worry about running out of reading material because some shops remain open 24/7.  Book addict heaven!

According to John aka Silversprite in Hay-on-Wye: Beyond the Long Tail
"Useful though is, where it fails, Hay-on-Wye fills the gap.
Obscure book? Book published in 1933 that Amazon says is “Unavailable”?
They’re probably sitting on a shelf in Hay-on-Wye. Somewhere.
And here’s the thing – there’s no instant look-up online of where that
book is on the shelf. You have to go hunt, and that is part of the fun
(Hunting also means a busy post office, patronized by non-locals shipping
to themselves and friends the other books they couldn't resist buying
while searching for the one that might be in the stacks!)

Naturally there are niche shops.

Cranbourne Books & Stamps, of course, specializes in books relating to travel.

But as a fan of mysteries and detective novels, Yours Truly would make a beeline for Murder & Mayhem at 5 Lion St., especially after seeing David Ian Wilson's photo at left.

To see the ghost on the shop's door, click on the photo, but be forewarned there are more of David's wonderful shots of Hay-on-Wye at Panoramio (and a nice map, too.)

Book lovers arrive in droves the year round, but for two weeks each year at the end of May, Hay's usual population of 1900 swells to around 80,000 when the area becomes the scene of The Guardian's Literary Festival.

Oh, right...

The yarn bomber.

She lives in Hay-on-Wye and secretly "bombs" the town with crocheted flowers and other items like yarn leaves that nearly match the color of a tree trunk. Those she hangs low so they'll be less visible to adults but not to children, who she says 'are more aware of the things around them'.

Her blog, Yarn Bombing Hay-on-Wye, is a warm and fuzzy look at Hay-on-Wye that you won't find in tourism brochures.

Think local beautification project.

Spreading smiles and goodwill.

Nothing "eccentric" about that.

You might also find these links about Hay-on-Wye of interest:

~ Totally Booked Out (2006)

~ Baskerville Hall Hotel in Clyro Court

~ Murder and Mayhem Bookshop by Mandrake

~ Australian Carol Middleton's visit to Hay-on-Wye (2008)

~ Hay-on-Wye: Beyond the Long Tail by John aka Silversprite

Have a great week!

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