Dec 11, 2014

Catching Up: Christmas Reading, London Frolicking, Book Tree, &c

Copies of My True Love Gave To Me edited by Stephanie Perkins and A Merry Christmas and Other Stories by Louisa May Alcott
Hi, everyone. This is a catch up post, because everything else I wanted to post this week, or indeed before the end of the year, is currently sitting unfinished in my drafts folder. I’ve pretty much reached the end of the stash of pre-written posts that have kept this blog going over the past few weeks, so fingers crossed that my one day off until I go away for the holidays proves sufficient to finish all the things.
Read More

On the bright side, I’ve done a lot of fun stuff recently, and as a result I’m feeling more positive about Christmas than I imagined I would this year. Last weekend I went to see Daniel Kitson’s Christmas show at the Battersea Arts Centre, and it was, well, everything you’d imagine a Daniel Kitson Christmas show to be. It was funny and thoughtful and moving and very much about keeping a sense of life’s possibilities alive even in the face of loss. You’ll have to trust me that it does this far better than I make it sound. Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that a few lines from the show have been running through my head: one of the characters (inept paraphrasing ahoy) tells the other that Christmas is simply about sitting in a room full of ghosts, and she replies that yes, sometimes it is, but that’s not all. You don’t just notice what you’ve lost; you also notice what you haven’t lost. And you notice yourself, carrying on living despite everything. That’s a fair summary of where I’ve been emotionally these past few weeks. I’ll be happy if it lasts through the rest of the holiday season.

The picture above is of this year’s Christmas reading, which I’m just getting ready to dive into. I picked up the gorgeous UK edition of My True Love Gave To Me, an anthology of holidays stories edited by Stephanie Perkins; and also A Merry Christmas and Other Christmas Stories by Louisa May Alcott for Advent with Alcott.

I have a lot I want to share with you all, but sadly very little time to do it in. I’ve also been to a lot of very exciting book events recently, but I have given up on writing about them before the holidays. Look for a recap in January 2015, in the spirit of better late than never. In the meantime, here are some pictures of my recent London frolicking:

Leadenhall Market.


Oh, London. I do love you.

I went for the nicest riverside walk on a perfect winter-y morning.

I don’t know if this Agatha Christie statue is new or if I’d just never noticed it before.

Also! I finally made it to the new Foyle’s and absolutely loved it.

I could have stayed in the comics section for the rest of the day.

Fortnum & Mason Christmas window.

This exists!

I also went to see The British Library’s Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination exhibition, and as much as I enjoyed it the most exciting bit was finding the Mary Elizabeth Braddon collection above, The Face in the Glass and Other Gothic Tales, in their bookshop. Somehow I’d completely missed this reissue. As for the exhibition itself, it was very good but not as good as Comics Unmasked. It’s very much focused on the history of the Gothic tradition, so maybe the fact that most of it wasn’t new to me made it a bit less exciting. But I think it was also that it lacked the political edge of their previous exhibition, even though a theme like the Gothic tradition could have lent itself to that approach very easily.

More British Library reissues from their bookshop — this time Vintage Crime novels. I want them all.

My wanders also finally took me to Kew Gardens, which I’d been meaning to visit for ages. I’ll have to go back and see it in other seasons, but to be honest I don't regret first going in December: the place was just magical on a crisp and frosty winter day.

I love winter light so much. At least until January, when it starts to get me down. But the early days of winter are ones I really enjoy.

A walk among the tree tops.

I don't know what these are, but they were gorgeous. Any clues from bird knowledgeable friends?

The beautiful Battersea Arts Centre dome.

One last thing before I go: many of you will already have seen me going on about this on social media, but in case not, I made a Book Tree with a friend at work and I’m proud of the result. Behold!

I’ll be back next week with something a bit more coherent if all goes well. I realise this is a mess of a post, but hopefully you’ll bear with me.


  1. I hate this post. (not really) But this one really made me miss London. I loved the short time I lived there.I loved just walking around and looking at the buildings. I loved F&M (I still have tea tins from there). I have photos from Kew Gardens too. I miss the shops. Sigh. So happy you love the city too.

  2. It's time for me to plan another trip to London... it's been too long! Thanks for all the photos :)

  3. A book tree! You've made me curious about the Agatha Christie statue - I've never seen it either or heard of it!

  4. Ah, your book tree is delightful! I might have to build one, since we won't be getting a proper one this year.

    Hope to see more from you soon :)

  5. Your book tree came out great! I love it! And all your London photos had me drooling or smiling, sometimes both at once.

  6. Lovely post and pictures - especially the Kew Gardens ones! And the Book Tree ... so nice!

  7. You've made me want to come to London! Such lovely photos :)

  8. Oh Ana, those are lovely photos! I've got to get back over there and go to the new Foyles. It looks spectacular. I love your book tree!!!!!!!! So proud of you :-)

    Yes, early December winter light is much easier to take than winter light in late winter, isn't it? February is my bad time of the year. All I want is signs of spring by then.

    The F&M window is lovely. I want to be in London again! I miss it so!!!!

    Thank you so much for all the photos, they are lovely to look at. Love the trees in the light, would you be able to send me a copy of them? They cheer me up (anything with colour and light helps in the winter!).

    I don't think I made it to Leadenhall market so now I want to go!! lol plus to Kew Gardens which I never made it to either. I think I need to come stay in London for a while, what do you think? :-)

  9. New? Foyles? There's a new Foyles? Why is there a new Foyles? Where is it? I liked the old Foyles!

  10. Ah so jealous you were in London, so many lovely photos! I didn't know there was a new Foyle's, reason enough for a trip methinks :D Also, I want all the reissues, too!! Heh I've been thinking of trying to make a book tree, then I can show friends and family empty shelf space and have the very reasonable wish for bookish presents ;)

  11. You take the most gorgeous photos, Ana.

    Those birds of pheasants, though I can't remember exactly what kind they are. I know I've seen them at zoos, though, and I feel like they come from the far east of Asia. I guess it'd have to be one of the colder regions, since they wander around outside in winter.

  12. Memory's right - Golden Pheasants, those birds, from mountainous regions in Asia, sometimes also called Chinese Pheasants. So pretty! I've never seen them in person.

    I would love, love, love to go Kew Gardens. It's one of the higher-ups on my list of Places to Go Someday.Your photos are tremendous - it looks like a fairyland.

  13. Thanks, everyone - I'm glad you enjoyed the photos!

    Jenny, the new Foyle's is only a few doors down from the old one. It's still enormous (6 floors!) and awesome, but completely refurbished. I liked the old one too, and in fact it took me so long to visit the new one because I'd heard it wasn't as good, but I needn't have feared.

    Susan, I'll e-mail you a link to my Picasa, where there are better resolution photos. I do hope you come to London so we can hang out :D

    Memory and Kiirstin, thank you so much! I knew someone would be able to help.

  14. I concur with the fantastic photo comments - these are gorgeous. I love your book tree!

  15. Lovely photos - the Fortnum and Mason windows were always so gorgeous when I lived in the UK - you've made me very nostalgic. (Their mince pies were excellent too!)

  16. Love the Christmasy!

    I'm reading My True Love Gave to Me, but actually what happened is I read the first short story, by Rainbow Rowell, and it was so romantic that I finally went ahead and read Eleanor and Park.

    Have wonderful holidays, Ana!


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.