I have a confession to make, I’ve been holding out on you! The name of this blog is ‘Adventures of a Book Dragon’ and I realised that I haven’t actually been sharing any of my Book Dragon Adventures with you. So seeing as I had a BIG adventure the other week, I thought I would remedy that and start sharing ALL my adventures with you.
First off, introductions. Me, you know, and this is Dylan.
Dylan is also a Book Dragon, and is also very prolific in our Social media accounts.
As some of you may know Friday 21st June was a big day this year, it was Summer Solstice, Suffolk Day and it was also the tail end of Independent Book shop week. So to celebrate all this Dylan and I went on a Bookshop Crawl.
First things first though, before we set off on our journey we popped over to Felixstowe Town Hall to see Mark Murphy from BBC radio Suffolk, as Felixstowe were hosting the Suffolk day proclamation this year
(we left a little treasure whilst we were there) then we were on our way.
‘Stillwater Books’ in Felixstowe. It has a charming shop front with an eclectic display of books and a board advertising their own book club. Inside is lovely, light and welcoming. Behind the counter today was Will who was only too happy to tell us about Stillwater Books and their strong community connections. Not only do they run their own book club, they’re also heavily involved with Felixstowe book Festival AND they have a group of volunteers, these are people VOLUNTARILY working in bookshop! (Well you would, wouldn’t you)
In a small town in which also resides a WHSmith and a The Works it’s reassuring to see a shop like Stillwater.
Woodbridge Emporium in Woodbridge. This is certainly not a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ type of bookshop.
What it lacks in window space it more than makes up for in colourful signage and eye-catching Graphics. Step through the front door and there’s a small porch/entryway (I’m not sure what you call it) which only adds to the feeling that there is a magical world just behind that second door. The welcome was amazing, today in shop was Jules and Jane two very enthusiastic ladies who definitely love what they do and pass that enthusiasm onto their customers.
They may not be the largest bookshop we encountered on our journey, but size isn’t everything and diversity is certainly key here. They are a Bookshop and a Tea Emporium. They specialise in self-help and spirituality, with their mantra being ‘Read books – Drink tea- Be Happy’. Words to live by, and at the Woodbridge Emporium they certainly do.
They have 85 blends of tea, and at the time of our visit they were promoting their latest special blend in honour of Anthony Horowitz. It was a blend called ‘Moriartea’.
This shops holistic approach to reading is certainly something we could all benefit from (they even offer a ‘Book pairing’ service), we were reluctant to leave but onwards we had to go.
The Aldeburgh bookshop. Aldeburgh is a town with a certain reputation, and The
Aldeburgh bookshop slots well into that. With its classic shop front and charming striped canopy it reels you in. You just don’t know where to start, you’re eyes are drawn literally everywhere with books galore and fascinating Objet d’art on the walls.
They’re strong supporters of local authors and events. At the time of our visit they were promoting a Book launch event by local author ‘David Coubrough’ they had a huge window display to celebrate Suffolk Refugee week (our favourite touch being a book about everyone’s favourite refugee ‘Paddington bear’)
They also have a famous canvas bag, and in the window is a map of all the places this canvas bag has been, and who the bag has been photographed with.
The Halesworth Bookshop. We fell in love with Halesworth bookshop at first sight, it may have been the quaint looking canopied shop front or it could have been the ‘Independent bookshop week’ bunting strung along the canopies.
It’s well situated and beautifully decorated inside and out. There was a very comfortable reading nook which we took full advantage of, and an amazing Gruffalo mural painted on the wall of the childrens area.
Again we found strong connections with the local community as we were told the Manager was out setting up for A Suffolk literary Evening in association with the Two Rivers book festival, and it was clear from the promotional material on the counter that this shop supports the local reading community wholeheartedly.
I love a good alliteration and Beccles Books just gave me tingles.
It’s simply laid out, and again with a light and airy look (long gone are the days of dark and dusty bookshops, with looming shelves)
We had a lovely friendly chat with the bookseller, during which my eye was drawn to their delightful display of local paraphernalia, and not for the first time on this journey I left wishing that independent bookshop week hadn’t fallen on the week before payday!
A little observation whilst I was there, Beccles is a busy little town, and seems worth another visit at some point.
Diss Publishing. Not technically in Suffolk but it IS an independent bookshop, so it made the list.
And I’m so glad it did. At first glance your imagination is captivated by parochial wood slat façade and quaint courtyard.
Then you step into the shop and realise this is no ordinary bookshop. Your first encounter is with a huge selection of stationery and gift items, turn to your right and a whole other part of the shop is where the bookshop is, but what you can’t fail to notice is the magnificent view over the lake where the café is. Yes, that’s right, this shop is a stationers, bookshop AND café with a lakeside view! If I never make it to paradise, this could be as good as it gets.
After Diss, the nearest Independent bookshop appears to be in Sudbury. That would have taken us on a whole other adventure in the west of our County, so on a high we headed home and back to our books.
Things I’ve learnt from this trip-
- There are no independent bookshops in mid-Suffolk. When we were done in Diss it was time to head home, our route took us through Bury St Edmunds and to our surprise we couldn’t find any independent bookshops to drop in on. If you know of any, let me know I’d love to visit them.
- Town parking is BRUTAL! Despite the fact we were driving everywhere I still managed to clock up over 10,000 steps due to all the walking to and from the car.
- BBC radio Suffolk quite literally covers Suffolk! On our way from Beccles to Diss we were skirting the Norfolk/Suffolk border and completely lost radio signal. Although I do have an 18 year old Peugeot 206, so that may have also had something to do with it.
Well, we had fun and hope to share more of our adventures with you soon.