03 June, 2008

Musings on life and shopping

Do you know, I used to do more internet shopping in London than I do now in rural Wales. Something about the bus, tube, train trek with small children put me off popping to the shops. Now I live near two good market towns and right outside a very well serviced small town/village and they have shops selling most things and they are almost never crowded and quick to access.

On Sunday we went to Brecon where we bought (from Cotswold) the camping table and chairs we needed to make our forthcoming jaunt complete. The table is really nifty with a concertina top that comes off, and the chairs are those very comfortable armchairs with drinks holder (because holding it in your hand is just too much work apparently). They all pack into their own bags and are scarily light. I remember one camping trip when my father who was rather over-weight at the time managed to split every single seat of our camping chairs. How he managed to overlook the high probability that what happened to the first would go on happening until we were all picnicking on the floor, I don't know. Stubborn man, Dave. And he would look so outraged each time it happened.

The internet has also helped with the camping preparations. We now have sleeping mats, bags, a cooker, a collapsible water bottle, and I forget what else. Last thing to organise is the gas bottle for the stove which will be coming from Crickhowell Adventure Gear, just up the road. I've been feeling rather gormless about the camping equipment lately. All the terminology and equipment has changed and I swear the girl who helped me in the shop in Brecon wasn't born when I last went camping. I was describing the kind of tent we used to have and she looked like I was describing an ancient artifact. They probably have them in the V & A.

The other place we went to in Brecon was Andrew Morton Books. Don't know why I added the link as they don't have a site although it does give the street address. This is probably the best second-hand bookshop I know locally and local includes Hay on Wye. If you want a large general second-hand bookshop that contains all sorts of treasures you haven't seen in years then this shop is wonderful. It's also good because there is only one of it. Hay is great for grown-ups but dragging my two girls from shop to shop is cruel so we tend to give up and eat cake after two. The children's section in AM is particularly good. I'm currently stocking up on "chapter books" for the girls hoping they don't go on to read those ghastly pink series about mermaids and fairies - baby chicklit. My English teacher at high school, the superb and intimidating Mr McCombie, said when he first took our class that he wanted to make it impossible for us to read badly written books. Clearly the days when teachers were allowed greater ambitions than exam results. Anyway, I'm vaguely hoping that if I fill the shelves with great classics, they won't be interested in the formulaic stuff. I got The Black Stallion, Matilda, two further books from Rosemary Manning after Green Smoke, The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander, and The Whispering Mountain by Joan Aiken. At home we've started reading a chapter a night of Ballet Shoes and tonight (Chapter 5) for the first time ever they wanted more at the end. Emilia "is" Pauline (the eldest) and Charlotte "is" Posy (red hair). I always wanted to be Petrova (lousy at acting and dancing and a bit of a tomboy). Who did you want to be?

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