I went by bus to Cambridge (the company is called Stagecoach and comfortwise it’s about as comfortable as a real stagecoach might have been) It takes me right into the town centre next to some of my favourite shops, and honestly it’s so hot here that I didn’t want to go traipsing about for too long. First stop Penhaligon’s perfume shop then onto the real objective of my trip, the book shops! I was absolutely convinced that I’ d find what I wanted in one of my very favourite places. I love Waterstones’ bookshop. They have everything: places to sit, coffee, flowers on the tables… but oh dear, not what I’m looking for.
So off I go looking for the next bookseller. I went down this lovely side street where they had put up the bunting for my arrival (!) and on the way I was sidetracked into going into a craft gin store! They have gin history, gin tasting, gin mixing, gin everything. I was feeling a bit mischievous so I told the young man I thought gin was probably on its way out as a trendy drink. Maybe it is…but not ours, he said. From the horse’s mouth!
Even the second bookshop didn’t have what I wanted but advised me to try a historic secondhand bookshop. I’d never been there before but David’s is now on my must-go-to list for the future even though I didn’t get what I was looking for but I did get some very useful advice. I guess by now you’d like to know what book I’m searching for so desperately? Gogol’s Taras Bulba. I’ve been offered the film (a very old version with Yul Brynner), the wonderful Janaceck tone poem and Amazon actually sent it to me in Russian! I bought it relatively easily in Italian for my daughter, but in English…. hopeless! One of the problems is that it’s a short story generally found in a collection and if the seller doesn’t show you the index you won’t really know what you’re buying. I can get it from America with a long wait and absurd postage prices.
You’ll be happy to know that I gave up and went to have lunch (?) at 4ish in a very nice restaurant called “The Ivy”, tended by rather higher level language students than you generally find. I was going to have fish and chips yet again and I’m not the only one who loves them as you can see by the sign intended for tourists.
However, I plucked up my courage and opted for Shepherds’ pie. Our equivalent to Sardinian shepherds’ suckling pig (only joking) .It’s really good, mutton and mashed potatoes served with gravy and mint sauce, aaahhhhh. I will not tell you about baked apple tart flambéed in Calvados served with vanilla ice cream because my doctor might be reading this!
Back to get the bus but on the way I dropped in to my favourite store for….everything except books. And dulcis in fundo I found some gorgeous glasses especially made for gin, a satisfying day!