Not a phrase that anyone who reads these ramblings would ever expect to hear, but I am proud to say I did just that thing!!

To clarify a little, I had a day out on Saturday, popping up to London to meet an old friend, H, who I’ve not seen for about 20 years. She was one of my posse of fellow spirits when we hung out a lot in the 1980s, together with J (who I met up with a little over a year ago) and G, who I’ve not heard from for some time. The four of us would hit theatres, art exhibitions, second-hand book stores, record shops – you name it, we were hungry for culture. Although we’ve drifted apart in our lives, with careers, families etc taking over a bit, we stayed in touch, and H passed through when Middle Child was young, on her way to live and work in Prague for a while (H, that is, not baby Middle Child!). H is an artist and so as she was involved in a Tate Britain exhibit, this seemed like a good time to meet up again!

The weather forecasts were a little alarming, but we’ve been fairly lucky in the east, and the trains were running ok on Saturday. Meeting up with H again at the Tate was lovely, and her mother B (who I knew from old times) and her sister R were also along. H gave us a lovely tour of the exhibit and we felt very privileged on having the artist give us a tour! There was also a *lot* of talking and catching up on old times – it was so lovely to find that we clicked straight back into the old times and were still on the same wavelength! It’s hard with all the hassles of daily life to keep in touch with old friends, especially when you’re geographically distant, but both J and H were at my wedding and I want to keep that contact going!

Anyway, after a delicious lunch stop in a nearby Greek cafe, H and R went off to visit more family and I had a little chance to pop into a couple of bookshops. With so many recent arrivals I really felt I must be selective and I actually walked out of Any Amount of Books and Henry Pordes having made *no* purchases (despite there being several Viragos on offer)!! However, I did cave in at the Bloomsbury Oxfam and picked up this:

The condition is lovely and the price (£3.50) excellent. I’ve loved every von Arnim I’ve read, and heard good things about this one too, so was obviously pleased.

Then I headed to Foyles, one of my favourite places nowadays, and a gallant survivor of the horrors going on in Charing Cross Road – the diminishing number of book shops, the knocking down of old buildings, the loss of the little bits of history that still peek through in London. As an aside, I’m pleased to read that the mosaics at Tottenham Court Road tube station will be retained – I was horrified at the thought they might be removed. Anyway, to Foyles…

As a rule I don’t buy many new books, but I could browse here for hours and hours (and I *did* spend quite a long time in there). In the end I treated myself to a couple of slim volumes:

I’m still being haunted by Perec’s “Life: A User’s Manual” and his “W” is very highly recommended so it came home with me; as did another Neversink volume, “Definitely Maybe” by the Strugatsky brothers. I had heard of the latter writers via their story “Roadside Picnic”, the basis for Tarkovsky’s movie “Stalker”. I loved “Stalker” and the premises of “Definitely Maybe” sounds intriguing so I thought I’d take a risk.That’s the joy of browsing a real bookshop like Foyles – the random finds, the staff recommendations, the unexpected juxtapositions on the displays.

So I think I *was* very restrained in London – I had a lovely day with old friends, some great browsing and brought home a few treats – what could be better? 🙂

(and I only got rained on once!)