Monday, April 5, 2010

new books and the great outdoors

So, I've been promising to regale you with the tale of my trip to the Steiner House Bookshop in London, and now here is the tale. I fully intended to visit the Steiner House Bookshop since we first began planning our trip. The exhaustion of parading 4 kids around the big city almost kept me from my planned excursion until the last day I told Paul that I'd like a few minutes to jet over to the bookshop by myself.

Unfortunately, Finn's naptime was waylaid and ended up being brief so we could have a last visit to Kensington Garden, but we figured out that if I quickly fed them dinner after the Garden, then I could quickly hike over to the bookshop for an hour or so before closing. The cold sprinkling of rain at Kensington Garden ended that adventure more quickly than we were expecting and we were back at our room with the kids fed by 6:30 so I headed out while Paul readied the kids for bed. I made my way over to the closest tube station knowing that I had about 1.5 hours to get to the shop and make my selection before it closed, which should have been plenty of time. The problem was that when I arrived at the tube station, no trains were running the direction I needed to go because of a switch outage (can't have any trains running into one another) a few stations away. Finally after waiting about 20 minutes, a train came and I made my way to a transfer stop, which was piled with hundreds of people waiting for the next train since the switch outage had caused a backlog of riders around rush hour. I made my way, along with a sea of other travelers, onto the next train with barely enough room to breathe. Even with the delay, I was still at the tube station nearest the bookshop by 7:10. Whew. Fifty minutes to shop isn't horrible so I practically ran the 3-4 blocks to the bookshop and started soaking up the selections. And what selections there were. Many books yet to be published in the US or books that had been discontinued here. I practically drooled over the picture books, then spent a wee bit of time in the parenting and children's chapter book section. I saved the postcard rack for last and made a few selections.

When I brought my selections to the counter, I had been the only shopper, I made a bit of small talk with the cashier, then it happened...she informed me that the fire in central London, which knocked out about 25% of the phone lines for most of the day, had crippled their card machine which meant I could use neither my credit card or debit card for my purchase. Panic! She comfortingly told me she'd put my selections aside and I could come back the next day if I wished. Except that the next day, I'd be flying over the ocean. I asked her if there was a nearby ATM, looking at the clock and seeing that there were only 2-3 minutes until 8 pm, closing time. She kindly told me there were 2 near the tube station and she'd wait for me. I literally ran in freezing sprinkling rain all the way to the tube station to find 4-5 people waiting at each ATM. I picked one and stood in line. As I went to draw my pounds from the ATM, (I was trying to draw exactly what I needed so I wouldn't be stuck with extra pounds the next day.) I was informed by the ATM machine that the ATM was out of 10 pound notes and 20s were the only things available. So I withdrew 10 less than I intended, knowing I had 8 pounds in coins in my pocket already, and raced back to the bookshop.

The cashier kindly started to ring me up again and I told her of the problem with the ATM. I told her I would just put back 2 of the postcards I intended to purchase which would bring my total just under the amount I now had in my possession. She told me that wouldn't be necessary, and she simply placed all the postcards in my bag, only ringing up the 4 I had money for. So, that whole long story is to say that not only did I find some wonderful gems at the shop, I also found kindness where stress had recently reigned. A very profitable trip, indeed.

Eek, where do I start, the books are all so lovely! Where Do They Go When It Rains? is the latest offering from Gerda Muller. Finn loves all the seasonal board books so this new treasure was a must. Such lovely illustrations, just as I would expect from Muller. I also love the characters, their expressions, and the fact they live "in town". So sweet.

The Chicken Who Wanted to Fly reminded me so much of one of my own kids, hiding out in the hazel-wood, then flapping back toward home at the slightest hint that what she'd done wasn't a good idea.

Uan the Little Lamb was my favorite of the books I collected. Such simple, sweet illustrations of the Scottish wild coast and the way life sometimes happens. I also love the full circle story. Very sweet read!

The other 2 books I bought were geared a bit more towards our older kids. The Waldorf Song Book is the singing book geared for 8-14 year olds. I really liked the mix of Christian, folk, seasonal and traditional songs. We've already begun to learn a few of them. I know it's going to be a nice addition to our home. Hoglet the Spineless Hedgehog really grabbed me because both Paulie and I are partial to hedgehogs and it seemed like a fun read-aloud to do this fall. So there you have the new booklist. I tried to stick to books I hadn't seen before and thought we'd get the most use out of (without breaking the bank!)

One of the new postcards is now resting on our nature table. Their selection of Elsa Beskow cards was just amazing!

The last little part of this post I want to devote to a new endeavor, which isn't much, if any, of a change for our family. This month is Children & Nature Awareness Month, and Lisa over at 5 Orange Potatoes issued a challenge for everyone to get outside with their kids every day for the month of April and post a picture of their outside enjoyment. Here are our pictures for today:

Elizabeth headed outside straight after school to pick flowers for our dinner table.

Paulie hunted 4 leaf clovers.

And, of course, the obligatory bike riding/stunt creating that is an (almost) daily affair here.

Enjoy your time outside this month!!

PS. Check out Gardenmama's giveaway right now. Those little cuties need a good home!


  1. Eeeeeek!! I felt your panic reading this post! I amso happy it all worked out. I think I would have been in heaven there :)
    Thank you for sharing that story with us, it was so great to read.

  2. I felt the panic too!!! What a sweet lady to wait and then give you the cards, love the English I do!

    Love Elizabeth's arrangement. It's gorgeous. And I am still laughing about the bike riding stunt creating photo. That is hilarious!


  3. Wow, what an ordeal! But the stars were alligned just for you it seems. You are a good mama, I would have abandoned my family for an entire afternoon at the bookshop :)
    Thanks for sharing your tale and your fabulous finds!

  4. oh goodness, the stress! good story though.
    Love the photos!

  5. Your trip to the bookstore sounds like quite the adventure! From looking at the treasures you found, it looks like it was well worth all the bother.

  6. Oh my goodness Joy! I felt stressed for you just reading this! I am so glad everything worked out with such sweet gifts thrown in! Oooh... 50 minutes in a Steiner bookstore! I applaud you for finding your books in time, I think I would be so overwhelmed in such a good way! : )

  7. What amazing books you got from the bookstore--I would have been full of stress knowing I only had a short while to be in that store (since I could have spent a whole day there, from your descriptions!)

  8. Those books are fantastic and what a wonderful, kind woman at the bookstore! I'm sure those books will be treasured for years for the adventure in acquiring them alone!

    That last photo is just.awesome.

  9. I'm so glad you got your books! We love Gerda Muller too-I am glad to read your thoughts on that new title. It is sitting on my wishlist :)


I love to hear what you think!