Sunday, 7 August 2011

Quietly tucked away on a second hand book-shelf

I love reading, but to be honest I am not very good or quick at it (I am dyslexic). I didn't always love it, in fact the first book that I independently read cover to cover was a dyslexic friendly version of Three Men In a Boat when I was 12 years old. As I currently have time on my hands, I have decided to read more books. Since I first started liking all things vintage I have been fascinated with old books, to be honest, one of the main reasons is that if you sit on a train reading a hard cover old book you look incredibly more intelligent than if you read a well read chick lit book. Whilst I was at university in Leicester I discovered a great charity bookshop, which had a small bookshelf of 'vintage' books. I would occasionally buy a book which I would dip in and out of as the thought of reading some of them from cover to cover made me terrified. This started a chain of events which lead me to acquiring more and more books and I now have a 1st edition Three Men in a Boat in my collection (which I am slowly working my way through, again).

The purpose of this blog is to tell you about my latest book I brought from a great second-hand bookshop in Norwich. I have been in it before but have never seen anything I felt I needed and then I came across a book called "Enchanted Land" a book written by Arthur Mee in The King's England series (1936). To say I have enjoyed reading it is an understatement, I am enchanted by it. It describes itself as a 'new Domesday book of 10,000 towns and villages' and it describes the places in England which are purely beautiful and tells the stories which have been lost over time, which only the villages involved still know. The 'recording angels', as they call themselves, went half a million miles across and around England to find out about these places. I am currently about a third of the way through the book and it is only taking me so long to get through as I keep stopping to look up these places he describes.

After about the 1st chapter of this book, which is really an introduction chapter (as are the next two) I had a idea, perhaps I could go to all these places too. Well, after some more thought, and so extensive googling I have decided that I will go to the majority of these places, it may take me years, but I will do it. I have been looking on street view to decided which ones I will visit and then have been plotting them on a google map (I never knew I could do that!). The reason why I love this book so much is that it gives a view of England which I believe we have lost. It appears to me that the majority of people have become cynical and sarcastic about our country and we are not patriotic anymore. Sure, there are people out there who are possibly a bit too patriotic (The BNP) but I do feel we need to have pride in our country, like we did have in the 30's. (I am desperately trying to write this and not sound like the daily mail). I am not saying that we have to be like America, who almost make me sick at how patrotic they are, but it wouldn't hurt to have a bit more pride.

Anyway, the point of all of this is that I do love England (especially the tea) and this book shows England in the best light. So I will go to all these places in this Enchanted Land and I will see how they have changed. But in the meantime, I will leave you with an extract out of it describing this Enchanted Land we live in...

She is the centre of history and the guardian of freedom,
She has given good government to one quarter of man kind
She gave the world railways and freedom of the seas,
She has lead man kind in discovery and invention,
She has kept alive the quality of mercy in the world,
She has led the way to peace on earth,
She has given the world its noblest literature,
She has more beauty and history in her square miles than any other land,
She has got war out of the way and set her house in order to begin another thousand years.

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