so how refreshing to hear that there is a demise in the purchase of kindles and a rise in the sales of books – the young are posting Instagram posts with rows of bookshelves behind them – hooray! I never got round to the idea of reading a book on a screen – it makes sense if you want to declutter, but books somehow don’t add up to clutter, they are beautiful stripes that enhance an interior , they make a space lived in – our house is filled with books….. we also have filled spain and Suffolk with books – and the feedback from clients is that they love browsing our collection – books are for sharing, for stimulating the brain, for escaping, for aspiring, for understanding, books are as much a part of my life as my family. at present I am just starting ‘My beautiful friend’ by Elena Ferrante which has been recommended to me by several friends. I often meet friends at Foyles cafe on the top floor of the recently refurbished shop on charring cross road – it was quite a surprise to see such a big bookshop with floors of books (and music) with a good cafe. my friend Lyn alerted it to me and it really is a good sanctuary, pick up any book from the shop, take it to the cafe, get a drink and enjoy the book, then put it back on a trolley to be put back in the shop – its harking back to being in a library. I remember my youth living in libraries, borrowing the maximum 4 books that you were allowed, trying to read the books before the date of return, or else you would get a fine. I never bought books as a child, we were encouraged to go the library – the only books I bought were textbooks for my exams. how different life is for my children now.
this leads me back to my trip to Beijing just over a year ago to visit my daughter who was working there – my favourite shops were the bookshops and art shops – which were usually combined – books about calligraphy, graphic art, painting, classic reads – they were far more interesting than the abundance of souvenir shops that were everywhere. however, one fun area to spend a day is the art area 798. based in the east, its an area that is full of industrial buildings built by the germans in the 1950’s and which have gradually turned into art galleries, bookshops and cafes. so much so that there must have been a few hundred galleries to visit, some are the renowned names, some are just local artists, some are fake art masquerading as art, which somehow makes the whole thing a bit gimmicky. but in all honesty, its a big family day out for local Chinese, especially those who are craving a bit of culture or simply to get a great Instagram with one of the many novelty sculptures dotted around the district. again, its a big area, and you can roam around for hours, so make a list of what you really would like to see; a lot of the serious art galleries charge about £6, which is expensive, but its to deter the masses, most of the others are free. the street food is great, but be cautious about food that has not been heated to a high temperature or uses the local water.
its been a weekend of Chinese celebrations in london this weekend – and yesterday I popped along to an interesting talk about Chinese Embroidery at the Cultural centre on Gerrard street – sign up to receive information about all the events that they host, this was £5, but often they are free of charge and you get to learn more about Chinese arts and culture