Barter Books - A Hidden Gem

Hey folks!
I hope you've all had a fantastic Monday and that it wasn't too much of a shock after such a pleasant weekend. I cannot describe how happy I am to finally be having some good weather. Last week was such a dismal, dreary week and I feel sorry for all the children that were on half-term in such ghastly weather. Hey-ho. You make your own fun. Today was gloriously sunny and I for one am just jumping with the arrival of some sunshine which will make the grass grow.
Do you know what the first thing was that I thought when I woke up this morning? Ahaa it's sunny! I can hang the laundry out today! You know you're a grown -up when you get excited about hanging the laundry. I much prefer the smell of bed sheets that have been hanging outside all day to bedsheets that dried in the spare bedroom!

So here's me rambling on about laundry and weather, the point of this post is to tell you all about the second half of our shopping trip on Saturday (the first half was to the pet shop). Just a twenty minute drive from us is an absolute literary gem of a second hand book shop called Barter Books. Supposedly the largest second hand book shop in Europe, it's set in an old converted train station and is an absolutely beautiful building.

I'd been here recently for a work function and I am ashamed to say that I had never visited before that. What kind of a bibliophile am I? The greatest second hand book shop ever and I had never visited?! Shame on me! Shame!

So on Saturday I dragged Rick into this book shop and I had the opportunity to appreciate it in all its glory. It really is a fantastic work of genius. There are literary quotes spanning the walk ways. There are thousands of books in every category. A map is available at the front desk to find your way around (yes it is that vast!).

Rick headed straight for the fire arms and country sports section (of course) and I headed to the crime section to find some Agatha Christie. Alas there was a serious lack of Agatha Christie...she must be very popular. They had literally every other crime author though!

I headed instead to the fiction section and was completely spoilt for choice and over-whelmed. Rick suggested I try a new author called Bernard Cornwell who writes these fantastic historical dramas. I am a big fan of those. So I accidentally bought a little stack of them...

I also bought a couple of books from the Tales of the Old... series. I already have Tales of the Old Game keepers and Tales of the Old Poachers and was thrilled to find Tales of the Old Countrymen and Tales of the Old Country Women.

One of the greatest things about this shop is the amazingly cool little train that goes around the shop on a little track above the shelves!! It's amazing! Of course it make sense to have a little train in a building that is converted from an old train station.

There is an entire wall absolutely full of the ladies and gentlemen that have worked on the train line and in the train station over the years before the station closed. It was really touching to see them all like that in a memorial.

And the best thing? Barter Books is the home of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster. I mean... of course there were lots of them back in WW2 but they were forgotten until one was dug out of an old store room when Barter Books was being restored and it started a world wide craze!!

How fantastic!!

So here's my haul...

We had lunch at Barter Books. There is a fantastic little buffet room with sandwiches, soups and all sorts available. I had the Chili which was a special on that day. Warning: it is very hot...and I did leave some of it. But Rick thoroughly enjoyed his ham and cheese toastie.

If you're ever in the Alnwick area of Northumberland. Please please please go to Barter Books. It truly is a place of wonder.

For now...I'm going upstairs to read a book.
Have you ever been to Barter Books? I'd love to know your experiences.

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  1. This is truly one of the great shops of Britain; great use of a historic building, unique character and a valuable contribution to making Alnwick a special place and a proper regional market town. Good to see the train on the shelf mentioned. I have one here in my own office and it's essential for delivering biscuits from the door to my desk thus avoiding unnecessary wear and tear on the carpet. Also great transport for the Christmas elf on the shelf, thus extending the whole concept.

    1. Wow what a fantastic idea! I definitely need a train for tea and biscuits in my house!

  2. That place sounds and looks amazing - a bookshop that requires a map?! Take me there now!

    1. Seriously, it's worth planning a holiday to Northumberland just for the trip to Barter Books!

  3. I ADORE Barter Books! It's so magical! I've blogged about it twice but always with grainy photos although I did find the most hilarious terrifying restoration of toy dolls book there- everyone agreed it looked like something horrific when I blogged about it!
    SUCH a magical place!!
    Your photos and description are excellent!

    1. I did take a picture of a retro children's book entitled "Me and my Pussies" that did make me laugh...ahhhhh how the English language has changed.
      I decided not to post that picture for obvious reasons.

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