Category Archives: England

Cozy Shopping

Can’t make it to England for spring break?

If you’re in north Texas, do the next best thing: pay a visit to The British Emporium in Grapevine.

It’s owned by 2 English ladies,Sheela Kadam and Alexandra Evans.

This is Sheela and her son.

There are lots of British products, so it’s easy to miss something; if you don’t find what you’re looking for – just ask – they’re always friendly and helpful.

A Large selection of tea, bags, loose, black, or green:

Biscuits:

There’s quite a variety of U.K. foods, including frozen items.

Almost 20 years ago when I helped plan a cream tea for the ladies at our church, I bought clotted cream there. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen it on the shelf of any other grocery store on this side of the pond.

This is a fun place and a unique one. The other British shops I’ve seen weren’t nearly so nice or as comprehensive in their stock.

Loads and loads of gift items: everything from china tea pots, cups and saucers to English newspapers, British comedies on DVD, music CDs, greeting cards, playing cards (perhaps 15 different kinds), electric kettles and books.


Ahhh, the books.

As you can see it’s not a huge selection, but that’s okay because it’s a good one. And it’s not static. There are different ones each time I visit and sometimes it’s really difficult to choose just one. Or two.

At Christmas you might find unique board games, such as Beatles Monopoly.

Last year I took some nice photographs before Easter but lost them when our hard drive crashed, but I think they’ll be decorating again for it soon.

During the various English celebrations (such as the royal wedding) the shop invites patrons to join them for planned events.


Even Indian food specialities have their own shelf.

And that shelf above Sheela’s head? Containers of loose tea and hard candy. If you prefer something more personal than pre-packaged tea or candy, you can do it the old-fashioned way and have your selection weighed out and bagged for you.

Not going to be in the area? Then you can shop from their online store, here.

Some of my photos are a bit blurry, but you can go here for their tour of the store.

Then for a relaxing lunch after shopping, I recommend that you go 1 block south, then 1 block west to Beatitudes Tea Room.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Books, England, Food, Grapevine, Local Shopping, Shopping, Texas, Texas

Books Read, September & October 2011

NON-FICTION

World War II

A Summer Interrupted – 1939, The Remarkable Story of An Evacuee/G. Michael Burns, 2011

FICTION

Mysteries
Death of a Chimney Sweep/M.C. Beaton, 2011. Latest in the series about the village constable, Hamish McBeth.

Death of a Dreamer/M.C. Beaton, 2006. Twists and turns as Scottish constable Hamish McBeth solves the murder of Effie Garrand, an Englishwoman very proud of her art and her daydreams.

Murder in Three Acts/Agatha Christie (1935) – also published as Three Act Tragedy. Who killed the kindly vicar and why? Noted actor, Sir Charles Cartwright and his two friends endeavor to solve the mystery.

Leave a comment

Filed under Battle of Britain, Books, England, Fiction, History, World War II

Old Books

“If one has to choose between reading the new books and reading the old, one must choose the old: not because they are necessarily better but because they contain precisely those truths of which our own age is neglectful.”
― C.S. Lewis, C.S. Lewis Essay Collection & Other Short Pieces

4 Comments

Filed under Books, C.S. Lewis, Quotes

Books Read in August, 2010


Until We Reach Home/ Lynn Austin (2008). Historical Fiction.

This Christian novel is the story of 3 young Swedish women who immigrate to the United States in 1897. Although it took about 2 chapters for me to get into the story, after that I could hardly put it down.

Highly Recommended.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession/Allison Hoover Bartlett (2010). Non-Fiction.

Apparently Bartlett expanded her magazine article on book thief, John Gilkey, into a book.

Rarely do I buy books that I know nothing about. Too many times in the past I’ve been burned and ended up with something fit only for paper projects.

However, the title grabbed me. I stood in Sam’s and flipped through it. The subject matter was very intriguing to a book-lover so I bought it.

It’s a partial account of a contemporary man who very boldly steals books. And not just the run-of-the-mill books. Rare ones. Very valuable ones.

Did the author intentionally leave the readers wanting more; or was it that she just didn’t know how to end it (because the saga continues) or maybe she just didn’t know how to flesh out the story?

Gilkey is relentless and unrepentant. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much is a fascinating read, but it would’ve been helpful had Bartlett spared us her political and world views. Personally, I don’t care what she thinks.

I just wanted to know more about John Gilkey.

Recommended.

The Body in the Library/Agatha Christie (1942). Mystery.

Mrs. Bantry of Gossington Hall is awakened by her hysterical maid who has just discovered the body of a stranger on the rug downstairs. How satisfying for the Bantry’s to have Miss Marple as a close friend at such a time and so the fluffy spinster is called in to speed up the investigation.

So typically Agatha Christie and a very satisfying read.

Highly Recommended if you like cozy mysteries.

D.E. Stevenson

Celia’s House/D.E. Stevenson (1943). Fiction.

Publishers must think that book buyers judge a book by it’s cover. Nothing else explains the swill they print on them.

Celia’s House is a lovely, cozy read. The back cover of the edition I read had some utter nonsense about the younger generation trying to carry on and being at odds with their elders. There’s absolutely nothing like that in the book – at all.

It’s just a nice story set in the early part of the 20th century, about a Scottish family and their ancestral home. Of course, everyone isn’t nice. There are a couple of ne’er-do-well characters who give it a little literary tension.

I have several D.E. Stevenson paperbacks that were reprinted in the mid-70s and they have the most atrocious cover art. Here is an example of one edition of Celia’s House (not the one I read but I want to post it just as an example).

Please don't judge this book by the cover.


It was just last week that I read this book, and my memory is fresh and I don’t think a goat was ever mentioned.

Goodness.

So, ignore the cover and if you like cozy reads, this one is Highly Recommended.

6 Comments

Filed under 1900s, Books, Cozy, England, Fiction

The English Calendar Holidays

Cross of St. George


Terribly confusing to be reading along in Austen or Dickens or even Miss Read, and come into a passage describing something happening in Michaelmas Term.

Boxing Day is a little more familiar, but still kind of wispy or vague to most Americans.

Hence, some lists for quick reference. It may be helpful to others; certainly it will be for me.

Reference guide for older literature

Twelfth Night January 5
Epiphany January 6
Plough Monday First Monday after Epiphany
Hilary Term (law courts) Begins in January
Hilary Term (Cambridge) Begins in January
Hilary Term (Oxford) Begins in January
Candlemas February 2

Lady Day (a quarter day) March 25
Easter Term (Oxford)
Easter Term (Cambridge)
Easter In March or April
Easter Term (law courts) Begins after Easter
Ascension 40 days after Easter
Whitsunday (Pentecost) 50 days after Easter
May Day May 1

Midsummer(a quarter day) June 24
Trinity Term (law term) Begins after Whitsunday
Trinity Term (Oxford) Begins in June
Lammas (Loaf Mass) August 1

Michaelmas (a quarter day) September 29
Michaelmas Term Begins in October
Michaelmas Term Begins in November
All Hallows, All Saints November 1
All Souls November 2
Guy Fawkes Day November 5
Martinmas November 11

Christmas (a quarter day) December 25
Boxing Day Generally first week after Christmas
~~
“Term” refers to both academic and court sessions. Session was the preferred word after 1873 for the court.

Quarter days were the beginning day for a quarterly commitment for a labor contract or rent.

Modern Calendar Public Holidays
New Year’s Day January 1
Good Friday variable
Easter Monday variable
May Day Bank Holiday 1st Monday in May (formerly Whit Monday until 1971)
Spring Bank Holiday Last Monday in May
Late Summer Bank Holiday Last Monday in August
Christmas Day December 25
Boxing Day December 26

~~
St. Andrew’s Day, honoring the patron saint of Scotland is an official holiday in Scotland and is celebrated on November 30.

However, St. George’s Day (honoring the patron saint of England) is not an official bank holiday, but celebrated by patriotic English citizens. Wikipedia says: “The date of St George’s day changes when it is too close to Easter. According to the Church of England’s calendar, when St George’s Day falls between Palm Sunday and the Second Sunday of Easter inclusive, it is moved to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter.”

Information was gathered from the book “What Jane Austen At and Charles Dickens Knew” by Daniel Pool and this Wikipedia article on English Holidays.

4 Comments

Filed under 1800s, Books, England, Holidays, Jane Austen, Jane Austen, Reference

English Money – Old Style

(L)1797 penny (R) 1967 penny (from Wikipedia)

Quick! What’s the value of a florin? A groat?

I can’t ever remember either, even though I’ve read a ton of English books (both fiction and non-fiction) over the years. Their old money system – pre-decimilization – stumps me. When an author mentions a crown or a bob, I have to hunt up a reference chart. So, for quick reference and borrowed from the author Daniel Pool, is the following list:

Note: Terms in italics are slang.

1/8 pence: half farthing
1/4 pence: farthing
1/2 pence: half penny ha’pence
1 pence: penny, copper
2 pence: twopence, tuppence
3 pence: threepence, thruppence
4 pence: groat
6 pence: sixpence tanner or bender
12 pence: shilling, bob or hog

2 shillings: florin
2 1/2 shillings: half crown, half a crown note
5 shillings: crown, bull
10 shillings: half sovereign, 1/2 pound note
20 shillings: sovereign, 1-pound note, quid
21 shillings: guinea

5 pounds: 5-pound note, fiver
10 pounds: 10-pound note, tenner
20 pounds: 20-pound note
50 pounds: 50-pound note
100 pounds: 100-pound note
200 pounds: 200-pound note
500 pounds: 500-pound note
1,000 pounds: 1,000-pound note

“Sovereigns and half sovereigns were gold; crowns, half crowns, florins, shillings, sixpences, and threepences were silver; pence, ha’pence, and farthings were copper until 1860, after which they were bronze.”

“To abbreviate their money, Britons used £ for pound, s. for shilling, and d. for pence, although five pounds, ten shillings, sixpence could be written L5.10.6. ‘Five and six’ meant five shillings and sixpence, and it would have been written ‘5/6’.”

(From “What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew” by Daniel Pool, 1993.)

2 Comments

Filed under 1800s, Books, England

Dancing Jane Austen Style


(Click on image to enlarge)

The dances described in “Pride and Prejudice” are described as being glorified square dances, “in which three or more couples, the men and women in separate lines some four feet apart, facing one another, danced their way through a series of figures.

A figure was merely a sequence of movements, like those in square dances in which men and ladies opposite one another advanced and then retreated, or locked arms and swung around, or do-si-doed (from the French dos-a-dos), or wove their way through the other dancers.”

“Quadrille – Originally a card game played by four people with forty cards that was the fashionable predecessor of whist. Also, the dance that became popular in the mid-century, which had five figures, or sets of movements. It was basically a slowed-down square dance, involving four couples who started from the four points of an imaginary diamond. Even couples who started from the four points of an imaginary diamond. Even by the mid-century the dance had slowed down practically to a walk. It was used as the lead-off dance at almost all dances and balls, the waltz and the polka following.”

The Sir Roger de Coverley, although common in Dickens literature was mentioned as early as 1695. It is defined as: “A jolly type of country dance used to finish off dances and popular at Christmas. It involved the first man and last lady and last man and first lady from two lines of parallel men and women swinging out and then back, then swinging round, then weaving their way through the lines and then promenading, etc. The dance is known in the United States as the Virginia Reel.”


Excerpts are from “What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew – from Fox Hunting to Whist~the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England” by Daniel Pool (1993).

The illustration of The Five Positions of Dancing is from the book “Jane Austen” by Brian Wilkes.

2 Comments

Filed under 1800s, Books, Dancing, England, Fashion, History, Jane Austen, Jane Austen