Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A long overdue update

There has been quite a lot going on in the past 3 weeks since I last blogged. Apart from Easter, my birthday, my wife's birthday and a lot of time spent with my family, I have been trying to cram in as much bookshop work as possible. So first and foremost the shop.

We've been told by the lovely Fargo Village people that we should be able to enter Fargo in July. Just 2 months away! I'll then have X amount of weeks to get the empty shell up to scratch to house thousands of books, delicious home-made cakes (from Clairey's Cakes) and teas and coffees. Since I found this out I've been scouting for bookcases. So far I have around 7 that I've managed to pick up cheap (or even free) from eBay and Gumtree. I've travelled to Coventry, Market Harborough, North Leicester somewhere and Solihull to collect them then store them alongside my mountain of books, my desk and other titbits. I've yet to solidify the design of the interior but have roughly estimated I'll need 24 bookcases. I have my eyes on a few tables and chairs too, as you need to sit down in a comfy shop! The big red sofa will be purchased close to opening as I have nowhere to store it! 

I have a stall again at this years Earsldon Festival. Last year it was THE best experience and also where I met Jo from Fargo Village. The festival is currently ongoing and culminates in a street long celebration of local traders with loads of entertainment on May 5th, Bank Holiday Monday. Come along and say hello (and buy a book).
Last year at Earlsdon Festival
Back to the shop, I will be looking for local people to chip in to help with several things. First off the basics like painting the shop, but also people to make signs (and fit them), help organize events (anything be it music, comedy, clubs ets), artists to design posters and other things, plus volunteers! Just 2 days ago I had a brainwave to have local artists create a bookmark for the shop so I'll have around 6-10 special ltd edition bookmarks that both showcase their work and promote the shop. I've had a great response too!

I'll shortly be launching a crowd funding scheme to help give the shop a massive boost when it opens. I've come up with some great rewards for those that donate. That'll be active in a few days.

The bookshop music sessions have already started. The Big Comfy Sessions was hosted at The Tree House Bookshop in Kenilworth with Wes Finch playing the first one, filmed by Rob at Redwood Photography along with Richard at TheSpoonPlayer blog. These will be regular sessions filmed exclusively in the shop and we'll be getting local and touring bands and solo artists in to film one song. A larger blog is coming very soon about this but in the meantime check out Wes doing his thing on the website

There will be several book reviews coming soon including two of my favourite books I've read this year. 

Finally this site will soon be transformed. The online shop ( and this blog will be amalgamated into one brand new website. All this while the shop is creeping ever closer!
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A final thank you to my beautiful wife for getting me the BEST birthday presents!


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

A visit to The Book Barge

Many will know I'm a big fan of social media. In January sometime a friend posted a picture on Facebook of a bookshop van from Spain. I retweeted this picture and received loads of comments about other quirky places you can find a bookshop. One such place was The Book Barge. 'That's really cool!' I said out load to my cats then after browsing a bit more, found out it's docked just 45 minutes drive from me. I made plans to visit but never made it to Barton Marina where it was docked. Nevertheless I followed The Book Barge on Twitter and soon found out that the owner, Sarah, was releasing a book and having the launch on the barge!
There really was no excuse now. I contacted Sarah to see if it was OK to pop along and a week or so later I pulled up at the Marina with my wife in tow.
The book in question is The Bookshop That Floated Away and documents Sarah's undulating adventure across England and Wales for 6 months in the barge trying to drum up support for her bookshop and others in a time of financial uncertainty, at the same time figuring out what the hell she was doing. I'll have a book review posted later this week but I can honestly say it's my favourite book I've read this year.
My wife Heidi and I arrived at the Marina dead on time (a McEntee trait) and headed to the 60ft vessel. I peeped through the windows first as outside it was quiet and deserted but I soon saw the barge was packed like a can of sardines from front to back (bow to stern?). We ambled down the steps and was welcomed by Stu, Sarah's boyfriend along with a big table filled with teacups ready to be filled by the dozen or so gins on offer.
I've never been on a barge let alone a converted bookshop one and the feeling was of slight amazement and slight terror. I've always been very claustrophobic but I was too consumed taking in my surroundings to realise I was stuck in the middle of the barge with no way out unless I barged (HA!) past lots of people. It wasn't until my wife mentioned the confined spaces that I came to realise this. I let it slide though and introduced myself to Sarah.
Sarah was a delight, she was stunned by the amount of people there, consumed by the event and looked generally like it was all a dream, but she took it all in her stride. We managed to grab 10 minutes chatting about the book and the barge, the press and the future between the melee of eager punters. She signed my book and I went off to grab some food.
The barge is moored right next to the pub The Waterfront so Heidi and I grabbed a lovely meal there then waited for the group of keen readers to pour out of the barge and into the pub. Part of the pub had been earmarked for the group as an 'after party drinks venue' so we stayed for half an hour waiting but it seemed like the barge was a too packed, too comfy venue as everyone stayed on board! We headed back to the barge to talk some more but then had to escape back to Warwickshire.
Sarah Henshaw AKA Captain
The Book Barge is a truly wonderful bookshop and venue and Sarah is such a warm and friendly book seller I hope that I can emulate the environment she has created, albeit in a more regular bricks and mortar shop!
There will be a second book launch in London on April 22nd on the barge starting at 6.30 then heading to The Narrow Boat Inn, Islington.

You can normally find the barge at:

The Book Barge
Barton Marina
Barton Turn
DE13 8AS

I'll be returning very soon to have a proper chat with Sarah and do a bit of shopping.


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