At least, I hit gold once I finally worked out where Didsbury Village Bookshop was hidden, out of sight from the road in a back room behind a delightful restaurant/cafe called The Art of Tea. Which, when you think about it, is the perfect place to hide a bookshop - doesn't everyone love settling down with a cuppa and a good book?
Wandering between the tables of the busy eatery, a doorway at the back of the room beckons readers down a few steps to the secondhand bookshop and, further back, picture framer. Nothing can prepare you for the size of the bookshop that awaits. Possibly larger than the cafe it hides behind, rows of neatly stacked shelves invite you to dawdle and browse.
Which is exactly what I did.
As you'd expect, all the usual suspects of genre are found among the shelves, but if I had to name a specialist subject on this visit it was the classics. Shelved in alphabetical order but also grouped according to publisher, these make a beautiful collection surrounding the entrance and captured my attention so completely I could've happily confined my visit to the first few feet of bookshop.
Venturing further in, I found more classics, non-fiction, and a wonderful array of general fiction with many complete collections of authors' works you'd only usually expect to find in a well-stocked new bookshop. And so I became overwhelmed with possible purchases.
Taking my time to scan a few lines of each I was soon relaxed against a bookshelf, absorbed by my reading and enjoying the buzz of chatter and tempting food smells wafting in from the cafe. Both were at just the right level to add to the atmosphere, rather than disturb it, meaning I spent rather longer than anticipated enjoying my leisurely browsing before choosing Pure by Andrew Miller.
Having arrived in the bookshop at an odd time of day I was sorry but not unsurprised to discover I'd missed the owner, but the man minding the shop was very friendly and welcoming and – as I mentioned earlier – this is an area I visit often, so I'll be sure to make a return visit at a hopefully more appropriate time of day.
For now, it was good to take a break from my plans and relax in friendly, welcoming surroundings. Next time it'll be like returning to see a good friend.
Didsbury Village Bookshop,
Inside The Art of Tea,
47 Barlow Moor Road, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 6TW
Tel: 0161 4380211