Wednesday 26 November 2014

Happy as an aardvark in a book barn

Even though I knew I was on the hunt for a barn, blindly following my (evil, horrid, abominable) sat nav through the country lanes of Shropshire made me nervous.

I'd lost mobile phone signal a while back and road signs were few and far between. It was also a miserable, wet day and I needed the loo.

Then I spotted a small, home-made sign with the word 'aardvark' written across it and all was once again well. I was on the right road to warmth, the safety of books, a cafe and, thankfully, a toilet.

I admit from the outside Aardvark Books isn't much to look at – especially on a dreary day – but as we all know, it's the inside that counts, and given this destination is found inside a large barn I knew there was a lot of bookshop waiting for me. Walking into what felt like a large reception area, I was greeted by the woman at the till and asked if I'd like a map. That's how big this bookshop is.

Naturally I thanked her, took the map and promptly got lost as I was too busy looking at the shelves and shelves of books to take any notice of where I was actually going. I may have been lost, but I was having too much fun to care.

Leaving 'reception' – itself larger than many bookshops I've visited and filled with new and antiquarian books, postcards and a basket of baby aardvarks – I found myself in the cafe. While people relax at a table with a cup of tea the books flow into and around this area, blurring the edges of the two sections. The cakes on offer looked particularly appealing, but being part-way through a long drive meant I hadn't time to sit and relax.

Instead I moved on through the cookery books (perfectly placed within the cafe area) and a range of other non-fiction and into the book burrow for children. Crammed with books, a castle, pirate ship, princess seat, trees, more books and colourful pictures drawn by young customers, my only disappointment was that I was visiting on a weekday and therefore unable to see all the youngsters enjoying these wonderful surroundings. In the absence of children I may have played in the castle a little myself...

Rejoining adult land I made my way upstairs to a loft crammed with secondhand fiction and what looked to be new, remainder books. All thoughts of my tight time limit were forgotten as I wandered along the alphabet, eventually finding myself at science fiction (I am quite predictable when it comes to secondhand bookshops). Here I hit gold with a new-to-me Arthur C Clarke, Imperial Earth.

Slowly making my way back to the till I also picked up a couple of postcards and a baby aardvark for myself before diving into conversation with the bookseller. Here I met the couple who own the bookshop and my first bookshop dog, the friendly Coco, not forgetting the bookshop name's inspiration Ethel Aardvark and her partner Arthur.

I may have felt as out of place as an aardvark while wandering the Shropshire countryside, but once inside this warm and friendly bookshop I was perfectly at home and happy as Larry. Or should that be Ethel?

Aardvark Books
The Bookery,
Manor Farm,
Brampton Bryan,
Tel: 01547 530744


  1. You lost your mobile phone signal? Welcome to Shropshire!

    1. Good point, I really should've known better!


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