Struggling to stand upright in 70mph winds, watching as the sea crashes against the Needles, spray flying, passers by losing their hats, and more fresh air than you could enjoy in a lifetime, I found myself glad I'd chosen to holiday on the Isle of Wight during the weekend of the latest 'super storm'.
Sitting at my computer at home a few days later, struggling to keep warm as the wind blows through the hole in my roof, my thoughts on the storm are less exhilarating - yes I'm glad I wasn't home to hear the almighty crash as the tiles were blown to the ground, but it would've been good to be a little further forward in the queue to bag a decent roofer.
Fortunately, thanks to a visit to an island bookshop or two (more to follow) I at least have a good selection of books to enjoy as I hunker down under my duvet in a bid to keep warm. Indeed, my visit to Books 2 Love in Newport was itself enough to banish the winter blues...
Holidaying anywhere in Britain at the end of October obviously isn't about sun, sea and sand, but my first thought on entering this secondhand bookshop was - and I hope the shop forgives the comparison, it's meant kindly - that it reminded me of a beach shop from my childhood. It really did feel as though I was stepping into the summer, with a bright and colourful shop filled with what felt like sunshine - it certainly didn't live up to any musty stereotype.
Directly in front of the door is a table with large plastic tubs of different genres of fiction, prefect for rummaging in, and reminiscent of the search for the perfect bucket and spade or other entertainment to fill my time on the beach. The contents of these tubs ranged from Mills and Boon to sci fi - including a random find of C S Lewis' third novel in the genre, I hadn't even realised he'd written one, never mind three - all perfect had I been heading to a beach, with various other sections and a wall of general fiction should you manage to drag yourself away from the tubs for something a little longer lasting.
Further treats await at the back of the bookshop, where tables and chairs invite you to sit and enjoy a cuppa and cake as you bask in the sunny atmosphere of your surroundings - had I been alone I'd have easily lost a couple of hours to this bookshop.
Instead I lost my friends upstairs in the children's section, with them only reappearing when the teen in our group discovered a Twilight spin off, meaning two books were picked up on this visit as I finally bagged a copy of The Bridges of Madison County - a heartbreaking film that I've often wondered about reading.
At the till I asked about a second independent shop in the town and was saddened to hear it had closed in the face of bigger competition, but the ray of sunshine that is Books 2 Love meant that, on this day at least, nothing could dampen my spirits.
Books 2 Love
53 Pile Street, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 1XB
Tel: 01893 533494
PS This blog is about bookshops, so I won't witter on about all the other wonderful attractions I visited during my stay, but I can't write about the Isle of Wight without at least mentioning the Owl and Monkey Haven, not far from Newport. Even bookshopping struggles to compete with the joy of having a bundle of monkeys curled up in the hood of your coat and running across your shoulders during feeding time: I loved their marmoset encounter.