Simple enough rules, but in order to remain positive and honest I had to give myself a get out, a way of not offending those bookshops visited that may not make me happy enough to deserve a write-up. Admittedly, in the nearly two years this blog has existed such instances of unhappiness wouldn't even require the fingers of one hand, but given I'd rather be silent than negative there has to be a plan.
My plan is to turn up unannounced. Generally I'll introduce myself at some point, but if I'm not expected my visit is more accurate than if I'm welcomed (or shunned) and it's a lot easier to leave in the rare instances of unhappiness.
The trouble with turning up at bookshops unannounced, is that you can't check if the booksellers you hope to meet will actually be there at the time of your visit.
And so it really wasn't too surprising last Saturday when I arrived at High Street Books in the Peak District to discover the bookseller (and equally importantly their bookselling hounds) were on holiday. I'd even bought treats in an attempt to bribe the dogs into being my friends.
All of which should've left me feeling rather disappointed. And maybe I was, a little. But it's hard to be upset when you're in the middle of your first proper visit to Derbyshire and it's absolutely beautiful. The drive had been stunning. From the moment I passed the county sign the countryside was overwhelmingly gorgeous. Throw in a shop full of books and music and it's hard to be anything but happy.
Split across two floors, music is in what I imagine classes for a cellar, but still manages to have a window to the outside due to the peaky nature of the area. It's bright and packed with vinyl for proper music fans, but equally welcoming to those of us who still appreciate a good CD, with me drawn to the options of Indie 90s, Manchester, and other such groupings. Selecting We'll live and die in these towns by The Enemy, I finally accepted the dogs weren't hiding under a record player and returned to the books.
In the absence of the bookseller I spoke to the guy from the music side of the premises, who'd kindly invited me back two days later to meet the dogs and their human. Even without being able to immediately accept the return invitation, it was a lovely interlude in the middle of a long journey and one I'm determined to repeat in the form of a proper holiday to explore the area at a later date.
Other People's Bookshelves will know of my quest to read the Swallows and Amazons series in order, and thanks to High Street Books I'm now the proud owner of the second book in the series: Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome.
High Street Books
6 High Street, New Mills, High Peak, Derbyshire, SK22 4AL
Tel: 01663 308212