Wednesday 2 December 2015

Fiction and fizz on Civilised Saturday

When I realised I'd accidentally booked Black Friday off work I did the only thing any sensible person would do: I hibernated with a good book. Money may not be in abundance in my household, but sanity is much more valuable and the last thing I wanted to do was lose it fighting my way through a crowd of 'bargain-hunters' buying things they don't need simply because they're on sale.

But enough ranting, this week's post is actually about the following day on the calendar: Civilised Saturday. The book world's antidote to a day of shopping hell, this event is all about popping along to a good bookshop, enjoying the atmosphere and being generally relaxed, happy and more socially advanced than the day before.

Okay, so bookshops are always more civilised than everywhere else, but on this particular day they were even more so.

For instance, although this was my first visit to Wenlock Books in Shropshire I'm pretty certain it's not every day the bookseller greets visitors with a: "Hello, would you like a glass of Prosecco?" Although I can be certain they'll always offer a warm welcome and friendly atmosphere.

Free fizz was a nice surprise and although I limited myself to a half glass, it was lovely to wander around the bookshop, nursing my drink and feeling like I was at a high class drinks party (only much more fun).

The bookshop itself is split across two floors. The ground floor is dedicated to new books, including a small but considered fiction section, while upstairs is secondhand. At the time of my visit this floor was also home to a selection of free hot drinks*, biscuits and cakes. All were homemade and I can confirm they were delicious.

The nature of the old building means neither floor is strictly one level, with steps and beams and period features vying for your attention in between the books. In among all of this are quirky details such as interesting bookends and a selection of thought-provoking (and useful when it comes to the random steps) signs. It's a beautiful setting and the more I explored and observed the more I found myself longing for Wenlock Books to be my local. I'd like to say this was due to one specific magic ingredient (not the fizz, I only had half a glass), but really it was the combination of people, place and all those individual things that mix together to make bookshops such welcoming destinations.

The bookshop may not be near my home, but I consoled myself with the knowledge it's at least somewhere to visit as often as I can and set about choosing a book as a reminder of this first encounter (Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend).

I may have visited on a specially designated day, but I'm certain the relaxed friendliness I encountered was pretty much the bookshop experience – minus the fizz – on any day of the week. Which could be something to remember when you next find yourself looking for an escape (from the Christmas shopping).

Wenlock Books
12 High Street, Much Wenlock, Shropshire, TF13 6AA
Tel: 01952 727877

*a nearby kettle and cups indicate free tea and coffee are a regular thing for browsers to enjoy.


  1. One of my favourite bookshops surrounded by lovely galleries and shops in a very pretty town. I am sure you will be back for more.

    1. I didn't have time to explore much of the town but if this bookshop's anything to judge by Much Wenlock must be a very friendly, lovely place. I'll definitely be back - and will be sure to explore the area too when I return.

  2. Love this shop. I used to visit in my lunch hour during my stint in the Much Wenlock Museum a few years back. Notable purchases were "My Grandfather" by Denis Costanduros and a lovely little book on 19th century Bavarian army uniforms. Also Much Wenlock Scotch eggs are the best in the UNIVERSE !

    1. I'm pleased I helped to bring back such happy memories! And disappointed I missed out on the Scotch eggs... next time.


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