Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “bookshops”

UK trip 17 May 2005 London: Newspapers and Books

Continued from UK trip 16 May 2005: Brightlingsea to Twickenham | Notes from underground

We left the cottage at about 8:00, took the bus to Richmond underground station, and then the underground to Colindale, to visit the newspaper library, and spend several hours there looking at newspaper death announcements and obituaries, though the obituaries did not seem to begin in earnest until the early 20th century.

At Colindale Underground station on the Northern Line.

At Colindale Underground station on the Northern Line.

Then we went down to Tottenham Court Road, and walked down Charing Cross Road, where we looked at Foyle’s bookshop, but bought nothing, partly because of the overwhelming choice available, and partly because Val was worried about the extra weight if we tried to carry too much back on the plane.

No South African account ofn being a tourist in the UK would be complete without a picture of Travalgar Square, with South Africa House in the background, so here's the obligatory shot.

No South African account of being a tourist in the UK would be complete without a picture of Trafalgar Square, with South Africa House in the background, so here’s the obligatory shot.

We wandered down to Trafalgar Square, and then got a bus to Aldwych, and another to Waterloo, where we discovered that our visitors travel passes were also valid on Southwest Trains, part of the old southern region of British Rail, now privatised. The trains were modern, and came in a variety of bright livery, in contrast to the dull green of the Southern Region of British Rail in the 1960s, though the one we rode on to Strawberry Hill had graffiti scratched on the windows. We picked up several abandoned newspapers on the train, so we didn’t have to buy one.

On a London bus.

On a London bus.

We got off at Strawberry Hill station and were back at the cottage about 8:00 pm, and walked up to a neighbourhood pub, the Prince Blucher. On the way we passed the green, where a neighbourhood cricket game was in progress. Such scenes always call to mind the song by The Who:

I want to play cricket on the green
Ride my bike across the stream
Cut myself and see my blood
I want to come home all covered in mud
I’m a boy, I’m a boy
But my Ma won’t admit it.

We had bangers and mash for supper at the pub, which was very good, though it cost twice what a similar meal would have cost in South Africa — about 6 pounds, equivalent to about R70.00. I had a pint of bitter and Val had a lager shandy, which she has been drinking ever since the day we arrived, when Richard Wood had one.

Cricket on the green at Twickenham. 17 May 2005

Cricket on the green at Twickenham. 17 May 2005

We walked round the block, down Second Cross Road, and there were three pubs in that block alone. It makes a difference in the way one lives, that one can go walking to a local pub in an evening. In South Africa there is no real equivalent, though possibly the Dros chain of restaurants perform the same function, but one cannot afford them for family meals, and would only go for special occasions, and not just for a drink. But one cannot just walk down the road to them, it means getting in the car and making a special outing. In the townships there are shebeens within walking distance for many, but they are for serious drinkers, and don’t usually serve food.

Continued at UK trip 18 May 2005: a day in Oxford | Notes from underground.

Index to all posts on our UK trip here UK Holiday May 2005


Books and worms and things

After yesterday’s busyness with family history research, we enjoyed a much quieter day today,  browsing through The Book Den, where we were told we could find a copy of

Axel Wilhelm Eriksson of Hereroland (1846-1901)Axel Wilhelm Eriksson of Hereroland by Ione Rudner

and indeed we did find a copy, and bought it.

It was not however, listed on the Good Reads website, so I had to add it manually, and apparently its ISBN is shared with another book, the first time I’ve come across that kind of error. The ISBN is 99916-0-746-3 and this site seems to have it listed correctly.

A.W. Eriksson was a Swedish trader in Namibia, who married (and divorced) Fanny Stewardson, and we hope it might some of the information about those families that we could not find in the archives yesterday.

Though The Book Den is only about a third of the size of  the bigger Pretoria bookshops, it seemed to have a much wider selection of books. That is no doubt because it is an independent book shop, and not part of a big chain like Exclus1ve Books or the CNA, which dominate the book market in Pretoria. Actually Exclus1ve Books started out as a small independent bookshop in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, where I bought my copy of Waiting for Godot on 11 November 1960, so it started more than 50 years ago, only thern it was called “Exclusive Books” and not the rather twee “Exclus1ve Books” that it became after becoming a big chain, now introducing central ordering, which will be the death of it.

So one of the pleasures of visiting Windhoek is being able to browse in a real bookshop for a change.

I bought a couple of other books too

Beginning Programming for Dummies [With CDROM]Beginning Programming for Dummies [With CDROM] by Wallace Wang

I don’t recall seeing that book in any bookshop in Pretoria. It must be about 20 years since I last bought a computer programming book. When GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) became all the rage, I gave up. As I get older I still find the old text interfaces much easier to  read. But I thought that if nobody is going to write the kind of program I really, really want — an event-based database program for family history, biography, and historical research — then I’ll have to write it myself. So I hope this book will hel[p me to do a quick catch-up on some of the developments in programming in the last 20 years.

View all my reviews

We got back to the Ellis household and Enid and Justin showed us how they feed their pet worms. The worms subist on a diet of used tea bags, banana skins, egg shells and the like, which they turn into compost, which is useful for gardens in the sandy soil of Windhoek.

In the evening we all went to dinner at the Sardinia restaurant in Windhoek; recommended.

Justin Ellis, Steve Hayes, Val Hayes, Enid Ellis -- at the Sardinia Restaurant, Windhoek. 11 May 2013

Justin Ellis, Steve Hayes, Val Hayes, Enid Ellis — at the Sardinia Restaurant, Windhoek. 11 May 2013

This is my blog of our holiday triup to Namibia and Botswana, continued at Sunday in Windhoek: Quaker meeting and walking the dogs | Khanya

Where have all the computer magazines gone?

Yesterday I walked into a news agency (CNA) and looked to see if there were any computer magazines on the shelves. There were none. In the same shopping centre I went to the local branch of Exclus1ve Books, which has taken to stocking magazines, but again there were none.

It’s been like that for about three months now.

A few months ago there used to be a fair selection of magazines with titles like PC Format, PC User, Linux Format, Computer Shopper, and the like. Most of them came with a disc with free or shareware or trial programs, and I used to get most of my software that way. I’d have a look through the magazines on offer, seeing which ones had the most interestingt articles (or the most interesting software on the disc), and buy it. So I usually did not buy the same magazine every month.

But now they’re gone. I don’t know whether they stopped publoishing them all simultaneously, or whether the local shops decided to stop stocking them, or perhaps the South African distributors decided to stop importing them.

If they are still being published I suppose I could subscribe to one or other of them, but I can’t afford to subscribe to all of them, and that means there would be no choice. There is also the hassle of organising it, and the exorbitant bank charges one has to pay, and the possibility that it may be held for customs inspection at the post office, where, even if it is found not to be dutiable, a “handling fee” is charged which is usually more than the cover price of the magazine (as are the bank charges).

If this is a new policy of the news agencies and book shops, it is a rather short-sighted one. Perhaps they weren’t making enough profit on those magazines, because they only sold 5-10 copies of each a month. What they do not take into account is that the people who bought them went into the shop, and, while there, often bought other things as well — things like stationery, books, newspapers and the like.

A few years ago the same thing happened with genealogy and family history magazines. I used to have a standing order for Family Tree Magazine, and that got me into their shop at least once a month. I’d sometimes buy another one they used to stock, called Your Family Tree if it had articles of special interest, or interesting software on the disc.

But no more.

Where the computer magazines used to be, there are now only magazines about digital photography, and magazine-type books about apps to use on your cell phone, most of which don’t work anyway — my cell phone won’t even update the apps that it does have, or even its own operating system, because it doesn’t have enough memory.

So yesterday I got home and realised that I’d intended to buy a road map, but I’d forgotten to do so because when I saw the shop had no computer magazines I walked out without buying anything.

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