Notes from a Public Typewriter – Michael Gustafson & Oliver Uberti

Hello Beautiful People!

I hope all you beautiful people are well and enjoying the much deserved and wanted sunshine. August is here, though I’ve no idea where June and July went.

So, you may have realised I’ve done a bit of a vanishing act. I always find the end of the school year utterly exhausting so I wanted a bit of underground time to recover. We all need a break from everything sometimes, so I knew you’d all be supportive of that. Also, rather amazingly, I have been on holiday to Cyprus. Two weeks of sun, sleeping, reading and eating. It was everything I needed and more. I had the BEST time. I’ll share some snaps and experiences in future blog posts. I’ve got a bit of a backlog of writing that needs to happen – May, June, July and August book reviews based on the Waterstones Book of the Month, other reviews of books I’ve read and loved, some glorious Picture Perfect Posts to share with you all and explorations from Cyprus I cannot wait to show you all. Likewise, I hope you all are having a well deserved break. Today’s post: a book I spotted, bought and read all in one afternoon: Notes from a Public Typewriter.

As wonderful as the modern world is, I think there is something quite special about a typewriter. I personally love the fact that there is no ‘delete’ button. Whatever is typed, remains; a piece of history forever. This is even one of the comments left by the typewriter. I remember watching my lovely Grandma on her typewriter. I was allowed to try it once – it is harder than it looks but I loved everything about it: the shapes of letters, the font, the slight smearing. Therefore, as I was shopping yesterday, this book naturally jumped off the table to me. I had to get it and boy, it did not disappoint. Let’s do this!

What’s it all about?

Told through the eyes of Michael Gustafson and his wife, Hilary, this is a tale of a bookshop, typewriters and the people who leave messages on them. Like me, Gustafson saw a 1930s Smith Corona typewriter on his grandfather’s writing desk. This typewriter became a gift from his grandmother when he was struggling to write.

In 2013, the pair decided to leave their jobs in New York City and open the Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This was the perfect setting for their next project as Ann Arbor has a proud tradition of independent bookshops. In 1971, the original Borders was opened there but only survived until 2011. They weren’t worried. They both knew they offered something unique. Their logo is a typewriter and his grandfather’s Smith Corona is proudly on display by the cash till. The two decided they would leave a light blue Olivetti Lettera 32 on the lower level of the shop with a clear, fresh piece of writer paper. They left it to see what would happen with arguably low expectations. At the end of the first day, there were messages. This really was going to be something special.

“The world’s smallest publishing house, waiting for an author.”

Since then the public typewriter has become part of the shop’s identity. People use it every day to propose, admit feats, to apologise, to joke, to love and to philosophise. The best ones have been used to be a part of the fabric of the shop – painted onto the wall behind the typewriter, scraps of paper stuck around the typewriter, sharing these messages of the world. The artist, Oliver Uberti, the book’s designer, copied perfectly these messages to the wall, using the exact font from the old Smith Corona.

“smudgy e’s, q’s, and all.”

This beautiful book contains a range of these anonymous notes showing how successful the typewriter is. I for one am now desperate to see it and add my own part of history. One day.

Without spoiling the whole book, I’ve selected three that I want to share with you. They each resonated with me for different reasons really. They made me think of family and new friends, love, life, loss and everything in between. It is perfect because it is anonymous. Each and any of us could have written those words. We’ve probably all thought them, or will do in the future. It is universal.

Final Thoughts

It is my personal belief that the best books make you think. They evoke an emotional response, whether that be happy or sad etc. This little book did exactly that for me. It is beautiful in every sense of the word. It was by pure chance that I spotted it so for me it feels like a real gift. It was meant to be; I was meant to read it. It moved me, it made me smile and it will absolutely be a book I shall treasure on my bookcase forever. I urge all of you, each and every one of you, to read this. You will hopefully see why I think it is an inspirational piece of our living history.

Finally, I am going to be a better blogger and catch up with you all. Stay tuned for more posts as I slowly but surely catch up. Thank you for sticking around. You’re all awesome in so many ways.

Big love to you all. xx

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Filed under Book review, Books, New Books

Hull’s Alternative Heritage Plaques

Morning Beautiful People!

First of all, I’M FREE! No more marking, no more school and finally summer is here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely exhausted but at least another academic year is over. I hope all you lovely people are well and are enjoying the weekend.

Today I wanted to share with you a little discovery I’ve made in Hull. My previous post was about my birthday meal and walking home from there I passed a quirky blue sign. Hull has numerous heritage signs all around the city, but this one was ‘alternative’.

I researched into this and was absolutely amazed! I spent a couple of nights this week going round Hessle, the city centre and Newland Avenue to find more.

Firstly, some background information. The original Heritage Plaques, produced by English Heritage, originated in London from 1866. They celebrate notable figures and the buildings they lived or worked in. However, there was strict rules into obtaining one of these blue plaques. So, a local company, Drunk Animal Creative Studio created these plaques to celebrate the people of Hull who make up its beating heart now.

“The weird, the wonderful, the obscure, the fascinating stories and facts that permeate every street and every community in the city are now celebrated through out Alternative Heritage plaques.”

Clearly, this was going to be an opportunity for explorations. I started off dashing to Hessle for a food related sign. The heart wants what the heart wants, after all.

Then I drove back to the centre of down and had a mile and a half walk to locate the following, including finding the studio where these gems are created.

These were in the local shopping centre to celebrate the amazing Bee Lady, parks, on pub walls and on the wall by the always busy A63. As you can see, they celebrate the every day, the people in our community now.

The second evening where I went exploring was the other side of Hull really, around the Drypool Bridge area. Here I found links to mathematicians, food inventors (that can only be found in the city) and the controversial sporting decisions.

My final little walk was along Newland Avenue. I used to spend a lot of time down here at a student. It is down here that one of my favourite signs is. I’ll leave you to work out which one it is!

There’s 22 of these plaques in and around Hull so I guess I consider this part one. It’s become a bit of an obsession of mine to try and find them all. If I accidentally bump into you because I’m looking on walls instead of in front of me, you’ll at least know why.

I love everything about this. Hull has a deep and rich history, something which it’s residents are adding to daily. This is like something I’ve never seen before and it is awesome. Time to start researching where the next ones will take me!

Lastly, I hope you all have a fantastic summer. I’ll be catching up on everything I’ve missed – both commenting on your amazing posts and catching up with my own. My little blog has been a bit neglected but I’ll be back on it! I’ve also got some more books to hide for Left & Found this weekend too.

Big love all! Xx

 

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Filed under Alternative Heritage, Hull, Photography, Places, UK

BIRTHDAY Explorations – Gunby Estate, Hall and Gardens

Morning Lovely People!!

Yesterday was my birthday so to celebrate my lovely family and I went and did a little exploring. We visited a beautiful place called Gunby Hall in Lincolnshire. As you may be aware, we really enjoy visiting National Trust places and learning all about the people who lived there.

This year, the trust are celebrating 75 years of having this property and the best thing about that is, despite having tenants until 2010, the property hasn’t changed much. Dated from 1700, we were lucky enough to see some black and white photographs which show the rooms haven’t changed much at all.

The building is grand and you can see yourself living there quite easily. It’s one of the few properties I’ve visited where you can see modern(ish) touches. I do have a bit of a thing for really beautiful wallpaper and this place has its own far selection. This below was my personal favourite.

For me this property is a tale of luck. There were plans to fell 800 trees and flatten the estate to make an airport for the Second World War. Thankfully, this did not happen so we are able to enjoy everything this has to offer still today. The bright, airy rooms live on to tell their story some 300 years later.

It wasn’t just about the hall here. The gardens are stunning, with the Victorian Walled Garden helping to protect the gorgeous flowers from the recent rain. The roses were sublime and make me think of the roses at home. The gardens are living, breathing splashes of colour. It was so easy to get lost there, mentally. I especially liked how they’ve trained their apple trees to grow over an archway.

A personal highlight was the opportunity to go on a tractor tour of part of the working estate. There’s 1500 acres of land here with working farmland. So these tractor tours only run for one day. It was awesome! I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life. We also saw four deer jumping about the corn fields. What a treat for my birthday!

If you’re interested in visiting this estate, and I couldn’t recommend it more, please click here for more information.

Now, I’m sure you’ve seen from the subtle hints throughout this post that it was my birthday. (I’m not even going to apologise for this!) For me it meant that I could have a day off from exam marking (still feels endless) and I could readdress the balance between my living life and my working life. It was so important to spend quality time with my family. Life is all about making memories after all. I’m so so lucky because where I live currently looks like my own personal florist.

To end the day we had tea at an all you can eat Brazilian steak house which was great. Who doesn’t love endless meat? I even squeezed in a pudding – lord only knows how. I love cake so I’m assuming that’s not too predictable. I’m so so full today though. Cake for breakfast? Maybe not. However, I give you permission to! The staff were so lovely and all sang to me – including the rest of the diners! The atmosphere was electric.

I know that I’m behind on my beloved blog. I’ve not been reading too much so I’ve not written the May review, read the June book or even decided or bought the July one. However, it would mean a lot to me if you guys did a little something for yourself today. I know you’ll read any reviewing I do when I get back. I know you’ll be patient with me whilst I catch up on any amazing posts that I’ve missed. Basically, thank you for supporting me and seeing another birthday with me!

Big love to you all. Happy July!! Summer is here! Xx

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Filed under Birthday, Days Out, Gardens, National Trust, Photography, Places, UK

Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre – York

Hello Lovely People!

I’m so so sorry I’ve been missing in action for a little while. We are rapidly approaching the end of the summer term (3 weeks to go – not that I am counting!) and I’m surrounded by marking. However, I’m getting there and this evening I wanted to reconnect with each and every one of you.

Today’s post is something quite different. Whilst the rain was pouring this week, I spent one evening at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre in York. I spotted this ‘pop up theatre’ last year but I didn’t get around to buying any tickets. However, this year I made it and to see one of my favourite plays too: Hamlet.

This structure was inspired by the famous London Rose Playhouse, built in 1587. This was 12 years prior to The Globe Theatre. It is made up of scaffolding, corrugated iron and timber with the historic 13 sided design of a 16th century Shakespearean theatre. What I really loved about it is that wherever you are, sitting or standing, you were never far away from the actors, making this a really intimate experience. I was seated right at the very top which was awesome – if not a little breezy!

However, it wasn’t just the theatre that blew me away, it was the miniature Shakespearean village that surrounds it, with its food, drinks and shop. Again, the buildings are oak framed, reed-thatched which add to the ‘stepping back in time’ vibe. I loved the beautiful garden they created too with its Elizabethan herbs, hedges and flowers.

The costumes were great, the make up was glorious. There were light effects, sound effects and smoke for the ghostly scenes of Hamlet seeing his father. The fact that it was open air only made it more magical for me. I could hear the distant bells of York Minster ringing too. Just amazing.

I’ve never experienced an open air theatre before so this really blew me away. Being outside with the elements, having the opportunity to stand so close to the stage if you’d like too. The freedom to have a glass of wine and / or a burger was something I’ve never really been used to whilst at the theatre. But it’s informality actually meant that I was all the more gripped and relaxed. I especially loved the fact that people were all wrapped up in hoodies and blankets. These are my kind of people for sure.

All in all I thought this was wonderful. It was a really good evening despite the rain. In my head I was picturing a beautiful summery day with a chilled glass of Prosecco. Divine! I couldn’t help but get myself one of the hoodies too.

If you’re interested in visiting the York pop up theatre, or the sister one in Blenheim Palace, click here. You absolutely won’t be disappointed. Just wrap up as each show is about 3 hours long with an interval.

I’m off to mark some more (when will this end?!) and then I’ll catch up with everyone. Accept my apologies and forgive me!

Big love all xxx

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Filed under Photography, Shakespeare, Theatre Review, UK

Left & Found – London

Hi Everyone!

I hope you’re all well and have got your umbrellas handy! ☔️ The weather has definitely taken a turn for the worse but not to worry. It helps things grow after all. Today’s post is all about my first instalment of Left & Found. If you’re unsure as to what my little project is, please see my other post: here!

I was in London last weekend so I saw this as the perfect opportunity to spread a little happiness and start my Left & Found project.

To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect. However, I had one goal and that was (and still is) to bring a smile to someone’s day. Who wouldn’t want to find a free book? I figured that if someone didn’t want it, they’d just leave it for someone else to find. I had four books to leave and that’s exactly what I did.

Whilst I spent Saturday mooching around, the first book I left was at Bank tube station. This station, like the others really, gets quite busy so I hopeful that this would get picked up quite quickly.

The second place where I left a book was outside the stunning Westminster Abbey. Again, there were crowds of people here from all over the world. The building is absolutely breathtaking too!

Thirdly, I left my next book not too far from here actually. I decided to take a walk to Buckingham Palace and found the perfect spot along the way. This time, outside the Queen’s Gallery which is currently showing a Leonardo Di Vinci exhibition.

My last one was possibly my favourite stopping place. I was lucky enough to have tickets to see Wicked the musical. It’s just such an awesome show! I highly recommend it. Anyway, it seemed the perfect place to leave a copy of the book there for a lucky finder.

I did happen to notice on my way back to Kings Cross that the books had gone which was such an exciting prospect! I really hope whoever found them loved them and have had some ‘me’ time for reading.

Fast forward a couple of hours later when I checked my inbox. There was an email! I can’t lie, I let out a little scream. My heart leapt as I read it. Someone found a book AND loved it! This is all I ever wanted.

“We spotted a little gem by the stage door in which we had waited for the stars of the performance the previous night… The book is now in the hands of a 10 year old avid reader and now life long Wicked fan.

Thank you for your lovely gesture, and we will pass it forward once we are finished.”

This book was picked up by the lovely Meggan and her daughter on their weekend adventure in London – just like me! Since then, it’s made it’s way to Liverpool. Megghan, if you’re reading this, thank you.

Fingers crossed I hear from others who have found these books but even if I don’t, I’m really pleased with the start of this project. I can’t wait to see what happens next! 😊

Here’s to the next instalment of Left & Found. I’ll keep you all updated.

Big love all. Xx

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Filed under Books, Exploring, Left & Found, Random Acts of Kindness

Picture Perfect Polaroids #11

Hey Everyone!

Happy June! I know I need to post my review of May’s book of the month. However, I wanted to share a gorgeous snap I took whilst visiting London.

It’s been on my bucket list since I heard it was built. I’ve always wanted to visit The Shard and boy it didn’t disappoint. It was amazing in every sense of the word! The height, the views, the champagne bars! Lush!

My favourite view was of Tower Bridge. I hope you like too!

I’ll be back for May’s post and more adventures! For now, have a great weekend.

Big love all xx

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Filed under Days Out, London, Photography, Picture Perfect Polaroids, Places

The Reader on the 6.27 – Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

Hi Everyone!

I hope you all had a great bank holiday Monday and are enjoying the last week of May. It’s been a bit changeable I think but at least the sun is streaming in now. Nevertheless, this has given me ample opportunity to read.

Today I want to share with you a book I read this morning: The Reader on the 6.27. It was a really lovely little read! I hope you enjoy it.

What’s it all about?

The novel focuses on Guylain Vignolles and his simplistic life. Every day he takes the the morning train, at 6.27 to his job as an engineer at the TERN company’s book pulling plant.

Every morning, he read aloud from a few damaged pages that he salvaged from the plant. Fellow commuters thoroughly enjoyed this routine and listened to the snippets they received. Once the commute ended and Guylain arrived at work, greeting the security guard and poet friend, Yvon Grimbert, his joyless day began.

‘For all those fellow commuters, he was the reader, the bizarre character who each weekday would read out, in a loud, clear voice, from the handful of pages he extracted from his briefcase.’

Under the watchful eye of the awful character Felix Kowalski, Guylain and his younger coworker Lycian Brunner ran “the Thing”, the Zerstor 500 industrial pulling machine.

This machine is the epitome of hideousness. It is presented as a monster. It even ate rats in addition to the truck loads of books that it daily slashed to bits. Guylain detested this machine for many reasons. He missed his coworker Giuseppe Carminetti, who had nearly been killed as the machine came on whilst he was cleaning it, munching away his two legs. At first, he was accused by TERN’s lawyers of gross negligence. Some time after, we was awarded 176,000 Euros in compensation after it was discovered that the Thing has faulty wiring.

The first mouthfuls were always tricky. The Zerstor was a temperamental ogress. She sometimes became congested, victim of her own greed. Then she would stall, in the midst of her chomping, her mouth full to bursting.

Following his recovery, Giuseppe set off on a mission of tracing down every copy of the book made with the batch of recycled paper in which his legs had been pulped into. Guylain decided to help him by contacting the author. As a result, he managed to get one hundred copies of the book which he gave to his friend periodically over time. Each time Guylain found a new copy, they would meet and have an elaborate Italian meal to celebrate. Afterwards, Guylain would return home to the apartment to see his only companion, a goldfish named Rouget de Lisle.

‘He was truly addicted to the golden creatures. Guylain could no longer cope without that silent, colourful presence gracing his bedside table. From experience, he knew that there was a vast difference between living alone and living alone with a goldfish.’

One morning following the celebratory meal, Guylain was approached on the platform by two elderly fans of his daily reading. Mesdemoiselles Monique and Josette Delacote. They managed to convince him if he would read at their home next Saturday. He reluctantly agreed, but agree he did. Upon arriving, he quickly realised that they lived in a nursing home, where a crowd of residents were waiting for his reading.

He read from the discarded pages he found and every extract he read was received positively, even one from an erotic novel. Guylain decided he would visit again next week to read further pages he found from the machine.

Guylain’s life was about to take another turn as the train was about to give him a gift, a mission of his own. Whilst pulling down his usual seat, he discovered a USB stick on the chair. It was bright red and calling to him. So, out of curiosity more than anything else, he picked it up and read the contents on there, hoping to find clues about its owner so he could return it.

‘When the train pulled into the station and the passengers alighted, an outside observer would have had no trouble noticing how Guylain’s listeners stood out from the rest of the commuters. Their faces did not wear that off-putting mask of indifference. They all had the contented look of an infant that has drunk its fill of milk.

The little stick contained a journal of a young woman called Julie. Guylain devoured the 72 entries she had written. She was funny, witty, charismatic. He learnt that she was a lavatory assistant in a shopping mall. She was a creature of habit, every morning of the spring equinox she counted the tiles: 14,717 just as the previous year. When he finally fell asleep, deep into the night, he felt that she had suddenly shone a light into his bleak world.

The following morning, Guylain decided to read the printed pages of Julie’s journal to his fellow passengers. The commuters enjoyed her having to hide her writing habit to snippets about her aunt and her habit of eating sugar puffs in the lavatory stall. Following this positive reception on the train, Guylain decides to read the journal again on Saturday at the nursing home.

Again he received a warm and positive review of his readings, so much so that he decided to invite Yvon to his next weekend there. As a result of Julie’s writing, Guylain began to feel a new hope rise up within him. It made him address certain fears – the fear of commitment following his father’s early death.

Each morning Guylain continued to read the journal on the train. In one entry, Julie describes her daily routine – breakfast with her friend Josy, the crowds that descend on the mall, especially in sale season and the horrible visitor every 10.am who sullied her pristine stalls.

“The 10a.m lard-arse didn’t put anything in it. Besides, he wasn’t in a state to put anything anywhere. But the sight of Josy and I were treated to as he attempted to go up my stairs with his shit-covered buttocks clenched will forever be one of the best tips I’ve ever received.”

When Guylain retold the story to Giuseppe about Julie, he decided to start a quest. He was going to find her! He showed Guylain a map of Paris with eight possible malls he had identified through clues in the journal. Guylain came alive at such hope and he too began searching for her.

He knew she was single (thankfully to him) and was having trouble meeting someone. She tried and failed at speed dating, returning home to the book that was waiting for her bed.

By that Saturday, Guylain had visited seven of the malls and was beginning to lose faith. He was cheered up by Yvon’s antics at the nursing home following another successful reading there. After finishing there he decided he would visit the final mall on the list provided by his friend. The world stopped and his face lit up as he finally found Julie.The final chapter of the novel is written as an entry in Julie’s journal. She tells of her amazement at the huge, glorious bunch of flowers she receives and her missing USB stick. In an attached letter, Guylain explained how he came across the stick and has fallen in love with her as he was reading. With immense affection, he asked if she would go out with him sometime. Julie paused, hesitated, but she thought about his words all afternoon. She decided she would call him the following morning and set up a date.

“This morning, the spring equinox, I hummed as I counted my tiles. Guylain Vignolles’s tile, tucked in the pocket of my overalls, knocked pleasantly against my hip… 14,718 was a really beautiful number on which to begin a love affair.

Final thoughts

This was a charming little read, chosen really by my love of books. It was so lovely to see a character transformed by a small event like finding something. A USB could be seen as something insignificant but to Guylain it changed his world. It’s setting in the heart of Paris also ticked a box for me. I just knew it would have a happy ending. I really loved the fact that for Giuseppe, books were literally his way of getting his life back. The metaphor surrounding his legs was a really clever touch.

This book was an easy read which left my heart full. Sometimes, I believe we just need a happy ending novel to distract us from our daily lives. Needless to say, this book has been added to the Left&Found pile ready for hiding.

Enjoy the rest of the week all!

Big love xx

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Filed under Book review, Books