Friday, 25 July 2014

Books About Town

A midweek day off and a sunny day in London provided me with the perfect opportunity to discover some of the Books About Town 'book benches'. Organised by the National Literacy Trust, the trails feature some big name authors and books along with local artists to produce beautiful designs which can be enjoyed by everyone over the summer. The benches are cleverly designed like an open book, with so much detail on each one.

Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly

We began with the Bloomsbury trail with our first discoveries being James Bond stories and Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly in a very busy Bloomsbury Square Gardens. Unfortunately both benches were in use so we were only able to get photos of the back of the benches. Next was Pride and Prejudice in Queen Square, where again the bench was in use by businessmen working on laptops. Our next visit was to the University of London - the Sherlock Holmes bench was in a square closed for a private party, the Importance of Being Earnest one was being repainted and 1984 had been removed for repair. A disappointing start with no decent photos, but undeterred we caught the train to St Paul's.

Pride and Prejudice
I love walking around this part of the City was so much history and impressive architecture. We headed to Postman's Park, a hidden gem which features beautiful plaques honouring the heroic bravery of people who have sacrificed themselves to save others. Here we had our first bench success - Brick Lane had no one sitting on it! In the shadows of St Paul's we discovered possibly my favourite bench of the day - Bridget Jones' Diary! There was so much detail with props from the book included - a Christmas jumper, necklace and bunny ears to name a few. It did make me laugh! We also got some great photos of the Mary Poppins, Peter Pan and Where's My Meerkat benches with the Cathedral behind. The formal backgrounds must have an effect on everyone in the area as the benches had full respect with no one sitting on them.

Bridge Jones' Diary

Peter Pan
 We were starting to wilt in the summer heat, so we finished off by crossing the river to The Globe where we found a Shakespeare in London bench and then a brisk walk along the Thames to London Bridge to the Great Expectations and Paddington Bear benches - one had someone asleep on it(!) and the other a man working on his laptop ignoring tourists trying to get photos. We will finish the Riverside trail on another day as we had a theatre show to get to (The Woman in Black), but I'm looking forward to discovering the benches for Warhorse, Julia Donaldson and Discworld!

That's Not My Meerkat
I think this these trails are a great idea, although sometimes it can be frustrating taking the time to walk to a site and not being able to take photos as it is being blocked by people sitting (or sleeping!) on them. I would maybe recommend doing it on a rainy day so that you can almost guarantee seeing all of the artwork on each one. Trails like this one also give you the chance to discover parts of London you may have not have visited before. I came across the famous Borough Market and saw the remains of Winchester Palace while on the Riverside Trail. There are lots of events coming up at some of the benches including flashmobs such as 50 Sherlocks or Poirots all appearing in one spot, book giveaways and talks, so take a look at the Books About Town website. You can also see all of the benches there if you are unable to make it to London and event place a bid in the auctions for each bench.

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