The site’s been quiet for a couple of weeks. I’ve been away, gathering books and inspiration for this fall’s Honey & Wax catalog. Here are some travel slides, for those who like to follow along at home.Bookseller and Buckinghamshire native Simon Beattie gave me a tour of some local literary highlights. This is the churchyard in Stoke Poges where Thomas Gray wrote “Elegy in a Country Churchyard” (1751).And this is the cottage in Chalfont St Giles where the blind John Milton completed Paradise Lost in 1667. The Indian takeaway across the road from Milton’s cottage, where the great poet got his weekly vindaloo fix. The petrol pumps on Great Missenden High Street, the inspiration for the filling station in Roald Dahl’s Danny, The Champion of the World (1975), my favorite of all his novels. Photographer Simon is visible in the reflection.Simon in the field behind Roald Dahl’s house. The woods in the distance inspired Victor Hazell’s poaching grounds in Danny, The Champion of the World. Roald Dahl’s private writing cottage, constructed behind his house in Great Missenden. He claimed that savage wolves lived there to keep the family away while he was working. This plan would not have deterred my child. After our whirl through Buckinghamshire, Simon and I teamed up with Elisabeth Grass (late of Quaritch) for the journey to the first ever PBFA book fair in Bristol.There were singers! dancers! mimes on stilts! And scores of PBFA dealers. I was lucky enough to land the plush guest bedroom at the headquarters of Bristol bookseller Steve Liddle.Then on to Oxford, to pick up Lily and spend a night in Jesus College, the only college at Oxford founded during the reign of Elizabeth I. The queen was an imposing presence over our breakfast table. Lil ate Rice Krispies, unfazed, under her imperial gaze.We continued on to Paris, where we moved into the Hotel du Vieux Paris on the Left Bank. Once known as the Beat Hotel, it was home to Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs decades ago. Now it’s full of modern comforts, but the old raftered ceilings remain.We visited Shakespeare & Company a few blocks away, where Lil befriended the bookstore cat, Kitty.And I visited the rare book room (hello, Ben Brown!) and the Sylvia Beach Memorial Library, where a young Englishman noodled on a piano dating back to the Lost Generation:The bookstore window scene in Paris was aspirational.And we enjoyed running into the greats every time we turned a corner. I give you Montaigne, outside the Sorbonne. Students rub his right shoe for luck before their exams:
And Voltaire, quietly amused in the Panthéon:I’ll be back in the bookroom next week, and Honey & Wax will resume regular business hours — until then, bon voyage!