For a long time I've been promising myself a trip to Oxford to go to the Albion Beatnik and last night thanks to Cinnamon Press I finally got there.
I thought that the bookshop would be a nice place, rather like Ottakars in Milton Keynes before it got taken over. What I had not expected to find was a small piece of heaven in North Oxford and more like finding yourself in a friend's well stocked library.
I was frazzled when I arrived having only got off a plane from Athens a couple of hours earlier and subsequently having failed to leave my car at the park and ride since their machines expect payment in sterling rather than Euros. I'd abandoned my car somewhere in the vicinity of the Woodstock road and hot footed it to the bookshop, convinced I'd be late.
The bookshop owner, Dennis Harrison, took me in hand, providing tea, conversation, introductions to various people drifting in for the evening reading and a calmly reassuring presence. Who needs Costa coffee when 'builder's tea' magically appears in front of you on a hand-decorated table.
Unlike many of the far larger chain bookshops the Albion Beatnik has shelves and shelves of new poetry books plus new fiction and also second hand books.
It is a more intimate setting than the above photograph might suggest and a fantastic place to hold a reading. I was pleased to meet up with my fellow Cinnamon authors for the launch of Hazel Manuel's novel Kanyakumari and to hear selections from the novels of Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn,
Mary Howell, more of Jan's Slate Voices and a preview of the memoir being written by Catherine Coldstream.
If you should visit Oxford then do not leave without going to the bookshop. It is at 34 Walton Street. And do buy a book or two, as without customers bookshops like the Albion Beatnik will cease to exist.