A Day in London with Persephone and Seven New Friends

Usually when I post things about travel I do it in chronological order as it happened in real time. But there is nothing usual about the subject of today’s post, so I am throwing caution to the wind to tell you (out of order) about the wonderful time I had meeting a great group of UK-based bloggers.

Several months ago, when I knew we were headed to London for a short stay to visit friends, I asked if there was anyone out there in bloggo land who wanted to get together. To my relief there were several who replied in the positive. With a helpful assist from Miranda, arrangements were made and we had a truly lovely afternoon with a book browsing meet-up at Persephone followed by a walk to the British Museum for tea.

I arrived in central London about an hour and half early, and, despite having a whole city to look at, the excitement of my first trip to the Persephone bookshop got the best of me. I tried to slow myself down with a little lunch and some window shopping, but to no avail. I had to satisfy my curiosity about the Persephone shop.

Here it is on Lamb’s Conduit Street just a short walk from the Russell Square tube station.

Once I got inside I realized that showing up an hour early was exactly the right thing to do. Faced with all of those Peresephones, I suddenly forgot which ones I wanted to buy. And worse, I forgot which ones I already owned.  Although the shop is tiny, it is also a bit of organized chaos, so it took me a while to get my bearings and get down to business. It was still a bit overwhelming trying to have a thoughtful browse to decide what I wanted to buy. In the end I had to look at the catalog to help me choose my Persephone bounty.

Once I started pulling aside books I wanted, it didn’t take me long to get a stack of nine that I wanted to buy. With that transaction complete I still had about thirty minutes to kill before the other bloggers arrived. So I went out for a bit of a stroll until the appointed time. When I returned to the shop Hannah had already arrived and greeted me as soon as I walked in. Once we introduced ourselves it all became a bit of a blur. As if on cue, the other bloggers started showing up at a steady pace and suddenly there were a lot of very talkative people in the small shop. There were a few customers trying to see the merchandise who must have been curious and a little annoyed  about us taking up all that floor space. As Simon noted later, those customers would have been well served by turning to any one of us for assistance in choosing a book. Alas, they did not.

 As conversations broke out all around the shop, I realized the moments were slipping away without me taking any photos. So I got a bit bossy and made them pose for me. Above you see Hayley, Polly, Simon, and Hannah.

I was sheepishly admitting to Claire that I had no interest in reading Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day because of the too frothy, too American film version, when I broke away from the conversation to snap this photo of Miranda and her mum Donna. Donna bought three books that day but I never did find out which ones she took home.

(l to r) Claire, Hayley, Thomas, Simon, Hannah, Polly, and Miranda

 And here we all are (minus Donna who took the photo) posed out in front of the mothership. I might hold a contest later for the most creative answer to what Simon may have been distracted by.

Claire, who has already written about the great elevator fiasco on her blog,as seen through a forest of tea things. We each had one of these to ourselves. The dainties at top look pretty but my real interest was in the scones on the bottom tier.

I wish I had more time before I had to rush off to work to tell you more about all these great bloggers, Hayley and I bonded over dogs, Polly and I commiserated over shopper’s-block, Hannah, Donna, Miranda, and I talked about the pitfalls of having an online life, Claire and I talked about, well it seems like we talked about everything. Despite being across the table from each other at tea we managed to chat quite a bit. And then there is Simon. What can be said about Simon? Witty, clever, Simon. I would say he is just like his blog–which does a great job capturing his personality–but that doesn’t quite do him justice.

The only disappointment of the day was not having a enough time to chat with everyone. I will post soon about  the 9 Persephones I bought that day.

For other takes on our Saturday at Persephone or for a look at each of their blogs here are the links:

Claire at Paperback Reader
Donna at Rambling Fancy
Hannah at Hannah Stoneham
Hayley at Desparate Reader
Miranda at Skirmish of Wit
Polly at Novel Insights
Simon at Stuck in a Book

32 thoughts on “A Day in London with Persephone and Seven New Friends

  1. Mystica November 18, 2010 / 8:29 am

    I just read about this on another post along with a photograph of the tea!!! Here we get to put names to all the bloggers as well! Thanks for this very interesting post.

    Waiting to hear about what you bought.


  2. Paperback Reader November 18, 2010 / 8:33 am

    Hee at “the mothership” and “the great elevator fiasco” (sounds very Dahl-like).

    Writing that your blog captured your personality didn't do you justice either; I couldn't seem to sum up how exceedingly charming and downright lovely you are without coming across as obsequious. It really was wonderful to meet you and we did seem to talk about everything (I am a chatterbox!)

    I'm looking forward to reading about your Persephone acquisitions.


  3. Susan in TX November 18, 2010 / 9:41 am

    I'm looking forward to the Persephone report, but thank you so much for all the pics. I won't use the word “jealous,” because it has such a negative connotation, but let's just say, I would've loved to have been in your suitcase and met all these delightful people whose blogs I enjoy reading so much! :) I do hope to get over there sooner than later, but this sounds like the absolutely ideal way to spend a day. Glad that you were able to go and have such a good trip. Thanks again for sharing it with us.


  4. Darlene November 18, 2010 / 10:09 am

    Such warmth and kinship! Thanks for sharing your get-together with some of my favourite bloggers…and the pics of those sinfully wonderful tea treats!

    I laughed at your bewilderment at being in the shop as I felt exactly the same on my last trip over. Standing there with eyes wide while Kristina filled my shopping list…it was all a blur! We went back two days later for a book chat in the back room amongst the boxes, I was still in awe of being there. Persephone Books is delightfully, so much more than a book shop.


  5. bookssnob November 18, 2010 / 10:20 am

    Oh lovely! What a wonderful time you all had. Reminds me of last whenever-it-was when we had the book blogger meet up in London and we overwhelmed Persephone Books with our presence!

    Lovely to see some familiar faces and some new ones too – look at you all grinning outside the shop! Simon does look remarkably distracted though – perhaps by a cat?!

    SO unfortunate that I happened to move to New York and missed you, but I'll be in Washington D.C. soon and you are first on my list of people to meet!


  6. verity November 18, 2010 / 10:37 am

    Ahhh – I so wish I had found the pennies to get to London – am so glad that you had such a wonderful time though


  7. Stacy November 18, 2010 / 10:40 am

    What fun and I so enjoyed the pics…beside Miranda and her mum, I couldn't put a face to a name for some of my fave bloggers. Looking forward to hearing about the Persephones:)


  8. chasingbawa November 18, 2010 / 11:57 am

    It looks like you all had a lovely time! I'm only jealous I couldn't make it to see you. And eat some scones as well;P


  9. Steph November 18, 2010 / 1:05 pm

    Thomas, I am envious of your time at Persephone as well as your meet-up with so many lovely bloggers! It looks like you all had a positively wonderful time… So glad to see that your trip was a success!


  10. Desperate Reader November 18, 2010 / 6:57 pm

    It was lovely to meet you Thomas, as Claire says it's hard to do justice to your charm without sounding just a little bit creepy.

    Bet Lucy's glad to have you both home.


  11. M. Denise C. November 18, 2010 / 7:20 pm

    How fun for you, Thomas. I can't wait to check out all of the links. MDC


  12. StuckInABook November 18, 2010 / 8:53 pm

    What a lovely report on the meet-up, Thomas, and I am blushing a little – it was such a pleasure to meet you in person, although of course I already felt like I knew you, through your blog.

    And I have no idea what I was distracted by! I do like Rachel's suggestion though, which seems more than likely… I do love that photo, we all look so happy.



  13. Frances November 18, 2010 / 10:00 pm

    Great story, great photos. I had to laugh when I read you showed up early to shop. And did not find it well organized. So you. :) Can't wait to see what you bought.


  14. Beth November 18, 2010 / 10:33 pm

    How absolutely wonderful. London, Persephone Books and new friends! Fabulous. I understand about being overwhelmed when you first arrived. I felt like that last fall when I finally visited Sissinghurst. It all went so quickly, but I'm still enjoying the photos. Glad you took photos of the special event too, so you can look at them often.



  15. Thomas at My Porch November 18, 2010 / 10:49 pm

    Mystica: It is fun to put names with faces.

    Claire: I'm so glad we got to meet. I loved talking to the person who took on Susan Hill and HEIOTL.

    Susan: It was indeed a great experience. Just goes to show that there is “community” in cyberspace.

    Darlene: It certainly did have a vibe like no other book shop I have ever been in.

    Rachel: I very much look forward to seeing you in DC. Do you know when you are coming?

    Verity: We certainly missed you!

    Stacy: And you should have seen all the Wodehouse I saw in London. It made me want to collect them.

    Sakura: I am sorry you couldn't make it either. Next time.

    Diane: I am grateful they were all willing to make the effort to meet up.

    Steph: It was all such a whirlwind I feel like I didn't get enough time for either Persephone or the the bloggers!

    Hayley: It was so nice to meet you. And even thought you warned me off of it, I now have a desire to see Leicester.

    Denise: Fun to see the same event described from different points of view.

    Simon: I don't remember seeing a cat…

    Frances: It is charmingly chaotic, but I wouldn't mind taking a crack at reorganizing the place.


  16. Ti November 19, 2010 / 12:46 am

    Sounds like you had an excellent visit. I'm curious, did you introduce yourselves to the bookseller?

    I always introduce myself if I am by myself but when I am with a large group of bloggers I somehow skip that step. I think I just get caught up in the moment.

    I think I would be overwhelmed by the Persephone shop. There are just too many titles I want to read.


  17. Jessica November 19, 2010 / 5:38 am

    I know what you mean about the Persephone shop, when I went in there I think I just looked around in bewilderment before grabbing little boy lost. I find it easier to navigate their website as its more organised!

    So jealous I couldn't go but it looks like you all had a brilliant time. Your a popular guy :)


  18. Willa November 19, 2010 / 7:56 am

    Fantastic post!! Thank you so much for sharing all the lovely pictures and the describtions! I hope to be able to meet with some of all of you sometime!! And visiting Persephone is high on my list as well :-)


  19. Coffee and a Book Chick November 19, 2010 / 12:31 pm

    How wonderful to meet all of these fellow bloggers, and in London no less! I enjoyed my time meeting some fabulous fellow bloggers at a SIBA Trade Show in Daytona Beach, but I think I would have much preferred if we all had met in London at the Persephone bookshop instead! Great post and those tea scone things look delish.


  20. Juxtabook November 19, 2010 / 5:21 pm

    How lovely to put faces to so many blogging names in one go. And I could murder a round of those cakes right now!


  21. novelinsights November 20, 2010 / 7:42 am

    What a BRILLIANT day out, and lovely to meet you! Glad that your pilgrimage to Persephone Bookshop lived up to your expectations too :)


  22. Molly November 20, 2010 / 9:30 am

    What a delightful day — and I must admit that I am more than a bit jealous.

    I will most definitely to return to London again, and I must be sure to include a visit to Persephone Books and tea at the British Museum!!

    Thanks so much for sharing.


  23. Thomas at My Porch November 20, 2010 / 8:31 pm

    Ti: I didn't so much introduce myself as tell Mickey (sp?) that a bunch of us were meeting there. But because Miranda works at Persephone, Micky said said, oh you must be Thomas.

    Jessica: Little Boy Lost is one of the titles I purchased on Saturday.

    Willa: Where are you located?

    Coffee: You probably got more chance for conversation. I felt a bit rushed.

    Juxtabook: It really is nice to put faces with blogs. Makes it all the more ineresting to read their blogs.

    Polly: It was wonderful meeting you and the others. I wish we had had more time.

    Molly: I will be posting about some other bookshops as well in the coming days.


  24. Vintage Reading November 20, 2010 / 10:38 pm

    Oh I enjoyed that post. Lovely to see all the book bloggers outside the Persephone shop. I want to know what everyone bought!


  25. Ash November 21, 2010 / 1:47 am

    How fun! I've only had two chances to meet other bloggers but it's one of my favorite things to do. Jealous of your shopping too!


  26. irisonbooks November 21, 2010 / 4:53 am

    It sounds like you had a wonderful day. And I keep becoming more and more jealous of all those bloggers living in the UK (or the US) who get to meet regularly. But due to my personal preferences, the UK is winning out and especially all the posts about the meet up this week.. It is good that you warn about the Persephone shop being disorganised. I guess that if I ever make it to London (I have been planning to for years and years) I will have to write down a strategy on which books to buy :P


  27. ramblingfancy November 21, 2010 / 10:06 am

    Thank you so much again Thomas for organizing this and the lovely, thoughtful present! It was such fun, and I've finally climbed back on to the blogging saddle so you can see what books I bought! Hope you're settled back home and looking forward to a Happy Thanksgiving!


  28. Carolyn November 22, 2010 / 1:23 pm

    The mother ship indeed! This was very moving to read about, how a beautiful bookshop brought friends from different parts of the world together.


  29. fantaghiro23 November 23, 2010 / 8:47 am

    What a lovely post! It's always great meeting other book bloggers, isn't it? I loved seeing names and faces with the blog names, finally. I've never been to London, nor read a Persephone book, but looking at your pics of the Persephone store (and the scones), I so want to go now.


  30. harriet November 25, 2010 / 5:59 am

    I so wish I had not missed this! Looks like so much fun. Perhaps there will be a next time?


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