Hoarding intervention fantasy camp

I know hoarding is a real thing and I also know that just cleaning up a place does nothing to solve the underlying psychological condition, but I am setting that all aside and risking insensitivity, so I can talk about this absolute delightful shambles of a bookstore.

If you like rummaging through second hand bookshops as much as I do, you will eventually run into situations where it seems like the book seller has hoarding tendencies. Some of these shops are exercises in controlled chaos, but with some climbing gear and a hard hat you can find your way to all sorts of interesting things. I guess these are run by high-functioning hoarders. Then there are those booksellers who seem to relish amassing stock at the expense selling anything. How they pay the bills is a mystery. I was even in one delightfully large store in the northeast of the US where the entire fiction section was entirely blocked by piles and piles of “new” stock and completely inaccessible. The owner just shrugged his shoulders and offered no remedy. I’ve encountered aged booksellers who are well beyond retirement still taking in way more books than they could ever sell and then pricing them not to sell.

What follows is a bit of a photo essay of a shop/seller on the more extreme end of the spectrum.

Coming up the stairs from the basement. The place was both magical and frightening. I normally am not claustrophobic, but I did start to imagine all sorts of tragedies where I was buried and killed by a book cave in.
So many books in rubble sacks that I doubt will ever see the light of day. I began to plot out how I would handle getting the shop organized. In a shop like this, the logistics of it are complicated by the fact that there is not one bit of space to shift books so you could get them organized.
Clearly the part of the shop beyond that “no entry” sign was once part of the selling floor. This is where the hoarding tendencies overcome any notions of being a book seller. My question is, has that been off limits for as long as that raggedy sign would suggest, or has the sign just been moving its way ever closer to the front of the shop over the years?
I would love to spend a year in total control of this shop. Each day helping the dribble of customers, and spending most of my day slowly making sense of it all. Organizing, disposing, cleaning, improving….but not so much that it loses all of its chaotic charm.


The writing pavilion at Sissinghurst

On the corner of the moat at Sissinghurst is a writing pavilion that most of us would die for.
You can see the spatial relationship between the pavilion and Vita’s tower. But the pavilion didn’t exist in her lifetime.
This illustration is taken from a book about Sissinghurst written by Nigel Nicolson, Vita and Harold’s son. The pavilion is positioned at the inside corner of the moat in the upper left of the map. The small building just below the end the moat on the left is the Priest’s House where we stayed. The rather large building with the dashed line pattern did not exist by the time Vita and Harold bought the property.
Would that not be a perfect place to write?
There was a somewhat odd collection of Vita’s books, Jane Austen, and books on archaeology. I was surprised that there was a sign that actually encouraged one to browse the shelves.
I have a passing interest in archaeology and became quite interested in paging through these. I went there a couple of days in a row near closing time so that I could look through the relatively undisturbed by visitors.
I was delighted by these foldouts and was equally amazed that they let us paw through them. I began to spin a fantasy where I was “stuck” at Sissinghurst for an extended period of time with no technology and I had all the time in the world to read every volume of these books. I fancied the idea of becoming an expert on the archaeology of Kent. Of course there would be the siren call of the thousands of books that Vita and Harold had in the long library and Vita’s study, but one fantasy at a time please.
I had to chuckle at this. They build a nice little pavilion in honor of their father, but oh, wait, while we’re at it, let’s make it a fabulous place for our own use.
A view of the pavilion from a bench in the orchard.

Taking a bath at Sissinghurst

As I have mentioned many times about our week at Sissinghurst, we pretty much only went into the gardens when they were closed to the public. So, someone just asked me last week, what did you do between 11:00 and 5:30 when the gardens were open? Well there was perusing the little charity bookshop on site, there was a stroll into the village of Sissinghurst, there was lunch eating, some shelf reorganizing, etc.

But the one thing that really put a sybaritic twist on the week of leisure was my afternoon bath. Our bathroom had a nice deep tub and it was right in front of a window with a perpetual cool breeze coming in. Normally I can get pretty antsy in the tub, the hot water can be a little overwhelming. But with a cool breeze going, my linger time went up exponentially. I would read, snooze a bit, and most of all just sit back and bask in the luxury of doing nothing and not having to be anywhere.

I will let the Long Library speak for itself

The Long Library at Sissinghurst is a delight and a frustration. So beautiful and so chock full of things I want to look at, but none of it is allowed off the shelves and most of it is behind a velvet rope and defies attempts at photographic documentation. Our week in the Priest’s House gave us after-hours access to the gardens, but alas, not to Vita’s study nor the library. And unlike grander, stately homes that have lots of very old books, the books in Vita and Harold’s library are of a vintage that is more interesting to me. It was a really good thing that the books were secured on the shelves with what looked like fishing line because more than once I reached to take a volume off the shelf.

I’m not going to caption any of these photos. I put them up for you to click on and zoom in and explore on your own.