Quirky Bookstores & Libraries: Sokol Boosktore in Chelsea

I have always loved looking for quirky buildings which add a little character to London – and Sokol Bookshop does just that. This is a bright red bookshop I found while wandering past in Chelsea which looks more like a giant, old-school Toy Store, adding a splash of colour to the area. Interestingly enough, this bookshop specialises in medieval texts and manuscipts, which I saw a glimpse of in the window display.

Is it me, or does this book-store seem like something found in the middle of a traditional European village?

Giant Books & Giant Shoeboxes

I love seeing quirky installations around London, especially when it’s giant out-of-proportion things – so you can imagine how much I loved seeing these huge pieces in North Greenwich outside the O2 Venue, by the Empathy Museum. Even better, these were to raise awareness for great causes – in this case to get people to be empathetic and see the world from someone else’s perspective.

There were two installations in place – a huge series of books disguising a walk-in library and a huge shoe-box where you could go in to try on shoes. My favourite was the books lined up below (and it was fun to spot which titles I’ve read!) which looked huge in the empty square, but also beautifully colourful. There’s a door hidden on the side to walk into the room inside, where you can read and browse the books inside, or simply donate books.

I’ve always had a soft spots for book places like these – as someone who devoured books as a child, my sisters and I were constantly in and out of libraries borrowing books that we couldn’t read fast enough (and if we had bought all the books we’ve ever read we’d probably fill several book shops!) I love that there’s a place like this for people who can walk by and pick up a book, especially if it’s something left by a reader who has loved the book and left it for someone else to enjoy.

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The second giant installation was this shoe box below, which was another room for people to come in and try to walk in someone else’s shoes – something to help change your perspective, read stories about people from all over the world and their professions and background. I didn’t get a chance to try anything on because the shoebox was closed when I turned, but I loved that this gives people a chance to explore different backgrounds.

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I’ll be keeping an eye out for more things like this around London – one of the things I love about living in this city is the amount of changing artwork, advertising and opportunities to try something new. I’m sure I’ll be seeing more things like this over the summer, and it’s given me more incentive to explore more parts of London (and take my camera with me too!)

Quirky Bookstores & Libraries: A bookstore in Oia

One of the things I look out for whenever I go somewhere new are bookstores and libraries. I’ve been lucky enough so far to find some beautiful examples, such as this lovely bookstore in Istanbul which I found while strolling around in the New City, and which was beautifully put together.

I was pretty delightly, then, to find this colourful, quirky bookstore in Greece one on of the Islands, in the area called Oia which is famous for its beautiful sunsets and landscapes, (and which is a very popular tourist spot for honeymooners) – it was hidden away along the main street with stairs leading down into the bookshop inside. What I loved about this bookstore what the the outside was just as pretty as its interior – there were plenty of paintings and decor around the building so there was something to catch your eye wherever you look.

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I loved the random pieces scattered around – bookshelves, plants, typewriters and handwitten signs to give the personal touch and make it feel homely. I always love finding places like this, and it was great to see the effort put into decorating this bookshop.

The interior of the bookshop was a little dark (excuse the grainy pictures!) but it felt a little like a personal dreamland – hundreds of books in various languages crammed together on bookshelves, with some hanging from the ceiling, piled up on the cabinets and generally giving plenty of invitation for passerbys to come and immerse themselves in the world of books.

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We left this place with a big smile on our face (myself more than anyone else) because it was such a beautiful corner of a beautiful city, and I loved the fact that it seemed untouched by commercial values, instead asking customers to give what they can and to make the most of seeing the books. It’s made me keep an eye out for more of these places around the city, and of course, I’ll be posting more of these when I find them!

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Weekly Beautiful Libraries Links

I’ve been looking for books to read, but have ended up finding silly links and games to play – so far I’ve played 5 rounds of Battleship on my mobile and only won twice. Here’s some links while I play again.

If 2016’s Oscar-nominated movie posters told the truth – let’s see which one of them wins tonight!

When Frozen meets Star Wars. A mashup by artist Katarzyna Witerscheim.

And while you’re at it, here’s some hijabi-fied Disney Princesses.

A magnetic collage – a short story with GIFs.

Thought this was good – a piece of fiction on an alien’s take of human behaviour.

This is one for Londoners – cute and quirky cafe shops around London to visit for something a little different.

This white chocolate sphere dessert. Surprisingly not that difficult to make!

An interesting article on China and it’s women-only mosques – part of BBC’s documentaries about China.

I’m a real library freak, and I always look for pretty bookshops and libraries whenever I travel abroad. A list of beautiful libraries around the world to add to my bucket list.

5 second films – enjoyment and wasting less of your time. Or more of your time depending on how many of these you end up watching.

Happy Places: Libraries & Bookshops

I have a few places which I’d call my happy place (a shop with colourful pens, for example!) but one I think are one of my go-to happy places are libraries. I don’t go to libraries as often as I used to since I got my electronic book reader, which I use (when I do get time to myself!) or I end up forgetting I have a pile of books in my room (I currently have five next to my bed) and start reading something else.

I went to a local library yesterday, and loved the fact that although there are many changes to libraries, there’s still that magic of hundreds of books and the potential of a new world to step into. It reminds me of my childhood a little as well, since my sisters and I used to visit the library every week (and take out the maximum number of books allowed) – one of my earliest memories of the library is my dad taking me to the library as a child, and the estatic joy at seeing all the children books – so it’s no wonder that this feeling has stayed with me.

Whenever hubster and I go somewhere new, I always look for a bookstore or library to make myself home. This is a picture of one of my favourite discoveries – a beautifully quirky bookshop we found in the city of Istanbul, which had art, beautiful old books and a big curved staircase which just made the whole thing amazing.

So here’s one of my happy places, being surrounded by books. I just need to find that library which had the huuuuge books in them, so I can stand on top and pretend to be a tiny person lost in Book Land…!

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Honeymoon Travels: The Blue Mosque & the Hagia Sofia, Istanbul

The most iconic places in Istanbul are the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia. Surprisingly, we found that when we asked the locals where the Blue Mosque was, they didn’t know what we meant until we called it the Sultan Ahmet (similarly, I’d been pronouncing Hagia Sofia wrong, which is pronounced Aya Sof-ya).

Both of these places are beautiful relics of history, each rich with art and stories which span over a long period of time, and iconic landmarks of the Ottoman era. Naturally these were at the top of my list of places to visit in Istanbul, and not just mine, both places were very busy!

Below is the Sultan Ahmet mosque, which is called the Blue Mosque because of the beautiful blue tiles and patterns in the interior – it is still an active mosque and open for prayers, so it is also a beautifully peaceful place because of how serene it is inside and how well looked after it is. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, it was quite dim inside though so the colours are less vivid in my photos.

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The Hagia Sofia is directly opposite the Sultan Ahmet mosque, and is different in that it is now a museum – it used to be a church, then was turned into a mosque by invading Ottomans, before it was restored to its current state. I love that it looks pink from the outside, and that the interior strives to maintain the older, Christian art alongside the Islamic art pieces. Because it is a museum there are plenty of tours which take visitors around, and we managed to go up to the second floor which was a lot more cobbley and slopey, but also very atmospheric.

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It’s amazing to see just how close these two iconic landmarks are to each other – I tried to take a panoramic shot to show how short a walk they are from each other. I like that they face each other and that citizens openly visit both places – it really symbolises the contentment of this place. Istanbul is made up of Old City and New, and European Istanbul and Asian, which really reflects in the way these two are positions, they face Qibla (the direction of Mecca) and yet allow visitors of all religions, nationalities and origins to come and see their beauty.

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This was a very memorable visit for me, particularly because of how grand the two places are. There are certainly bigger, more beautiful and more luxurious places in Istanbul than these two places, but it is clear that these two are icons which appeal to everyone for their beauty and what they represent.

Honeymoon Travels…Turkish Delight

I haven’t been posting for a few days, but dont worry, I haven’t disappeared! My husband and I went on a delayed honeymoon last week to the wonderful city of Istanbul, and we only just got back! I’m still putting together our pictures (we took over a thousand on my camera!) but here’s one of my favourite – a bookshop that we found in Istanbul in the New City – mixed together with old and new books, art work and lots of old machinery which I though was beautiful among the winding stairs.

Our holiday in Istanbul was in a word, brilliant, and it was a big achievement for me since I haven’t been abroad for years and this was something new for both of us. We made the most of our time there, and literally tried to visit everywhere and see everything – naturally we missed out a few places, but we saw some amazing sights and ate some even more amazing food.

More pictures coming soon!

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