To celebrate my 18th birthday, I went to Cromer for the weekend with my two best friends. I love Cromer because it has barely changed since the Victorian era: the same cobbled backstreets, extravagant pier and pastel-painted fisherman’s cottages are visible in all the old photographs. I must admit it wasn’t exactly a normal choice for a newly-turned-eighteen-year-old; some of the wild things we did included nosing around in the church, attending an art exhibition, walking along the coastal path and, of course, ferreting through old bookshops. Anyway, I thought I would share some of my favourite haunts with you:
- Much Binding
This shop is crammed from floor to ceiling with old books, which give off that lovely, musty vintage smell. The books are double and sometimes triple stacked, so there are always new treasures to find, such as a beautiful first edition of ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’. My friend picked up one book with a plain dark blue cover and ‘Smegley’s Practical Hydropathy’ engraved on the spine, only to open it and discover that the words ‘Victorian Secret Diary’ were scrawled on the inside front cover in pencil and that all the pages were blank! We agreed that it was an ingenious idea. Perhaps the crowning glory of our visit to ‘Much Binding’, however, was the chest of drawers full of old photographs. We spent a good half hour examining photos of Edwardian seaside holidays and family wedding portraits of stern-faced Victorians. I felt that I couldn’t leave without at least one souvenir (‘Alice’, alas, was £35), so I chose this picture:
On the back is written ‘Marjorie with Cailo + cat.’ I’m not sure why I went for this photo in particular; I just liked the animals and I thought Marjorie had a nice, interesting face. The blurriness in the background adds an intriguing element of mystery, too.
2. Bookworms of Cromer
Another lovely second-hand bookshop, this one is more orderly and has a more up-to-date selection of books than ‘Much Binding’. It’s in a little house near the seafront, and as you browse through its various rooms you never quite lose the feeling that you’re in the living room of a very enthusiastic reader.
I realise that this shop is not unique to Cromer but it deserves a mention because in my opinion it contains everything you could ever wish to find in one shop: fridge magnets with life mottos on them, seaside-themed ornaments, jam, soap, toy animals, jigsaw puzzles, art supplies, stationery and of course a spectacular selection of books!