I was sad to leave the beautiful British seaside and the delicious Dorset food, but at the same time, excited to return to the hustle and bustle of London for a couple more days. As the day had engulfed Swanage in rain, it seemed it was time to be shoving off anyway. Before we left, however, I had a few last minute errands to run because with all our touring we had not arrived back in Swanage in the evenings before the shops closed. I was thankful that all the places I needed to visit were open at 9:30am! As Micah was laid up with the sprained ankle, he stayed at the bnb while mom and I did our quick goodbye loop of the downtown streets. Our first errands were the general – need food for the train ride – type. We grabbed sandwiches at one bakery and then our last helping of the Dorset apple crumble at another bakery. Then we stopped by the liquor store for a couple bottles of Corfe Brewery ale, requested by Micah. As I pulled the bottles off the shelf, I stared at the image of the castle I had come so far to see. I couldn’t believe I was now leaving it behind. Something tugged at my heart, but there was no time to get sentimental! The next errand was a bit bizarre.
Did you know that collecting inactivated library cards from all over is a thing? At work we often get emails from students who, as part of a school project, must write to libraries all over the country and ask if we might mail them an inactivated library card. Most recently, we had a library in Australia contact us because they are creating a collage of library cards from all over the world. I myself have two old cards from Boston libraries that I had used while in school there, and an old one from Juneau before they updated cards. I use them as bookmarks now. Realizing these 3 cards could be the beginning of a collection, I thought I’d visit the Swanage Library and just see if I could round out my collection with a library card from Britain. (Mom thought I was crazy, so I understand if at this point you’re thinking the same, but hey, there are weirder things people collect!)
Having asked the way to the library at the bakery and received the usual British answer, “It’s just there,” with a wave of the hand, we found it rather quickly. There was nobody there at this hour except one librarian at the desk. Because I was not exactly sure any other library would understand collecting inactivated library cards was a thing, I explained in one breath that I was a librarian myself and had these strange requests often at my own library. The woman listened and then broke into a smile. She was “suitably impressed” I was a librarian from Alaska and was so pleased that she offered me both an adult and one of the children’s cards! They’re ever so much prettier than our boring blue ones at home! Mission accomplished. Now to see if I could do the same at the British Library in London.
My last stop in Swanage was Smith’s Antiques because it was the only place in town I had seen mugs that say, “I’d rather be in Swanage.” This had been the first shop we visited upon arrival in Swanage and at the time, Swanage was just a place to stay so I could visit Corfe. Having spent a week in Swanage now, and having read that Enid Blyton spent much time in Swanage, the little beach town had grown on me. It really is quite a quaint place, but also has more activity and shopping opportunity than does Corfe. I’m glad now that we stayed in Swanage rather than Corfe. I bought two of the mugs, one for a pencil jar at work, and one for tea. A librarian isn’t complete without a book in one hand and a mug of tea in the other.
And then we were on the train rushing us back to London. Appropriately, I finished the book about Enid Blyton and the history of Dorset I had found in Corfe as Dorset disappeared behind us. She really was quite an amazing woman. She wrote over 700 books and gave most of her own money and the royalties of her books to children’s charities for sick and disabled children. She finally passed away with dementia, which is so sad for such a brilliant mind! She was a voracious reader and writer and had eidetic imagery memory, and was such a giver! I now have even more respect for this woman than ever I did before.
Arriving once again at Paddington Station, we found that the Hilton Hotel we had booked for our last two nights was right above the station! If you’re looking for somewhere to stay with easy access to the airport, I recommend this place. We didn’t even have to leave the building or fight subway crowds with our bags when we left. The Heathrow Express was just downstairs!
After dropping off our bags in our room, we still had a few afternoon hours left and we decided to spend them at the British Library. Sadly, I was not able to score another inactivated library card for my collection. According to the woman at the information desk, the reader cards at the library are shredded after use because they have personal information such as your photo and card number. Bummer.
The only thing I remembered from my last visit to the library was the collection of Beatles original lyrics. I was excited to look at these again. I was also pleased to find Jane Austin’s writing desk, and a stack of Charles Dickens published weekly installments. I found it interesting that Dickens wrote the end of his books based on the feedback he got on the first installments. It makes one wonder how his books might have ended had he just written the book straight through. I think David Copperfield is my favorite of his, though the unabridged version gets a little weird when the midget character comes in, but otherwise, I thought all the characters were wonderfully written. I wouldn’t change the story at all. The library also had Books of Hours displayed. I like looking at these illuminated books of prayer because the medieval people in my historical fiction reads use Books of Hours and to me they are a connection to the historic figures that fascinate me so much. Finally, the library had a display that was a bit different… It was an embroidery of the entire Wikipedia article about the Magna Carta. The embroidery project had been a commission that was a collaboration of many different people in all sorts of positions, from prisoners to lawyers and policemen. Check out this video about the project.
Before leaving the library we perused the gift shop, where I found tea in an Alice in Wonderland caddy. So that’s the life of a librarian, books and tea.