I am afraid the shop will be closed today, as I am ill – had hoped to soldier on, but my soldiering skills need work! I hope to open the shop again tomorrow.
Sorry for a public announcement…but no other way to get in touch! If you are not called Tom, you can just ignore this post.
Tom (not just any Tom, the Tom who is a regular at the bookshop and put my office shelves together!), if you are around would love you to call in, something to ask you about!
Today there are drop-in sessions at the Tree House for shiatsu, with Ernie Boxall, and reflexology, with Colleen Waters. 20-minute sessions, £10 each. You can call in, and either wait for an appointment (we have tea/coffee – and books!) or book in for a later session. They are both here until 2pm, last appointment 1.40pm. A bit of relaxation in the middle of a busy Saturday!
This evening we have Latin American band Amapola playing from 7.30pm – a Warwick University based group playing Latin rhythms, should be a lovely evening – £3 on the door (£2 for Friends of the Tree House), bring your own alcohol if you wish (we have glasses/corkscrews), tea and coffee will be available.
Tomorrow afternoon we have our Sunday afternoon film club – a Hitchcock classic as a tribute to Joan Fontaine…more details, if needed, upon request! 3pm (doors open at 2.30), £5 including annual subscription, £3 for members, £2 for Friends of the Tree House.
Something for most people there – we do also have lots of books for sale (including a wonderful donation of Philosophy books!), and tea/coffee/herbal tea/hot chocolate to aid browsing or snoozing on the sofas.
People regularly come into the bookshop to find out what it’s all about. Hopefully better signage (on its way!) will make it less confusing, but I know that it’s also that we are perhaps offering something that is a bit new in the town. This week at the Tree House has contained a great variety of activities, showing what a flexible place we are and how we are growing as a community hub.
Monday evening we had the start of an 8-week course on Mindfulness. Tuesday afternoon we sorted lots of books from the unsorted mountains and made plans for expanding the book display areas. Wednesday we had T’ai Chi and a needlecraft group. Tonight we have a film. On Saturday we have reflexology and shiatsu sessions during the day and a band playing Latin American music in the evening. On Sunday another film – tonight’s film is one of the finest examples of modern European cinema (with subtitles and everything!), Sunday’s film is an old-fashioned black and white classic. We have Duke of Edinburgh students volunteering today and on Saturday. As I type, three people are having a meeting and a cup of coffee in the sofa area. It just struck me that this week has been a microcosm of what the Tree House is all about.
We have even been selling books!
Last night at Nifty Needles, our weekly needlecraft group, we were chatting about all the people we have got to know through the Tree House – including each other, of course. It’s something we are still working on, but things do seem to be happening, and having this space in the centre of town is wonderful. We hope to have more live music in the coming weeks, and some literary events too, and we are still trying to sort out events for children – we certainly want to make more of the school holidays, and offer something that parents and other carers can bring children to that will encourage them to read (not that some of them need it – it’s often the child that doesn’t want to leave when the parent needs to press on, which is always great to see!)
If you have any ideas for the Tree House, do let us know – we may not implement everything, but it’s always very helpful to know what people would like to see happening, and as a community space it has a dynamism that is centred around the people that use it. So do get involved!
Just for this week, the Tree House will be opening slightly later, to facilitate various practical things that need doing. So we are closed today (Monday) as usual; Tuesday-Thursday we will open at 12; Friday we will open at 2 – I am at a three-hour meeting on Friday morning, business-related, and not sure what time I will be back, so may be able to open a bit earlier, but will certainly be open by 2. Saturday opening hours will be as normal, 10-5, and next week we will be back to normal opening hours every day.
It’s a quiet week in terms of events, but this evening sees the start of an 8-week Mindfulness course (it is quite well-subscribed, but probably space for a couple more!) and on Thursday evening we are showing the film Wings of Desire at our Film Club.
On Saturday evening, we have a Latin American band, Amapola, playing – they are not all from South America, though some are, and the music is! £3 entry, 7pm start.
This has been an exciting week at the Tree House. Last Saturday, the piano was tuned – hurray! Some people have been playing it already as they browse in the shop, including one tiny girl yesterday who played gently and beautifully – it’s lovely to have a piano, and I hope lots of people will give into the temptation to bash out a tune on it.
Thursday evening we hosted a wonderful event organised by The Wild Hunt, a venture set up to buy the protection of an acre of woodland in Warwickshire through the Woodland Trust. Their fundraising has been so successful that they are well on the way to buying protection of two acres! The event at the Tree House was a mixture of storytelling and music – stories (for grown-ups) from Chloë Lees of Midnight Storytellers UK and music from folk duo Tinkerscuss. They intertwined their talents to provide a spellbinding evening. The finale was a performance from Tinkerscuss of the great Sandy Denny’s Who Knows Where The Time Goes, and it was a stunning conclusion to a wonderful evening that raised lots of funds for the project. The Tree House was very proud to host such an event.
Yesterday Pauline Davies, a stalwart of the Tree House, led a crochet workshop in the afternoon, and as well as the fun the small group appeared to be having, it created a lovely atmosphere in the shop. Such activities are very welcome, especially on Saturday afternoons.
Today we restart the film club, after a couple of weeks of downtime – we are still planning two screenings a week, on Sunday afternoons and Thursday evenings, and today we are showing Dean Spanley, a tribute to Peter O’Toole – a little known film but a gem, a charming and delightful film. On Thursday we will be showing one of my personal all-time favourites, Wings of Desire, a German film by Wim Wenders from 1987, a real beauty of a film on every level.
Several local musicians have been in touch to see if they can come and play in the shop. I am thrilled by this, but also aware of how fragile the future of the shop still is, and unsure of my ability to stage good events. We are not out of the woods yet – but as the Wild Hunt evening showed, being in the woods is an exciting as well as a potentially dangerous place to be. We are a treehouse, a place of shelter amid the beauty and danger of the forest…we hope to remain such a place, and develop as such a place, but the wolves are still prowling.
I started this blog a year ago today. I’ve just re-read that first blog post, and it’s quite sweet! What a year it’s been – the Tree House is still lurching from one minor crisis to another, but we have been open for six months and just about surviving.
We are doing several of the things I set out in that first blog post, though not all. Some still need to be established, and other things have inevitably developed – the Tree House is not at all as I imagined it would be, despite the basic concept remaining the same, but that is the nature of any creative venture, it is a dynamic thing that grows into its environment.
There has been overwhelming enthusiasm for the project, and even after just six months a real sense of community is beginning to emerge. We have a strong core of regulars, and people still finding us for the first time, and thanks to the power of social media we have followers and fans around the world – extraordinary!
I have met some wonderful people, made some good friends, hosted some fabulous events.
But it has also, inevitably, been a massive challenge too, on a personal level – the practical challenges can generally be overcome, but the personal ones have been enormous and have pushed me close to breaking point. I imagine this is common among those setting up businesses from scratch, even those who have half decent business brains, which I certainly don’t!
Anyway, just another little anniversary, and amazing to look back on a year that began with that tentative and idealistic announcement of what I hoped to do, little knowing how far on we would be a year down the line.
Thank you so much to everyone who has helped – and continues to help – to make this venture a reality and a community asset!