If you feel like singing a song…

Tree House statement design v2Some of you already know this, via Facebook and/or Twitter, but in the light of much moral support and the green light from the landlord, I have decided to keep the Tree House open.  It’s not going to be easy – for me personally or financially – but it seems the right thing to do, and sometimes I find myself capable of doing the right thing!  Not always…but I do think this is the right thing.  I could spend weeks weighing up the pros and cons and not achieve a rational answer, but I’ve always been someone who goes with their heart, and while it often gets me into trouble, it is simply who I am, and I’m slowly – painfully slowly – learning to accept that.  Others may have a harder time accepting it, and I fully understand that!

We have a great little space in the heart of Kenilworth, and now that the decision has been made, I am thinking hard about how to make the most of the Tree House as a venue – more on all of that later.  I need to be bold, I think.  One of the things that decided me that the Tree House needed to continue was the Big Comfy Sessions that have been filmed there (a few more in the pipeline too).  These are a temporary feature, until Michael McEntee opens his Big Comfy Bookshop at Fargo Village in Coventry at the end of September (very exciting!), and the Tree House has just been the venue for the recordings, but they have shown me the potential for cool and groovy things that the Tree House has.  We need more cool things happening!  Musical or otherwise.

I will also resurrect the Film Club, which has languished since my right hand man in that venture left in January.  There is still a huge void there, as I am a bit rubbish when it comes to films, and I miss the input of a knowledgeable, passionate, energetic person (who also had a great collection of films to share with us!) – but I have a longish and pretty varied list of films I plan to show (from Mary Poppins to Les Amants du Pont-Neuf with all sorts in between).  We can’t afford to renew the licence yet though, so that’s the next target!

I also have offers of help with poetry nights and open mic music nights, and am working on getting some more musicians to come and perform.  But I also want to shift the balance a bit, and start some more literary things.  The focus of the bookshop needs to be bookish – it was set up to counter the anti-intellectualism I see in society, and I want to find creative ways to do that.

We are also increasing our commitment to charity.  We are non-profit, but we haven’t made any profit yet, so have not been doing much in terms of giving to charity!  But we had a coffee morning for Helen Ley Care Centre earlier this month, and have carried on with a collecting tin – the day of the coffee morning raised £120, and if we can keep doing little things throughout the month, we can at least give this sort of amount monthly to charity.  In July we will be supporting Zoe’s Place baby hospice in Coventry, and in August it will be the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance – again, more in later posts.

More significantly, I want to ally the bookshop to the Woodland Trust.  There is lots to say about this, but in the longer term, that’s the charity I want the bookshop to support.  I shall wax passionate at another time, but its aims are intrinsic to the ethos of the Tree House (there is the word Tree in the name for a reason!).

I am rambling, so will shut up.  So much to think about and plan, not least how I am personally going to survive financially and emotionally!  But the Tree House really has already become a lovely social hub, a community of caring, friendly, committed people, who want to help the place to thrive.  I really think it can thrive, and with their help, I am sure it will.

A friend gave me this song about a year ago as the bookshop’s signature song, and it still encourages me to keep going forward during the dark times.  Thank you Ben.

 

Lots going on!

Gill Sans poster (2)This evening we start our weekly volunteers’ drop-in sessions, from 5-7pm – if you fancy lending a hand with whatever needs doing, just call in for as long (or as short) as you like.  We will be mostly tidying shelves, sorting books, washing up, preparing for our children’s bookstall tomorrow – it’s all much more fun with a group of people.

Then we have T’ai Chi and Nifty Needles, both of which start at 7pm – T’ai Chi on one side of the room, people knitting, crocheting, embroidering and plumping cushions on the other side – surreal but it works!

Tomorrow morning we have a bookstall for children, as it’s half term – if it’s dry, we’ll be outside Town & Country Furniture, if it’s wet or very cold we will be inside the Tree House.  There will be a few things for grown-ups too!

Saturday evening sees the first of our Saturday evening films as part of our film club – Finnish drama The Man Without a Past (7.30pm, doors 7pm).  Sunday afternoon’s treat is the fabulous Brief Encounter (3pm, doors 2.30pm).  £5 including annual subscription to the film club, £3 for members, £2 for members who are Friends of the Tree House.  Refreshments included.

Saturday March 8th is the date for a talk and booksigning by Greta Berlin, a long term activist on behalf of the Palestinians in Gaza.

We are planning a Shakespeare festival in April; we wanted to mark the great man’s birthday anyway, but as it’s his 450th we decided to run a week long series of events from 19th-27th April, including talks, films, performances, Elizabethan dancing, children’s workshops.  There is a Facebook page for the festival, and I will of course update you here as to what’s happening.

Don’t forget our regular Wednesday afternoon therapy sessions – Reflexology and Shiatsu.  You can book full sessions or 20-minute tasters – you can also call in on the off-chance if you are out and about on Wednesday afternoons.  Reflexology 12-3, Shiatsu 12-5.

We have also been running a course on mindfulness on Monday evenings, which has been wonderful.  Vicky Lindsay, who runs it, is planning another course when this one ends – a taster session then another run of the 8-week course, so look out for updates on that – I would heartily recommend it to anyone.

I can safely say ‘we’ for most things now, as I have a fabulous band of regular, committed volunteers without whom I would not personally be surviving!  I even came back from a day away teaching yesterday to find dinner in the fridge…

Dickens, films, Shakespeare and more

dickensToday is Charles Dickens’ birthday (b.1812).  One of the things I need to do more in the bookshop is celebrate literature!  One of the things that seems to get lost in all the furore of trying to make ends meet is the purpose of having a bookshop at all – to promote, enjoy, share, explore and honour the literary creative process and its importance to civilisation.

As a small gesture towards promoting one of our very greatest novelists – our greatest? – anyone who buys a novel by Dickens today can choose another novel up to the value of £2 free.

In other news – I have decided that for the next few weeks the Film Club will meet on Sunday afternoons only.  Attendance on Thursday evenings has been very low, and with the weather persisting in its evil ways I think it might be better to establish the Sunday afternoon films and wait until the evenings are a bit more inviting before attempting a regular weekday evening screening.  We may still have the occasional film!  And the selection of films on Sundays may broaden slightly, though the emphasis will still be on classics or gentler films – with the odd challenge thrown in!

We now have a little pile of books wrapped in brown paper with a nice red ribbon – the start of our ‘blind date with a novel’ feature.  I have chosen a few paperback novels to wrap, and written a few words on the paper to give a very general indication of the kind of book hidden within.  For those times when you can’t decide what to read, or are in the mood for a surprise or a literary adventure.  A bit of fun, great for a wet weekend!

In the pipeline: more music, with some excellent local bands keen to come and play as well as those from further afield, some more storytelling, some adventures with exotic animals, and a week of celebrations for Shakespeare‘s birthday in April.  And more!

Opening hours this week (20-25 January)

Gill Sans poster (2)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.

On the scrounge!

TreeHouselogo copyHaven’t posted anything here for a few days, so this is just an update.  I am still, of course, hugely excited at the prospect of my own premises!  Hope to have the lease sorted and signed very soon, and I’ve already been making lots of plans, though am wary of tempting fate – until it’s signed and I have the keys, I’ll be worrying that something might still go wrong…

There are lots of fittings and furnishings I’ll need, and am looking around for these, but also thought it was worth putting the word out in case anyone has items  they would donate or things they may want to sell at a reasonable price – you never know what’s out there lying around unwanted!  These are some of the things we’ll need:

– bookcases (any size) and/or shelves
– tables
– chairs (desk or dining type – also folding chairs)
– armchairs (or other comfortable chairs) and sofas
– old crockery (mismatched is good, any cups, saucers or plates)
– lamps – standard lamps, desk lamps
– picture frames
– book stands
– bookends
– vases, or vessels that could be used as such (any size)
– cafetieres (plunger type) and teapots

I would also love a piano!  One that could be used for small concerts as well as having sing-songs, which I thought would be fun!  Happy to get it tuned, but if anyone can help at all with a piano, do let me know.

The Film Club continues on Saturday evenings – next one is Saturday 8 June, and the film is Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Frank Capra’s classic starring the great James Stewart. The website has more details – the website is also looking prettier than ever, so do pay a visit if you haven’t already.  You can also spread the word by sharing links from there on Facebook and Twitter.

I will soon be handing out flyers, for the shop and the film club and the £1 campaign, in the town centre, and finding places around the town to put them, in the hope of increasing advertising a bit.  If you can spread the word among friends and colleagues, that would be wonderful.

The email address if you want to get in touch is victoria@treehousebookshop.co.uk.