Bonjour encore, Strasbourg!

Despite the pandemonium experienced during the final leg of our German road trip, we managed to travel to Strasbourg in three hours.

‘We are like an old pro now, aren’t we?’ I chatted to mum as we strode towards Hotel Cathédrale from La place Gutenberg. We were there a mere seven days ago and acquainted ourselves with the area already.

Bonjour, our one night nest!

Last time we were in the city, we only had a few hours to explore the place in reality. It was in a late Saturday afternoon when we arrived and had to leave for Würzburg next morning.

This time, we reach the city by lunchtime, therefore, we had ample time to explore the place further. Mum and I dumped our luggage in our hotel room and went out to see what Strasbourg’s Saturday was really like.

Saturday was market day, and there were stalls laden with antiques and crafts all around La place Gutenberg…

At one stall which specialized in vintage and second-hand books, I asked in my basic French if they had any book of Caroline et ses amis by Pierre Probst. An old vendor in a director’s chair with a Panama hat on looked very surprised and asked me why I knew about the books. I answered him in my basic French again that the series was my childhood favourite.

Caroline and her friends on summer vacation in original French…

Then, the Japanese version with which I grew up…

I loved all the characters in the series…

and especially Youpi, I loved the most because he was the naughtiest…

And I named my aunt’s Yorkshire terrier as Youpi as well!

It was before we had a family dog, and Caroline and her friends really made me fantasised about the life with furry friends…

The old man apologised that he didn’t have any Caroline book in stock and I had to walk away from the stall empty-handed.

It would have been wonderful if I could read the book with mum again…

Some years back, I did managed to buy a few copies of the vintage Caroline series at one of the antique bookshops in Passage Jouffroy, Paris. The books smelt rather musty, but they brought back all the memories of my early childhood.

‘Now, let’s stretch our leg further, mum!’ We turned northward and walked towards Rue des Grandes Arcades…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

The Society Club

The Society Club is another doggie friendly venue in Soho. They are found on Ingestre Place, a quiet street tucked behind lively Berwick Street and Broadwick Street…

They are a rare and out-of-print bookshop…

However, they also offer tea and coffee during the daytime and cocktails in the evening….

Tables and chairs are dotted around this small but airy space, and the customers are free to leaf through the books on the shelves.

We sat ourselves down around one of the table in the corner and ordered a pot of English Breakfast tea. I was delighted to find a book about the British wartime films as I was a big fun of old black & white films made by the Rank Organization. Hubbie and I had an impromptu game of who could name more famous British war films while we sipped our tea.
‘In which we serve?’ ‘Cruel Sea?’ ‘Sailor of the King?’ ‘Desert Rats?’ ‘The Man Who Never Was?’ ‘Sink the Bismarck?’ ‘Dunkirk?’ ‘Mrs.Minibar?’ ‘Battle of Britain?’ ‘Decision before Dawn?’ ‘A Canterbury Tale?’ ‘Reach for the Sky?’ ‘We dive at Dawn?’ etc, etc…

Again, Bella was a very good girl. She sat on a cushion and was chilled…

Guess how much this paperback copy of The Naked Civil Servant by Quentin Crisp’s was?

The book was autographed by Mr.Crisp himself, and it was £95.

After enjoying a quiet break at the shop, we headed home via Berwick Street.

The street was a little windy and Bella hated it…

‘I am not moving until the wind stops blowing into my face!’ She insisted.

A street market on Berwick Street was a quieter affair in the weekend. There were only a handful of stalls opened and one of them was a used bookshop.

It is always delightful to find a secondhand book stall on the street…

Because you never know what gem or bargain may be waiting for you. I found mine in the shape of “Los Angeles – The architecture of four ecologies” by Reyner Banham…

I remember reading it when I was a student at UCL. After all these years, we met again. ‘Can you buy this for me?’ I handed the book to Hubbie. When we got home, I found a postcard placed between the pages of the book…

As the spring approaches, and we spend more time out on the street, the odds of finding serendipity in all shapes and sizes will increase. I am so looking forward to it! Aren’t you?

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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