Herb Lester's East London Companion

Here's another cartographical delight from Herb Lester. This time it's a comprehensive guide to the delights of east London from Old Street to Hackney Wick. There's a lovely map on one side and 99 things to do and see listed on the other.

Herb Lester's East London Companion

This is going to be so handy next time I'm down at the Newspaper Club HQ. It's available from the Herb Lester shop for £4. Their last release Where The Sidewalk Ends: How To Find Old New York is similarly wonderful.

Young's Interesting Books, Glasgow

Young's Interesting Books is a great second-hand bookshop in Skirving Street on Glasgow's south side. We visited on Saturday when it was exactly one year old. The photo above shows a book on Cornish windmills mingling with "Touchers" the history of Queen's Park Bowling Club. Nice.

Young's Interesting Books, Glasgow

As the name suggests, it's full of interesting books. A really nice selection of classics and curios - kids books, rare books, sci fi, you name it, it's in there. It's a bit like a smaller version of Voltaire & Rousseau (the best bookshop ever) in Otago Lane.

Young's Interesting Books, Glasgow

A rousing northern soul soundtrack enhanced the browsing experience. Thanks to Southside Happenings (Glasgow's premiere southside blog) for the tip.

Lewis's Canteen by Stephen King

The Lewis's Fifth Floor project is an amazing time capsule of mid-century department stores. The fifth floor of Lewis's in Liverpool was ultra-glam in its heyday. It closed in 1980 and has been untouched ever since, like the Miss Haversham of retail. Photographer Stephen King has documented what's left. Portraits of staff who worked there, back on the floor, add an extra dimension and testimonies from the people who shopped there chime in like the tinkling of teacups to create a very vivid picture of life on the floor. I can smell the hair lacquer from here.

The photos are in an exhibition at The National Conservation Centre in Liverpool until 30 August 2010 and in the book Lewis's Fifth Floor: A Department Story. Thanks to Johnny and Kate for the tip-off.

Toy cable car

I've just spent a loooong time looking round Thorsten Van Elten's lovely online shop. There's a small but perfectly-formed selection of special things like wind-up cable cars, Battleships napkins, Pessimist pencils and Mind the Gap cards. For kids try the Mercedes caravan set and Ole Million Face.

Satins, soor plooms and Berwick cockles

I've been in the country this weekend, far from modern inventions like television and the internet. To prepare for this deprivation I spent a long time in the Moffat Toffee Shop, probably the best sweet shop in the entire world. Moffat is only a small town but the toffee shop is huge and has more pick 'n' mix than you could possibly imagine, plus metres of mixed boilings and posh chocolates up the back.

Candy pebbles

I always end up buying something I've got no intention of eating, like Candy Pebbles, just because they look so nice. It's very handy for the M74 if anyone is whizzing up and down there over the holidays.

RW Stevens & Co, Glasgow

I took advantage of the intermittent good weather to snap R W Stevens & Co, an traditional tailors on Glasgow's South Side. It's a wonderful time capsule of school uniforms, Brownie and Cub paraphernalia plus kilts and sporrans and all that jazz. It's hardly changed since opening in 1950 and is still family-owned and run. So much great typography concentrated into one small area.

RW Stevens & Co, Glasgow

More in the Flickr set.

Lovely grocer, J. D. Adam, Brechin

On the way to Aberdeen we went to Brechin, a fairly non-descript wee town now by-passed by the A90. It's got some interesting old shops and great signs. I'd been there 4 years ago and hoped that The Savoy Cafe with its superb frontage and J. D. Adam, an old-fashioned grocers were still there. They were.

The man who runs the grocers is as nice as he looks in this photo. He had a wee chat with us when we went in, in a friendly, not nosey way. When he heard we were from Glasgow he said he should have been in Gourock this weekend showing off his prize vegetables. Prize vegetables we asked. Yes, and he got a photo out of these really beautiful leeks and parsnips. I mean, really beautiful. We asked how he got on in the competitions and he said he'd been World Potato Champion two years running. The world's best potatoes - that's pretty special.

So if you're down Brechin way stop into this lovely shop in the high street and have a chat. They sell great biscuits by Fisher & Donaldson, which are always a treat. The whole experience is like a cross between Open All Hours and Wallace and Gromit. I took some more pictures inside just in case it doesn't last forever. It's been going since 1895 though, so here's hoping. More of this sort of thing in Shutting Up Shop: The Decline of the Traditional Small Shop which I mentioned last month.

Rubber-faced Mick Jagger

I'm going to be away for most of the week so will point you in the direction of Nothing To See Here which continues to document the nether reaches of the British Isles and beyond. I've recently added a tribute to one of Glasgow's oldest shops Tam Shepherd's - an old-fashioned joke shop, as well as our first Asian entry on Bangkok's penis shrine. We always need contributions so please get in touch if you can suggest somewhere new.

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