Thursday, 9 February 2012

Vintage Penguins in Newcastle

The overnight ferry docked at 9am in a Newcastle much, much milder in temperature than the Amsterdam we had left the afternoon before. When I had photographed the tourists walking about on the frozen canals, and watched the games of ice hockey played later in the afternoon, I had assumed I was watching a typical winter scene. But it seems the freezing of the canals was an unusual event in Amsterdam, the first time in fifteen years that it had occurred. Everyone we met, locals and tourists alike, were complaining of the bitterness of the weather.

I only had the morning to spend in Newcastle, and I had to deal with the practical issues of finding a suitcase, a UK sim, and some access to mobile broadband, and so I had to confine my search for Penguins to the city centre. Philip from Mediations had suggested Barter Books in nearby Alnmouth as an interesting second hand bookshop to visit when in the area, but the 34 Penguins purchased in Amsterdam were weighing me down, and there just wasn't time.

The range of books available in the charity stores near Grainger Road suggests it is unlikely that they ever stock Penguins, and even the books in the recently relocated Oxfam book store (now in Hood St, near Grey's monument) seemed too new. All the old books in Newcastle's centre seem to be conveniently housed together in one wonderfully interesting and inexpensive bookshop called Books for Amnesty, located near the train station in Westgate Street.

The first thing you see when you enter the shop is a bookcase filled with orange and blue spines, and there is another such bookcase in the literature section at the rear of the shop. And all these old Penguins and Pelicans are priced at only one pound each, or five pounds if you purchase six. After we had found the ones we wanted, and talked a little with the two men running the shop, they mentioned that they had boxes of them downstairs in storage, and we were invited down to look through those as well.

And so I left Newcastle and headed for Chester with another 15 Penguins, and Pam with another 10.

Part 2: Newcastle updated


  1. Only a morning in the north-east, that's terrible - it's the best bit of the whole country!!

  2. Didn't you do well! I'm off to Newcastle in April, so will bear this shop in mind.. although I am also desperate to go to Barter Books, which I've heard wonderful things about.

  3. I'm so glad that you're having such success!

  4. oh barter books would been great I lived there for a while it is uks biggest second hand shop ,some great finds alreay ,all the best stu

  5. Much continued success, Karen!

  6. I lived in Newcastle for years but had no concept of Barter Books, mind you I was aged 3 - 7 so I think that lets me off. 4 years also feels like years and years when you are that age.

    Lovely of them to let you rummage through the stock downstairs!



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