10. March 2014 16:34
Stanfords is delighted to be sponsoring the brand new musical fable The A-Z Of Mrs P.
The musical is now showing at Southwark Playhouse until 29th March 2014: starring Isy Suttie as the pioneering Mrs P; with Tony Award winner Frances Ruffelle as her emotionally fragile mother; and Olivier Award winner Michael Matus as Phyllis's beloved and impossible father, the map publisher Alexander Gross.
In 1936, Phyllis Pearsall left her husband in Venice and came to find her way in London. Then she received a telegram from her father, map publisher Alexander Gross.
And here begins the story of how an eccentric Bohemian artist put down her paints and picked up the drawing board to follow in her beloved and impossible father’s footsteps to map an entire city. Follow their different journeys as they intersect and diverge through the thoroughfares and alleyways of London, scaling new heights, seizing opportunities, to build an iconic business midst the tangled labyrinths of a troubled family saga.
We have 5 pairs of tickets to giveaway - to enter simply fill in the form below:More...
10. March 2014 14:47
Our Book of the Month for March is A Sense of Direction by American writer Gideon Lewis-Kraus. After a recent visit to our Long Acre store, he kindly agreed to share some of his photos from his travels on our blog:
My book begins in Berlin, a place many young people had long been moving to for the general lack of authority that obtained there; in the book, I liken it to a variety of anti-gravity chamber. When you're young and have creative aspirations and have been working hard, as I was, in an expensive city - in my case, San Francisco - just to pay your rent, it's easy to fall victim to the fantasy that if only you didn't have to work so hard for the basic necessities, you'd find yourself in full creative flower. But one of the things I discovered in Berlin was that the mere absence of external authority did not usher in a new era of internal authority, and after a few years at loose ends there I took up my friend Tom's larkish suggestion that I accompany him on a trip along the Camino de Santiago, a medieval pilgrimage route across northern Spain that has, over the last few decades, become tremendously, a historically popular with a young crowd of secular drifters.
As we set off one morning from our hostel in the Pyrenees, I took immediate comfort in the fact that we were just following signs; all authority had, at least superficially, been successfully externalized. One of the arcs of the book has something to do with how we all relate to authority - how, for some of us, and for me at that moment in my life, we need to externalize desire in order to feel it as authority. We need to hear our wants as foreign needs. So a lot of the book becomes about how one relates to signposts and guidebooks along the way. (I reserve a special ire for guidebook-author irresponsibility.)More...
9. March 2014 09:12
by Olivia Schroeder
After the early morning train ride to Paris all I really wanted to do was crawl into bed and take a long nap! My friends had other plans and made sure I came along with them on a bus tour of the city. One thing I love about bus tours is how much you get to see so quickly. Last time I was in Paris I fell in love with the architecture, it’s absolutely stunning and it seems like every building has a story. The Louvre for example was a fortress, then it became a castle and then a museum, or how the statues above the portals of Notre Dame were pulled down and destroyed during the revolution because they were believed to be French kings. They weren’t French after all, but rather the kings of Israel, so the ones standing today are recreations. Even the bridges have history; they were built to commemorate battle victories and some have an ‘N’ on them to salute the bridge commissioner, Napoleon.
After our tour we headed straight to the Louvre. I think I was told that in order to see every piece of art housed in the museum it would take a person 6 months. Unfortunately we only had a few hours, so we grabbed a map and began our trek through the Louvre. First stop, Mona Lisa. We knew we were in the right place when we saw the huge crowd of people gathered around a small wall in the center of a room. Even only being a relatively small painting, the Mona Lisa has her own wall and 3 museum employees keeping an eye on her viewers. It is true what they say, her eyes follow you around the room, I checked twice just to make sure! It was interesting to learn that the Mona Lisa is too expensive to be insured and therefore never allowed to leave the Louvre. It reminded me of a book about an art thief I read when I was younger, Le Vol de la Joconde. One of my favorite things to look at in art museums is paintings of Jesus. A strange thing to seek out, but it is so interesting to see how people all over the world portray him. In some French paintings he is paled skinned with a well groomed beard and in other paintings he looks like he stepped out of the Middle East with long dark hair. But each painting had something beautiful about it.More...
5. March 2014 10:07
International Women’s Day was first practiced in the early 1900s and is still widely observed today. According to InternationalWomensDay.com, “Women's equality has made positive gains but the world is still unequal. International Women's Day celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing world attention on areas requiring further action.” There are groups like Womankind Worldwide who strive to make the lives of women better all over the world. They work particularly with women in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
This year any supporters interested in helping to make a difference on International Women’s Day (March 8) are encouraged to hold a Womankind Worldwide Book Group. All you have to do is pick a date in the fortnight around International Women’s Day, invite your friends and ask them to make a donation to Womankind Worldwide. All donations received will go to support Womankind Worldwide’s work with helping women to live free from violence, have a say in the decisions that affect them and have control over their own livelihoods. They have compiled a list of books that show what it is like to be a woman elsewhere in the world. Every book group host will have the chance of winning a selection of the books. Send them your details and you will be given all you need to have a successful event. Reading a book about women’s lives, getting together with friends and raising money for women’s rights is the perfect way to celebrate. More...
4. March 2014 11:17
Kasia Nowicka heads off on a roadtrip around Iceland's golden circle.
Packing for Iceland, I made sure to take Sigur Ros, Bjork and Royksopp Cds. I am really glad I did that as the Icelandic radio in our rented car disappointingly broadcasted only foreign music. The long-distance drives required accompanying music for the 'emotional landscape'.
Hiring a car in Iceland is expensive and you cannot even exceed the speed limit of 90km/h. Many simply opt for organised excursions, avoiding the costs and problems you might face. We opted for the adventure by car, the freedom to stop wherever and whenever we wanted, the comfort of visiting at our own pace. Unfortunately we also opted for some high car fees we had to pay after unusual weather conditions.
After having a quick look at the capital, Reykjavik, we took to the road heading towards the predictable – the golden circle. The weather had already started to change for the worse, bringing dark heavy clouds pushed by ferocious gusts of wind.More...
27. February 2014 12:40
Crossing the border between Jordan and Israel by land can often be portrayed as a stressful process. Stanfords’ Barbara Tognini shares her experience of crossing at the King Hussein/Allenby Bridge.
From what I could read on travel guides or on the internet before leaving, the process seemed to me quite long, complex and stressful, and I was expecting to spend most of the day in queues on either side of the border. Luckily for us everything went very smoothly and we reached Jerusalem in very good time! Our trip to Jordan and Israel took place in March 2013 – for anyone planning a similar trip I’ve outlined our experience below.
We returned our rented car at Queen Alia airport, and took public transport to Amman (the airport is located about 35 km to the south South of from Amman): a Jett (Jordan Express Tourist Transportation) coach which takes about one hour to reach to Tabarbour bus station and costs about 4 dinars. More...
25. February 2014 11:56
In the first of a three part blog series, author Charles Davis introduces us to the walking highlights of Mallorca.
It’s one of the curiosities of outward bound activities like walking that, while one of the principal motives is to seek out wild places and explore the natural world, the means of achieving this are often quite contrary to wildness and nature. I’m not talking about the whole elaborate business of Goretexing, Thinsulating, Vibraming, and Garmining oneself up to the eyebrows, though I’ve had my doubts about that, too. Don’t get me wrong. When I go into the mountains I’m bedecked with every brand name I can afford and very glad of it, too. But I do have slight misgivings about the monetizing of a leisure activity that ought to be freely accessible to anyone with a lungful of air and a legful of muscle. Coleridge used to set out for a week’s walking simply wearing a greatcoat and carrying a pair of spare socks in his pocket. You wouldn’t have wanted to get too close to the socks come the end of the week, but I do have a sneaking admiration for a man able to engage with the great outdoors without a lot of expensive equipment. More...
24. February 2014 17:02
by Gregor Swiderek
I can't even remember when I heard for the first time the story about the sale and reconstruction of the old London Bridge in the deserts of Arizona. I guess it must have been ages ago, probably soon after I moved to London. Let's face it, it is one of those fascinating stories which locals love to tell to tourists and newcomers to city over a pint or two.
So, I was aware that there is a London landmark relocated stateside but that was it, I never really thought much about it. But then, last year, I came across an interesting book about the whole thing. It is called: “London Bridge in America: The Tall Story of a Transatlantic Crossing” by Travis Elborough. Now, the book is a bit hipsterish, but it is also is a fascinating mix of social and architectural history. As I'm mildly obsessed with bridges and civil engineering there was no need to tell me twice about it, and I read it in two days (well, maybe three). But even if you don't share my weird passion I strongly recommend this book as it is simply fun to read. Then during the planning of our latest American road trip my girlfriend and I realised that we would be passing not far from the current location of London Bridge. As we both share a passion for architecture, history and whacky trivia we just had to go there.More...
21. February 2014 11:59
by Caroline Sandes
It was a six hour bus journey to Shiraz from Yazd, broken by a couple of entertaining moments.The woman sitting next to me couldn’t work her seatbelt (the police are very strict about the wearing of seatbelts, even in coaches), so I helped her sort that out without an intelligible word between us, not sharing a language. At some point in the journey, as is common on long-distance bus journeys in Iran, we were given a snack of cake in a packet and juice in a pouch. The problem was that there was no way to pierce the pouch with the blunt-ended straw – the pointless stabbing at it caused the woman sitting next to me and me to get the giggles. A guy sitting across the aisle came to the rescue with a biro, demonstrating that it was easier to pierce the base. The landscapes we passed through were spectacular – mountains, some snow-capped; and rugged desert. I happened to be reading Herodotus’s description of Darius chasing the Scythians across a vast space of nothingness during the journey, which seemed appropriate. As we neared Shiraz, the landscape got greener – in fact there was even some rain. More...
19. February 2014 11:11
by Olivia Schroeder
Being new to the UK I had to do my touristy duties and check off some of the things on my to do list. For this particular trip my friends and I got out of London and headed to Stonehenge.
That Saturday we arrived and joined the other Stonehenge patrons in taking pictures and learning about the history of the giant rocks. The claims as to how and why the rocks were there was one of the most interesting parts of the trip. I guarantee, however you think they got there, there is someone that believes it with you or believes something much more far fetched. Some people think that it was just a group of really strong people, but that idea is not as much fun.
I like the suggestion that it was wizards and magic or maybe giants. But the particular and specific way the rocks line up with each other and the sun, enforce the notion that this cluster of massive rocks was not placed together by accident. As interesting as Stonehenge was, there is only so much time you can spend staring at rocks. We took our pictures and headed to our next destination, Bath. More...