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The past few weeks have been busy with PhD work, work-work, home life, injections in my neck (fun times) and everything in-between. I’m not complaining though. Being still isn’t really for me. However, I have realised that I do need to plan in moments of calm amongst the (organised) chaos. I’ll see how that pans out!

What have I been up to in PhD land? Online courses, literature review work and wishing that 18 year old me had paid more attention in ‘A’ Level Sociology. Thirty years creates quite a lot of hindsight. But, 18 year old me had a great time at college and got to university, despite the frequency of time spent down the pub…I digress.

Luckily for me, being an ARU student gives me access to a wealth of online courses via Epigeum, as well as the excellent content provided by the university itself. In the past fortnight I have completed courses on research methods in literature review and social sciences; research planning; research skills; and becoming an ethical researcher. Plus, live sessions introducing me to life as a PhD research student, how to access library resources and refining my proposal. The resubmission of my proposal is slightly daunting. Cutting something in half, yet somehow adding to it is no mean feat. I do appreciate the value of the task though, as it is helping me to focus.

I have set one day aside, away from work, to study. This has been slightly scuppered already, with author events via my bookshop, but I have clawed back time over the weekend and evenings.

Next steps? I have supervision tomorrow, to discuss the proposal and try to get my brain around the construction of a usable Gantt. Other items on my ‘to do’ list are to choose an ERN to start documenting my research in a more systematic way; take some time to familiarise myself with the electronic archives at ARU and read this:

Until next time.

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Goodness Gracious Gantt

Apologies for the radio silence; it’s been a very busy few weeks, with work, family life and studying all thrown into the mix.

As a research student at ARU, I need to resubmit my proposal under very strict guidelines. The main challenge for me is to cut the original document in half, whilst adding in detail. I am naturally quite wordy when I write, so this is going to be tricky. However, after a great training session today, I feel more focused, so let’s see where the editing process takes me!

Over the next week, I will be tackling the Gantt. I’ll be honest, I’d never even heard of a Gantt until last month, during supervision with Professor Eugene Giddens. I now understand the premise and even the purpose, but going from a blank page to something that tracks the next 6 year trajectory, to look like this,

scares me (slightly).

Today has been the most full on day so far. I began with two back-to-back online sessions. The first was about the resub and the second a ‘how to’ for PGR Pro. My tech skills are average at best, but the training definitely boosted my confidence.

This afternoon was taken up with another online training session, this time via Epigeum. Part way through the course on ethics, I silently berated the 18 year old me for not concentrating as well as she could have in A Level Sociology. However, there’s no telling a teen that her future self would really appreciate a better attitude. I made myself proud though and passed with flying colours. No one warned me that there was a test!

What’s next? I have a list: edit the proposal (again, following the very helpful notes from Professor Giddens; continue reading the literature; tackle that Gantt.

Until next time.

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Nearly there!

It feels like a very long time since I last wrote a blog post. Sorry about
that, but it’s been rather hectic here. Good hectic though.

This post is a quick one to say a very heartfelt thank-you to customers old
and new, for their amazing support. The year has been tough for many, and small
businesses have had to be creative to survive. Thanks to your wonderful
support, we have not only survived, but thrived and grown.

Our new room for teens and adults has been a hit. Maybe it’s the comfy chairs…hopefully, it’s the books!

We will be open until 5pm on Christmas Eve, for last-minute panic buying and then we are closing for the holidays. If we don’t see you before, have a wondeful Christmas and peaceful, healthy and happy New Year.


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Christmas Catalogue

I know it’s only October, but some people (not me!) are super organised, so here’s a link to our Christmas catalogue.

If we don’t have a specific title in store, you can order via, over the phone 01277 230068 or via

Click on the image to be taken to the digital version
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Another Chapter

We have very exciting news to share…we are expanding. And I don’t just mean the waistband situation post lockdown. That’s a whole different blog.

When we moved to Crown Street, we decided not to take on the whole building, because it felt huge compared to Ongar Road. Fast forward 19 months and we’re going to be knocking through the wall that was lovingly put in place by our friend Phil, so that we can indeed take over the rest of the building. Sorry Phil.

What will we do with all that extra space? I’ll tell you. The plan is to move the older end of our book range (from age 12 to adult) over to the ‘annexe’. We have wanted to stock Manga for years – now we will have the space to do so. In addition, we will be stocking a range of literary-themed goodies, from The Literary Gift Company and Retro from Scratch. It will have a different aesthetic from the rest of the shop – dark furniture, comfy armchairs and an absence of Lego. One thing will remain the same and that’s our passion for bringing an eclectic mix of hand-picked books to Brentwood.

Expect to see mugs, posters, cushions and more
Beuatiful, local, hand-made notebooks made from rescued books
Learn Spanish with Amaya

There are two rooms upstairs, one of which will be available for hire once it’s had a lick of paint. Our wonderful Spanish tutor plans to run after school sessions for children and adults, on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but apart from that, it’s empty.

That’s our news! We are aiming to welcome you to the annexe within the month. Now, where are those paintbrsuhes…

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Long time no blog

Hello lovelies. Apologies for the distinct lack of blogging over the past few months. The weirdness of the year stole my blogging mojo from me, but I can feel it creeping back, ever so slowly.

First and foremost, how are you? I mean that. Life is tough and we are here for you. You can come in for a chat, as much as a book. Since re-opening, the chats with customers have definitely been the highlight.

Anyhoo, we have been busy, so thank-you. We truly appreciate the support that has come our way. It’s a privilege (and relief) that we not only survived, but thrived during lockdown. Phew!

As life begins to readjust, we are moving back towards in-person clubs and events. The book club for adults is proving very popular. So much so, that we will be running three separate groups in the same week. Spaces are full for now, unless you would like to join via zoom, in which case, so let me know.

We are working with the glorious Brentwood Theatre, to bring families a summer festival of arts…watch this space for an announcement very soon.

That’s it for today. I just wanted to poke my head above the parapet, give a friendly wave and let you know that we are here for you.

Until next time, happy reading.

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New Section

With the 12th of April looming, the shop has had a bit of a spruce up. Children who are looking for short chapters with lots of illustration, will have their own nook to investigate. The early reading section has also been relocated, just away from picture books, so that our emerging independent readers feel a bit more grown up!

The Games Workshop stock has been shuffled around too, to make way for a section for adults. Not ‘adult’ books though – that would be a very different kind of shop! We will be stocking a range of fiction and non-fiction, including some beautiful signed editions and indie exclusives as they come in.

We are looking forward to removing the desk from the doorway, so that you can come in for a browse. You just cannot beat a good old mooch around a shop can you?

In the meantime, do take a look at the events page, which is bursting with fabulous activities to keep you busy over the Easter hols.

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World Book Day News

Here’s the thing. We love WBD and what it stands for, we really do. At its heart, the day is about getting a book into the hands of as many as children as possible. It raises awareness of the importance of books. Wonderful.

However, it comes at a price. Not to you, the consumer, but to us, the booksellers. And that’s fine too, to a degree. We choose to buy in to the scheme. The bugbear is that every year, many people come in with several tokens per child, asking us to redeem them. We do not get that £1 back. So, if it’s exchanged for a WBD title, all well and good. But, if it’s used to offset the price of another book, not so great. To put it into perspective for you, the average £6.99 paperback costs us £4.05 to buy in. The mark up is poor! Once you factor in rent, rates, blah, blah, blah…you can start to understand why there aren’t many millionaire bookshop owners!

To that end, we simply can not sustain the £1 off model. Especially when the tokens are now available via MacDonald’s, various children’s magazines and schools too.

So, I hope that you understand why we’re being tough this year. Please do come and exchange your token with us – we love seeing you. Even it’s just on the doorstep! But, we will no longer be discounting books with the WBD token.