Any regular readers of this blog may remember that just over a year ago, together with Jill, a friend who is also a writer and painter, I embarked on a career as a crafter at the local Country Market with the aim of selling some of my books and poetry. As a way of enticing customers to our stall we put together a small collection of watercolour cards and other small paper items – blank notebooks, bookmarks and the like.
Our paintings and much of the content of our books was centred around our home village in Surrey. We are so lucky to be surrounded by beautiful heathland, the village High Street is picture postcard pretty and the rivers that surround, and sometimes flood the village, are beautiful.
We found that our customers, mostly local of course, loved the fact that we were highlighting the locality in paint and words and so, slowly, our products began to sell steadily.
We could have stopped here, but, being a type A, restless personality I wasn’t satisfied and so went on to set up Paragram (www.para-gram.com) to find ways to offer publishing and performing opportunities to local writers. Alongside that, as achieving publication, especially of poetry and short fiction, is so difficult in the current climate, I set up Four Point Press to help anyone I knew who wanted to self-publish their writing. I also began to run poetry workshops at home and online.
By the end of 2012, with all these mini ventures ( I was also an official Olympic Storyteller – quite a different tale) scattered in various places on the web and in real space, my life began to feel rather cluttered. However, people love what we are selling, our books (I published 9 in 21012 by various writers including myself) still need an outlet and following some success in covering local community events, our coverage of these in words and pictures is much in demand. The only answer was to rationalise the whole lot into one place. And so, 1st January 2013 saw the launch of Behind the High Street.
Jill and I envisaged a small haven, just off the High Street for a select few, unique shops. The kind of place that is found by accident but never forgotten. A place to browse and think and perhaps to treat yourself.
There is a book shop, specialising in small press publications ( if you have a book and are looking for somewhere to sell it, drop me an email) and specialist designer books; ‘Cards and More’, selling our painted designs as cards, postcards, notebooks and also some other delightful paper crafted gifts; the Gallery will showcase local photographers’ and artists’ work; Four Point Press has been relocated to premises above The Study, which offers workshops, speakers, mentoring, close reading and all manner of support for writers.
The website is brand new and we have yet to make it a perfect fit, but we are there and ready to trade so come along and pay us a visit Behind the High Street…