Manchester and Raglan Castle, November 2016

Last week Lucy and I went to see PJ Harvey at the Victoria Warehouse in Manchester. Harvey’s current touring band are really impressive and her new material sounds so great. It was a superb show – I’m really glad we went along.

We stayed in Salford for the night so we had some time to do some exploring. I don’t know Manchester all that well but Lucy does, so we took in as much of the city as we could. I also managed to spend some time doing some thrifty book shopping in the city centre:


Clive Barker – Cabal
I’ve wanted to read this book for a long time, maybe since I played the dreadful video game Nightbreed: The Interactive Movie on Amiga in the early 1990s. At the moment I only have one other Barker book (Books of Blood Vol. I), but I’m eager to read more – I really like the concepts and ideas I’ve seen in Barker’s stories and films so far. I found this copy of Cabal in Paramount Books (below) in their dusty ramshackle horror section.

Cade Merrill – The Blair Witch Files Vol 5; The Death Card
A bit of an oddity. This is one of the books in the “Blair Witch Files” series of novels produced shortly after the first film was released in the 2000’s. I’m guessing from the design, typeface and length of the book that it’s produced for the Young Adult market. I’m not a fan of YA fiction, but I am a fan of the Blair Witch story (and some of the comics related to the legend are great), so it was worth a shot for £1.50.

Frank Herbert – Dune
As I read more and more sci-fi, the more I realise I can’t put off reading this for much longer. I found this in a 2 for £5.00 deal in the Fopp store, so I figured I would give it a chance. I know very little about this story – I’ve not even seen the film. In the car on the way home to Wales, I flicked through the pages and I’ll admit feeling a bit intimidated by the sheer size of the book, as well as the glossaries and appendices. This might be one for next year at this rate…

Junji Ito – Uzumaki
I read Ito’s Fragments of Horror last year, which was enjoyable but ultimately forgettable, and it left me wanting more Ito material to read. I love Ito’s style, and I must have read the first few chapters of Uzumaki online about four or five times now. I found this copy in Manchester’s Chapter One bookshop (below), in the Northern Quarter.

Various – The Mammoth Book of Cult Comics (edited by Ilya)
I picked this up just out of curiosity, and was pleased to recognise some of the artists featured here – namely Julie Gforer and XXX. I’m certainly no expert on cult comics or “comix” (save for maybe Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers…), but this looks like it has a great selection of lesser-known, self published comics. I’m eager to read it.

Paramount Books

Near the Arndale in Central Manchester is this fantastic, small book shop which has a great selection of poetry, sci-fi, horror, comics, film & TV and literature. We didn’t get to spend much time in there but I did pick up a few things. Well worth a browse if you’re in the area.

Chapter One
This is a small bookshop/cafe located in the Northern Quarter. It doesn’t have an enormous amount of stock but it does seem to have decent stalls and shelves dedicated to true crime and horror (most probably left over from hallowe’en events), as well as art cards and stationery stalls, new book promotions and a (very) small second hand section. There’s also interesting decoration – the true crime section is cordoned off with police tape, and there are four cubicles containing typewriters and writing tables. Also, in the corner of the shop, I saw a covered quad bike, but I’m still a bit confused about that. Again, this place is worth a look if you’re looking for interesting new bookshops, but it’s not the kind of place you could lose yourself in for an hour (unless you already have a book to hand and want to grab a coffee and a sandwich).


Manchester Book Buyers
Recommended in some article I’d read which outlined “Manchester’s Best Bookshops”. It’s located in a small market lock-up in the city centre and it’s brimming £1.00 bargain bins with books of all description – though mostly old transport and aviation volumes, war history and romance novels. I had to squeeze past the owner (who was smoking a long, thin cigar and stinking out the whole place) and an irate customer to get to the literature section which was decent, but the books had no prices attached. I didn’t really fancy asking for a hasty made-up from a decidedly unfriendly-looking bookkeeper, so I didn’t stay long. Not recommended, but if you spend enough time (and hold your breath long enough) you might find something worthwhile.

Other Updates

On Sunday, Lucy and I went to visit to Raglan Castle. We hadn’t been here for about five years but it’s definitely one of the best Welsh castles to visit. You can read more about it on the Wikipedia page, or if you’re looking for more information, I would highly recommend the website.

I was quite pleased to see that Cadw had left out a selection of ancient tomes on the stairs. As you can see from the photograph, I was over the moon with this development.



  1. sounds like a great trip – like you i wouldn’t have enjoyed a place stinking of cigar smoke,


    1. Thanks for the comment. Yeah, it wasn’t pleasant!


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