Friday, 12 April 2013

Peppy Bikes and Penguins Present this week.

The Weldborough region in northeast Tasmania where
we went camping.
The last time I posted I was about to go camping with a mate on our motorbikes and I was planning on finishing the Agatha Christie Book mentioned then.  Well, I finished those so on this trip I took along Muriel Sparks' The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Now I do realise I am probably one of the few remaining people on earth who has not read this book but I am about 2/3rds of the way through it now and am loving it.

Penguin copy of Prime of Miss Jean
I vaguely remember seeing the film years ago when Maggie Smith was merely just beyond youngsterhood and I didn't remember much from it.  I have decided that I really do enjoy Muriel's books. She is so quirky, the writing is pretty much to the point and you just never know where she'll lead the reader.  I have found Miss Jean Brodie a sadder book than I thought,  yet I admire her character so much in what she wanted to teach her students.  I loved how she constantly referred to events of her life as happening either before her prime, during her prime or after her prime had moved on.  I think many of us could relate to that.  I am sure now that my prime is well and truly fading into the distance though when I get on my bike or find another interesting Penguin I perk up again.

My tent is the little one in the back.
I read most of this book, lying on my back in a sleeping bag with a tent window open looking up to millions of stars overhead as the campground we were in was very dark that night. It was also very cold.  I had my sleeping bag up around my neck, a polar fleece blanket inside of it, a comfy pillow doubled over to raise my head, a wool beanie on my head and a miner's lamp around my forehead shining brightly on the book's pages.  I really was as snug as a bug in a rug and in the middle of nowhere in Tassie reading Muriel Sparks.  I actually felt as quirky as old  Muriel once was.  I would recommend this lovely book to everyone.

My new Penguin Hunter II. No doubt he will
get me to many bookshops and op shops.
The day after returning from the camping trip I had to clean up my old scooter and trade it in for the new one that arrived while I was away.  I went in to Motorworks in Hobart on Monday and took delivery of a beautiful new black 300 cc Piaggio scooter.  Storage under the seat holds both a small tent and my sleeping bag. It goes over 130 kms an hour (if I wanted it to though I'm not entirely silly) and is smooth on acceleration. I took it out every day this week to get it run in a bit and already have more than 400 kms on the odometer.

The day before yesterday I decided to take it out for an hour's ride and ended up in the south of the state at Dover Tasmania- 90 minutes away. There is a large second hand book shop there and I thought I'd do some Penguin hunting to see how this bike compares with the previous for finding these devious little orange creatures.  The clouds were thick and black, but it felt balmy and the curves on the road were good, the pavement smooth and I just kept going until the road ran out.  Of course the shop was closed. Never mind, I knew I would be passing another very large book shop on the way home in Huonville and they always have Penguins.
First Penguin book published in
France in 1941. Who would of
thought I'd find this in country Tasmania.

There was also an antique shop I dropped in on that had Penguins in appalling condition, covers torn off and paper clipped and silly prices on them like $4.00 each.  I found a few I really wanted but managed to talk her into 50 cents to a dollar when I pointed out the torn covers, lack of title page in one book and lack of copyright data in another. But they were books that were definitely not going to sell to anyone except me (I was sure of that) so I bartered her down.  However there was a very decent find that this odd uppity bookseller who knew nothing of books as furniture is her thing, had on the shelf.  I stuck it amongst the badly injured Penguins and got it for next to nothing.

It is a first published No 1 French Penguin Publie' en 1941.  The text is in French, there is a number F1 on the spine and the title is Verites Sur La France by Louis Levy.  I have to say I felt quite smug walking out of the shop with this little gem. I had never seen a French Penguin before though I knew they were out there.
Love this cover.  No. 2512

Continuing the ride home I stopped at the third book shop of the day and found a couple of later Penguins I didn't have. They were both published in 1966 and 1968. I liked the covers on them, especially the one called The Best of Beachcomber which appears to be a book of short stories.

A cheerful looking late Penguin.
No. 2892 or 2993 (smudging on number)
All in all it was a good day of Penguins and riding and somehow I missed feeling the wrath of all the very dark black clouds in the sky. They seemed to part as I rode towards them.  You know it's going to be a good day when that happens.

Any information on any of these books is welcomed.


  1. French Penguins in Tasmania - wonders will never cease! Don't you wish that the history of books like that was written on the inside back cover? Sounds like a lovely trip. I love the picture of you snugggled in your tent reading Spark. have a lovely weekend.

  2. I do. Since it's publication in 1941 in France I wonder what it's own story is and how it came to be in southern Tasmania.

  3. Hi Pam,

    My list has Square's Progress as Penguin no. 2893. I love the cover of no. 2512.

  4. 2512 is a very funny cover. A bit faded but a great illustration. Thank you for the information on 2893. The last number on the spine of this book is a bit blurred. I often double check my books with your list and I also have another list but didn't see it on my list. thank you again..


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