chestnut book blog

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Bookish tables

I thought I would share with you today a book-related purchase I made in the last year for my home. Do you remember when I shared the picture of the book bollards outside Cambridge University Library? Well, those bollards were an inspiration! I had been searching for some side tables for my living room and I wondered if I could get something similar to those bollards. I then forgot about them for a few months, but in January, my husband and I went to Scotland. In the Cairngorms, we stumbled across a furniture shop, Spirit of Wood, one afternoon, high up in the hills on a farm track. We almost decided not to go up to the shop as it was snowing and the track was very steep. We eyed the hill with trepidation from the bottom. However, our hired 4×4 made light work of it and we were so pleased we made it – not only was the view beautiful from the shop, but we found my perfect side table, a pile of wooden books just like the bollards that I loved.

Pile of books side table

Our new side table

You can see from the photo above that it has fitted in perfectly and I’m delighted with it!

On the same trip, we discovered that we were staying just around the corner from a very atmospheric and eerie ruin. It brought home the fact that buildings need people as much as we need them and everything that comes with them. When the people go, even the most beautiful houses can end up like this one on the Dunalistair estate.

Dunalistair House

Dunalistair House


This house was only abandoned in 1952. Isn’t it astounding what time (and vandalism I suspect) can do? In 1950 this was a school, full of noise and laughter, and before that it was a family home full of love and treasured possessions. Dunalistair House is on the Historic Scotland Buildings at Risk register but as you can see, it won’t be long really before it is little more than foundations. As a card-carrying member of the National Trust, I am fascinated by grand estates and country houses and we are lucky that so many have survived. However, Dunalistair House is an example of one that has not and it shows that even the most solid of historic buildings cannot survive without the protection and care of people. The Scottish winters certainly take their toll…

Me in a Scottish blizzard

Just before we walked to Dunalistair House, we were caught in a blizzard. Here I am looking surprising cheerful in the circumstances!