My favourite places: Libby Page
The Somerset author of The Sunday Times bestselling 'The Lido' shares her favourite places – including locations that have inspired her novels – in Somerset and beyond. Spoiler: several involve swimming.
Libby Page was living in London when she made a big splash with her debut novel The Lido. Not read it? Oh but you must! It’s an absolutely brilliant read about the relationship between two women, 26-year-old Kate and 86-year-old Rosemary, who come together to save a swimming pool, their community and themselves. The book made the Sunday Times bestseller list, was published around the world and is due to be made into a feature film (Dame Judi to play Rosemary, perhaps?). A few years, two books (The 24-Hour Café and The Island Home) and one baby later, she’s returned to the West Country to live in Somerset – where we nabbed her to share her favourite places.
Over to you Libby…
The Isle of Eigg, Scotland
This tiny island in the Inner Hebrides in Scotland provided inspiration for my latest novel, The Island Home. It’s also where I got engaged to my husband, sat in Laig Beach Bothy, a beautiful modern bothy overlooking the beach and the Isle of Rum. The island has one pub/restaurant called the Galmisdale Bay Café & Bar which has the most incredible sea views. The island shop is a hub of activity where locals catch up over grocery shopping and it’s where we bought a bottle of fizz to celebrate our engagement. An island that is remote but worth the journey.
Polo Bar, City of London
Polo Bar opposite Liverpool station has been serving hungry Londoners since 1959 and inspired my novel The 24-Hour Café. In the book I kept certain elements like the retro décor while adding my own embellishments (ah, the joy of writing fiction!). It’s a brilliant, buzzy place with excellent people-watching and completely delicious pancakes.
Brockwell Lido, Herne Hill, London
I lived in Brixton as a student and loved visiting Brockwell Park, particularly in the summer. Brockwell Lido sits on the edge of the park and is a real oasis of calm in the city. Visiting feels like going to the beach without having to leave London. It’s the setting for my debut novel The Lido and I held my book launch there during a heatwave. I went for a swim before the party! A glorious place to take a dip.
Marston Park, near Somerset
This wonderful lakeside venue is just minutes from my home. It’s such a peaceful place to visit for a walk, a drink or to sit and watch the water. It’s also a fab glamping spot and has a wild swimming pool and hot tub. I’ll be holding a special writing retreat there in May – it’s such a great place to spark creativity and I always feel inspired whenever I visit.
Rye Bakery, Frome, Somerset
Since leaving London and moving to Somerset I have visited my local café and bakery, Rye, at least once a week. Located in an impressive old church, they do brilliant coffee and cakes which is perhaps one of the reasons why it is the unofficial local mum and baby hang out. Then there’s also the secluded garden and indoor play area that make it a great place to visit with little ones.
Hunting Raven Books, Frome, Somerset
I just love my local bookshop. A great indie bookshop is so much more than a bookshop – it’s a place that brings the community together and that’s what Hunting Raven does so well. They give brilliant recommendations and the shop has such a lovely friendly atmosphere. It’s where I held the book launch for The Island Home, just a few days before giving birth!
Swan Vintage, Bruton, Somerset
Something people might not know about me is that I have a degree in fashion journalism. I may now be an author instead of a fashion journalist but I still love clothes, particularly vintage fashion, something I’ll be exploring in my next book. This little shop in the pretty town of Bruton near me in Somerset is a real treasure-trove. Bruton is a great place to visit – I also love the Stripy Duck Bookshop and Café opposite Swan Vintage, At The Chapel for delicious food in a beautiful setting and Hauser and Wirth Somerset for a touch of culture and a stroll around the beautiful garden.
Walled Garden at Mells, Mells, Somerset
The first time I visited this walled garden in the picturesque village of Mells I was blown away – it really feels like the perfect secret garden, hidden behind a high wall and full of flowers, sculpture and with a sweet little café. There’s a lovely riverside walk in Mells and The Talbot is a great pub with lots of cosy nooks as well as a great pub garden.
Shepton Mallet Lido, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
This is now my local lido and while it may be small it has the most wonderful community spirit, the exact type of spirit I wrote about in The Lido. The water is heated by the adjacent cider factory, something that always makes me smile!