Thoughts of the 2011 Borders Book Festival

The calendar year is full of birthday’s, festivals, anniversaries, events and so forth that are important in all of our individual lives.  Some are just important to us, some are important to us all such as Christmas or Bank Holidays.  And some are important to different locations in the country and to similar interest groups.

The second last weekend in June in the Drane family is an important weekend as it is the Borders Book Festival.  As I wrote in a blog last week for me it is Christmas in June.  I wait for it with much anticipation, enjoy every minute and them shed a tear as another Festival closes and life seems that bit flatter as a result.

This years Festival was no exception.   Unlike last years the sun did not shine and Sunday afternoon was very wet.  But it shows this is not a warm weather event it’s about books and people who write books and people who love reading books.  It’s a coming together and a learning experience.  There is lots of comedy and overall it’s fun.

I started this year’s Festival seeing Sarah Brown in the Festival Marquee on Thursday night.  I have long admired her.  She is in a similar industry to mine communications.  And she always remained true to herself.  I also admire her Twittering skills with her million followers of whom I am one as a social media convert myself.  She came across as a genuine lady whose heart is centred on her family but who also is her own women.  She talked about the demands of juggling a subject I can relate to and I very much enjoyed her session.  On Twitter she said that she started tweeting from 10 Downing Street as she could be herself be who she was and is not how the media want to perceive and project her.  A very compelling reason for anyone to tweet and a good reason for businesses to start using Social Media as you are in control of it.  And I was simply thrilled when she responded to my tweet from the festival with a personal response. 

Saturday lunchtime saw me at Mainstreet Trading for their first book club event.  Maggie Farrell and Bella Bathhurst were the two authors.  The former I am a great fan of.   However I found both authors fascinating Bella as she showed me that the secret to good writing particularly non fiction is to research your topic in great detail.  Maggie Farrell for the insight she gave to her books.  She revealed in the original drafts of the Hand that Once Held Mine the first part of the book was set in the Borders not Somerset.  And in her novel Esme Lommax of the women held for years in a mental institution it was inspired by a friend’s Aunt’s cousin who had got pregnant at the age of 21 and was held in a mental institution till she died.  Horrific that this happened and was common case before the laws changed but also showed me how a novel can form.  And how you can higlight topics that otherwise may be unknown.

I hurried from Mainstreet not to the bookshop but to the Eastgate Theatre in Peebles to see my daughter perform in the Helen O’Grady drama school in the Pied Piper.  Both the Galashiels and Hawick classes performed and they were excellent.  My daughter enjoyed it immensely and was cheered by all of us in the second row.  Even her brother was impressed and deemed the performance a success.  What impresses me most about Helen O’Grady though is the confidence that they give children and how they help them believe in themselves.

We were up bright and early on Sunday to walk the dog and try to give the house a little TLC before heading once more to the Borders Book Festival.  I was headed for a creative writing course for children with Vivien French and the rest for the morning family book festival activities.  I really enjoyed and was challenged by Viviven French not sure yet what if anything I am doing with my desire to write but it certainly gave me food for thought and lots of techniques and exercises to use not only in my writing but also with the kids.

The rain was now pouring down but like the rest of the festival we headed for the book shop and bought some more books.  It’s aye been in the Drane house that the kids get summer books for their holidays at the festival and this year was no exception.  Confess bought one or two books myself and have now called a halt to the buying of any more books till I have read at least half of the ones now waiting to be read on my bookshelves.  I am relieved that book club for July is to bring along a book you have read over the summer so I have till August to read lots of books before I need to read for book club too.

The children really enjoyed the family day this year highlights for my daughter was Vivien French and Andrew McCall Smith.  For my son it was John Byrne who he adored and is still talking about.  Here his dad agrees who said that John Byrne’s children’s slot and the adult one was the highlight of the festival for him.

Husband and children left the festival at 4pm damp, tired but happy as they had to go and feed the pigs and remind the dog that we still existed.  I would have happily gone with them as by this time the rain was torrential and I was tired.  But Maureen Lipman made me forget the rain and how tired I was.  She was brilliant, very funny and I haven’t laughed so much for ages.  A wonderful end to the 2011 Festival.

So today yes I feel a bit flat.  Yes I am annoyed that the sun is in the sky and wasn’t yesterday.  But most of all I am glad I was there.  I am glad the kids enjoyed it so much and it captured their imagination once again.  I am delighted it was such a success yet again and puts the Borders in the spotlight as a beautiful place to visit but also a creative one.  So big thanks to the Book Festival team – Alistair, Paula, Orna, Mairi, Lindsey, Hilary and Sarah and to all the other members of the team.  Have a well-earned break this week.

As for me well I am doing a sun dance so that in my free time I can spend it reading in the sun with all these books that I want to read.  So come on sun make an appearance and then stay put! Please.

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About fionadranesblog

40 plus mum of two married with a mad cocker spaniel. Along with two colleagues run Bright Light Marketing a rural marketing agency who specialise in getting rural businesss noticed. www.brightlightmarketing.co.uk. Live in St Boswells in the wonderful Scottish Borders. Love books, walking and living life to the full here in the Scottish Borders though its sometimes a juggle!
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