The lockdown is certainly creating a great deal of creativity when it comes to meeting up. I have recorded music with my choir and have regular orchestra and ballet rehearsals over Zoom. It has been fun to see everyone and to have a bit of structure in the week.
My favourite discovery so far though has been the rise of online literary festivals. I love book festivals but I can’t usually get to many of them so the idea of having them come to me is just wonderful. Obviously it’s not the same as getting to go to them but it is far better than nothing.
The online Hay Festival is coming up at the end of this week and I have booked my place at a whole load of the talks. I am going to be in front of a screen for an awful lot of time next week!
First though, Chawton House had their own lockdown festival this past weekend. Apparently they’ve been wanting to do a festival for a while and the lockdown pushed them into putting something together. I have to say that if they do manage to have an actual in person festival I will be doing my very best to get there. Even if they don’t, I have realised that I need to visit – the only time I’ve been to the house was for the AGM of the Jane Austen Society so I didn’t get to see very much of it (I have made a proper visit to Jane Austen’s House Museum but I would love to see that again as well).
I have had a lovely weekend watching the talks and feeling very intellectual for doing so. It was so interesting to see a bit of behind the scenes of the house and to learn more not just about the people who lived there but also about some related books – like The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner which is out next week and sounds great. I also had a brilliant time playing with some found poetry using lines from poems in the house.
I have come away with a renewed enthusiasm for 18th and 19th century writers and a list of new to me authors to try. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard of George Sand but not Jane West or Jane Porter and I certainly haven’t read any of them. They are firmly on my list now though and I am very keen to read them soon. It is such a great feeling!
The festival is obviously over now but some of the talks are still available on the Chawton House youtube channel. If you can I would highly recommend you have a watch!
As I mentioned in my last post, last week was the Appledore Book Festival. Not only was I at the book fair, I was also working at the festival itself which meant that I got to spend an entire week by the sea talking to people about books. It was wonderful.
Added to that, I also got to meet many authors which is always fun. It was particularly lovely to meet Tim Waterstone – who was one of only a very small handful of authors to come across and introduce himself to me. I was utterly charmed and of course I bought his book.
Another highlight was the event for Hazel Prior and her book Ellie and the Harp Maker. It was held in a little café and as well as talking about harps and writing she read some passages from the book interspersed with harp music. It was a delightful event – not least because she got the entire audience singing a song about how books are cool.
Books, books, books
Books are cool!
I also ate a lot of cake. This was peanut butter and jelly cake and it was amazing!
I had a wonderful week. It was hard work – almost twice as many hours as normal – and I am now exhausted but Appledore is always one of my favourite weeks of the year and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
On Sunday I had a stand at a book fair as part of the Appledore Book Festival. The day started off with pouring rain and I thought we were in for a very slow day. However, by the time we opened the sun was shining and everything was beautiful.
I ended up having a great day. Obviously selling books is good but more than that I had some wonderful bookish conversations which meant that I would have enjoyed myself if I hadn’t sold anything.
I had such a lovely day. Yes it was hard work but it was so good to have the opportunity to talk about books with so many people who love them.
I am just back from my first ever visit to the Cheltenham Literature Festival where I had the best time. The whole festival village was amazing and there were three separate festival bookshops – one of them dedicated to children’s books. I was in heaven.
I was there for a long weekend and in that time managed to fit in ten events. It was wonderful to find so many fascinating talks – Sarah Dunant’s on the Borgias was especially interesting (and entertaining, as all the best talks should be).
My favourite events were on the Saturday afternoon. Two talks about children’s books which were brilliant and after which I got to meet Anna James – author of Tilly and the Book Wanderers – and Jessica Townsend – author of Nevermoor. They were both lovely people (and their books are wonderful too – go and read them!).
To round off the evening we went along to the lit crawl to take part in the quiz. It had a classics theme which I obviously loved and we managed to come third which made me very proud, especially as we were the smallest team there. We received some fabulous prizes too, including two books – Frankenstein and La Belle Sauvage – and four tickets to festival events. I practically danced my way back to the hotel!
One of the best things about any festival is the amount of reading time. There were plenty of lovely places to sit and my favourite was the Book Stand – a cosy sitting room set up on the band stand. I spent some very happy hours there with my book and a cup of tea.
It was a brilliant weekend and I would definitely love to visit again.
We are currently in the middle of one of my favourite weeks of the year – Appledore Book Festival.
I love book festivals anyway but there is something about Appledore which makes me extra happy – perhaps it is the sea or the fact that the sun always seems to be shining!
I always have a stall at the book fair, this year on the first Sunday of the festival. It is always nice to share my books with so many book lovers and I had a great time.
Bookseller’s view of a book fair
I also spend a few days working at the festival which is another joy. I get to meet so many fascinating people and, again, talk to loads of other book lovers.
Perhaps best of all though is the reading time – it doesn’t get much better than this!