Monday, 20 June 2016

Highlight of my year

With the obvious exception of the arrival of new grandchildren (one down, one to go) this year, the Borders Book Festival is the highlight of my year - every year actually!  I work in the bookshop. Long hours (9 am to 11 pm), very tired feet, but I wouldn't miss it for the world.  We have a stream of wonderful people - festival goers, authors, and celebrities alike, under our marquee roof, and it's great.  I love every minute.

The gardens at Harmony House, in Melrose are looking wonderful.  The weather was not kind on Thursday or Friday, but yesterday the sun shone and everyone warmed up a bit!  
There is a little foodie festival running alongside the book festival.  Local producers of all sorts of wonderful things from raspberry vodka to fresh pats of butter.  The Crema Caravan above, was well worth a visit!  Delicious creme brûlées, 'bruleed' to order.  Yum!
 This year we have been lucky enough to have had an event starring Dame Evelyn Glennie, with Christopher Lloyd, performing Sounds of Science,  Here she is setting up for the performance, alongside her sound technicians.
I didn't manage to get into the performance because I was working in the bookshop, but I did manage to briefly peer through the window.  And of course we could hear a lot of the sounds coming from the big marquee.  Amazing stuff, phenomenally talented woman.
The next big event was Mike Rutherford, lead guitarist and founding member of the rock band, Genesis.  He had a very long line of adoring fans, waiting for him to sign copies of his autobiography.  So many happy people!
The highlight of the festival for me was the announcement of the winning author of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2016.  It is one of the biggest book prizes, awarded by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, and I enjoy the privilege of being one of the administrators of the Prize.  I deal with the submissions which involves liaising with publishers, the readers, and the judges.  It is an absolute joy, and to watch the prize giving ceremony was great fun. The photo below is not sharp, but captures the moment the Duke congratulates Simon Mawer on winning with his terrific book 'Tightrope'.
Here is the line up of 3 of the runners up, winner and also the two winners of the newly created Young Walter Scott Prize.
For me, the Borders Book Festival is always an extraordinary few days.  It is a book festival with a wonderful atmosphere.  Everyone loves it, visitors and authors alike.  Each year I see familiar faces coming to buy books, always with big happy smiles.  This time round I have shaken hands with Celia Imrie, watched childrens' adoring faces looking up at Michael Morpurgo, been awe-inspired by Evelyn Glennie, and had brunch alongside the likes of Albert Roux, Frederick Forsyth, Jay Rayner, James Naughtie, Kirsty Wark and any number of authors.  Have I name dropped enough?  I could go on, but I won't!  It's all too bizarre.  And now it is over, and I have a whole year to wait for it to come round again;  but it is always worth the wait!


  1. Every single word of this blog is filled with such joy. Hooray for the Borders Book Festival... xx
    p.s Creme Brulee is one of my favourite desserts, alongside cake!!!!

  2. Fantastic post - the writing and the photos made me feel all of the atmosphere. Thank you for showing me The Borders Book Festival!
    By the way, it's not only children who are in awe of Michael Morpurgo; I attended one of his talks (at Pentillie Castle in Cornwall), was absolutely star-struck, bought more of his books, then was too awed to join the queue for him to sign them. Lovely, kind and gentle man.