Au Revoir Edinburgh International Book Festival

They say that all good things must come to an end. How I wish that wasn’t true! With the Edinburgh International Book Festival closing earlier this week, it was time to say goodbye to my happy place for another year. For me the festival represents everything that I love: words, books, storytelling and the city of Edinburgh itself.

On my last visit to the festival on Saturday, I had the pleasure of seeing three amazing events. The first one was Hari Kunzru with David Mitchell – two brilliant and inspiring authors who I have long since admired. The informal chat about Kunzru’s new ghost story White Tears, was punctuated by music from the Delta Mississippi Blues, which made it all the more interesting and memorable.

My second event of the day was Sara Baume & Oddny Eir, two female author who use nature in their writing. Both Baume’s novel, A Line Made by Walking and Icelandic author Oddny’s debut, Land of Love and Ruins, sound utterly fascinating and I can’t wait to read them.

My last event of the day was Take Me to the River at the Baillie Gifford Imagination Lab. The talk featured YA author Claire McFall, who was there to discuss her novel Trespassers and Martin Stewart, whose debut novel Riverkeep is up for the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s First Book Award. Chaired by children’s writer, Lari Don, the event explored the myth and folklore around death and loss in a light and quirky manner that went down very well with the audience.

When I left the festival to catch my train home, I took one last look around the beautiful gardens with a heavy heart.

Au revoir, Edinburgh International Book Festival. Until we meet again.

True North 2017

 

Public Service Broadcasting

I am very excited to be going to the True North festival in Aberdeen for the first time ever next week.

The festival, which runs from September 7-10, will feature performances from cult bands Arab Strap and Public Service Broadcasting as well as paying homage to the band Fleetwood Mac.

Singer-songwriter Kathryn Joseph will perform a joint headliner with Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit, while Dutch Uncles, Pictish Trail and Wild Beasts are also on the bill. Headline events will take place at His Majesty’s Theatre, The Lemon Tree and Tivoli Theatre, with further fringe events and support acts to be announced in the coming months.

APA chief executive Jane Spiers said: “Following the unprecedented success of our Celebration of Kate Bush at last year’s True North, I’m excited to announce that we will once again be doffing our hat to one of the most iconic music acts of our time. Our Rumours event will celebrate Fleetwood Mac’s ground-breaking album of that name. 2017 marks 40 years since the release of Rumours and True North will celebrate the band’s masterpiece in full over the course of an inspiring and authentic evening of music which promises to be one of the most defining moments of this year’s festival.”

Start to End

Rumours will be curated by the hugely gifted Start to End, who specialise in bringing acclaimed albums to the stage. The band will gather together some of the country’s best singers and musicians for the concert on Saturday, September 9 at HMT, which will culminate in a greatest hits set.

True North’s opening concert will come from the enigmatic and inimitable Public Service Broadcasting, who will bring their stunning audio-visual show to HMT on Thursday, September 7.

Friday evening’s headline event at the Tivoli Theatre is cult Scottish rock band Arab Strap and on Sunday, it’s an evening with Scott Hutchison and Kathryn Joseph at the Tivoli Theatre.

The Lemon Tree Late line-up will see art-rock group Wild Beasts take to the stage on Thursday night, while Friday night’s Lemon Tree Late will come from art-pop quartet Dutch Uncles. Pictish Trail will bring his unique and hypnotic folk/electro act to the Lemon Tree for the True North After Party on Saturday after Rumours, with guest DJs on hand to get the crowd going.

Ms Spiers added: “Sunday evening’s joint headliner is another highlight – Scott Hutchison and Kathryn Joseph are such charismatic performers and their event will be a stunning showcase of their individual talent. Arab Strap last played Aberdeen over a decade ago, so this is a brilliant chance to see them in the intimate setting of the Tivoli Theatre. The band sold out the Barrowlands last year and I’m sure fans will be quick to snap up tickets this time round. Public Service Broadcasting play with us at True North just before heading off on a major city tour in North America and HMT promises to be the perfect venue for their mesmerising audio-visual extravaganza.”

Tickets for True North range from £11 to £22 and multi-buy discounts are available. They can be bought online at aberdeenperformingarts.com, in person at the Box Office at HMT or The Lemon Tree, or by phone on (01224) 641122.

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2017

Once a year something magical happens in Edinburgh. All the bookish people in the world gather together in Charlotte Square, a beautiful part of the city named after the wife of King George III. It seems a fitting place to hold the world’s biggest book festival, a place where literary royalty, and their admirers, assemble. Saturday marked the official opening of Edinburgh International Book Festival. Julia Donaldson, Val McDermid, Paula Hawkins and Anthony Horowitz were all in camp, and despite the drizzly weather, the atmosphere was electric.

I started my day with the festival’s Opening Up event with authors Carl MacDougall and Frank Cottrell Boyce, who were chaired by Sally Magnusson. Both authors were there to talk about their latest short story collections, MacDougall’s Someone Always Robs The Poor and Cottrell Boyce’s still to be named Scrabble themed collection, which is due to be released this Autumn. Readings from both books were stunning, with MacDougall’s words moving me to tears. I look forward to picking up both collections, very soon.

My second event of the day was Julia Hobsbawn’s Too Much Information. Chaired by Bob McDevitt the event explored the themes of Hobsbawn’s book Fully Connected and examined how human beings are coping with the dizzying amounts of digital information that we’re exposed to on a daily basis. It was an interesting event which highlighted just how many people are struggling to keep afloat in an age when we are drowning in data.

Next up was the Paula Cocozza and Gail Honeyman Wild at Heart event at the Festival’s Writing Retreat. The authors were both there to discuss their debut novels; Cocozza’s How to be Human and Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. Chaired by Lee Randall, the event featured lots of interesting discussion on the themes of mental health issues and loneliness.

My final event of the day was Sarah Moss & Helen Sedgwick’s Small Kids: Small Problems, Big Kids: Big Problems. I’ve been a fan of Sedgwick’s since reading The Comet Seekers (and interviewing her for The Scots Magazine in 2016), but I was completely new to Sarah Moss’s work. Both Moss’s latest novel The Tidal Zone and Sedgwick’s dystopian offering, The Growing Season, examine the complexities of motherhood. With beautiful, thought provoking readings from both authors, this event was my favourite of the day.

I left Charlotte Square with a head full of words and a TBR pile the length of my arm. I’m already looking forward to returning this Friday, for round two.

For further information about the Edinburgh International Book Festival, visit: https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/

 

 

A Murder is Announced by Middle Ground Theatre Company

I’m quite the Agatha Christie fan girl these days. Not only have I devoured many of her books, I’ve also seen a lot of her work adapted into plays including The Mousetrap, And Then There Were None and Witness for the Prosecution. So, when I heard that A Murder Is Announced was visiting the Dundee Rep, I knew I’d have to see it.

The play begins with the residents of Chipping Cleghorn reading a peculiar advert in the local newspaper, which announces that a murder is to take place at Little Paddocks, a home that belongs to Letitia Blacklock. Curiosity gets the better of the group and they gather at the house, just as the lights go out and a shot is fired.

The lavish production by Middle Ground Theatre, which features Bergerac star Louise Jameson and ex-Eastenders star Janet Dibley, puts Miss Marple’s detective skills to the test as she works to unravel this complex mystery. As always Agatha Christie’s writing, stands up to the test of time and I was properly on the edge of my seat throughout this spellbinding production.

It may have been more than forty years since her death, but the Queen of Crime is still a masterful storyteller who is more than worthy of her crown. With a nostalgic set, a taut script and a fantastic cast, I would highly recommend seeing this production of A Murder is Announced.

I’m also pleased to report that I managed to guess the murderer, although to be fair, I did guess about five other characters first! But that’s the fun of a good old whodunnit isn’t it?

A Murder is Announced is currently touring the UK. For further information, please visit: http://www.middlegroundtheatre.co.uk

*Disclaimer – I was provided with two tickets to the performance in exchange for this fair and honest review.

Review: Decanting Club

A few weeks ago I got the chance to try out a new wine subscription club called the Decanting Club. When I’m not busy watching shows, reading and writing reviews, I am partial to a glass of wine (or three) – so I decided to give it a go…

I have to say, coming home to find wine in my letter pile was somewhat delightful! The main difference between the Decanting Club and other wine subscription services is that the wine is delivered to you by the glassful, inside a special pouch which fits through your letter box. This way club members can try out the wine and see if they like it, before committing to buy a whole case or bottle at a discounted price.

Every Monday, the wine of the week is decanted and sent out in the post. The idea is that they can be delivered with ease through the letterbox and members can sample the wine one glass at a time. I like this idea a lot – especially as it means that I didn’t have to wait in for any big bulky parcels to be delivered. Plus, the thought that wine is winging it’s way to me on a Monday – the weariest day of the week – is also welcomed!

I tried out two weeks worth of samples. The first wine was Clip do Monte da Vaia – a beautiful white wine with a crisp finish and the second was Swartland Limited Release Mourvedre – a fruity red.

I’m usually more of a white wine girl, but I enjoyed both samples and would happily of had more…

And I suppose that that is the only down side of this service! Sometimes one glass doesn’t feel like quite enough! However, the opportunity to order more of a wine that you know you’ll enjoy, does make up for that!

To find out more about Decanting Club, visit: https://decanting.club/wine/

*Disclaimer – I was given a free two week sample of this subscription service in exchange for this fair and honest review.