I was thrilled to be invited to attend the Wigtown Book Festival this year. Or rather, the teen part of the festival: WTF (Wigtown, the Festival – I like what they did there). I didn’t actually know very much about it before I went – I didn’t actually even know where Wigtown was – but I set off from Preston on Saturday to get the train to Lockerbie. It was an absolutely gorgeous journey, through beautiful countryside. The sun was shining, I had a pile of books and a coffee and I felt very lucky.
I got to Lockerbie at 6.30. I’d been told that someone would pick me up and it was about an hour’s drive to Wigtown. There’d been a misunderstanding and no one picked me up. After I phoned, the organisers arranged for a taxi to get me, but it didn’t arrive until 7.30 and the driver told me Wigtown was two hours away. It was dark. My phone was almost out of charge. Two hours in a car in the dark with nothing to do. Oy. I did try to do some work on my book (in my head) and I did actually think of something that I then had to scrawl in the back of the book I’d been reading, in case I forgot it (fortunately it is actually legible) and then I had a little snooze.
Oh and the lovely author Karen McCombie had contacted me to say she was in Wigtown too and would I like to have dinner? She’d booked the table for 8.45 and so I had to reserve a smidge of energy in my phone so that I could contact Karen. Last orders at the restaurant were at 9, so Karen even texted me the menu, so she could order on my behalf. It turned out the taxi driver had exaggerated the journey and I think I arrived at the restaurant pretty much dead on 8.45. Karen is LOVELY and it was great after such a journey to sit down, eat ham hock (or “hammock” as Karen had texted ), drink wine and talk and talk and talk.
After dinner, it was time to find the place I was staying. I knew I was staying with a local resident, only I didn’t know who. I’d been told that the details would be left at the restaurant for me, but when I came to leave found that they hadn’t (actually they had, they’d just been missed – it was really busy). So lovely Geri from ReadingLasses did a bit of ringing round and then, when she couldn’t find anyone to take me in, suggested I stay at her house. How lovely is that? It turned out, though, that my hosts (Sandra and Alan) were at the ceilidh with lots of other book festival people and so Geri dropped me there.
At the ceilidh, I got a very warm and apologetic welcome from Anne (the event organiser) – and a glass of wine from Anne’s husband – and then sat down to watch the dancing. It was so much fun to watch that I almost got up and joined in (but I didn’t have a partner). I laughed out loud, drank my wine and thought… I’m in the middle of Scotland at a ceilidh with strangers. Huh. I love those times when you find yourself somewhere completely unexpected and it’s ace. I did get up at the end, for Auld Lang Syne. Then I was introduced to Sandra and Alan (and two friends whose names I’m afraid I’ve forgotten) and we all went back to Sandra and Alan’s house, where we proceeded to stay up until 2.30, drinking tea and talking about travelling and politics.
I was woken up by bright sunshine and hopped – okay, staggered – out of bed to take a photo. Look!
Sandra and Alan made a fantastic cooked breakfast (and we talked and talked some more) and then Alan dropped me at the County Building to meet Karen again.
Karen and I went for a walk and stumbled upon an art gallery that turned out to be showing the Edinburgh Book Sculptures on tour. I you haven’t heard about the sculptures, go here and read right to the end. They are so beautiful and I was thrilled that I got to see them in real life. (Thanks, Karen!)
We went for a coffee in the Writers’ Retreat in The Bookshop, which was very fancy and would’ve been a fabulous place to have lunch – if not for that huge cooked breakfast – and then on to my event, where I met some lovely girls, including the amazing and talented Zoe Bestel, who I’ve been Twitter friends with for a while. It was really informal and chatty and I so enjoyed it. Would love to get the chance to go back next year, so I really hope they enjoyed it too.
After the event, I was driven back to Lockerbie station, along with an author named Lari Don. We talked – from children’s books to JK Rowling to balancing writing with promotion to feminism to politics – the entire way. It was great.
Thank you so much to Anne, Zoe, Christie and everyone involved in the Wigtown and WTF festivals for inviting me, to Geri for offering to take me in and driving me around, to Sandra and Anne for the bed, breakfast and fabulous conversation, to David for driving us to Lockerbie, and to Karen and Lari for even more fabulous conversation.
The theme of this weekend was definitely conversation, which makes sense for a book festival, no?