Soggy but satisfied after a day on Skye
Rain was forecast. And wind. Still, I grinned as I loaded up my car with books, props and visitors.
I was going to the Isle of Skye, one of my favourite places on Earth. And even though you may need a German phrasebook to get by at this time of year, I would be fine, having brought my own two Germans along for the ride.
The plan was to drop them off at Broadford while I headed on to Isleornsay and the beautiful An Crubh centre where I'd been asked to deliver a writing workshop, appearing alongside all-round legend Maggie Craig. Maggie has long been an inspiration of mine. There are people who ooze intelligence, and there are people who ooze warmth, but rarely do you come across a person who is abundant in both. Maggie falls into that category for certain.
It had just begun to rain when I dropped off the Germans. Oh well, I thought. It’ll blow over.
On arrival, Maggie and I took advantage of a brief window of sunshine to take an author pic on the terrace of the venue, hair blowing fashionably in the wind. We didn’t last long out there: the wind was fierce and much colder than it looked. As the audience trickled in, we drank in the sweeping view of the moors and hills, battered by the first violent shower.
Poor Germans, I thought briefly, but soon my mind was utterly captivated by Maggie’s talk about the women and men of the ’45, Jacobite rebels, government supporters and everything in between. She is knowledgeable to a fault and answered all questions with wit and energy. I love the way that I leave every Maggie Craig event I attend considering something that had never occurred to me before. It’s a gift!
On to my workshop. By that time, I was pretty sure the rain had turned to hail. Poor Germans again. My workshop participants were incredibly engaged in creating their own historical fiction, and the more I facilitate sessions like this, the more I realise I enjoy them tremendously. During writing time, I always write too, and may just have generated a chapter of my current favourite new idea while I was there. Workshops benefit me as much as everyone else.
Afterwards, Maggie and I joined forces for a very informal question-and-answer session which I thoroughly enjoyed.
However, again and again my eyes drifted to the window. The rain had morphed into the kind of perma-drizzle that drowns your very soul. I shifted uncomfortably, thinking of my abandoned guests. Once the live literature afternoon had come to an end, the skies opened in a downpour the likes of which we rarely see here. Nothing for it. I sprinted to my car, only 20 yards away. Still, long enough to be saturated to the skin.
Sympathy was not forthcoming from my waterlogged visitors who were delighted to have a roof over their heads again (albeit a car one). "All in all, an excellent day!" I ventured, hopefully – to soaked silence.
Don’t miss: While you’ve been splashing in the summer rain, lots of behind-the-scenes activity has been going on at NessBookFest HQ – the official festival programme will be launched on August 31, with leaflets available from Waterstones and the library as well as volunteers manning a stand in the Eastgate on the day from 11am to 3pm. Do say hello!
Also keep an eye on the NessBookFest Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @NessBookFest1 for author and venue announcements. The festival will run from October 3-5 and all events are free.
Look out for
There is nothing quite as exciting as discovering a new author you really rate! I recently came across Alan McClure and his beautiful book Callum and the Mountain. Unusually, it’s written in third-person present tense, but his is a quirky, utterly refreshing new voice in children’s writing that I can’t wait to see more of.
Highland writer Debbie Ross’s just-released Highland Home Cook – The Cookbook is also worth a look. Full of mouth-watering culinary ideas, it’s aptly described as "a friendly voice in your kitchen". Support a local author and do yourself a favour by checking this out!