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Artyness columnist and writer Barbara Henderson had an ambitious journey in mind for Bookshop Day on Saturday calling at Dingwall, Nairn, Elgin, Grantown, Aviemore – and would she make it in time for her last stop ...?


By Barbara Henderson

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I’m an occasion-kind-of-girl.

We have a whole cupboard of decorations for everything. Even Valentine’s Day! It’s no surprise then that I love Bookshop Day.

It may be a commercial ploy, but do I care? Absolutely not! It’s an occasion; it celebrates something I love, and I am in.

For this year’s Bookshop Day, I thought I would visit as many bookshops as I could. Here is how it went:

Barbara signing her books at Picaresque Books and Galerie Fantoosh in Dingwall.
Barbara signing her books at Picaresque Books and Galerie Fantoosh in Dingwall.

9.30. I’m off to Dingwall’s Picaresque Books where the owner was holding a fundraiser for Book Aid. He had invited a whole “plot” of authors to meet for a photo call too, but alas, I needed to be on my way to stop number two. All I had time for was a brief book signing, a short blast of social media and away I went.

Nairn Bookshop, another stop on Bookshop Day for Barbara.
Nairn Bookshop, another stop on Bookshop Day for Barbara.

10.40. The rain was heavy by the time I got to Nairn. I parked up and semi-jogged towards the High Street. The beautifully lit Nairn Bookshop was a sight for sore eyes through the sheets of rain, and I took refuge gladly. Mavis, the owner, wasn’t in this time, but there were books for me to sign, and I filmed a mini tour of the shop on social media. The day was all about celebrating bookshops, and this one is a beaut!

Bookseller Robyn at Waterstones in Elgin displaying Barbara's book The Black Water.
Bookseller Robyn at Waterstones in Elgin displaying Barbara's book The Black Water.

Back to the car and onto the A96, all the way to Elgin for 12.30 – I had never visited the Waterstones bookshop there before. As someone who doesn’t know the town well, it took me a bit of circling to find a parking space before sprinting through the rain towards the shopping centre. What a lovely wee shop it is! It looks small from the entrance but opens up far into the building, and the friendly bookseller Robyn gave me a broad smile of welcome. I signed some books and went on my merry way, clutching a hot pie from the nearby baker – the drive to Grantown was going to take me well past lunchtime.

Barbara at The Bookmark in Grantown with owner Marjory Marshall (left) and writer Caroline Logan (centre).
Barbara at The Bookmark in Grantown with owner Marjory Marshall (left) and writer Caroline Logan (centre).

I pulled into Grantown on Spey’s quaint High Street and squinted for the The Bookmark, a wonderful treasure trove of books.

My fellow author, Grantown resident Caroline Logan, was already there.

She is truly impressive: a full-time science teacher who writes the Four Treasures fantasy series for young adults. Her latest, The Sword of Light, is just out.

Despite hosting a book launch that night, she made time to meet me for coffee and cake – after we had both signed books for the intrepid and unstoppable bookseller Marjory.

My books were waiting to be signed in a teetering pile, accompanied by a bowl of sweeties – my kind of bookshop!

Back in Inverness at Waterstones, Barbara is pictured with John Feetenby.
Back in Inverness at Waterstones, Barbara is pictured with John Feetenby.

3pm. High time I got going! I could have talked to Caroline all day, but there were still two bookshops to go – I had to get my skates on. Aviemore was next.

It’s a beautiful drive and against my better judgment and the ticking clock, I stopped to take photographs as the sun burst through the dark clouds and bathed the hills in gold. Pat, the manager, welcomed me with books to sign, but the shop was busy – good! I left cheered.

One more, and that was on my home turf.

Back in Inverness, I legged it to Waterstones where the booksellers know me by name and I them. It was a lovely finish: books and banter with booksellers, my favourite kind of day.

If you want to see Barbara's day in 52 seconds, head for her Twitter! @scattyscribbler

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