North of the Border - just
Most of my forays to Scotland take me a long way north. I jump onto a train to Aberdeen to get a ferry to Shetland. Or if time is tight, I get on a train to Edinburgh and fly to Shetland. But on a Friday in June I took a very short and pretty drive across the border to Melrose for the Borders Book Festival. There are grander and more famous Book Festivals, but none, I think, that look after their authors quite so well.
It started with the accommodation. I followed my sat nav to Fauhope House, a beautiful country house just across the river from Harmony Hall, where the Festival is housed in a National Trust property and gardens. In Fauhope I was greeted by Sheila with the offer of tea in the drawing room and an umbrella to take with me for the walk to the Hall.
Then there were the volunteers, all of whom were friendly, helpful and willing to make tea or pour wine at the drop of a hat. I wasn't on until 9.15 - almost my bedtime - and supper was provided. Not sandwiches in the Green Room here, but a freshly cooked three course dinner in a very grand dining room, with lovely company.
And the Festival even provided an audience! Although Michael Parkinson and Rory Bremner were performing that evening too, sixty people turned up in my tent to listen to me talk about Vera and Silent Voices in conversation with Roland Gulliver. I had a little queue in the book tent too!
So I had a wonderful time and I hope to return.