What I Did On My Summer Holidays #2: Festivals!

This summer, in the space of three weeks, I attended and took part in three festivals: the Edinburgh Book Festival, the Just So Festival and the Stroud Fringe. They were all a lot of fun!

Leaving my family on the Isle of Wight (see previous post), I flew up to Edinburgh for three days.

Look! I was actually there!
Look! I was actually there!

I’ve been gatecrashing the Edinburgh Book Festival for years (by which I mean turning up and loitering near the ‘authors only’ area in the hopes of seeing an author friend who was doing an event there and who would sneak me in) but this year I was finally invited to take part, hurrah! I was hugely thrilled about this because Edinburgh is my very favourite book festival (and I’m not just saying that). It all takes place in one square of gardens, and there’s such a lovely book-friendly atmosphere it’s like an open-air library, with people talking about and sharing their love of books everywhere you look.

Reading, talking, eating area in the middle of the square of tents. And look - blue sky!
Reading, talking, eating area in the middle of the square of tents. And look – blue sky!

I did three events this year. First up was a joint event with new author Lindsay Littleson – she was talking about her book The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean (a lovely read) and I was talking about A Library of Lemons. Somehow, I have utterly failed to find a photo of the two of us – how annoying! Then I had an event with Kathryn Evans, who wrote the fab YA novel More Of Me. We had a ball!

Electrigirl kit all ready to go!
Electrigirl kit all ready to go!
Me in action
Me in action
me and Kathryn at the end of our event
me and Kathryn at the end of our event
Signing table buddies!
Signing table buddies!

You can read a write-up of our event here – thanks Bookwitch!

I also took part in an Amnesty International event, reading a piece written by a survivor of torture. A great privilege, and I was super-awed to meet the wonderful Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism website.

Reading for Amnesty
Reading for Amnesty

I also got to watch a couple more events with talented authors/illustrators:

Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet, authors and illustrators of the fantastic SUPERTATO picture book series, perform 'The Half-Baked Potato' show - very silly and very fun!
Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet, authors and illustrators of the fantastic SUPERTATO picture book series, perform ‘The Half-Baked Potato’ show – very silly and very fun!
Comic artists unbound - regular contributors to the amazing Phoenix Comic had an improvised drawing competition which was hilarious
Comic artists unbound – regular contributors to the amazing Phoenix Comic had an improvised drawing competition which was hilarious

I was VERY sad to leave the festival, but I flew back to the Isle of Wight on Tuesday 16th and then we came home to Oxfordshire the next day – a lot of miles in a short space of time!

On the Friday of that week, my husband and kids and I drove up to Cheshire for the Just So festival, which took place over the weekend 19-21 August. I’d heard great things about it but never been, so it was quite an adventure for us, especially as we were camping! (And I really, really dislike camping.) I did an Electrigirl event, which was BRILLIANT fun because several of my author pals came to support (as well as real punters), and I also did a First Draft event with my author band – on the MAIN STAGE! Shame it was raining…and shame there was a problem with our bass guitar…but hey, it was fun all the same!

Rehearsing in Paul Stickland's van
Rehearsing in Paul Stickland’s van
John Dougherty rocks it out
John Dougherty rocks it out
L-R: Paul Stickland, John Dougherty, me, Helen Stickland
L-R: Paul Stickland, John Dougherty, me, Helen Stickland
Look! Children FLOCKED to us in their wellies...
Look! Children FLOCKED to us in their wellies…

A week later, First Draft played again (with a working bass this time, and SUNSHINE) at the Stroud Fringe, Gloucestershire.

Paul's photo of John, me and Helen singing 'Daydreaming'
Paul’s photo of John, me and Helen singing ‘Daydreaming’

We had a really lovely audience, and a fab time, and at the end of the gig I drove back home to host a barbeque for 47 people at our house!

And here are some extra random photos that make me smile:

The staircase at the Roxburghe Hotel, where I stayed in luxury in Edinburgh - but the view from the 3rd floor did make me VERY wobbly!
The staircase at the Roxburghe Hotel, where I stayed in luxury in Edinburgh – but the view from the 3rd floor did make me VERY wobbly!
However, out of the window of my room, the height was an advantage as I could see the fireworks from the Tattoo up at the castle!
However, out of the window of my room, the height was an advantage as I could see the fireworks from the Tattoo up at the castle!
In the sunlight, Arthur's Seat looks gorgeous. Edinburgh is a very pretty city.
In the sunlight, Arthur’s Seat looks gorgeous. Edinburgh is a very pretty city.
On part of my journey home from Edinburgh, I waited at a bus stop opposite this shop that clearly has an ego problem
On part of my journey home from Edinburgh, I waited at a bus stop opposite this shop that clearly has an ego problem

In my final part of What I Did On My Summer Holidays, I’ll tell you why the six weeks has been packed even more tightly than it might appear…writing 40,000 words alongside…!

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