Sunday, 1 March 2009

Bath literature festival.

Yesterday we went to visit the first day of the Bath Literature Festival, which is held every year at the end of February. Şencan proposed to me during the event last year, so it is a place that has many happy memories.

In the end we chose to attend four talks (after witnessing a spectacular acrobatic display from two near-naked men outside the Baths). This was just part of the atmosphere during the festival; there were morris dancers and tutu-clad juggling unicyclists.

The first event we attended was a talk by writer and author Linda Grant, who discussed her fiction and non-fiction works. This was fairly interesting, and when it was over we bought a copy of her book, 'The clothes on their backs', which I have started reading and will review later. Coincidentally, Linda Grant was on BBC Radio 4 as we drove back home, talking about her latest book.

The second event was a talk by Polly Devlin, in which she discussed her book, "A year in the life of an English Meadow". This was a passionate talk about a meadow that she saved from ploughing, and has turned back into a fantastic wild flower habitat. Her passion and vision came through in her talk, and again we purchased a copy of her book at the end. She referred to the 'normal fields' that we see as green deserts, with only five or six different types of grasses to be seen. In comparison, her meadow has well over one hundred.

The third, and best, talk, was by Ted Nield, discussing geology and Pangea, the gigantic landmass that once included all the land on Earth. His talk ranged wildly through the past and the future, covering millions of years in the space of minutes. He mixed quotations from Douglas Adams with a brief history - and future - of our planet. Again, we bought a copy of his book, 'Supercontinent'.

The fourth talk we attended was 'Guilty pleasures', a discussion of the works of Georgette Heyer and Dorothy L Sayers. By this time it was 17.30 and I was definitely flagging. As I had never read any of the works (a situation that I shall soon remedy), I found this a fairly boring lecture. Şencan, however, has read books by both the authors and seemed suitably riveted.

In the end we decided not to stay overnight in Bath, and instead headed back home to Romsey. We will have to miss some of the midweek lectures, some of which unfortunately look very interesting, but we may well go back next weekend to attend the last couple of days of the show.

Book festivals are a great way of reaching literature that you would not normally read; go along, pick a talk, listen, then buy the book at the end. I have found some absolute gems of books from doing this, and it has also broadened my reading considerably.

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