Sunday, 17 June 2018

A Book Festival, A Coastal Visit, and a Busy Blogging Spell

LIFE: JUNE 11th-17th 2018

I like a regular dose of history, culture and politics, so this was a good week for me at Melrose Book Festival. 

Shelf Books Library Reading Education Know

I listened to Rory Bremner interviewing  William Hague - former Tory party leader,  who proved to be a witty speaker, with lots of anecdotes  on his career in politics and his later career on writing  historical biographies of William Pitt, Britan's youngest prime minister, and William Wilberforce who led the campaign to abolish slavery.  

The second speaker I saw was former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown, who gave an impressive impassioned talk (without any notes).  He looked back to growing up as a son of the Manse and his early introduction into politics, but said very little on his time as Chancellor and PM.   His focus was on the current worldwide political scene with the polarization  of extreme views and lack of coming together to find a common ground. We needed messages of hope!   His talk was not without humour and he came across as  relaxed and likeable.   He admitted, though that he was not comfortable with TV and social media  and the intrusion any politician now faces in their personal and family life.  

I enjoyed both talks immensely - as did the rest of the 550-strong audience in the main festival marquee, with both speakers receiving prolonged applause. My only gripe  - I would have liked more time given for audience questions. 

The Festival has grown in stature since its launch in 2004  ago and is a great advert for Melrose.  We had to contend with frequent heavy rain showers throughout the day, but these had not deterred the large crowds in the setting of Harmony  Gardens, with lots of families enjoying the children's events.  People were very good-natured  and friendly and I chatted with  visitors from across Scotland and the north of England.

 Harmony Gardens, in Melrose - site of the Book Festival 
with the Abbey in the background - a very dull day!

We came to the end of our sunshine spell  and were back to grey days and temperatures plummeting to the 50sF/12C. - which meant I was more inclined to be on the computer.  Then Thursday we faced Storm Hector and the highest winds I can remember experiencing for a long time.  For our weekly walking group, we decided it was too risky  to go in the woods and contented ourselves with a safer route.  Friday brought a thunderstorm and more rain - at least good for the garden and saved me watering. 

Among  recent posts on my Family History Fun page
After feeling in the doldrums at the lack of response to blog posts for  my local heritage group, Auld Earlsto,  page views have suddenly shot up - thank you to my readers - a good morale booster. 

  • Britain's Best Home Cook Final -  I have stuck with this Mary Berry programme, though it has taken time to get into the new format. It was good to put the emphasis on home cooking, though, and not fancy "Fine Dining" and there was no question of the sense of camaraderie among the contestants.
  • The Hotel Inspector - with my ex-tourism hat on, this was not one of the best. The hotel was in a beautiful location in Devon on the route of a long distance path and had been taken over by a couple with NO hotel experience at all - what a leap om the dark!  Not surprisingly their occupancy rates were low to the point of them running out of money.  But Alex Polizzi (the hotel inspector) focused on the "drab, monochrome" bedroom decor (all be it good quality and modern}  and gave next to no attention to their marketing activities or even their website.  It took the mystery shopper guests to mention drying room faciltiies for walkers and cyclists, and secure storage for cycles overnight etc.

    I am looking forward to next week's when she is in the Borders in a country pub/small hotel where we used to go for bar meals. 

The Wednesday Club outing was to the coast - North Berwick, 25 miles south of Edinburgh on the shores of the Firth of Forth.  We were lucky with the weather and even managed to sit outside for coffee enjoying the views. 

To end on a historical  trivia fact:  
The Bass Rock in the distance on this photograph is now a seabird sanctuary, but in the late 17th century it was also the inhospitable site of a prison, where Alexander Shields from Earlston was sent, convicted of Covenanting activities.

 Covenanters were people in Scotland who signed the National Covenant in 1638 to confirm their opposition to the interference by the Stuart kings in the affairs of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

Journal Jottings   
Recording my everyday life for future family historians

Developed from the "Genea-Pourri" prompt  on Randy Seaver’s blog Genea-MusingsI I decided to change his title for my own version of this weekly online diary.

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