I have never been to the Hay Festival before....so, yesterday, I decided to treat myself (and husband, who I dragged along)! What a great place. I had a wonderful time. It all began well when, parking at Clyro park & ride, we boarded the shuttle bus rather expecting a wait, only for it to immediately close its doors and head for the festival site. Perfect service!
After spending a while getting to know where things were, we headed for the festival Bookshop to meet up with Stephanie Roundsmith, who has set up 'kidsreadwritereview' in the North East of England. As it states on her site, it 'is a wonderful and unique scheme created to help children with their reading and writing skills. The scheme encourages children to be creative in their writing, to develop a more consistent reading pattern and to ignite that wonderful love of reading for pleasure.'
I am proud to say I am one of the writers who has been asked to 'judge' reviews by children after they have read Mrs MacCready Was Ever So Greedy - and I love it. The work that goes in to these young children's reviews is fantastic.
An amazing lady with - especially for the festival - amazing literary nails!! Wish I'd taken a photo of them.
NB: the security man in the background is keeping a close eye on Stephanie, who had sort of been 'asked' to leave the bookshop for fear of 'annoying' authors by asking whether they'd like to join her scheme. Daft! I'm sure any children's writer would love to be a part of something that encourages children to read, for all sorts of reasons. (I spotted she'd crept back in again later!)
After that I spent a while mooching in the Oxfam bookshop - total happiness! Came away with, yep, books! That's my summer holiday sorted.
Then we went to hear Sheila Hancock talk, ostensibly about her new (and first) novel 'Miss Carter's War', but she fitted so much more in to the hour. She resonated with me on so many topics too numerous to shoehorn in here. Overflowing with humour she managed to take us through her opinions on war, loneliness, politicians, the Arts, bereavement and prisons. I was glued to her every word.
Growing up during and just after the war she explained how many of her generation lived in total fear of another world war and truly believed, with the nuclear weapons now at politicians' disposal, the world would end sooner rather than later. Much of this experience comes through in her novel.
I particularly liked her thoughts on teachers (no surprise there). She called us 'the backstop' of society that should be respected, not denigrated and made to constantly adjust our way of teaching for what often seems the sake of it. She told us how she visits several schools with, as she put it, complicated children, and how they change when, after working with drama and presentation skills, they realise they can have a confidence and a good place in society. I won't repeat what she said about the cutting of Arts funding, suffice to say she quoted the solid research that shows children who take music lessons improve across the board in all other subjects.
I have to say I came away from her talk totally inspired.
Then it was time to retrace our steps to the car and return home. I've never known five hours pass so quickly. However, passing through the exit, I suddenly spotted Alexander McCall Smith....I am quite sure I did. I know he was due to be at the festival as I'd seen his books on the 'Festival Authors' shelves in the bookshop. My husband was less certain it was him....but what does he know?
I will let you make your mind up for yourself. I took a photo......but by the time I had my camera out he was past me and heading in the other direction, so you'll have to make your judgment from the back of his head! (He's the gentleman in the middle of the picture).
Really hope to be back at the festival again next year!