Thursday, 17 July 2008

Dartington day two: Sunday 13th July

I write this sitting in a deckchair. Yes, I'm in one again - I don't think you'd ever find me out of one, except for the necessity of going to talks! Today has been my calm day - how suitable for a Sunday. With only three talks to take in, I could get to know Dartington better.

The day dawned extraordinarily sunny - given how cloudy it had been the evening before. Out I bounded and into breakfast and then sat (guess where) with The Telegraph on my lap, browsing through it and having to dig my sunglasses out of my bag for the first time in a long while, before heading off to find The Duke's room for Lynne's talk at 11.30.

Lynne spoke eloquently about her life before blogdom, and what made her start in in the first place. She also divulged her tricks of the trade, and showed us her very heavily annotated copy of Daphne. I was flabbergasted by that - as someone who regularly writes little notes in her books, or underlines certain passages - the front page was literally covered with tiny handwriting. Lynne is (as if I didn't know this from reading her posts) someone who puts a great deal of thought into what she writes about the books she reads.

Question time came about and Kay Dunbar (chair of Lynne's talk and Ways With Words director - see her blog for WWW details) suddenly decided to introduce me and ask about my own blog. Needless to say this wasn't planned, and annoyingly I was a bit thrown and didn't actually say anything meaningful and only afterwards thought of all the pertinent things I could have said. The main one being that my prime motive for creating this second blog is because after four years of higher education, I really miss the discussion of books that was such a frequent occurrence during my university years. I would be the first to admit that this hasn't really gone according to plan, but I'm working on it!
Lynne finished with showing us proof that she really does what her blog description says, and brought out a couple of quilts, and some really cool socks. Neglected to take pictures, but they really were beautiful. She'd also brought along some books, and charged us to take one and send a review if we wanted. Needless to say, I took one, and will be reading it in the following week.

So, where next? Why, a walk about the gardens listening to poetry of course! This was a great treat, because the gardens are so beautiful, and we walked round parts I'd not previously visited. The sun shone out, Lucy Lepchani and Miriam Darlington declaimed wonderfully and a good time was generally had by all.

From this point I had nothing scheduled, so ambled to the box office. Jonathan Dimbleby had sold out, but Jonathon Fenby was talking about 2 millenia of Chinese history, and I thought that might be interesting. This still left me with a couple of hours, and oh dear - the second hand shop whispered to me, and within I found a few more things to tempt the pocketbook. Thankfully they were only £1 each, and one was the Claire Tomalin biography of Katherine Mansfield which i had been eyeing up in Waterstones. I saved seven whole pounds!

The Jonathon Fenby event was interesting, but it didn't grip me, and I don't suppose I was in the mood for Chinese ruthlessness after the splendour of Dartington all day. Still, there's usually one disappointment when one goes to so many events, and I'm glad it happened early on.

I am now ensconced in the bar, outside unfortunately, as the inside is all booked up ... Fade to black and jump forward an hour ... Ok, I just got a bit sidetracked by people sitting at my table. Hey - this is what makes literary festivals great (apart from the events obviously). Striking up conversations with whomever is beside you at the time seems to be a form of extreme sport here. Sit down, and talk. Or stand and talk if you're in a queue. Whatever you do, don't sit in silence, because you never know who you might meet. Take my previous hour lapse for instance. The person that sat down was none other than Sam Leith, editor of the book section of The Daily Telegraph, and we've just spent an hour talking about books in general, blogs, writing techniques (pen or laptop) and the greatness of this festival. Thoroughly fascinating and it only came to an end with Sam and friend rushing off to see Paul Kingsnorth.
It's half nine in the evening and I'm going in search of the sunset and then back to my room - I've got an especially busy day tomorrow!

Oh ... here's a link to Sam's blog ...It's partly ego that causes me to put this up, but I'm so proud to have been linked to by a proper journalist!

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