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Monday, 27 October 2014

Harrogate History Festival 2014

Unlike the Crime Writers Festival, I couldn't stay for the whole weekend this time. I left home disgustingly early, braved the M60 and M62 at morning rush hour, and made it to the Old Swan in time to get a front row seat to see the awesome Bernard Cornwell!

He is amazingly funny, and was interviewed by Radio 4s Mark Lawson, who was very, very good at asking open questions, and like Val McDermid at the Crime Writers Festival, really made the audience feel part of the conversation.
Bernard Cornwell and Mark Lawson
The signing queue for Bernard Cornwell was, perhaps unsurprisingly, immense, but I made it through, he was awfully nice, and I even got back into the ballroom for the Elizabeth Chadwick talk. Sadly, I was much nearer to the back, but she was being interviewed by Vanora Bennett, whose books I have read in the past. I have seen Elizabeth Chadwick before and she is fascinating to listen to. Although she's an author of fiction, she really, and I do mean, really, does her research! Another fabulous event, with a long signing queue after!

The only other event on the Friday I had tickets for, wasn't until 8.30pm, so I took myself off to the bar, where I met Rob Low (who writes some fantastic books about Vikings and Robert the Bruce). He was very kind and spoke with me about his newest project, which sounds interesting and very, very readable.

I met a few Facebook friends, whilst I was there, who I haven't met before, include a couple who were staying at the hotel on a railways tour! Bit of a coincidence, but it was lovely to meet them, and we had a lovely chat in the bar.

I was also lucky enough (whilst sat in the bar, author-spotting, let's be honest) to see some other authors that I really like! They were very friendly, kind enough to chat for a bit and clearly enjoying being there.

Eventually, just before 8.30, I joined the rather long queue to see Manda Scott interview Sandi Toksvig in a Desert Island Books talk. It was fantastic, I really wish I had written down all of the books that Sandi chose though, as I can only remember about half of them now, which is rather a shame, because apart from the Janet and John book, she made them all sound like must-read books! She was absolutely the funniest person I have ever been in an audience for, and when she was talking about the books that she had written, they all sound utterly brilliant... I managed to only buy 3 of her books whilst I was there, and believe that this was an achievement!

At the end of the evening, I chatted with the festival staff, some of whom I recognised from the Crime Writers Festival, and at least one of whom was there when I arrived just after 8am in the morning and was still there when I finally left at around 11pm! Those ladies worked so very hard all day, and there were still friendly and smiling after 15 hours!

My sat-nav had some kind of epic fit on the way home though - deciding, in it's infinite wisdom that rather than take me to the M62 (from where I could have turned it off and got home without assistance), it would take me across the pennines on the darkest, narrowest, hairiest roads imaginable, until I arrived at a roundabout opposite a large, lit-up saying with the name Dave Fishwick on it... (of 'Bank of Dave' fame), when I realised that I was in Burnley, a place I have never been before! I'm sure it's lovely when it's open, but at almost midnight, it's a bit dull.

I've digressed. Rotten roads aside, I made it home in around 2 hours (ish, plus a services stop) and I genuinely had the best time! I cannot wait to go again next year, this time for the full weekend! If you are able to get tickets and go next year, I would definitely recommend it!


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