Wigtown Book festival
I have just returned from a wonderful trip to the Wigtown Book festival, where I was being interviewed about my new book “Coasts and Waters The British seafood cook book” but that aside it is a great opportunity to see and hear other writers, some of whom are really well known. Wigtown is a small town in the south west of Scotland and is well worth a visit at any time but it comes alive for the 10 days or so of the festival at the end of September. The town is home to some 20 book related businesses! Which for a population of less than 1000 is pretty remarkable. I am always made to feel more important than I am by going to the writers retreat, where you can simply relax away from the busy town and have a coffee or tea, we arrived at lunch time as I had already booked to go and listen to Murray Pittock whose book Scotland a history has just been published and was so well reviewed in the Spectator I bought a copy and low and behold he was sitting opposite me! To have a conversation with a man who had written a fascinating book was a real privilege and to cap it all there was lobster for lunch! The Galloway smoke house was providing simple but delicious food and had got lobster in that morning and lightly smoked it.
The lecture from Murray Pittock was given without notes and was a superb trawl through Scottish seafaring history. He focusses on the importance of trade throughout our history. Over lunch I expressed a sadness that in spite of our amazing history full of remarkable people, Scots today were always looking for someone to blame. A sad reflection on where our priorities lie.
I also met over the lunch table a lady whose talk was based on the novel “Gone with the Wind” she used it to try to explain America today, quite shocking to realise they have an apartheid society with a section of society willing to break the law to get their way.
On the recommendation of a farming friend we had supper in the Pheasant at Sorbie. Owned and run by an Italian chef and his wife. It was lovely, good home made pasta and good use of some local ingredients.
For my own session I was interviewed by the ebullient owner of the Station House Cookery school in Kirkcudbright. We had the experience of the Ballymaloe cookery school in common but both shared the idea of the importance of provenance and of learning how to cook from a young age. I spoke of the difficulties fishermen were having post Brexit in getting their fish to market, and gave two pointers, one, Fishermen need to be like farmers who have become more proactive in getting their produce to market. And, we as a community need to learn to use different sorts of fish and above all encourage the next generation to cook.
A great discovery, talking of localism, was the interesting shop run by two sisters, which was a mix of café, butcher and greengrocer with a few deli goods thrown in. It’s called The Machars Farm shop and was doing a good trade in coffee and breakfast rolls when we were in and two such lovely friendly ladies. We fell for the salt marsh lamb. When asked where it was from, our diminutive butcher stood on tip toes and pointed out of the window “ over there “ she said. That was it, one shoulder bought.
You never know quite whom you might meet and suddenly I bumped into Richard Demarco, we shared a poke of chips!
The low point was what I had expected to be a good balanced discussion between respected journalists but sadly with a retired BBC political one and a current one and a newsprint journalist we just got a left wing tirade. Still I am sure it made them feel better….
All in all It was a great two days. If you haven’t already got the book here is an opportunity and I strongly recommend Murray Pittock’s book too
Wigtown Book festival
I have just returned from a wonderful trip to the Wigtown Book festival, where I was being interviewed about my new book “Coasts and Waters MORE >
Managing a Food based zoom meeting
I get all sorts of enquiries for all sorts of different jobs, but one I had recently was just wonderful. As a member of the MORE >