Festival frenzy and new friends

So with the obligatory interchanging warm/wet weather, the festival season enters full swing. Leo and I are never ones to miss a good party (or a wine-fuelled discussion around a campfire for that matter) and with Skimming Stones providing much food for thought among its growing readership, we have been asked to appear at various festivals over the coming months. This has even necessitated a new tab on our right hand menu to keep people up to date. Yes, we’re techno wizards. Anyway, please check out our forthcoming dates!

Rob and Helen Lederer decompress after speaking at Hay

The first festival has actually passed already; it was at the wonderful if very wet Hay-On-Wye in June. Those Hay aficionados among you will be familiar with the fact that the festival site is a fair schlep from the nearest station. I wouldn’t have made it there at all if the brilliant Helen Lederer, comedienne and BBC Radio 4 mainstay, hadn’t instructed me forcibly to join her in a taxi. The next forty minutes was spent editing and drafting her speech and trading chat with the driver, who was both deaf and chatty – a winning combination. Thankfully Helen made me laugh to the point of injury, which had the bonus of completely dissolving my nerves.

I joined a panel discussion at what has to be the coolest philosophy and arts fringe event in the world ‘How The Light Gets In’. The topic was literary ecologies and it featured some great speakers that I nervously joined on a three-piece suite on the stage – Joanna Kavenna, who wrote the brilliant The Ice Museum, novelist and poet Lavinia Greenlaw and the renowned Shakespeare scholar Jonathan Bate. The discussion ebbed and flowed between the histories of nature writing and the current new wave of environmental literature, revealing lots of interesting insights, ideas and opinions. The festival website will be uploading a video of the full talk to their website in due course, but I hope being able to bring something of the practical application of much of what we were discussing was useful. It certainly provoked great interest from the audience afterwards and a people asking me to sign the book over beers in the bar. Most also asked for a couple of tips on how to build a waterproof den and light the perfect fire first time. It must have been the weather.

Meeting other authors and sharing debate over lots of wine invariably raises the question about what your book is about. It was lovely to have prestigious writers ear wigging for the techniques to the simple skills. Nostalgia and grand plans for nature breaks abounded. Writing can be a sedentary and interior-focused existence and a gentle reminder about the importance of standing in the midst of sheer life, of slowing down and drawing closer to the otherworldliness of nature certainly stimulated imaginations.

We will deliver reports as to our festival antics as they happen. Next up Larmer Tree near Salisbury on the 13th July. Come and see us if you are about.

– Rob –

Drawing of a robin

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