the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

Busy bees

June has been packed with activities! As we only have a fortnight left until we leave for London, we’re trying to make the most of our remaining time in Edinburgh. My son visited last week and we went on a couple of outings which involved obligatory photos:

A view of Arthur’s Seat from Blackford Hill
Jonny and David in Circus Lane, Stockbridge
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Limitations and opportunities during the pandemic

Last month I received the news that the Mani Lit Fest 2020 is cancelled. I had been excited about travelling to Greece in October to deliver a couple of workshops and some readings. Although the decision is totally understandable, it did come as a disappointment. But not any more. I understand the festival will be running in 2021 so that’s definitely something to look forward to.


Church in Chori where Bruce Chatwin’s ashes are buried

The Mani is a beautiful part of Greece and you can read about an earlier visit to writer Carol McGrath‘s house near the delightful seaside town of Stoupa here. Living through a pandemic has many limiting factors and prospects for overseas travel or indeed any sort of travel takes considerable planning. It seems that Coronvirus has the capacity to clip wings but it opens other opportunities. I’ve loved having more regular Zoom calls with friends in Australia, for example.

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Mere Literary Festival

The small town of Mere, positioned at the western edge of Salisbury Plain, hosts a literary festival each year. It is organised by volunteers and includes a range of events for adults and children, those living nearby and visitors. The highlights for the seventeenth Mere Literary Festival include:

PAUL KERENSA – So a Comedian walks into a Church

The popular comedian discusses his recently published diary revealing the true and hilarious ‘Confessions of a Kneel-Down Stand-Up’.

Monday 14 October Grove Building 7.30pm. £5 in advance £6 on the door.

TARQUIN OLIVIER – So Who’s Your Mother?

What’s it like growing up the son of a great actor? More off-stage stories from his published memoir by the son of Laurence Olivier.

Tuesday 15 October Grove Building 7.30pm. £5 in advance £6 on the door.

CHRIS McCULLY – Poetry Masterclass

A must for all with poetry in their hearts as acclaimed poet, Chris McCully, analyses poems submitted by local writers

Wednesday 16 October, Grove Building 2.30pm. Retiring donations.


One of Britain’s ‘20 Favourite Authors’, Damien Lewis has topped best-seller lists worldwide and has 29 books listed on ‘Good Reads’. He discusses his work including his latest book, ‘Zero Six Bravo’.

Friday 17 October, Grove Buildings 7.30pm. £5 in advance £6 on the door

CHILDREN’S EVENT with award-winning author GILLIAN CROSS

A free event at the library, tickets required

Saturday 18 October, 2.15pm

For the full programme, click here. Tickets available from Mere Library 01747 860546 or the Festival Organiser 01747 860475

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A visit to Gullivers Bookshop, Wimborne Minster

This is the first in a series of posts about independent bookshops in Dorset. Once a month I attend a writing group in Wimborne led by poet, writer and teacher, Sarah Barr (you can find out more about the Wimborne Writers’ Group here). Last week I took the opportunity to visit Gullivers Bookshop, a family owned business in the centre of the market town run by Malcolm and Anne Angel and their daughter Jane with their son and his wife.

As I went into the shop, Malcolm was in the throes of  dismantling the window display that celebrated Dorset Art Weeks from 26 May – 10 June, which comprised a collection of papier-mache heads featuring characters from books. With another community event approaching, it was time for a change. To celebrate 20 years of Bookstart, Gullivers is hosting a Busy Bear Party on 22 June and the new display will feature a teddy bears’ reading group.  This engagement with the community is a feature of the bookshop that has been in Wimborne for over 40 years.

The shop feels bright and airy, well-stocked but not cluttered and an easy place to spend time. Displays by the entrance feature the latest fiction titles with further books on the shelves. There’s an area dedicated to Dorset’s people, places and culture and support for local authors (for a comprehensive list of publications click here). Thought has gone into organising the areas in an accessible way, for example, the young adult books have been positioned in a corner, away from the desk and the children’s section, to encourage self-conscious teenagers to browse.

The children’s section is delightful, decorated with mobiles and balloons. There’s Lego to play with and books for younger children displayed on shelves at just the right height. Children are welcome to chatter and play while choosing books, some saying that they ‘love the smell of the bookshop’.

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