A week on the road; or, Edinburgh Festival 2017

And then began the longest blog post so get a cup of tea before you start.

On Thursday 10th I set off alone in my big black van, leaving Pi in the care of Sarah and Ben at The Bug Farm and Ivy to look after Mr Stenham. I drove the long road that leads to Crickhowell and there I found the Lost Words waiting for me, in Book-ish. On the way I stopped to photograph a dead pigeon and ate too many cherries and met the nightmare panda from another dimension. It was one of those days.

At Book-ish I had lunch with Emma, and we looked at The Lost Words together. Well, I watched Emma looking at The Lost Words, stroking the pages.

At Nicola’s, where I was staying, she showed me her dead wren she had found on a run. It was in the fridge. Beautiful, even in death.

Later I watched as Eva John, Nicola and Julia Green looked at The Lost Words and I wished that I had a sound file as they turned the pages.

At Nicola’s I found a copy of What to Look for in Spring, with illustrations by Tunnicliffe. My sister had this book and I loved it.

We walked. Someone had found one of the labyrinth stones left nearby and put it inside the great yew tree.

The next day Mimi Thebo arrived with the most gorgeous cake. Such a gathering we had, with Gill Lewis, Karin Celestine, Julia Green, Nicola Davies, Eva John, Clare Parry-Jones and me. Nicola had made the most beautiful lunch.

We talked of books and the wild world and laughed and read to each other.

The next day Nic and I went off to a church, somewhere on a hillside nearby, took a wrong turn on the pathways and ended up scrambling over logs, green with soft moss, beneath fences, knees muddy, faces covered in smiles.

The church was astonishing, with painted walls and a wooden screen. But something, at the end of the room, strange, setting the hair on end. Outside in the sunshine a beautiful view of trees and valley.

I placed the stone I had brought from Mousehole in the swift running stream by a scared well.

I found a leaf, bright shadow making something strange of its dry decay.

Bright light on the water was curious strange., ripples and gold glinting in sunlight.

Then, the next day a long train journey to the north. Edinburgh Festival. I had A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne Harris to keep me company and oh what wild and beautiful company it is. Such a beautiful delight of a book.

Despite it being Scotland I had failed to take a coat and, well, as if on cue for Mrs Noah’s Pockets……

Before our event James Mayhew and I did an interview for Scottish Booktrust Learning Resource and when that is edited and posted I will link to it. Then I asked if James wanted to see The Lost Words and he and Antonio settled in the author’s yurt to wander through its pages. So again, I watched them, looking at the book. Then we did our event and the weather conspired with sound effects.

I had let James take complete control of what we should do and he had made the most beautiful powerpoint that included images from Noye’s Fludde. Together we made a dragon in collage to show the children how he had worked the images. I was so nervous of doing this, but really enjoyed it and afterwards a lady in the audience bought the piece for £100 which James and I are donating to Help Musicians on her behalf as this is where our work together began, in the card designs for Help Musicians.

We signed lots of books and James printed beautiful lino cuts in each book. I would like to thank Edinburgh Book Festival for inviting us to be part of the program and for being just so warm in their welcome and so kind in the way they look after all their writers.

Later James and Antonia went off to the National Gallery of Scotland as he is working there in December, and I showed Jake Hope of SLG both The Lost Words and Mrs Noah’s Pockets.

And on Monday Caught By The River added this to their beautiful site and I feel rather quietly proud to be a part of it.


Lovely Anji Baker came to get me from the festival and tired as tired we went back to her house and the beautiful dogs. And there I was, so close to the Towie Stone, and heading home the next day, with too brief a time to see Anji, so I asked if I could stay an extra day and yes. So on Tuesday we went together to the gallery and hunted down the magnificent stone. All of them, so beautiful.

So, so lovely to see Anji, and we live too far from each other! And also, on Monday, Audrey and Brian and John, who came and went in the hustle and bustle that is the festival. Next time I will make time to stay longer. The museum is astonishing. I need to see more. And spend more time with Anji.

Back home, settling in for a short while and I’ve much to do in too short a time. Robin looked at The Lost Words and I watched as he did. And later I checked on stones that live hidden in the wild.

I still find that while I have watched others looking at the Lost Words I’ve been strangely shy of looking at it myself. It sits in my living room like a strange wild thing. I thought I would find the courage to have a good look through when I got home but I’ve still not quite managed it.

Today I reached the end of the first draft of a new novel, but I realise there’s a long way to go yet in self editing before it works its way into the hands of an editor. I almost lost it as my computer wouldn’t turn on so many thanks to the team at Them Digital for talking me through, helping me boot up and then delete things……. messy computer, full of stuff, bit like my house.

Tomorrow I will do some painting and look at The Lost Words and stop being scared of my own book.

I’ve finished A Pocketful of Crows now. I think I might read it again. It has not a word out of place. It sings to my soul. It makes me wish to be of the traveling folk so that I could go into a hare.

About Jackie

I am an artist and writer. I live in a small house by the sea in Wales where I write, paint, walk and watch and dream of bears and whales. I love to read, have a wish for wings and prefer the company of animals to that of humans, though at times I can be quite friendly. I am learning how to work with wood engraving tools and hoping to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
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3 Responses to A week on the road; or, Edinburgh Festival 2017

  1. Bernie Bell says:

    The Panda has no eyes…………………………………………

    I strongly recommend that next time your up north, you go visit Kilmartin Glen, in particular the carved stones, in particular, if you can get to them, the ones at Ormaig – and the museum there. I’m going to try to pick the best pic. I have, and send it to you. Hard to do, but fun looking.
    If you get to see ‘Conversations With Magic Stones’ by Mark Edmonds, Antonia Thomas, Hugo Anderson-Whymark and Ann Clarke – notice the hands. Stones, hands. What a world.

    Hares – I recently read this, and thought it was a perfect word for what hares do when coming downhill – hirplin. It’s from ‘The Holy Fair’ by Robert Burns:-

    “Upon a simmer Sunday morn
    When Nature’s face is fair,
    I walked forth to view the corn,
    An’ snuff the caller air.
    The rising sun owre Galston muirs
    Wi’ glorious light was glintin;
    The hares were hirplin down the furrs,
    The lav’rocks they were chantin
    Fu’ sweet that day.”

  2. Judy says:

    Beautiful travellings and stories, Anji looks her usual brilliant self and I am so looking forward to seeing you soon 🙂 x

  3. Bernie Bell says:

    Have I mentioned that Simant Bostock makes reproductions of The Ball of Towie? And many other groovy things, too.


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