Today’s blog has two different main news items.  The first is to report my visit’s to this year’s Word Festival (intellectual growth) and the second is about my recent gardening exploits (plant growth).

So, Friday night I went to see two events:

Stuart MacBride Book Launch
Sponsored byWaterstone’s Bookshop
4.15pm, Elphinstone Hall, King’s College £5 (£3)
Stuart MacBride is the latest tartan noir sensation. His series of crime novels featuring Aberdeen detective Logan Mcrae began with Cold Granite, and here he launches the fourth in the series, Flesh House.

Irish & Scottish Poetry – Michael Longley, Robert Crawford and Sinead Morrissey
In Association with the AHRC Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies
7.30pm, King’s College Centre, King’s College £5 (£3)
Michael Longley has won the Whitbread Poetry Award, the TS Eliot Prize and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His Collected Poems stand as a towering achievement. Robert Crawford is Professor of Modern Scottish Literature at St Andrews. He has published seven collections of his own work (four of which have been Poetry Book Society Recommendations) and a Selected PoemsSinead Morrissey is part of an exciting younger generation of Irish poets who came of age in the 1990s. She has won the TS Eliot Prize.  She is Lecturer in Creative Writing at Queen’s University Belfast, and her latest collection is The State of the Prisons.

Stuart did a session recently in our library so I had heard some of his chat before but it was still really interesting and good!  I’d chosen a seat in the third row but the first two rows were reserved for “Friends of Word” and as only one turned up I was in effect in the front row!  Stuart spotted me and threatened to “name and shame” and I got all embarrassed.  Not sure what I’d done that was shameful, other than maybe being his main Librarian Stalker – surely something that some authors can only dream of having?!

The poetry session was good, especially one called Genetics which Sinead did.  I went to this session with Eilidh Scobbie who is the Library Conveyer at my work.  She is a Friend of Word so got me cheap tickets for all the events, which was rather super!  So I have to admit to only choosing to see Stuart, all the others were her choice.  However this is a good way to broaden your horizons and learn of new wonderous things, and she does have rather good taste!!

Saturday’s program of events was as follows for the two of us:

The Beast is Beautiful
11am, King’s College Centre, King’s College FREE OF CHARGE
One of the University of Aberdeen’s greatest treasures is the Bestiary, a richly illuminated medieval manuscript – beautiful, yet intriguingly incomplete. Chaired by Sunday Herald editor Alan Taylor, a distinguished panel including Dr Jane Geddes will discuss this collection of moralising stories about animals – its meaning and source and the mystery of its creation.

Alasdair Gray
12 noon, King’s College Centre, King’s College £5 (£3)
One of Scotland’s best-loved and most truly original novelists makes a long overdue return to Word and will read from his latest novel Old Men In Love, of whichWill Self writes “Only Gray can be fecklessly sexy as well as insidiously sagacious… He’s the very best Alasdair Gray we have, and we should cherish his work accordingly.”

Peter Davidson & Andrew Greig
2pm, King’s College Centre, King’s College £5 (£3)
Peter Davidson is Professor of Renaissance Studies at Aberdeen and is also an accomplished poet. His investigation into The Idea of North has been hailed as amajor work. His new poetry collection is The Universal Baroque. Andrew Greig is a prize-winning poet and novelist who has also written a bestseller on golf! His poetry books include Men On Ice, and a selected poems, This Life, This Life. Non-fiction includes Preferred Lies. Novels include In Another Light (winner of the Saltire Prize) and the recently published Romanno Bridge.

The Bestiary was definately my favourite session of the weekend as it really is beautiful, and has so many lovely stories attached to it.  The two ladies telling us about it were very knowledgeable and interesting to listen to.  They also demonstrated the version that is going online soon where you can actually turn each page and look at the book as if you were being allowed to touch the glorious thing!  There is a website about it at the moment but it will be even better once the new version is online, very exciting!

Mr Gray didn’t actually read from the book the description told us he would but he did act out some bits of a new play he’s writing, with the aid of a young man with a lovely voice!  He seemed to be a lovely old man, and certainly someone you wouldn’t mind being locked in a room with for a period of time as he was very entertaining.

The last session was half disappointing (Peter) and half really wonderful (Andrew Greig).  I’ve already added some of the latter’s books to my Amazon wishlist for the next time I win vouchers!  He read some lovely poetry as well, one of which is available on the website for the Scottish Poetry Library.  He had one of those voices you could listen to for ages, and obviously loves what’s he’s written, you can hear it in the way he reads it aloud.  Anyway there’s my new literary love from the weekend, and my own personal growth!

Meanwhile, back at home, our garden is doing quite well.  I have included some photos to demonstrate this.  I love our cherry blossum tree, so pretty – even though it is pink!  The birds seem to love it to and are eating me out of house and home!  I got mixed seed the other week but they have eaten the whole bag already so I need to buy more!  At least they have peanuts to keep them going in the meantime.

Lively gardenThe garden in May

I got hugely excited on my way to Word when I noticed that one of the bulbs I had planted had managed to grow into a bit of a plant.  Then got even more excited when I realised it wasn’t just one!  There are 7 wee sprouts in my front border, although one is much bigger than the others.  I’ve never grown anything “from scratch” before so this is all very exciting.  Now if I can just keep the neighbours’ cats off the border so that they can all grow I should get a wonderful spread of dark red and black gladioli, or is it gladiolis?!


Just at the side of that photo you can see a bit of the Clematis we got for Christmas from Aunt Kathleen and Uncle John.  It’s not looking terribly happy at the moment but it has had flowers on it and it did seem to cheer up once I cut it back a bit so hopefully I’ll keep it growing.  It was a lovely coincidence that they choose a clematis for us as I had been meaning to get one.  I’m not really into plants and flowers (well unless it’s lovely red roses from my hubby!) but I always loved this big pretty climbing thing that my Grandad had outside his house and then his flat.  When I got a garden I’d asked Mum what it was and declared I wanted one.  So now I have one and its next to my front door so I see it whenever I come home and have a constant reminder of Grandad.

They’ve done it again as well.  For my birthday they sent a Pieris Japonica Passion.  Now the link there could be seen as the fact that the roses at our wedding were all “passion” but further to that is the fact that when I was a tiny baby my parents bought a house called Japonica, and it had a Japonica by the front door!  Unfortunately I can’t copy that totally as the Clematis has already claimed that spot here but I have planted it in the back garden.  Most of our garden at the front and back is lawn so we don’t have a huge area for planting things but there’s a big bush beside the fence to the side so I have put it next to that. 

 New plant

Now I just need to concentrate on getting the lawn to only have grass in it and we’ll have a perfectly lovely garden!  Although we did have some friends round last night who told me that it’s about time I trimmed my bush.  There was a bit of giggling which accompanied this statement but they do have a point – will have to send Bryan out with the hedge trimmers soon.  Not now though, there’s football on and I’ve been told to “shh”.  Luckily blogging keeps me quiet!

Well this is quite a long blog so I really should close now but I just have to share one more photo of one of my gorgeous but mad beasties.  We’re not sure what they are doing when they do this but it looks like they are trying to clean the glass in the lounge door.  Mad beasties indeed!

Mad cat

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