Oh well, that was lovely. Lucky us to get to spend a gorgeous sunny weekend in Wales with nice people and great events and interesting things and good stuff to hear/see, barbecue on the beach, swim (running into sea, getting fully immersed, running out of sea) AND even sell a book or two. Here’s what happened :

Friday: with my own event done and dusted by 6pm (v nice reading with Charlotte Grieg and she sang too, with dulcimer, possibly extra good because of the croaky-throat crack in her voice), the Mrs and I were then free to play to rest of the weekend. We saw Patrick McCabe (ah, the voice) and Niall Griffiths reading in the local Rugby Club (popped in & out of there all weekend and kept feeling I was at – Tokoroa – home. Maybe rugby clubs are the same the world over? An RSA/Legion-beery-loud-energy feeling running under the whole time), then we had fish & chips by the estuary, and finished up watching Mick-Jones-of-the-Clash and Johnny Green talking/interview/some singing (only marred a teeny tiny bit by couple of audience members wanting to assert selves as best punks/first punks yadda yadda). Back to the B&B and a good sleep.

Saturday we looked around Dylan Thomas’s Boathouse (and listening to the recordings I realised again that while I do like his poetry, I can’t stand his declamatory voice that really spoils them and makes them seem over-the-top, they’d be far better read, have been far better read, by many others), then we went for long walk along the estuary taking in some nature. Later in the afternoon we saw Ray-Davies-of-the-Kinks giving, we thought, a very good reading from his third-person autobiography (great concept for a biog, and some gorgeous sentences), with a very little bit of singing which was lovely – nothing like a gig to 21 to make the audience feel special! Followed that up with a trip to Pendine beach (real beach, sand and waves everything – er, including the military!) and ended our evening watching the British & Irish Lions reminiscing about early 70’s tours. (My Dad would have loved it, and so I did too, and Shelley very generously enjoyed it as well. Am fairly sure I’m the only one who whooped when Colin Meads was mentioned.)

Back to the B&B & next morning more very good St Clear’s butcher’s sausages for breakfast – my favourite the pork & apple, Mrs favourite, pork & leek.

Sunday we went to Botanic Gardens, lots of daffs, great old kitchen gardens, beautiful Pi sculpture, amazing Norman Foster single-span glasshouse, caught the tail end of Desmond Barry’s really interesting book/film/multi-media idea/novel thing, then a wander round the castle, with more chips by the estuary (good chip shop that one in Laugharne), saw Helen Griffin’s great one-woman-show about Caitlin Thomas, and finally met up with not-festival-related-mates at their caravan at nearby Amroth, for barbecue and champagne on beach. And swim. Woo hoo.

Up and down the main street of Laugharne we kept bumping into the same people, some we knew, some we knew by Sunday, shared a coffee table at dinner with philosopher friends of friends, spoke to lots of event-goers about their own writing, looked at the many many young (and not so) people hanging out listening to bands I have never or only sort of heard of (sorry! I do books and theatre – and telly – just don’t have much head space left for music as well), and generally hugely enjoyed the sun and the shine and the (there’s no other word for it) vibe.

Very very good work from Richard Thomas & John Williams making it all, holding it together, and not going (obviously) crazy.

We came home in an easy 4-hour drive today (well, easy for me, I wasn’t driving, but no traffic jams anyway), feeling that we’d had a very full holiday, which – given we probably won’t be having a real holiday this year, or certainly don’t have any planned – is a fine thing indeed. Feeling lucky.

I'm the one in red
I'm the one in red