It is not an easy place to reach, Wigtown; no quick route. A day out involves a minimum of five hours at the wheel of the car. But for the annual book festival one has to make the effort. If there happens to be an author talk on of interest, bonus. If not there’s always a fine atmosphere, friendly smiles, and bookshops.
But for the whole family we need a bit more. A picnic perhaps, stops to break the journeys, places of interest. And when you get down to looking at it, no matter how well you know the road, no matter how keen you are to arrive, there’s a day out to be made.
So we headed into the hills, breaking off at Clatteringshaws, coffee at the lochside, stones to skim, skies to watch. These are big skies, part of the Dark Sky project, though it’s a distance to go an a cold, dark night, when stars may sparkle. But it is countryside, rich with life.
And refreshed you can head on, the shorter route, Newton Stewart (perhaps a visit to the otter pond) and on to Wigtown. The town is busy. A bulletin on the wireless told us of a very busy opening weekend; of the bed in the bookshop, a mezzanine above the stacks, and the first occupant a nine year old boy.
There are busloads too; that’s a new one. School parties brought in, for author talks. Brilliant. Spread that one out to all the other book festivals across the country. Sadly the shops are not as numerous as they once were, victims to the recession, and no doubt to t’internet. But the town is too far for casual visits, to drop in for an hour just to browse; always has been, and the fall in numbers is no real surprise.
And there’s a bit of browsing, tempting reads, purchases for all. Boy Urchin has a looming birthday, and permission from Pop. Girl Urchin has cash. My resistance is low. I succumb to authors whose writing I like – William Dalrymple, Donald MacIntosh and one from Adam Nicolson, he of The Shiants, that I hadn’t come across before. And there’s another from that Little Toller list that I’ve mentioned before. The Genealogist finds a mighty tome on Surnames, and we return to the bookshelf problem, as yet unresolved.
The return is another trip, along towards Kirkcudbright, where we once watched the Wanderers in the Scottish Cup, a weekend away for that one, and on home, via The Red Kite Trail.
By the time we broke for sustenance on the shores of Loch Ken, we’d left the kites behind. The photographic evidence was nothing other than a few ducks on the water.
And with noisy Urchins on the shore there was no chance of an otter stopping by at dusk. The heron rose and gained height. But the red kites on the wing, treetop height, and higher, were well worth the detour.
And by the time we got home, tired eyes had given up as the light faded and two of the new Horrid Henry’s were already consigned to the ‘read it’ pile. But the Bedside Table groans. And to finish of, on a seasonal note: