Those good folks in Fife have me yearning for the ancestral family stomping grounds once again. When last we made the trip for the East Neuk Festival we were treated to gems from, among others, Linda Cracknell, Esther Woolfson, and John Lister-Kaye. All three are back again this year. And there are others to add to the spells they will no doubt weave.
Featuring on The Bedside Table this past year or so have been both Jim Crumley and Mark Cocker. But the literary name of the year, and one that has yet to find a place on said table, has been Helen Macdonald. This trio adds to the offerings for the Littoral weekend.
The East Neuk Festival has something for everyone. There is music all week; and outdoor fun, as well as the author talks and discussion over books. Activities focus on Crail on Saturday 27 June, by which time the schools have already broken for the summer, moving along the road to Cambo Estate for the Sunday. With a performance from the Gwilym Simcock Trio on the Saturday evening the old tent must just need an airing for a night away.
Sunday morning starts with a group discussion on Gavin Maxwell’s masterpiece, one of my very favourite writers, and of course John Lister-Kaye was hauled from his tedium to the Highlands, and has remained ever since. His first-hand recollections will be prompted by Mark Cocker and Linda Cracknell. I put this in the must hear category. Since tying me up with silk Linda has been busy writing too.
Helen Macdonald will be doing much more than talking about her award winning H is for Hawk. For she’s bringing her favourite birds with her to aide a falconry display from Elite Falconry. I really must get round to reading her book soon, for it is much more than hawks, covering memories and recoveries through those times in life.
Birds have been central to the works of both Cocker and Crumley, and indeed with Esther Woolfson. Lister-Kaye’s latest is on the shelf awaiting attention, a narrative of the yearly cycle and the changing habits of the birds, and more, on his Aigas Field Centre. I’ve been waiting on this book since his last talk at Cambo two years ago. JLK’s first book was The White Island, published in 1972, of his times with Maxwell on Eilean Ban after the disaster of the fire at Glenelg. He’s been producing marvellous works ever since.
And there is no need to be selfish. Crumley leads a Tree Walk, which The Urchins should enjoy. There will be hugging, of the Cadzow Oaks type, I’m pretty sure. They still talk about their beach foraging when last at Cambo. The Genealogist will revel in the Budpaest Café Orchestra. Flying falcons is one for everyone.
Time to leave the lethargy behind methinks. A weekend in the country is just the thing to have in the diary. Not long now.