Monday 22 October 2018
Salisbury Literary Festival
I've returned from a thoroughly enjoyable trip to Wiltshire, which arose from an invitation to take part in the Salisbury Literary Festival, which is in its second year. As the world knows, a terrible crime was perpetrated in this lovely cathedral city earlier this year, and it's had an adverse effect on trade which is continuing. So I was especially glad to show my support, not only for an excellent festival, but also for Salisbury itself. The city is definitely open for business, and it's a great destination. The unlikely crime scene (or at least, the place where the Skripals were taken ill) is shown in the photo below. On a lighter note, I was amused by Fudgehenge!
I was interviewed by Tom Bromley, the Festival Director, at the Salisbury Playhouse, a very good venue which attracted a splendid audience (who were also able to see a panel of four leading female crime writers after my session). The main subject was Dorothy L. Sayers, who was educated at the Godolphin School in Salisbury, and the interview was fun. For me, certainly, and I hope also the audience. A special pleasure was the chance to stay at Sarum College in the Cathedral Close (above), with a view of the famous cathedral spire, which really was stunning. The great novelist William Golding once lived a few doors away.
When travelling such a distance, I usually like - if possible - to fit in some sightseeing, if not other events, so as to make best use of the time. On the way down, therefore, I stopped off at Cirencester, a town I've visited before, and at Malmesbury, which was new to me and quite delightful: the old abbey is the resting place of King Athelstan, and the whole town brims with history. There was also a trip to Mottisfont Abbey, an excellent National Trust property (as is Mompesson House in Salisbury's cathedral close, which proved well worth a visit).
I broke up the long drive back to Cheshire by stopping at Marlborough, and seizing the chance to call in at the White Horse Bookshop (excellent) and sign Gallows Court and British Library anthologies. Then it was on to Silbury Hill (the largest prehistoric mound in Europe!) and the incredible Avebury stone circle. I've never been to Avebury before, but the combination of wonderful sunny weather and first class sights made the visit truly memorable. It's a World Heritage Site, and for good reason. If you've never been there, I can thoroughly recommend it.