A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since my last appearance at Newark Book Festival - yet it was only three years ago. This time I had the pleasure of taking part in a panel with Elly Griffiths and Lesley Thomson, two fine writers and great companions (incidentally, Lesley's latest novel is called The Companion). Tim Rideout was due to chair the panel, but sadly Covid ruled him out at the last minute. This was a real shame for all of us, but we were grateful to Gill Hart for stepping in at the last minute, to excellent effect.
My car isn't currently in a great state after my recent mishap with a manic motorcyclist (although it is still driveable, the insurers are currently deciding whether it should be written off because of the scale of repairs required), so I travelled across country by train, and this did give me the chance to do plenty of reading and relaxing en route. It was a real bonus to have a drink with Elly and Lesley at a riverside pub before we dined together. All very convivial (and a reminder of what we've all missed during the lockdowns).
The panel discussion was held in the swish ballroom at Newark Town Hall and once again I found myself admiring the hard work of the organisers. It's never easy to put together a festival, but in recent times it has proved even more challenging. They did a great job.
And then today I had the pleasure of seeing my daughter Catherine graduate - she's taken a further degree in journalism. It was very different from other degree ceremonies I've attended, but I enjoyed the sheer exuberance of the occasion and it was good to talk to a few of the young people whose studies have been affected significantly by the pandemic, but who have nevertheless kept going and maintained their enthusiasm in really challenging circumstances. They more than deserve their day of celebration. And as I write, it's still continuing!