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Sunday 26 June 2022

This weekend has been dominated, one way and another, by coverage of the Glastonbury Festival, taking place after a three year hiatus. With enthusiastic crowds and headline acts, it's been declared a great success and an indication that things are finally back to normal.

Yet other smaller and newer festivals have had to be cancelled due to lack of support, and others have had attendances lower than in previous years.

While many people are eager to do all the things they used to do, there's no doubt that others are more hesitant and, with the cost of living and covid cases both on the rise, there are practical reasons why some people are unable to participate in social events as much as they may like. 

Though the arts, theatre, performance, music and entertainment may seem peripheral to life when times are becoming harder for more of us, we mustn't forget how much they contribute to our sense of joy and wellbeing. And if we don't support the people putting on these enterprises now, they may not be there for us when things become more straightforward again.

The coming weeks see many local events taking place which boost our communities, reduce the need for travel and are often very competitively priced. I hope you will consider supporting them and book your tickets in good time so that the organisers are confident of going ahead with their plans. 

We can be informed, entertained and inspired by Sarah Langford on 8 July (see below), find out more about the writing of Rupert Thomson, whom we discussed in book group this year when he visits Suffolk Book League in Ipswich on 14 September, and delight in a great programme at the Lavenham Literary Festival in November. There are riches in store!

And tomorrow it's book group! So let me know by replying to this email if you are planning on coming along and I'll make sure the coffee's on and the chairs are out, and we can enjoy sharing our ideas about 'The Blue Book of Nebo'. I look forward to seeing you soon! 

Thank you for reading.

Sunday 19 June 2022

There's been plenty of talk about food this week - the obesity crisis, the cost of living crisis, the supply crisis, the food poverty crisis. And the White Paper which was supposed to have provided a plan for these issues has been condemned by the government's lead policy adviser Henry Dimbleby. Good news all round then. 

So I'm pleased to say that Sarah Langford's own investigation into food and farming, 'Rooted', does offer insight, vision and hope. As she embarks on publicity for the release of the book, speaking at festivals all over the country this summer, she will be joining other pioneers and ambassadors for change and perhaps offering direction and leadership that isn't being seen elsewhere.

She engages a fascinating and energising debate and I hope you'll join me in meeting her when she visits us in Woodbridge at the start of her publicity tour on Friday 8 July. More details below. 

And while you have your diaries out, don't forget that it's the Felixstowe Book Festival next weekend on 25-26 June where, in the packed programme, you can hear from novelists Carol Drinkwater and Stella Rimington, learn about the memoir of 'Today' presenter Justin Webb, and hear an account of the extraordinary yachtsmen volunteers of World War II with Julia Jones

Then on Monday 27 June at 8pm we have our monthly book group meeting. It has come round very quickly! If you'd like to join in the discussion of 'The Blue Book of Nebo'. please let me know by replying to this email. I look forward to seeing you soon! 

Thank you for reading.


Sunday 12 June 2022

It's been nearly two and a half years since we met in person to hear an author speak in Woodbridge. But I'm pleased to say that the wait is over! And the event taking place in a few weeks will remind us of how valuable it is to be together in a real, live gathering.

Sarah Langford worked as a criminal barrister for 10 years and wrote of her experience representing "the mad, the bad, the vulnerable, the heartbroken and the hopeful" in her incredible memoir 'In Your Defence'. She launched it in Browsers Bookshop for an event which was sold out weeks ahead of the date. 

No longer working at the bar, she is raising her young family in Suffolk where she and her husband have been managing his family farm. It is this which prompted her latest book 'Rooted: Stories of Life, Land and a Farming Revolution'.

If you heard Sarah speak on BBC Radio Four Start the Week on Monday then I hope you're as excited as I am that she will be joining us again.

She is a passionate, engaging, eloquent speaker who is able to present facts and statistics in a compelling and memorable way, and whose compassion and concern for the land and the people who farm it is deep-seated and infectious.

What's more, in the face of a desperately bleak future for food, farming and the environment, she offers light and hope.

I've read an early copy of 'Rooted' and can't speak more highly of it, so I hope you'll join me in hearing more from Sarah and come along to the event in Woodbridge Library on Friday 8 July. Scroll down for more details or buy your tickets here.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday 5 June 2022

It's been lovely to see people coming together to mark the Platinum Jubilee these past few days. Towns and neighbourhoods have looked cheery bedecked in bunting and happy crowds have gathered once more. The weather has been a little variable but hopefully all the planned tea parties have been able to go ahead.

Among all the events staged for this Platinum Jubilee, though, a highlight for me was yesterday's screening of the Queen meeting Paddington at Buckingham Palace!

It was such a surprise and exhibited a delightful simplicity, innocence and charm, with great creativity and good humour, it seemed a pitch perfect contribution to the celebrations and was actually rather moving! All this from the character in a children's book.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday 29 May 2022

The Jubilee celebrations are all set for the coming days. Trooping the Colour, Buckingham Palace concert, street fairs, tea parties...reinstating imperial measures?

Strange times. But if you'd like to receive some interesting, stimulating commentary on modern society, politics and economics, as well as discussions about memoir, fiction, history, works in translation and much more, the Hay Festival is once again available online. 

It's always refreshing to hear intelligent, informed individuals speak passionately and eloquently about their subject of expertise and after only viewing four speakers I feel more energised and inspired, though my reading list has once again been extended.

I have always wanted to visit Hay but it's been wonderful to be able to view the talks online in the past couple of years. Here in Suffolk, we do have the opportunity to hear authors in person in the coming days and weeks, and there's something to be said for being in a room with like-minded individuals and having serendipitous conversations with other audience members.

This coming week, there are events held in Southwold to mark the Jubilee and I will be talking to Stewart Ross about the research for his latest book, an entertaining and informative compendium of information about Queen Elizabeth II.

In the coming weeks we'll have the crime writing festival Slaughter in Southwold and the Felixstowe Book Festival. More about them nearer the time.

But for book conversation in Woodbridge, perhaps you'd like to join me at book group tomorrow evening. We'll be meeting at 8pm to discuss 'Still Life' by Sarah Water. I'd be grateful if you would reply to this email to let me know if you are coming, so that I can make adequate preparations! Hope to see you there! 

Thank you for reading.