Date Posted: 4th March 2019

Hurrah once again to the Keswick Film Club who have pulled off another wonderful film festival this weekend. Saturday night’s northern premier  of the film Sometimes, Always, Never  was the highlight for me. It played to a full house of 400 at Theatre by the lake.  Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce  and starring Bill Nighy and Jenny Agutter it has some familiar settings. What a treat to see the tide washing in over the Gormley sculptures on Crosby beach. It will be publicly released early this summer. Don’t miss it. It's about life, longing, loss and ... scrabble and is hilarious and sad.  I will be going to see it again.

I’d never heard of Cottrell Boyce until he appeared at Words by the Water Festival many years ago with his latest book and struck me as someone to watch. He was brimming with lively, crazy, fantastic ideas. A few years later I was excited to see him involved with script writing for Danny Boyle and the magical Olympics’ opening ceremony. Who can forget that NHS scene with the children bouncing on their beds, the queen parachuting in with  007 Daniel Craig and Kenneth Branagh reciting This Sceptered Isle. Oh dear Nostalgia is kicking in. - again.

But take heart - we are on the brink of another action packed 10 days of words and ideas when Words by the Water comes in to town again on Friday bringing a nonstop flotilla of writers with them. The big names always stand out – Melvyn Bragg, Pru Leith etc but I have  increasingly found some gems in the quirky things hidden deep in the programme. It happens every year - this delight in finding something unexpected that I could easily have missed.  I’m really looking forward to Monisha Rajesh who has travelled around the world in 80 trains (no more/no less!). Her book of that name is fascinating and makes me want to travel by train again soon - but not to North Korea as she did. 

I discovered Julie Summers 2 years ago when she spoke about fashion in war time (Fashion on the Ration). She’s back this year with her latest book with stories about the stately homes requisitioned during the war for various purposes.(WW2 and the WI are her specialist subjects).  As a small child in Sheffield during the war I followed my bold/foolhardy father illicitly into Chatsworth House (we climbed over a collapsed stone wall) to discover it was being used as a London girls’ school, I look forward to finding out about other stately homes  that were used at the time, about their wealthy aristocratic owners, the secrecy and  the unbelievable but true stories. 

 Illustrator Martin Brown is also on my list. I had a go at illustration when I produced my first children’s book last year (it was self published so I couldn't afford a professional illustrator).  I hope to learn something useful from him.  He is in the studio at the very end of the festival  (last slot on the last Sunday afternoon) and I’m told he will be drawing live on a whiteboard to show us how easy it is and encourage us all to draw.  This is part of the Family Day with some things to interest children as well as grown ups.  Bring it on!

Festivals are a great place to meet up with friends.  For 10 days, every little corner of Theatre by the Lake will be buzzing with lively chatter about books, life and culture. I will see you there I hope.

Words by the water runs from 8th - 17th March. for more information.        Book tickets at or 017687 74411     See which has a full year round programme of films