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Guest blog: Have a great day out at the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival in Melrose

Stars of stage, screen and literature will be in the Scottish Borders from the 15th to 18th June at the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival in Melrose.

We spoke to Markus from the festival team for the low-down on the varied festival programme...

  • Actress Anne Reid, star of Dinner Ladies and Last Tango in Halifax, opens the festival with her one-woman show of songs and anecdotes spanning her 50 year career. Some of the other big names taking to the stage over the weekend include Monty Python and Fawlty Towers star John Cleese; TV legend Michael Parkinson; bestselling novelist Joanna Trollope; top international tennis coach Judy Murray; and TV’s wildlife adventurer Steve Backshall.
  • Bringing a sense of adventure to this year’s book festival, two mums from Yorkshire share their story of rowing across the Atlantic; Amelia Dalton tells how she transformed an old Arctic fishing boat to run cruises around the Western Isles, and MP and travel writer Rory Stewart talks about his experience walking 600 miles over 30 days across the borderlands between England and Scotland.
  • In Mountain Berries & Desert Spice Sumayya Usmani returns to the Borders Book Festival on Saturday 17 June at 6.15pm. After her wonderful event last year on her acclaimed debut cookery book, Summers Under the Tamarind Tree, Sumayya continues her journey of discovery through the exotic cuisine of her native Pakistan, sharing the secrets of her home country’s incredible and varied desserts and sweets.





Reading at the Melrose Book Festival

Reading at the Melrose Book Festival

  • For all fans of Top Gear and The Grand Tour the festival has invited Richard Porter on Sunday 18 June at 5.00pm. He was the script editor on the last iteration of Top Gear, from the disastrous pilot show of 2002 right up until the ignominious end in 2015, a run of 13 years and 175 programmes which he catalogued in his book And On That Bombshell. He’s now the script editor for The Grand Tour and he’ll be at the festival to talk about the old show, the new show, adventures in self-publishing, and what it’s really like to work with Jeremy Clarkson.
  • And what if we only ate animals we killed ourself? Should we all know exactly where our meat comes from? Louise Gray decided to do exactly that. Starting small, she shucked oysters and caught fish before moving on to shooting pigeons, rabbits and red deer. She also interviewed farmers and followed livestock all the way from farm to fork. In a discussion of her new book The Ethical Carnivore on Friday 16 June at 5.45pm, Louise will question modern attitudes to meat and whether we should all be eating grey squirrel?
  • Natalie Haynes is an unlikely combination: a brilliant, sharp and very funny stand-up comic and also a passionate believer that we should continue to read and enjoy classical literature. Natalie’s documentary on Greek tragedy and soap opera, Oedipus Enders, was broadcast on Radio 4 in April 2010. She then made Attila the Hen, about urban chicken keeping, in 2011, and Vampires vs. Zombies examining the metaphorical role of our monsters du jour. With her new book The Children of Jocasta, Natalie Haynes reimagines the Oedipus and Antigone stories from the perspectives of two of the women who have often been overlooked: Jocasta and Ismene. Natalie is funny and fascinating, and will wow the audience on Thursday 15 June at 5.45pm.
  • On Thursday night at 9.00pm Malachy Tallack tells the enthralling story of ‘The Un-Discovered Islands’, which has been awarded ‘Illustrated Travel Book of The Year’ at the 2016 at the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards. From Shetland and now living in Glasgow, he has written for the New Statesman, the Guardian, Caught by the River and many other publications, online and in print. In his new book he navigates a course through these mythical and fascinating ‘places’. Drogeo, Icaria & Podalida all fell off the maps eons ago; did they ever exist or were they born out of myth, error or deception? Accompany Malachy on a journey intertwined with his music through these shadowy isles.






Crowds at the Melrose Book Festival

Crowds at the Melrose Book Festival

For the whole family, The Scottish Borders Housing Association Family Book Festival runs throughout the Saturday and Sunday with fun and entertainment from an array of much-loved children’s authors including Philip Ardagh, Guy Bass, Vivian French, Petr Horacek and Derek Landy, bestselling author of the Skulduggery Pleasant series. This year, adults get to go free to any SBHA Family Book Festival event so long as they are accompanied by at least one child.

Entry to Harmony Gardens is free, and there’s plenty to do and enjoy between events with live music; a street market offering food, drink and gifts; a family-friendly tented food village with some of the finest produce from across the Borders and Scotland; champagne and whisky tastings, as well as a bookshop to browse in, and free events including kids’ storytelling, circus skills and stilt walkers.

More information about the Borders Book Festival  from 15 – 18 June in Melrose can be found on their website or via Facebook

The Box Office is available on the phone at 0844 357 1060 | Daily updates from the festival can be watched on YouTube