For those of you too young to remember, or without the Scottish background, a “wee trip doon the watter” describes the experience of many Glaswegians during the holiday period where they would take a trip down the river Clyde and often visit or have their holidays by the coast. With the launch of steamboat travel access to the coastal towns increased and small communities such as Helensburgh, Gourock, Largs, Millport, Dunoon and Rothesay were expanded and developed as seaside resorts.
So yesterday this Glesga lassie packed up her bags and took her own wee trip #doonthewatter to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute for #ButeNoir2017, a crime packed weekend of entertainment provided by some of the country’s best crime writers!
I had meant to be staying overnight for the event but due to illness (the dreaded #HarrogateLurgy) I had to cancel and was only there for the day on Saturday instead. So 9 am on a bright Sat morning found me at Glasgow Central Station (always early for my trains!) pondering the astounding building that it is! It’s amazing what you see when you take the time to stop and look!
Arriving at the picturesque Wemyss Bay train station (yes I am getting older and appreciating the things around me that I always took for granted) it was a short crossing on the ferry over to Rothesay. (Did I mention I have a fear of water and get sea-sick!)
Off the boat and I headed straight to Print Point where the lovely Karen had arranged to put by tickets for me at the very last minute…Karen, you are a wee star. Print Point is a small independent bookshop on the island and I’d urge you to visit and have a look if you are ever over on a trip! It is delightful and very quirky and I just loved the door they had put in especially for the festival!
I then had to feed myself before my first panel event and you cannot go to Rothesay and not have chips from Zavaroni’s chippy! (if you are too young to remember Lena Zavaroni , one of Rothesay’s most famous residents then ask your mammy!) It may not look much from the outside but these chips were probably the best I’ve ever tasted and they were wrapped in newspaper for that authentic feel, so where best to eat them, than by the seafront to get the full on Rothesay experience! And you can see I had a couple of wee guests alongside me!
There is a wee pitch and putt down by the harbour and who should I bump into playing a very tense and critical game but Craig Robertson, Steven Cavanagh, Mason Cross, Luca Veste and Doug Johnstone…I thought it was just a wee fun game but Steven soon put me right about that – these crime writers take their games seriously you know! Just ask Craig Robertson about the croquet in Harrogate!
My first event of the day was #DearGreenPlace (which is Glasgow for you non-weegies!) with Lin Anderson, Alex Gray and Caro Ramsay; this was a sell-out event in the library and it was an hour that was over in the blink of an eye. The humour and banter between these three was so real that I honestly felt as though I’d been sitting in the pub with them all afternoon listening to their stories! From finding out Caro was inspired to write through a desire to kill fellow patients and staff while she was hospitalised over a period of time to her dissertation on Doping in Sport where she gave a convincing argument for the practice – Lin looked shocked to hear of blood-letting in athletes. If you ever get a chance to go and see these three writers on a panel, please do, you won’t be disappointed; the information and facts provided are fascinating and the humour and friendship between the three is truly genuine!
It was then a swift sprint down Print Point for my next event “Finnish Him Off” from Antti Toumainen which provided a fascinating insight into Antti’s inspiration and his very strong desire to be a writer from a young age. Antti had no Plan B when it came to his career and he was determined he was going to write – and write he did! From an advertising copy writer to a journalist, Antti followed his dream until he became a full-time author, who is now known in Helsinki as the “King of Helinski Noir”, a title he finds bemusing but welcomes the recognition of his work (although he does not swan around Helinski wearing Ermines and a Crown, or so he says!)
My 3rd and final event was “The Men Behind the Mic” with Steve Cavanagh and Luca Veste. There is only one thing to say about this panel that looks at their successful podcast Two Crime Writers and A Microphone and that is if you ever go and see it, take an extra pair of knickers because you may just wet yourself laughing just a little! Their hilarious and irreverent and NEVER highbrow look at the news, books and life forms the content of their weekly podcasts and seriously you need to listen in! I’ve never seen the guys live before at a panel but I can assure you that I will be seeking them out again!
And so my day at #ButeNoir had come to an end! It was a short and busy trip “doon the watter” but it was well worth the journey. At £4 per ticket for each event (which included a glass of wine or soft drink and a homemade cake), it really is a fantastic day out/weekend away for lovers of Crime Fiction. #ButeNoir is only in its second year but judging by the sell out panels this weekend, this is one crime fiction festival that is here to stay!
I have to give a special shout out to Karen and the team at Print Point – Karen for helping me actually get to the events given my last-minute attendance, to the team for making it such a brilliant venue, its intimate but it added to the whole experience and to Karen’s mum for those fabulous cup cakes! Seriously they were to die for!
And of course, a wee trip #DoonTheWatter would not be the same without some scenic shots from the beautiful island of Bute and the sun came out to play which made for some great shots!
See you next year #ButeNoir! If you are interested in attending #ButeNoir next year the details can be found on their website and Facebook Page