The literary festival weather has been a bonus this year, and with Port Eliot coming up this weekend we are still set fair. It's going to be a Factor 50 sunhat sort of weekend I think.
But I can't mention Port Eliot Festival without mentioning the sad news of the death last week of Michael Howells, who for many years headed up the design team at the festival. He was a unique and gifted person and we all benefited from his fabulous set creations over the festival weekend and tableau various during the annual opening of the house to the public. I doubt I will ever forget my first sight of those, a Daphne du Maurier weekend many years ago now.
It was Michael Howells who had the brilliant idea of running a Flower Show alongside the festival, thus creating something at which everyone could have a go and let rip with their own creative juices. Team dovegreyreader were no exception, and thrilled with what turned into a completely over-the-top installation in the inaugural year. We then scooped a First Prize for our take on The Sound of Music in 2011, and with it come many happy memories of all of us sitting at the kitchen table making a flock of nuns the day before the festival started (note also the 'brown paper packages tied up with string')
I see the Flower Show now seems to have disappeared from the festival programme, times they are -a changing, which makes those few years of taking part, doing crazy things with stuff from the loft and scooping our much-loved rosettes even more special.
And if you watched Victoria on television then it is Michael Howells you have to thank for those sumptuous sets and that entire reconstruction of Buckingham Palace. Cathy St Germans (who, along with her original team, is no longer involved with the Festival) has written a wonderful tribute to him here.
For anyone who will be at St Germans this year, I will be doing an event with Chris Chapman on Friday July 27th at 3.45pm in the Tiddy Tent which is located (where the dovegreyreader tent used to be) in the Walled Garden.
Last year I was in conversation with Chris and Peter Beacham on James Ravilious, this year Chris and I will be talking about Hope Bourne...
I had lunch with Chris last week and we spent several hours in his Dartmoor studio talking about Hope, her life, and some of the mysteries that Chris has unravelled over many years of meticulous and thorough research. I was absolutely riveted as we shot down rabbit holes various, piecing together Hope's life and background and am really looking forward to the event. As well as talking and sharing his archive of photographs, Chris will also be showing the shortened, ten minute, version of his longer video on Hope Bourne and her life. Much is not as it seems and Chris will be exploring some fascinating perspectives in his talk.
We are in for a treat and if you are there please do stop me and say hello.
Meanwhile for anyone interested in reading about Hope I can heartily recommend either or both these books...