THIS WEEK: Winter Words Festival at Pitlochry

Pitlochry Festival Theatre has an amazing array of shows for this year’s Winter Words Festival from 14 – 17 February:

Thursday, 14 February

Mary Miers and Christina Noble: Journey To A Highland Estate

Enter the wonderful world of the Highland Estate with two fascinating writers. Mary Miers will introduce some of the most dramatic and little-known houses in the romantic north of Scotland, with some specially commissioned images, many from the world famous Country Life picture archive. Christina Noble will focus on one estate – Ardkinglas, a 45,000-acre estate at the head of Loch Fyne – now famous for its Oyster Bar. She’ll tell the story of the estate, based on personal memories, letters and household diaries – from her great-grandfather buying the estate in 1905, to the community Ardkinglas has become today, looking at a Highland estate in the modern world and asking what is it for?

10.00am – 11.00am | £8.50

 

Ken Cox: Adventures In Woodland Gardening

Festival favourite, Ken Cox returns to Winter Words with a talk on Woodland Gardening, detailing how to landscape with Rhododendrons, Magnolias and Camellias. With plenty of gorgeous images, Ken will take audiences through the history and evolution of the woodland gardening style, from Japan and China, to Europe and around the world. Plus insights and advice on designing, managing and restoring woodland gardens. Ken is a third generation woodland gardener at Glendoick, Scotland, a nurseryman and author of 11 books on Scottish gardens, gardening and rhododendrons.

11.30am – 12.30pm | £8.50

 

Chris Townsend: Walking The Spine Of Scotland
Literary Lunch

Chris Townsend, passionate hillwalker and backpacker, is currently Hillwalking Ambassador for the British Mountaineering Council. Here he turns his attention to the spine of Scotland, ‘The Watershed’ which runs between the Atlantic and the North Sea, covering 1200km and describes his walk along the line where fallen rain runs either west to the Atlantic or east to the North Sea, showing us some of the stunning images he’s taken along the way. But this tale isn’t just a travelogue, instead Chris will reflect on nature and history, conservation and rewilding, land use and literature, and change in a time of limitless potential for both better and worse.

12.45pm – 2.15pm | £24.50 includes a two course lunch and coffee or tea.

 

Gary Sutherland: Walk This Way

Gary Sutherland is not your typical nature writer. He lived on the doorstep of the West Highland Way for many years, ignoring it, until one day he started to walk – and walk and walk. Gary tells how hills gave him the heebiejeebies, and forests frightened him. Add to that his deep aversion to most forms of wildlife. Then, one day, he decided to tackle the West Highland Way… and the Great Glen Way… and the Speyside Way. This is a tale – with images – of courage, cows, resilience, feral goats, ambition, Belgians, ludicrous ledges, cataclysmic quagmires and creepy messages spelt out in pine cones!

3.00pm – 4.00pm | £8.50

 

Donald S Murray and John MacLeod: Remembering The Iolaire Disaster

In 1918, more than 200 men perished when His Majesty’s Admiralty Yacht, Iolaire sank, just outside Stornoway Harbour. It was one of the worst shipping disasters in British history. The 100th anniversary of the Iolaire disaster is a time to remember, and we’re doing just that in this event. Donald S. Murray will discuss his fictional account of the tragedy, As The Women Lay Dreaming, while John MacLeod brings us a factual story from the day that so many Scottish hearts were broken. Join us for what will surely be a moving and fascinating discussion.

4.30pm – 5.30pm | £8.50

 

Liz Lochhead with Steve Kettley: Something Old, Something New

A selection of favourites, old and new, from fifty (ouch!) years of bittersweet, polemical, comical, in-character monologues, theatre pieces and performance poems by the former National Poet of Scotland and recipient of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, Liz Lochhead. Plus bluesy, soulful and playful saxophone stuff from musician, composer and occasional actor, Steve Kettley of long-standing quartet, Steve Kettley’s Odd Times, whose varied career includes work touring the UK and with residencies in New York and Baltimore.

7.30pm – 9.00pm | £12.50

 

Friday, 15 February

 

Donald S Murray and Robin A Crawford: Discovering The Story Of Peat

Peat. The Dark Stuff. Art historian, Robin A Crawford delves Into The Peatlands of the Outer Hebrides over the course of the year, explaining how they have been created and examining how peat has been used from the Bronze Age onwards plus many other aspects, including the wildlife and folklore associated with these lonely, watery places. Playwright-poet, Donald S. Murray’s talk extends from Lewis and the Highlands to the Netherlands and Australia, unpicking how this landscape affected him and the ways that humans have represented the moor in literature, art and folktale. Together their conversation is a fascinating discourse on this most Scottish of materials.

10.00am – 11.00am | £8.50

 

Andy Howard: The Secret Life Of The Mountain Hare

Andy Howard is a wildlife photographer, ecologist, and expert on the mountain hare. “Usually shy, always charming, they can run like the wind and their presence is an indicator of a healthy environment, where predators and prey live their lives in a constantly shifting balance.” In this event Andy will take the audience on a journey with this ultimate survivor, accompanied by his own stunning images.

11.30am – 12.30pm | £8.50

 

Polly Pullar: A Richness Of Martens
Literary Lunch

Polly Pullar is a writer, photographer and field naturalist. She has a particular passion for wildlife, the countryside and in particular remote areas of the Highlands and Islands.

Join Polly for a fascinating insight into the story of the Humphreys family and their pine martens, a much misunderstood animal, and a passionate portrait of one of Scotland’s richest habitats – the oakwoods of Scotland’s Atlantic seaboard. Polly’s previous Winter Words appearances have been festival highlights – knowledgeable and packed with energy!

12.45pm – 2.15pm | £24.50 includes a two course lunch and coffee or tea.

 

Alex Boyd: Pictures Of St. Kilda – The Silent Islands

Alex Boyd’s photographs of the ever-mysterious St. Kilda archipelago show the beauty of the islands, but he also captures the modern signs of military presence – jarring with the empty landscape: the inter-relationship between heritage, myth and Britain’s ongoing role on the world stage as a major weapons producer.

Alex will take you on the journey across the largest isle of Hirta, from the hills above Village Bay, or in the valley of Gleann Mòr beyond, pointing out the structures both ancient and modern built by the St. Kildans themselves.

3.00pm – 4.00pm | £8.50

 

Christopher Baker: J.M.W. Turner, A Life In Watercolour

J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) was perhaps the most prolific, innovative and one of the best-loved of all British artists. His outstanding watercolours were bequeathed to the National Gallery of Scotland in 1899 by the distinguished collector, Henry Vaughan, and are one of the most popular features of its collection. Join Christopher Baker, Director of the Portrait Gallery, for an illustrated talk that will provide a remarkable overview of many of the most important aspects of Turner’s Career.

4.30pm – 5.30pm | £8.50

 

Doddie Weir: His Name’5 Doddie

Scottish rugby legend, George Wilson Weir is better known to the world as Doddie. Winning 61 caps, he was a fan-favourite of the Scottish crowd, before retiring in 2004. Then, in 2017, Doddie announced he had motor neurone disease. There is currently no cure, and most patients diagnosed with this illness die within three years of developing symptoms. His foundation, My Name’5 Doddie, is raising money to help find treatments and a cure. Come along to this special evening and hear Doddie, along with his ghost writer, Stewart Weir, talk on this funny, moving and fascinating exposé of Doddie’s career and life.

6.00pm – 7.00pm | £10.00

 

Prof Dame Sue Black & Dr Richard Shepherd: The Truth About Life And Death

Professor Sue Black is known the world over for her work as a forensic anthropologist and anatomist. From uncovering war crimes in Kosovo to identifying bodies in the Indian Ocean tsunami, she’s returned bodies to their loved ones, often years after they disappeared.

Dr Shepherd takes nothing for granted in the pursuit of truth. Each post-mortem is a detective story in its own right – and Shepherd has performed over 23,000 of them and involved in some of the most high-profile cases of recent times.

How do these extraordinary people manage to separate work and the rest of their life – and what happens when those lines blur? Sue and Richard will discuss this and some of the extraordinary cases they’ve covered in their long careers. Q&A session and book-signing.

7.30pm – 9.00pm | £14.50

 

Saturday, 16 February

 

Jonny Muir: The Mountains Are Calling

Jonny is a successful hill and fell runner. In an exhilarating story of runners who go to high places, he explores the history and culture of the sport, and meets the legends who are revered for their extraordinary endurance. Discovering the insatiable lure of the hills led Jonny to the supreme test of mountain running: Ramsay’s Round – a daunting 60-mile circuit of twenty-three mountains, climbing the equivalent height of Mount Everest and culminating on Ben Nevis, to be completed within twenty-four hours. Did he manage it? Find out in Jonny’s talk – illustrated with some of the incredible photographs as well as maps contained within his book.

10.00am – 11.00am | £8.50

 

Hamish Brown: East Of West, West Of East

Hamish Brown is a legendary climber, traveller and author. Here he tells the story of his remarkable family, caught in Japan at the outbreak of the Second World War in the Pacific. With letters, journal extracts, notes from his parents, and his own recollections, he brings the era to life: not only the dying days of the British Empire, but the terrible reality of the invasion of Singapore into which they escaped. In 2015, Hamish Brown was awarded an Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild, Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding contribution to outdoor writing and photography.

11.30am – 12.30pm | £8.50

 

Rosemary Goring: Scotland: Her Story
Literary Lunch

Scotland’s history has been told many times, but never exclusively by its women. Rosemary takes a unique perspective on dramatic national events, as well as ordinary life, as experienced by women down the centuries. From the saintly but severe medieval Queen Margaret, via Nan Shepherd and Muriel Spark, to today’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, Rosemary encompasses women from all stations and fame and brings to life the half of history that has for too long been hidden or ignored.

12.45pm – 2.15pm | £24.50 includes a two course lunch and coffee or tea.

 

Penny Junor: All The Queen’s Corgis

The Queen has had corgis by her side ever since she was seven years old and persuaded her father to buy one for the family. The dogs are the Queen’s constant companions and Jenny’s book reveals the scraps and scrapes in which the dogs have been involved.

Daughter of Sir John Junor and school-mate of Princess Anne, journalist, TV presenter and popular writer, Penny Junor is possibly best known for her royal biographies, originating with Diana: Princess of Wales, earning her the label of ‘royal expert’. This is a fascinating and affectionate look at the Queen and her most faithful companions on what really makes our much-loved and longest reigning monarch truly light up.

3.00pm – 4.00pm | £8.50

 

Gabriella Bennett: Coorie In, The Scottish Way

Coorie, or còsagach in Gaelic, is the Scottish version of hygge – a recently popularised Danish word, meaning to create a warm atmosphere and enjoy the good things in life with good people. Gabriella Bennett has travelled Scotland speaking to people whose love of coorie shows in their homes, creativity and approach to a life lived well. Join Gabriella as she explores what coorie is and how it has helped nurture the astonishing creativity for which Scotland is famed, despite an often harsh and unforgiving climate.

4.30pm – 5.30pm | £8.50

 

Richard Holloway: Waiting For The Last Bus

Get together with one of the most important and beloved religious leaders of our time as he extends an invitation to reconsider life’s greatest mystery. Now in his ninth decade, former Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway presents a positive, meditative and profound exploration of the many important lessons we can learn from death: facing up to the limitations of our bodies as they falter, reflecting on our failings, and forgiving ourselves and others.

A reviewer and writer for the press, including The Times, The Guardian and The Scotsman, Richard is a frequent presenter on radio and television and is well known for his support of progressive causes, questioning and addressing complex ethical issues in the areas of sexuality, drugs and bioethics.

6.00pm – 7.00pm | £10.00

 

Neil Oliver: The Story Of The British Isles In 100 Places

Archaeologist, historian, conservationist, author and broadcaster, Neil Oliver is best known as presenter of the BBC documentary series, Coast. This event is his personal account of what makes these islands so special, told through places which have borne witness to the unfolding of our history. Cradling astonishing beauty, the human story here is a million years old, but the tolerant, easy-going peace we’ve enjoyed has been hard won. We’ve made and known the best and worst of times. We have been hero and villain and all else in between.

Beginning with humankind’s earliest ancestors, he takes us via Romans and Vikings, the flowering of religion, civil war, industrial revolution and two world wars. From windswept headlands to battlefields – each is a place where the spirit of the past seems to linger. “I have chosen what I consider to be the most characteristic features of the face I have grown up to know and love… in this present climate of public fear, disagreement and uncertainty about the future, I think it is timely to look again at the past, the story of this place from its earliest times.”

7.30pm – 8.30pm | £14.50

 

Sunday, 17 February

 

David Ross: Highland Herald

From 1988 to 2017 David was the Highland Correspondent of The Herald. His patch stretched from the Mull of Kintyre in the south to the Shetland island of Unst in the north; from St. Kilda in the west, to the whisky country of Speyside in the east. David helped the first community land buyout in modern times in Assynt, covered the anti-toll campaign on the Skye Bridge, along with the efforts to save Gaelic and protect ferry services. Join David reflecting on the issues affecting the Highlands and Islands during his time of coverage.

10.00am – 11.00am | £8.50

 

James Crawford: Scotland From The Sky

Accompanying the BBC documentary series, writer and broadcaster James Crawford’s talk will be based on his lavishly illustrated book which draws on the vast collection of aerial photography held in the Historic Environment Scotland archives. Opening an extraordinary window into our past this is the remarkable story of a nation from above, showing how our great cities have dramatically altered with the ebb and flow of history, while whole communities have vanished in the name of progress. James reveals how aerial imagery can unearth treasures from the ancient past, and secrets buried right beneath our feet. Come along to get a glorious bird’s-eye view of this story of Scotland, from the sky!

11.30am – 12.30pm | £8.50

 

Christopher Fleet: Scotland: Defending The Nation
Literary Lunch

Scotland has had an important military history over the last five centuries. 16th century conflict with England, Jacobite rebellions in the 18th century, two world wars, as well as the Cold War, all resulted in significant cartographic activity. Christopher Fleet, Senior Map Curator in the National Library of Scotland will explore this rich legacy through rare maps, some reproduced in book form for the first time. These maps tell particular stories about both attacking and defending the country: fortifications, reconnaissance mapping, battle plans, military roads, mines, enemy maps, unrealised proposals and projected schemes.

12.45pm – 2.15pm | £24.50 includes a two course lunch and coffee or tea.

 

Kaye Adams and Nadia Sawalha: Disaster Chef

Are your family rude about your cooking? Do you think cake-bakers come from another planet? Disaster Chef is borne out of MasterChef-winner, Nadia Sawalha’s frustration with Kaye Adams’ kitchen mishaps. It is a recipe book for the culinary-challenged to be able to dish up delicious grub fast. Best friends and television presenters Nadia and Kaye are well-known for the ITV daytime show, Loose Women. Nadia rose to fame as Annie Palmer in EastEnders, and Disaster Chef is her sixth cookbook. Kaye, meanwhile, is a highly respected journalist and broadcaster, for ITV and STV and BBC Radio Scotland. Join Nadia and Kaye as they chat about quick and easy recipes, and how not to be a Disaster Chef!

3.00pm – 4.00pm | £10.00

 

Denise Mina and Lin Anderson with James Crawford: Bloody Scotland

In Bloody Scotland twelve of Scotland’s best crime-writers use the sinister side of the country’s building heritage in stories by turns, gripping, chilling and redemptive – exploring the potential of Scotland’s iconic sites. Join writer and broadcaster James Crawford as he talks to two of the twelve: Denise Mina – winner of the Short Story Dagger for her story in this collection, the 2017 McIlvanney Prize and Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award (twice!); and Lin Anderson, best known as creator of the forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod series of crime thriller novels, and her part in founding the Bloody Scotland crime-writing festival itself. From murder in an Iron Age broch, to a dark psychological thriller set at Edinburgh Castle, uncover the intimate – and deadly – connections between people and places, as James guides you on a dangerous journey into the dark shadows of our nation’s buildings – where passion, fury, desire and death collide!

4.30pm – 5.30pm | £8.50

 

Peter Cairns: SCOTLAND: A Rewilding Journey

Not so long ago vibrant, wild forest stretched across much of Scotland. Beavers and cranes were at home in extensive wetlands. Salmon and trout filled the rivers. Lynx, wolf and wild boar roamed wooded glades. Today, it’s easy to be seduced by the raw beauty of the Scottish landscape, but it is sadly an ecological shadow of its former self.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Join conservation photographer Peter Cairns, who leads the call for a new vision of a wilder Scotland, where forests abundant with life are regenerating, rivers lined with alder and willow run freely, damaged peatlands are revitalised and oceans support the great whales: a place where nature works as it should, wildlife flourishes and crucially, where people prosper.

6.00pm – 7.00pm | £8.50