My aim is to travel from the UK to Brisbane for one of my best friends' wedding. Plane travel is so environmentally damaging so I am looking for another way. I also think that by travelling over land and sea I will be able to understand our world better as I will connect with the people and landscapes and not just look at the departure board in the airport. Any tips gratefully received!! Departure date 1st September.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Edinburgh International Book Festival

The city of Edinburgh is buzzing as I arrive through a flooded railway line on a damp Thursday in August. The Edinburgh Fringe is in full swing and soon to begin is the Book Festival. I am here to have a laugh, listen to some writers and most likely be simply inspired by the immense amount of talent which is exploding out of Scotland's capital.

It is a pricey affair visiting these festivals and so I thought I would suss out the free events first. New to the Edinburgh Book Festival is the Ten at Ten slot. Start your day with a 10 minute reading of poetry or short stories. After a late night out watching comedy at the Fringe, I find it impossible to get up in time but finally make it and think it would make sense if we all woke up to this every morning. What a difference it makes to your outlook for the day and so much better than a book at bedtime, as you actually hear the ending.

Next I watched Another Kind of Silence, a one women play about the life and work of Rachel Carson (author of seminal work Silent Spring and a heroine of mine.) She was a truly inspiring woman who changed the course of the environmental movement globally. She campaigned tirelessly against the use of unnecessary chemicals and pesticides in our world and brought to light the importance of using the pre-cautionary principle before unleashing these deadly weapons on our world. The story was beautifully and carefully told, not a story of despair, but one of passion for life in all forms. (Ticket cost £4.50 on Friends of the Fringe 2 for 1 deal.)

Later in the day is the Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series. Each day they are using a different article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to focus the mind. Today it is 'The Right to a Fair Trial' and the idea, most of us take for granted, that we are all innocent until proven guilty by a fair and public trial. Writers from the book festival took to the stage to read various works from writers who were currently unfairly incarcerated. One account written by Hu Jia, the now famous Chinese human rights activist, told how he was abducted from his home and held for 41 days, with no voice and without his family being told of his whereabouts. It was sickening to hear.

This was shortly followed by two poems from people imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. All I could keep thinking as I listened to a beautiful poem entitled 'The Sea' was 'this man is in Guantanamo Bay now. He is there now and has been there for over four years, away from his home, with no voice.'

There is still lots more to see, but so far my Edinburgh Festival experience has been everything I wanted it to be.

(photo of me and big sis and the Firth of Forth)


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