Before I moved to Britain, I'd never heard of Wigtown, which is strange, because it's a beautiful Scottish small town with TWENTY independent bookshops! Who cares if it rains all weekend, there's so much browsing to be had!
Here's the the proprietor of the children's bookshop, The Box of Frogs, Fiona Murphy, with her assistant Linda Cameron. Two lovelier people you could never find, except perhaps for the brave souls (about eight kids, with accompanying parents) who charged through rain, landslides and mid-road lakes to make monsters with me in the back of the shop.
Here's Katie with her rather scary monster and Helena with her fabulously bedecked beastie. Apparently in Scotland, they don't so often use the word 'manky' (as in, Morris the Mankiest Monster), so the assembled group decided 'fusty' (pronounced foosty) might be a better word, 'like the way my car smells after there's been a wet dog in it,' one mum explained. So Morris the Foostiest Monster it was.
We put together a monster by committee (Rufus the Slimy), then they helped me come up with some accessories.
I love the way every shop in Wigtown somehow brings in books, even a garden shop.
We stayed with our friends Angus and Mary, who live about a mile out of town, and Mary's favourite shop is The Old Bank, where I met Joyce Watson and Ian Cochrane, who play a big part in hosting the town's annual book festival. This next year it's running 24 September - 3 October and in past years, it's pulled in some big names. (Last year it featured Julia Donaldson, Alan Grant, Roddy Doyle, Babette Cole, Alan Durant, Marcus Sedgwick, John Fardell and Philip Ardagh... not a shabby line-up!)
Every time we've stayed with Angus and Mary, we've had such a great time running around the farm pretending to to help Angus with the chores. This time we inspected fence posts for rot (if they wiggle, they need replacing). Here's their house, surrounded by those lichen-covered stone walls that play such a great role in the Scottish landscape.
And here's the beautiful old mill, a listed building on their property that they're trying to keep from crumbling. The trees in front are rare strains of English apple trees, part of a project to keep some of Britain's best old apples from dying out.
Angus and Mary took us to the Isle of Whithorn, where we'd planned to go for a walk. The rain and wind nearly knocked us off our feet, so we spent the afternoon in a wonderfully cosy pub, The Steam Packet Inn. (I notice they feature very different weather on their website.)
ANd our lovely hosts and great friends, Angus and Mary. (Angus and Stuart first met while taking a Spanish course together.) Our next stop was to visit my auntie in Glasgow, I'll post more photos soon.