Listen now – Through Travellers’ Eyes

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is through-travellers-eyes.jpg

Sunday 4th October – 5pm

Click here to listen to the podcast

Through Travellers’ Eyes is the product of two years of collecting stories, poems and snippets of conversation shared by people from Scotland’s Gypsy/Traveller communities. A series of workshops and personal interactions in Perth & Kinross, Edinburgh and the Lothians and North & Mid Argyll organised by MECOPP Gypsy/Traveller Carers’ Project led to the publication of this book.

Some of the contributors are regular writers of poems and stories whilst others had never considered that their storytelling skills could be of any interest outside of their own community. Katrina, who has been writing poems for many years, says: “I feel proud that I’ve had some of my poems published. I’ve not achieved much in life but this is one thing I’ve really achieved and I’m proud of. It’s something that my grandkids can look at when I’m no longer here and hopefully they’ll be proud to say that their granny had poems published.”

The book is full of personal stories and reflections of times gone by and of life in contemporary Scotland in an ever changing landscape of social and economic change. 

In its pages you will find gems that will touch you, make you laugh and give you a greater understanding of the traditions, lives and rich culture of Gypsy/Traveller communities in Scotland.

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from our local bookshop. Click the link to visit the page.
The Portobello Bookshop

Listen now – History: Why Bother? With Donald Bloxham

Sunday 4th October – 4pm

Click here to listen to the podcast

History matters, we know that. Evidence of its importance is all around us, in our films, bookshops, days of remembrance, political discourse and, as has recently been underlined, statues. But why does it matter? Why do people write it and read it? Here there is less consensus. My talk, like my book Why History? A History, begins at the earliest days of the western historical tradition, in ancient Greece, and charts the range of justifications that existed at that time for studying the past. It then considers changes and important continuities in these justifications across time, up to the present. Not only do many different rationales for history exist alongside each other today, some of these rationales are in tension with one another, and some of the most important tensions are considered in the conclusion of the talk.

Donald Bloxham is Richard Pares Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from our local bookshop. Click the link to visit the page.
The Portobello Bookshop

Watch now – “Resolving the climate emergency: Why societal and environmental sustainability are interdependent” with Dr Keith Skene @keith_skene

Sunday 4th October – 3pm
Click the Youtube link below to watch this event

Dr Keith Skene is an ecologist and the author of five books and over  forty scientific papers, focused on sustainability and our place on  the planet. Born in the historic city of Armagh in Ireland, Keith  spent thirteen years as a principal investigator and lecturer at the University of Dundee before becoming director of the Biosphere Research Institute (www.biosri.org). The Biosphere Research Institute produces cutting-edge research on environmental, economic and societal sustainability, focusing on a fundamental dialogue around our place in the Earth system. Keith has carried out field research across the planet, from Kenya to the Carpathian mountains, from the Scottish Highlands to Southwest Australia and from Vietnam to Trinidad. His latest book, Artificial Intelligence and the Environmental Crisis: Can technology Really Save the World (Routledge), sets out a radical new approach, addressing the existential crisis facing humanity, beginning with a social revolution, where societal and environmental  sustainability are approached as inseparable issues.

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from our local bookshop. Click the link to visit the page.
The Portobello Bookshop

Listen now – Letters from Lockdown

Sunday 4th October – 2pm


Click here to listen to the podcast

Six go scripting through creative writing

Letters from Lockdown has been written by a group of people in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. The group came together through an online creative writing course facilitated by ERA during the great pandemic of 2020. Through the Making Connections course the group quickly made connections with each other and the wider world as well as on paper.

You can read the stories featured by downloading
from the link below.

ERA – Edinburgh Recovery Activities is a community project which provides activities, groups and social events for people in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction.

Please note, the views expressed in each of these written pieces is that of the author and not of ERA.

If you would like to contact the group, please do so via jemma.eveleigh@evoc.org.uk 

Watch now – Leonie Charlton discusses Marram with Peter E Ross – @charltonleonie

Sunday 4th October – 1pm
Click the Youtube link below to watch the event

Leonie Charlton lives on the west coast of Scotland in Glen Lonan, Argyll. She writes creative non-fiction, poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared widely in publications such as Causeway, Northwords Now and The Blue Nib. Her prizewinning poetry pamphlet ‘Ten Minutes of Weather Away’ will be published by Cinnamon Press early 2021. Her first full-length book was published by Sandstone Press in March 2020. Marram is the story of her journey through the Outer Hebrides with Highland ponies; the travelogue is intercut with intimate memoir as she leaves behind beads in memory of her mother. Marram has been described as ‘a love letter to the natural world and a clear appraisal of complicated relationships – gentle, raw and honest.’ Much of her writing is based on a sense of place and our relationship with other species and the natural world. http://www.leoniecharlton.co.uk.

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from our local bookshop. Click the link to visit the page.
The Portobello Bookshop

Watch now – A Tomb with a View – Peter Ross in conversation with Alistair Heather @PeterAlanRoss @Historic_Ally

Sunday 4th October – 12noon
Click YouTube link below to watch the event

In A Tomb With A View, award-winning Glasgow author and journalist Peter Ross invites you to explore a grave new world of fascination and delight as he uncovers the stories and glories of graveyards. Who are London’s outcast dead and why is David Bowie their guardian angel? What is the remarkable truth about Phoebe Hessel, who disguised herself as a man to fight alongside her sweetheart, and went on to live in the reigns of five monarchs? Why is a Bristol cemetery the perfect wedding venue for goths? This is a book that shines a light on how we remember the ones we have lost, brimming with life, compassion and love. So push open the rusting gate, sweep aside the ivy, and take a look inside …

Alistair Heather is a writer and presenter from Angus. Most recently he wrote and presented a BBC documentary on the Scots Language, Rebel Tongue. He is a columnist at The National newspaper and is a regular contributor to BBC radio and television programmes.

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from our local bookshop. Click the link to visit the page.
The Portobello Bookshop

Watch now – Social and Anti-Social Media with Sheila M Averbuch @sheilamaverbuch

Sunday 4th October – 11am
Click YouTube link below to watch the interview

Social and Anti-Social Media

Sheila M. Averbuch is a former journalist who’s interviewed billionaires, hackers and would-be Mars colonists. She holds a 2019 New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust and lives with her family near Edinburgh. Her first novel, Friend Me, is a middle-grade thriller about cyberbullying, revenge, and social media: Roisin, an Irish transplant to America, is mercilessly bullied at school and pours her heart out to her online BFF Haley. But when the bully suffers a gruesome accident, Roisin begins to wonder if Haley is responsible…or hiding even darker secrets.  Find out more at www.sheilamaverbuch.com 

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from our local bookshop. Click the link to visit the page.
The Portobello Bookshop

Watch now – Island Dreams with Gavin Francis @gavinfranc

Saturday 3rd October – 5pm
Click Youtube link below to watch this event

Gavin Francis is an Edinburgh GP and the author of five books: True North, Travels in Arctic Europe (2008); Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins (2012) which was SMIT Scottish Book of the Year 2013, shortlisted for the Costa, Ondaatje, & Saltire Prizes; Adventures in Human Being (2015), which was Saltire Non-Fiction Book of the Year & the Observer’s Science Book of the Year; and Shapeshifters: On Medicine & Human Change (2018), which was a book of the year in the Sunday Times and the Scotsman.  His fifth book, Island Dreams, journeys into our collective fascination with islands through words and maps. It blends stories of Francis’s own travels with great voyages from literature and philosophical exploration, and examines the place of islands and of isolation in our collective consciousness.

Website www.gavinfrancis.com


Chair: David Francis is Director of Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland. He is also a songwriter, dance-caller, and storyteller, and a resident of Portobello for 20 years.


Thanks to Alistair Heather, writer and presenter from Angus, for filming this event.

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from our local bookshop. Click the link to visit the page.
The Portobello Bookshop

Watch now – Captivating Crime: a conversation with Jackie Baldwin and Olga Wojtas @JackieMBaldwin1 @olgawojtas

Saturday 3rd October – 4pm
Click the YouTube link below to watch this event

Jackie Baldwin practiced criminal and family law for twenty years before retraining as a hypnotherapist. She has recently moved to East Lothian from Dumfries where her first three books are set.

Her latest novel, Avenge the Dead, was published on 28th February 2020 and features former RC priest, DI Frank Farrell, who is tasked with investigating the brutal murder of a defence solicitor’s wife. It’s been over a year since he left the town after an investigation robbed him of a dear friend and he has struggled to move on. When the son of another solicitor is murdered, a strange tattoo etched on his body, the case takes them into darker, more disturbing territory. It leads them back into the past to a horrific fire that took a young woman’s life, to four friends harbouring dark secrets, and to a killer waiting patiently for revenge.

Olga Wojtas was born and bred in Edinburgh, where she attended James Gillespie’s, the school that inspired Muriel Spark’s best-known work, “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.” Spark renamed Gillespie’s as the Marcia Blaine School for Girls, and her book in turn inspired Olga to write her first novel, “Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar.” Olga’s heroine is Shona McMonagle, a former Marcia Blaine pupil, now a fifty-something time-travelling librarian from Morningside Library. Olga’s second book in the series, “Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Vampire Menace,” was published this year by Contraband.  Olga also writes a series of cosy crime e-novellas under the name Helena Marchmont. The series is set in the idyllic Cotswolds village of Bunburry which, just like Midsomer, has an alarming murder rate. 

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from our local bookshop. Click the link to visit the page.
The Portobello Bookshop

Listen now – John D Burns – mountaineer, writer and storyteller – talks to Portobello Book Festival – @JohnBurnswriter

Saturday 3rd October – 3pm
Click the link below to listen to John Burns’ podcast

John Burns talks to Portobello Book festival

John’s love of the outdoors, his passion for writing and over forty year’s experience in the mountains of the British Isles form the basis for his books and storytelling. Having walked and climbed the hills of Scotland for over 40 years he is an expert ice climber and was a member of the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team. More recently he has rediscovered his love for remote bothies and regularly visits the wilder places of his Scottish home, which he writes about with humour and compassion.

He began writing almost 15 years ago with a collection of poetry, Wind Dancer.  He followed this with two one man plays performed around the UK; Aleister Crowley: A Passion for Evil and Mallory: Beyond Everest, and his books; The Last HillwalkerBothy Tales and his latest comic novel with a serious environmental message Sky Dance.