Like most of us when we reflect on our childhoods, I have some very happy memories, although I didn’t always appreciate how good it was at the time. Even so, I didn’t particularly like where I lived and couldn’t wait to move away and leave it behind – again, I look back now and think how lucky I was to live in a village surrounded by lovely countryside. I did get away from it, but I’d be lying if I said I travelled extensively. From a South Nottinghamshire village, I spent time living over the border in Leicestershire, had a brief dalliance with Oxford, and suffered a slightly longer interlude in Northampton.
But Nottinghamshire called me back and, for reasons too complicated to relate here, I ended up living in a small market town in the north of the county.
As it happened, that market town was where my parents had originally met. They married in a village church close by, and I’d been travelling there regularly since the day I was born, visiting grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Instead of racing away from what I’d considered to be my roots, I’d ended up finding some different ones.
That was 1990, and I’ve lived in that same town, Retford, ever since. It’s a place that’s grown on me over the years. More like a big village than a town, it’s a rare occasion when I go into the centre and don’t bump into someone I know.
A big advantage the town has is where it’s based. Not only is it close to the edge of Sherwood Forest, and forms part of Pilgrim Fathers territory, but if you want to travel to other parts of the country, it’s very handy for the A1 and M1, as well as being on the East Coast Mainline. And if that means it’s easy for me to travel elsewhere, it also means you guys can easily get to me as well!
In spite of its size, Retford does some big things, with events going on at various times throughout the year – from its annual Charter Day (celebrating the granting of the town’s charter in 1246), to Steampunk festivals and Christmas markets.
Next weekend (13th-15th September) sees two big events overlapping so visitors to the town will have plenty to occupy themselves with. There’s the Heritage Day, aimed at celebrating the history and culture of the town, including the Chesterfield Canal. But there’s also the North Notts Literary Festival. With a range of events within the festival, there’s bound to be something that’ll appeal to anyone who enjoys any aspect of literature, from poetry to crime – and all points in between.
I’ve written before about different literary festivals I’ve been to, and one conclusion I’ve come to is that the smaller ones tend to be more engaging. There’s a more informal, relaxed atmosphere, among the visitors and participants. For me, that adds to the enjoyment.
If you feel the urge to come along, full details of the event are available on the website and Facebook page. And if you want to meet up with yours truly, you’ll find me on Saturday afternoon between 2:30 and 4:00 at The Glasshouse, or at the same time on Sunday at the Barrister’s Book Chamber. I must confess, I haven’t been to The Glasshouse myself, but I hear very good things about it. As for the Book Chamber, I can strongly recommend this, if you like a book shop with character – and cake!